Introducing: Questions

here on lines we discuss a large range of complex technologies— many questions are asked and many answered as we continue exploring.

as the community grows we’ve seen threads get extremely huge. these mega-threads have begun to serve more as topics with a flood of overlapping micro-conversations— an overwhelming majority of which are technical questions.

we’d like to experiment with a shift:

Questions will be a category for individual issues or topics, no matter how small.

rather than ask on a mega-thread, please start a new thread in this category.

this category is intended for atomic, solve-able questions. if you have a more subjective question or would like to begin a general conversation on a topic, please select a different category.

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Can I ask how we should best treat existing catch-all “Help” topics, like the Euro questions thread or the Crow help thread?

Also, if I can quickly offer an opinion to the contrary: when starting with a new tech, like Norns for instance, it has been really useful to read through the existing catch-all Help topics in advance, so I can get a general feel for the existing issues and caveats. This sort of approach will definitely not be as easy going forward. Might I suggest still having these focused Help topics, but locating them within Questions? Or, at the very least, forcing some use of tags to better organize questions?

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i hear you, and we’ve had a very difficult time trying to figure out the best way forward.

but i believe that reading a megathread (particularly ahead of reading the actual docs) is almost completely harmful:

  • much information is outdated which only causes confusion
  • there is a huge mix of incomplete answers without clear indication of the correct one
  • overwhelmingly, any relevant information in the thread has been put into the docs, so there’s small chance of finding a hidden gem

by making Questions more granular, we can identify the best information and expire things that are no longer relevant. with tagging and searchability we think this is a way to scale the current needs.

each topic is different and i expect not everything will lend itself to this method. but we will see how it develops and adjust where needed.

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I think the Questions category (maybe delineated with hardware tags?) is a great idea for technical questions and issues! Much needed as well.

What about gear recommendation questions/threads? For instance, I was reading through the headphones thread yesterday looking for suggestions for wireless headphones. Lots of specific questions asked in there but couldn’t find many relevant posts (and didn’t feel like bringing the thread back to life or starting a new one for my purposes of window shopping). With overlapping discussions - all on topic - in a fairly large thread, would a polling feature be useful? I don’t know if Discourse has this option or if it invites a host of other issues. Thinking that someone could ask a specific question in a thread and get a range of votes as suggestions - I could see how this detracts from a larger discussion as well.

this has definitely been a consideration, thank you for pointing it out!

the norns: help thread, at 2.5k individual posts across many software updates, was a nice document of how norns has grown but it was also becoming a barrier of entry for new users. because it is sometimes hard to search for the right terms in post content, posts in that thread often repeated questions answered a few days/weeks before. rightly so(!), as it’s much easier to search thread titles.

to that end, the template guides titling to include specific and indexable info, which will really improve discoverability and search relevance.

in:title "norns" #questions
…will be a super easy way to get the best digest, especially because the resulting threads will be sortable. so one day you might want to find the latest question asked about norns (sort by Latest Topic), another you might want to know what the Most Viewed question is. and when you open that thread, you’ll only see posts relevant to that situation.

as far as fuzzier topics go, I think we’ll find out what the best practices are as we go! the mod team is all on the same page and will continue topic management as we learn how Questions gets used. if you use your best judgement, it’ll work out :slight_smile:

re: specific questions about crow or anything else in the monome ecosystem, I think that at this point those are most likely to be asked because the answers are undocumented or buried under other posts. seeing “crow - input 2 not responding to triggers” as a topic title is a lot more immediate than searching “crow input triggers” and getting 27 results for posts that contain those three separate words and not actually finding info until you click into result 20 and then actually have to scroll down to post 31 to find that crow.clear() and crow.reset() are the things to do.

also, discourse has really nice auto-suggestions when you create a topic that has a similar title to another topic – in this way, having a standard operating procedure for posting into Questions might also help folks self-solve more easily.

i hope this feels positively-intended and trust that we’ll keep iterating as we learn!

…i should also throw that crow stuff into the docs, while I’m thinking about it :wink:

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Thanks for this. I actually manage a discourse forum as part of my “day” job, so I totally get the challenge of keeping a forum helpful and organized. I also probably should’ve checked to see if you set up templating before I came here complaining :grinning:

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Is the general Eurorack questions thread intended to be depreciated them? That’s more or less the bread a butter of that that thread. And for what it’s worth, having them all in one place meant I would read through them and answer more often. It also helps consolidate the “Please look at my modulargrid and tell me what I should buy” inquiries so we don’t end up with a large number of threads with similar titles on the subject, which is my immedate throught on reading this announcement.

Definitely curious to see how this plays out.

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Don’t thread titles get searched for similar entries when drafting a new thread? That said, the case of modulargrid comments is illuminated… there will need to be some kind of separation between threads like ‘pictures of our sound machines’ and atomized question threads.

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A post was split to a new topic: Norns Mangl MIDI issue?

Yes, the thought is to deprecate the Eurorack questions thread. I personally would love to not see too many “rate my Modulargrid” threads, but the core question to them: “what Euro do I need to make xyz sound?” seems perfect for the category. I hear you on the thread being a one-stop-shop for those questions; the hope is that the questions category will become that one-stop-shop instead. Part of the thought here was about that thread: I noticed you would basically see the same question asked over and over because it just would get buried in the crush.

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I’ve found the versioned approach that cheat codes has taken to be working quite well compared to some of the other mega threads.

I think I will be following this example soon.

Seems like the perfect application of a polling feature (if a single post within a thread could be a poll of its own).

Hmmm. It sounds like “people are failing to use the search” which I’m not sure granular topics solves. I guess giving every question a title helps tag it better? In any case, thanks for the clarification.

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just to be clear, some long-running discussion threads like the main Eurorack thread are not intended to be deprecated by Questions. the new category isn’t going to automatically deprecate the large threads that can’t easily be broken down into concrete solvable Q&A. those threads are mostly comprised of subjective questions and comparative/evaluative/philosophical discussions. lots of subjective advice and wide-ranging questions too broad, or not solvable, by reducing into Questions category format.

the Euro thread and some others like it are actually better placed to facilitate ongoing discussion in one place, instead of widely duplicating it across hundreds of overlapping topics, or forcing it into specific “only talk about this if you have a solvable problem with a correct answer” format. those larger threads are learning resources and ongoing interesting conversations. they’re not necessarily ever outdated the way e.g. norns recovery procedures can become; where issues brought up in Questions might lead to docs updates on monome.org.


regarding the main Eurorack thread, i updated the title and OP so that interested folks are more aware of the kinds of things they can find within, and contribute to, the thread.

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A post was split to a new topic: Donating Musical Equipment to Charities/NPO’s