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Testing a possible forum successor -- please read

edited June 2 in Chit-Chat
If you have a question about using Twine, I'd like you to try posting it to a new Question2Answer setup and give your feedback in this thread.

Question2Answer is an open-source clone of Stack Overflow, specifically oriented about answering technical questions online.

Would this replace the existing forum entirely?

Yes, and that's why I'd like as much feedback as possible from everyone currently using the forum before making a decision. I think this needs to be an either/or proposition because how to get help with Twine needs to be as clear as possible. If we have one site for general discussion and a different one for technical questions, I think inevitably people will post to the "wrong" place.

The other reason why is that I'm hoping that switching to Question2Answer will mean less of an administrative burden than this forum -- see below.

Why is this change being considered?

Right now, I don't think this forum is meeting our needs as well as it could.
  • The vast majority of posts here, in my opinion, are people asking for technical help.
  • The plugin we were using for Q&A has become broken with recent versions of the forum software. As you may have noticed, the button to ask a question doesn't appear on every page of the forum. So we have some posts marked as Q&A and some that aren't. The plugin was last updated in 2015, so I don't have that much hope that it will be fixed.
  • We don't have a way to request that people post their story format version, Twine version, etc. when asking a question. This results in a lot of unnecessary back-and-forth.
  • The forum search is iffy, sometimes resulting in people posting duplicate questions because they don't realize their question has already been asked.
  • Spam continues to be an issue, though the burden has shifted mostly to the moderators of the forum (myself and @Melyanna). We currently require manual approval of every user's first post, which causes frustration for new users -- sometimes they will post duplicate posts thinking that it didn't work -- and means a daily chore for administrators to approve posts, delete dupes, and so on.
Question2Answer, by its nature, is much better for facilitating Q&A than a general-purpose forum.

That said, moving to Q2A would mean that general discussion would need to find a new home. This is the real downside to the transition-- but there are several alternatives to this forum for that anyway. The two I'm aware of are the twinegames subreddit and Intfiction.org, and I'm sure there are others that I just don't know about. I'd also be happy to link to another forum should someone in the existing community like to take on that mantle.

What would become of this forum if we moved to the new site?

It would go into a permanent read-only state, so that it could be searched going forward. There's obviously a lot of collective wisdom stored here.

What about switching to different forum software?

To be honest, I don't have a lot of appetite for shepherding another forum transition -- switching to Vanilla was hard enough -- and I'm concerned that it wouldn't mean an appreciably better experience. If you have experience with using forum software for technical Q&A and could help with a transition, though, I'm open to your assistance.

Why not just use Stack Overflow or create a Stack Exchange site for Twine?

People have tried proposing a Stack Exchange site for Twine as well as interactive fiction in general, but in all cases I know of, those proposals have been rejected.

Having a specific Q&A site, as opposed to using Stack Overflow tags, means that it's much easier to see all Twine-related questions in one place. It also means searching for existing answers is a lot easier too.

When will a decision be made about this?

I'd like to try out the Question2Answer site for at least two weeks, possibly more. If I do decide to switch to Question2Answer permanently, I will give everyone here at least 30 days' notice.

Comments

  • One comment about it so far: Neat interface. :) I've signed up already. I am okay with anywhere there is a TWINE forum.
  • edited May 6
    Sometimes when answering a specific question about a 'common' topic in a Q/A thread it is helpful to be able to first create a detailed 'article' on that topic, and then to used that 'article' as a (linked) reference within the Q/A thread.

    How would this be done in the new software?
  • greyelf wrote: »
    Sometimes when answering a specific question about a 'common' topic in a Q/A thread it is helpful to be able to first create a detailed 'article' on that topic, and then to used that 'article' as a (linked) reference within the Q/A thread.

    How would this be done in the new software?

