Improving Community Health: Community Concerns

The suggestion that the Ubuntu Forums be eliminated because Ask Ubuntu is “better” is a perennial canard. Neither is better, even if any particular user prefers one or the other. Ask Ubuntu and Ubuntu Forums simply provide support in different ways. There is richness in a community that has many means of support.

It doesn’t matter that Ask Ubuntu is a Stack Exchange venue. If you have a straight-forward, single-answer question, Ask Ubuntu is a great venue. If the question can be addressed satisfactorily with a standard answer, that’s wonderful. However, take note of what happens if another user asks the OP diagnostic questions when the issue is not straight-forward. Also take note of what happens when “duplicate” posts appear. Are they duplicates, or simply similar symptoms that arise from different causes?

It doesn’t matter that the Ubuntu Forums are hosted by Canonical. At the UF, straight-forward questions can certainly be asked. But take note what happens there when diagnostic information is asked when the question and answer are not straight-forward. What happens there when what appears to be a “duplicate” arises from another user’s entirely different root cause? The user gets personal, one-on-one help with a unique problem.

Ask Ubuntu – one question, one answer. No muss, no fuss. Git 'er done. It’s a beautiful thing.

UF – complicated questions that require diagnosis and the opportunity to teach the user about their OS.

I agree that the UF has a lot of other non-support stuff going on – like games that might seem silly. They often seem silly to me. However, if a user faces a problem that stubbornly resists the stock answer, the UF is much better prepared to have other users spend time to solve them through a process of diagnosis and back-and-forth dialog.

If there is a concern about “community”, it does not seem particularly productive to me to say an established part of that community should be removed. Neither does it seem productive to take partisan positions with regard to support venues based on personal preference.

What would most help the community? The reappearance of a functional Community Council beset neither by personal pride nor acrimony.


I don’t think that was the proposal. I’m not in favour of doing that.

The forum is maintained and there’s people working on it, I don’t believe in taking away from them. That is at least one of the ways those persons contribute to the community, and I don’t see how that would improve community health or the number of contributors. It would just demotivate those great fellows that do good work for the community.

I believe the proposal was to make AskUbuntu! a more prominent way to provide support, or make it the primary way. And this I support.

Exactly. No one said Ubuntu Forums should be eliminated :joy:

This is the story of Mr. Spanish speaker. One day while using Ubuntu he needed some help and decided to go to Ask Ubuntu. He saw everything was in English so he went to Ubuntu Forums instead. He made a post but no one replied in weeks so he discovered Discourse. It looks like a nice place to ask he thought. But only English was allowed and moreover support request are denied. So finally he decided to go the only place he felt comfortable with. A Facebook group with many inaccurate and misleading information. In the end he couldn’t solve his problem so he gave up.
This could be also the story of Mr. Russian or Chinese speaker. Just replace Facebook by the most used social network in that country.


Seems like it’s time to break out some of the discussion into separate threads. Else signal will get lost in the noise.

Role of the Community Council
Role of Community Managers
Characteristics of a healthy community
Recruiting more contributors

Reminder: You CAN cross-post quotes into your new thread.

EDIT: Oops, pre-creating a set of empty threads was not what I had in mind. My vision was for something a bit more organic, and I was NOT trying to prescribe specific topics. Apologies for being unclear.

While I agree it’s a good plan to break discussion out into separate topics, I disagree that @belkinsa should just create a slew of empty threads. That’s not really how discourse works. If you have a topic to discuss, post a thread with the things you wish to discuss. Don’t pre-create a bunch of empty threads and expect people to start talking. It clutters up the site, and makes people feel they have to reply to a bunch of empty threads, whether they have opinions / content or not. The threads should be created organically, as and when needed, please.


I agree that “many flavors” does not mean fragmentation. Those of us who hang out in #ubuntu-flavors help one another out both on the technical side (packaging, testing, reviewing, uploading) but also in more social events such as FOSS conferences. We’re all ubuntu, after all. Locally we’ve had a great time at SeaGL and LinuxFest NW for the past few years.

I don’t like the gnome desktop and didn’t like the unity desktop either but that has never stopped me working with people who like and use and work to create them. Kubuntu membership gives me Ubuntu membership and I treasure that.


Oh dear. Code of Conduct “enforcement” as a primary duty is a terrible concept. Even police officers at their best are peace officers, as in keeping the peace. If enforcement is primary, we have a police state. I don’t want that, and I don’t think anyone else does either.

