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first, let's say it loud: i love how this forum is a platform where ideas build up and very interesting discussions arise... on top of helping the users to get things done!

but i'm also noticing that almost every question asked in here becomes a discussion among a few frequent users about "advanced" topics.

some users seem to appreciate that their questions are inspiring other people, but i fear that others get a bit intimidated.

i would suggest that we "the experts" should ponder in each single case, if we want to simply reply in the current topic or open a new one (or pick an existing one that is already covering the idea) and start the discussion there.
eventually (or most of the time) with a cross reference between the two topics.

it might take a bit longer to write our posts, it might lead to some awkward cases... but i think that it could improve the discussions in here...

what do you think?



and now i hope that i did not intimidate the frequent posters... : - )


An interesting idea.

On the one hand I can see where some discussions between regulars can take a topic down divergent paths that might not be useful to the OP. For example, someone might ask a question about how to align shapes but people start discussing various ways that Scribus could implement snapping. The answer to the OP's question might be in there somewhere but it could be difficult for them to unravel it all to get to what they want. Sometimes it's nice to just get a straight answer and move on.

One the other hand, it can be very interesting and useful to see what different people think about something, especially when there are different ways of doing the same thing. For example, if you go to any coding forum and look for questions about converting between numbers and strings you will normally see a long list of different ways to do the same thing depending on different circumstances with people chipping in little extra details. This sort of discussion can be a very good resource and helps you to try various different things.

Having different parts of the forum for different abilities sounds wrong to me. Even if everyone can access everything and it's all in the open it just sounds a bit strange, like some kind of mysterious cabal whispering arcane incantations in the dark behind the scenes until they give some kind of proclamation. It also sounds like it would be difficult to police properly.

I think the overall problem may be something else. To me, a forum should be for discussion and for people to ask questions. People should be able to discuss things freely - within certain bounds of course - without anyone taking offence or feeling intimidated. I realise that it's part of human nature not to want to gatecrash an existing discussion, and it's also part of human nature not to want to look foolish if you might say something wrong, but people of all abilities should feel free to jump in whenever they want to. Sometimes a discussion between experts can get to a point where it needs a beginner to step in and say "Isn't this getting off the point a quite bit? All we need to know is this..."

One thing that I don't think a forum should be for is somewhere to find out answers. That might sound a bit strange so I'll try and explain. If I want to find out an answer to something, what I don't always want to have to do is read through a long list of posts to try and pick out the relevant information. It can be interesting to see different views but most of the time I just want a single answer that will get me back on track. Or, to put it another way, I wouldn't go to a debating society to find out an answer, I would go to a book. I would go to a book, look in the index, find the page where the information was, and then use that information. You can't get that from a discussion because there's always someone with a different opinion.

I would say that what is needed are two different things. A forum is needed to discuss things and, once things have come to some sort of conclusion - or impasse - the relevant information should be extracted and an answer written somewhere else. Users should first be directed to look at the "answer book", then, if they can't find what they want, they can try on the forum. That issue can be discussed and then the answer written in the answer book. Think of a sort of big indexed FAQ, or - are you seeing where I'm going? - a wiki.

That's what - to me - the wiki should be for. It should be a big book where people can look for answers. Like a dictionary or encyclopaedia. It should not be a user manual or a set of tutorials or some installation instructions, they should be elsewhere. The wiki should give definitions of relevant words and phrases - baseline, typography, tracking, spot colour, etc. - and should link to other more procedural or practical resources.

I'll try and give a decent example. Say someone asks a question on the forum: "How can I make sure that my text frames are aligned?" A discussion will ensue which will probably cover: guides; align & distribute palette; manual placement; snapping; the grid; and probably much more. In time, the discussion will probably wind down after people have said their piece.

Once the discussion is essentially over, someone can then pick through the thread and come up with some key words and phrases: guides; snapping; alignment; etc. They can then go to the wiki and see if pages for these word/phrases don't already exist. If they don't exist then they can quickly create them. These small wiki articles can give a short description of the word/phrase and have links to more detailed resources.

For example:
Guides can be used to align objects and create page layouts.
* You can add guides manually by dragging them from the rulers <link to tutorial>
* You can manage guides more formally using the Guides Manager <link to user guide>
* You can set objects to snap to guides <link to UI overview>
* You can align objects to guides using the Align & Distribute palette <link to manual>

Basically, the wiki becomes a large set of very small and manageable pages that only contain the basic information that is needed with links to other resources or words/phrases. The wiki should not contain massive articles on things like how to compile from scratch on Linux Whatever 4.xx with a Fairy 5.xy Desktop. Most users aren't interested in that sort of thing and the information just gets in their way. The user should be able to come in with a few keywords and be able to find an answer very quickly.

Once the wiki is populated with enough of these small articles then anyone with a question on the forum that's already been answered can simply be given links to the relevant pages on the wiki without any need for people to have to explain things multiple times to different people. (How many times has "DPI vs PPI" been explained in the forum when it could be done once in a short wiki article with links to other resources?)

For the user, their first port of call should be the wiki. That's where the answers should be. If an answer is not there then they should come to the forum where they can get into a discussion about whatever it is. Then the answer that falls out of that discussion should be added to the wiki.

Most of the time - in my experience - people just want to know where they can start off from but don't know where to start. Sometimes it's simply because they don't know what something is called and don't know what to search for. Sometimes they are just a bit confused by it all - DTP isn't something that comes naturally to most people - but they want to learn.

One extra thing I would like to add is this: In my opinion, once a discussion is completed - or left to expire - on the forum, and its carcass has been picked over and it's contents properly added to the wiki, then it should be archived and removed from the forum. There are way too many old discussions in here where the information is either out-of-date or just plain wrong. If the information is useful and up-to-date then it should be added to the wiki. If the information is useless or already been added to the wiki then bin it. Given current forum usage it should only have a couple of dozen threads including some long-term discussions like the one about the IndigoDock.

If the wiki is properly updated there shouldn't be any need for thousands of forum threads. The information should be in the wiki and that's where people should go to get their information first.

Well, that's me done for now. I know that some people won't like what I've said but that's fine and I would like to know what I've said wrong, this is a forum, this is what it's all about. And that's really my whole point: Forum for discussion - Wiki for answers.