    Good question. Looking over the list of plugins, I don't see something that addresses this. The closest I found was something that allows setting descriptions of tags... but it's not really the same as what you're talking about. I feel like the wiki might be the best place to do that?
  • I like the look and functionality of it. I think it would be a smart idea to move things, especially if it'd make things easier on you mods.
  • Is the current WYSIWYG editor the only option? Because, frankly, it sucks for code Q&A.
  • Could you be more specific about what's lacking? There's an editor plugin that uses Ace for code editing, but I'm not sure how well supported it is.
  • Preferably, I'd like to have, at least the option of, a plain text editor—Markdown-based preferably, though BBCode would do in a pinch. Having an editor which attempts to be far too slick for the platform it resides on is anathema to writing detailed help/examples, especially code examples.

    For a great topical example of what would be nice—though that's almost certainly pie in the sky—see Stack Overflow's editor.
  • Also. Can we get the tags cleaned up—I'm looking at 'x' and '1' here.

    Feel free to make me a tag cop if you like.
  • Think it's got some problems. Comments entered as questions...
  • edited May 11
    I like the layout and format in general of the Q & A, but I'm sad to lose discussion and workshop stuff. Do what's best for you, though. It's a net positive if it makes things easier on you guys.
  • Another strike against the current editor. It blocks the browser's spellchecker, yet doesn't provide one of it's own—not that I want to train another spellchecker. That's a huge no-no.
  • Apparently the editor or the Q&A's engine hates anything other than ASCII—I'm assuming it's an unholy alliance between them. Non-ASCII characters are transformed into character references, which are themselves encoded at some point, so you end up with literal character references in your posts.

    OMGWTFBBQ!
  • What real purpose does allowing random custom tags created by those asking questions really serve on a technical orientated Q&A site?
  • Not much, really. That said, it is likely simpler to allow any tag and have mods clean them up later, elsewise you run the risk of having mods have to create tags at various points because you're never going to think of all possible relevant tags at the start and newly relevant tags are also a thing.

    Based on nothing more than the privileges given to the klembot account, it seems that Q2A allows for granting the privilege of modifying tags on posts, so tag cops could possibly be a thing.
  • edited May 11
    and have mods clean them up later
    So either:

    A. Mods need to add new tags on an "as needed" basis, possibly prompted by a request from users.

    B. Mods needs to regularly and constantly check the new custom tags created by questioners.
    eg. sugarcube vs SugarCube vs Sugarcube vs etc....

    It seems to me that A is less work than B.
  • greyelf wrote: »
    It seems to me that A is less work than B.
    True. That said if a few people are given responsibility of managing tags, it shouldn't be an issue—the same could be said of moderation on these forums, but I digress.

    It's also true that B is significantly more end-user friendly than A is, which is, I thought, one of the primary reasons it was decided to abandon the existing forums—making things more accessible/usable and friendly to the people asking questions.
  • Well, it looks... trendy?
    I suppose I'm used to this forum style, so the new thing, to me, looks kind of like every social media page ever... and therefore, my brain shuts most of it out as background noise. That's probably just me, though. XD
    It would probably just take some getting used to?
  • A bunch of points have been raised so I will try to cover everything...

    Editors
    Question2Answer doesn't allow users to choose an editor individually, so far as I can see. It would be nice if it did. There is a Markdown editor plugin with a live preview which is not bad, but the code button assumes you're only going to do a single line of code (it indents for you, doesn't use the ``` code fence). So I see that as a potential source of confusion for people who don't know Markdown.

    Native spellchecking should be working now -- there's a config setting for that. It's using CKEditor and it seems relatively easy to customize it. There is a Markdown plugin for CKEditor but it seems to have problems... will continue to poke at this.

    I also need to look into the HTML entity issue.

    Tags
    Tags, for me, are useful in that I can subscribe to them via RSS-- I can easily get notified when a new Snowman question pops up, for example. Q2A will suggest existing tags as you type, so I think the question of SugarCube vs. sugarcube will become moot over time. mykael asked about there being a limit of 5 tags per question. I guess I'm OK with raising that if it proves to be a problem in practice, but that's the limit StackOverflow uses, so it seems like a plausible starting point.