Keeping the peace takes leadership, not a focus on enforcement.


Hmmm, you say the sweet grandmother didn’t lead. However I see from what you write about her that her leadership was crucial. All technical work products are half coding/packaging etc. and half communication. If you have lots of technical people who don’t communicate much or well, you absolutely 100% need those community people who do.

It’s true that we need newcomers, but who recruits, welcomes and guides them? The elders.

We need everyone.

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That is how the Kubuntu Council works. Members step up and do the work sometimes and at other times recruit and train people or just help the newcomers find their way in.

Let AskUbuntu function as it is now. It is working and let us not break it. English is not my first language, but I have decent command over English. So does for a lot of people who do not have English as their mother tongue.

That said, I do believe that people should be able to get support in their preferred languages. That can be done by local community on their Discourse board ( or a big board where all local communities have their own space ).

If some local community want to use Facebook group, they should have their freedom to do so.

There, I can get info in 3 languages, understand 2 more.

The LoCos are supposed to offer support already but something seems not to be working so I tried to find a better solution. The new AskUbuntu would be totally independent so there should be no risk of breaking anything at all.
I created a different thread to talk about this.

LoCos may offer support or not. LoCos that do offer are tagged as such on the LoCo Portal.

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@qiii responded to this already, so I’ve been trying to bite my tongue …

I use askubu far more than Ubuntu Forums, or IRC, but I’d not see any as better than others.

Personally I feel the support is better in both IRC & Ubuntu.Forums, though the format of Ask Ubuntu I find far easier to read & understand. I see many users seeking help on askubu where they’d be better asking on IRC (they want a guiding hand), or get closer to what they seek at Ubuntu Forums (not reach askubu’s comment limits trying to work out their issue).

Our community health is stronger with all (askubu, forums, irc & others I’ve not mentioned). My 2c


AskUbuntu has enough bullies. Same as " like hunters " in Facebook. They will attack your questions and answers either just for their satisfaction or to make sure that their answer is accepted ( to gain points ? ).

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That’s gamification for you if they just want points and badges. I’m going to admit, I was one of those in the early to mid 2010’s. Funny enough, I was one of those who thought about using it in other pages with Open Badges.

Do you know how many are doing that? I’m just wondering here if it’s an issue that could be brought up on the Meta AskUbuntu site.

If I look at the original post, concerns were brought up about, ultimately, keeping people engaged. I’m not sure focusing on support methodologies is going to get us that. I think we need to worry about stuff like UOS (an Ubuntu conference anyone can participate in) and the Beginners Team (mentorship). Maybe we should do something like a podcast to introduce parts of the community. I also think community should be front and center and be in places like release notes and installer slideshows. We need more help making it all accessible and international, too.


Any podcast, email to a mailing list, a post here or any other ‘forum’ should be honest about exactly what is required or is expected of anyone volunteering and where any such involvement may or may not lead.

Of course, any offers to help from the community should also be honest about what can be provided otherwise project/team leaders will stop asking for help as such offers often fail to materialise when the volunteer realises that they can’t actually contribute to the level required due to a lack of experience or expertise once they fully appreciate what is required of them.

I say this as during my time contributing to Ubuntu I’ve seen many ‘offers to help’ simply vanish after a few days or weeks due to team/project leaders not fully explaining how volunteers, especially those without specific development, programming experience or even Launchpad permissions, can effectively contribute.

I think those types of contributions are not what we need the most of. Even then, many who would aspire to be developers need some mentoring just to grasp the landscape they need to work in. Debian packaging (and yes, even Snap packaging, despite suggestions otherwise) is not the sort of thing you just walk up and start doing. I have always understood Ubuntu, both the philosophy and the software project, to be about humanity. For us, ease of use and approachability are important and, as such, it’s necessarily a social endeavour. We need advocates and mentors and documentation writers and friendly support folks and bug triagers and translators and artists, etc.


Here’s my problem with this:

How much can we do as a community without Canonical? And for the things we can try to do, where would be the best place to house documentation and other things? The Discouse forums are the best place to me under this board. If that’s the case, this board needs to be called “Community Team”.

As a side note, I do feel we do need a reboot of the Community Team where we should include the mentorship program (Beginners Team) within that team instead of it being a separate team. That could give the “Beginners Team” a better meaning since it’s more referring to getting started within the Community then being a new user.