Provide template for new topic / discussions threads

I notice that a lot of new opened topic/requests are just brain dumps without following common social / forum rules (sometimes even hostile). I can imagine that a template would do a good job in guiding the user to provide the information (that obviously is clear for the user but not for us the recipients) to explain better his/her request/question/call4help? Thoughts?

It’s possible to do that, although my experience with this kind of varies. Usually you would think that someone would then use the template, only to find they just delete it anyway, or only add/change very few parts of the templates and then leaving the rest. What you end up with then, is a huge first post, that is mostly still the template with very little information provided that was asked in the first place. Which is then even worse than a very short post without the template, since someone then has to try and find the info in what parts of the template was changed.

So it’s a bit hit and miss, great idea to try and promote the poster giving the info. It’s the same with the formatting of posts. You would think that when using the post window, that it’s possible to see the tools for formatting to make it more readable to the people who will help out, and yet the tools given aren’t used to format the post to differentiate between normal text, and console output for commands/logs.

I think if we did do a template, we would have to keep it at least relatively short so that it doesn’t overwhelm who is posting, since we would only end up with 70% of the post still being the template, and very little info actually being filled in on what was asked for by the template.

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Of course, the reporter should not be cognitive overloaded. 3-4 questions and some key/values informations (version, os release) should be enough to improve the quality of posts and lower the burden on the community to decipher cryptic posts. IIRC, a template can have some comments that do not appear at the final post. Those could be used to explain shortly to follow the questions and explain the reasons, but also giving the freedom for a freeform variant. I am sure this would lift the quality as a whole up …

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I don’t like this idea, there’s not enough free thinking in the world. It’s like surveys where all the questions are loaded to fit with what the provider wants to hear. Not all questions are “problems”, not all problems are version related.

It’s actually quite interesting, if you visit a forum from like 15-20 years ago, people tended to put more effort in with their posts providing pretty much all the info in the beginning. Irrespective of forum nowadays, you see very little effort being provided. Some even post just the error and nothing else, without even explaining what they are or were trying to do when it appeared. Or posting without googling first to see if someone has posted, or not searching the forum to see if someone asked already.

I’ve seen things like a “Start here” or “Read before posting” post that gives info on forum etiquette or info on how to post effectively to get people to help you and even that was ignored and not read.

I’d probably prefer the “read before posting” thread than a template, or at least a basic short template to try and prompt at least, I’m skeptical though of actually how effective it would be. The templates were implemented on the Gitlab forum, and I’ve seen first hand how it’s not really working, huge first posts with most of the template intact, making it even harder to see the info that they posted (if anything at all). Some do put an effort in, some it seems, cannot be bothered.

Well, I think the mental model about a “template” is very diverse and should be defined first. Second, I do prefer to improve things, and its obvious that the potential for improvement is there. Furthermore, its not all about the reporter. The recipient, the responsiveness (some post even don’t get an answer), the quality of the feedback and communication (effectiveness) et cetera must be also taking into account . To make it short, without a test period, its hard to known - not to say impossible - if it get improved.

PS: about the “read before posting” - I personalty like this approach but its important to take into account that the motivation for posting a request targets an individual problem, that wants to be addressed. Its a complete different goal compared to the one of the “read before posting”. Therefore to lead the reporter into the intended direction without dissuading him from his goal, a template in the middle of his path would do a “better” job …

Could a thread like this exist, if it had to fit a template?

Of course, the textarea (when typing) and the template gives you the freedom you want/need. A template is not a form! Maybe this is the misconception?