    Permissions are not as granular as they appear... it seems like I can't grant a user just access to edit tags, but perhaps I'm missing it in the admin UI.

    Character Minimum
    mykael noticed that there is a 12-character minimum on answers, which I think is reasonable. I think short answers like "yes" or "no" are not likely to be very helpful.

    Content Filtering
    mykael also noted that there is no content filtering, e.g. the system doesn't stop you from typing offensive words. There isn't anything like that in the existing forum system and trying to come up with an exhaustive list of offensive words seems like an impossible task, and it would be trivial to work around for someone so motivated. I'd rather use the flagging system to deal with this issue.

    Suggested questions
    mykael asked why useless results were showing up for possible previous questions. I'll agree with TME that the utility of it will increase over time. There is a vague setting on how lenient the search is (options are "Widest", "Wider", "Default", "Narrower", and "Narrowest"). I've bumped it up a notch to "Narrower".

    Captcha
    mykael experienced issues with the Captcha system. There are settings for this; I have it set so that Captchas are required until you confirm your email address, which seems like a reasonable expectation. The Captchas, as TME noted, come directly from Google and do offer an audio option for visually-impaired users.
  • edited May 15
    One think I have noticed is that unless you allow it to send you email notifications it is difficult to tell when someone has posted a new answer or comment to an existing question, as the main question list only indicates how long since someone asked that question.

    I believe It would also help knowing when someone last replied.
  • greyelf wrote: »
    One think I have noticed is that unless you allow it to send you email notifications it is difficult to tell when someone has posted a new answer or comment to an existing question, as the main question list only indicates how long since someone asked that question.

    I believe It would also help knowing when someone last replied.

    It's a little funny... on the home page, it shows last reply date, but if you click the Questions button at the top it only shows ask date. I'm not sure why.

  • Please see this announcement for an update on future plans.
  • I'm new to twine and this community.
    I would worry about losing the ability to have more casual conversations regarding twine development and story creation. What I don't like about stack-exchange is that dialog gets really prescriptive and it's difficult to get peoples' opinions and start more general conversations. It's already pretty hard to find info on twine, I'd hate to lose a good community center without a strong replacement.

    Will there be a place to have more open conversations about twine? does one already exist? Such as on reddit or another site?

    Hopefully what I'm saying makes sense. ^_^
  • One other thing, not sure if this has been asked since the chat has gotten pretty long (tl;dr). Can we set the unanswered questions filter to include questions that have answers, but a single answer hasn't been chosen? There are tons of questions without chosen answers, and I think those questions should be given attention until the asker chooses something.
    That way it doesn't look like we have tons of questions with unsatisfactory answers. (Which I'm sure isn't true)
  • Such as on reddit or another site?
    Individuals have create their own 'places' on other site, for example there is twinegames area on reddit with is monitored by @ChapelR
    (Which I'm sure isn't true)
    If you check you may find that many of the unanswered questions here don't have answers, because they either don't ask a clear question or ask a question that can't be answered in a reasonable amount of time / effort.
  • edited June 5
    greyelf wrote: »
    (Which I'm sure isn't true)
    If you check you may find that many of the unanswered questions here don't have answers, because they either don't ask a clear question or ask a question that can't be answered in a reasonable amount of time / effort.

    That may be true, but that's not true for all of the questions that don't have a chosen answer. If these questions aren't helpful they should be dealt with accordingly, but I don't see how it follows that good questions that haven't received good answers should be swept from the unanswered questions list along with the bad.

    In either case both good and bad questions should be in that list so that they get the attention they need (either being answered or closed).

    Granted, questions with no answers should still be at the top of the list.


  • @klembot: while answering a question in a different thread I noticed that the pinned Tweet on the Twitter feed will need to be edited to reference the new Q&A site.
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