I would like to set up a Newbie Non-coder sub forum. I don't think anything like that exists so far, or have I missed it?
The Problem - A high ratio of Joplin users seem to have some coding and dev skills. These people are our innovators, but they understably get frustrated with low end hyper basic queries.
The Solution - Create a Newbie Non-coder sub forum whose function would be to get those queries "out of the hair" of the coders, and at the same time create a crèche for non-coding newbies. This will is likely to focus heavily on how to get used to working in markdown and understanding the necessary functional compromises within Joplin. We would need some oversight and assistance from the hardcore coding community, but as newbie orientated FAQs are developed this should reduce.
Would anyone like to join me in setting this up?
I would like to set up a Newbie Non-coder sub forum. I don't think anything like that exists so far, or have I missed it?
It's true that there are a lot of technical users on the forum, but that doesn't mean more basic questions aren't welcome. Actually I get a sense that even those questions are answered in general, and probably even in a nice way, or am I missing something?
I guess where there may be frustration it's for questions that have been asked many times before, but even then they often get a link to the previous thread.
I believe #lounge is good place to talk out in the open; also have a look at reddit and matrix (#JoplinNotes:matrix.org), they have much chiller vibe and generally answered by radically different bubble of people compared to the forum. If you have a favourite platform to suggest -- let's see it, maybe we already have someone present there and ready to help
That's not the point.
That’s the point. Why inexperienced users get this “frustration” feeling throughout the time they are trying to get comfortable with using Joplin? Mixing professionals and beginners in a short conversation can be beneficial, but it doesn’t always work well. It just discourages both.
However, when professionals are always asking for clear, detailed, and logical answers, beginners are just asking for emotional, creative, understandable, and simple answers. Professionals want to K.O. a question in one reply. Beginners seem to enjoy discussing a topic even using half of a day, which is why they come from different social groups initially. They are each pursuing different things that keep them comfortably living in a community. And they will lose enthusiasm and just leave because they can’t find what they want.
Therefore, while creating a beginner forum is absolutely a need, the best time to launch is when ready for the entire change of Joplin’s UI/UX. I think the beginners’ ecology, cross-device experience, and UI/UX are the weakest parts of Joplin when compared to other similar software.
So, overall Joplin needs some changes, and the subforum should be one of them.
So your solution would then be what? Telling the experienced users not to go to the noob sub, and let the newbies hash it out among themselves?
When I am newbie somewhere, I understand that asking the same questions again and again may be annoying. So I am trying this way: more reading and less talking. Friendly chat in the newbies sub-forum would be of little help for me. I prefer professional opinion.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. Some people may prefer option A, some may prefer option B, and some may want to combine both. Professionals and beginners have different needs and expectations, but they can also benefit from interacting with each other occasionally. However, professionals should not ignore the beginners’ questions and assume that writing detailed documentation will solve everything. By the time the documentation is ready, the beginners may have lost interest or moved on.
This is not a debate about which option is more logical or efficient. This is a discussion about how we can attract and retain new users. Logic alone cannot tell us what we need to do next. We need to think creatively and innovatively. Because the future can always be better than the present.
That's an atmosphere that non-coders are actually looking for. Non-coders are drawn to a community that welcomes and supports them.
Here comes a fresh great example:
(quote prosas said)
When I am newbie somewhere, I understand that asking the same questions again and again may be annoying. So I am trying this way: more reading and less talking.
I have the same experience as him. I wish more people would think like this, because we found our own reason to stay on this forum. But the fact is, I saw many fresh registers post their first question with zero replies, and then they are never online again. Where do they go? And why? How will they finally describe their experience to others?
That’s it. I’m just sharing my thoughts on what needs more attention, not criticizing the value of Joplin that already exists.
But I'm not sure what market Joplin is targeting; Maybe I'm wrong if Joplin is only targeting professionals.
high five. Back in my day, we called it 'lurk moar'.
I'm not in any way discouraging what you say, @Sinacs; I just have to admit I don't see how it would help.
You think this would have been different if the post was made to a different subforum?
Are newbies afraid to post, expecting criticism from someone else who also wanted to answer, but is more skilled?
That doesn't seem too realistic from my poiint of view. Judging by the fact that when I try to answer something, at most I may get a 'like' from a dev or some other user, who is presumably glad they don't have to write an answer; I've never been criticized or attacked for trying to help.
But again, that's just my experience. Maybe I'm just being slow on the uptake here.
I can see what @HendonRunner is trying to achieve but I am not sure a separate forum area would have a huge benefit. The same more experienced users would likely be the ones to have the confidence to answer the posts. It would be helpful if the poster made their level of technical ability known but often that can be ascertained from the question.
What would be great is if the user took a bit of time to look through Joplin's menus and settings page first as well as experiment with the software a bit to get a feel for it. Searching the forum / website and having a read before posting would also be great (I think that this is what @prosas was referring to). Also actually reading the template for support posts and providing a bit of basic detail would help a lot. This can be why some posts have zero replies; there is not enough information to formulate an answer. Everyone here is volunteering time. If I have a spare few minutes and see one post that has enough info to try to answer and another that has little or no detail and is going to take a post just to get the version and OS, I am going to go for the first.
Note that the above paragraph refers to "the user". This is not unique to new users.
So, with new users in mind, it could difficult to define what technical level of support is required for a "newbie non-coder". Where is the cut-off line? Say a user in the "newbie" forum asks if the colour of headings in the rendered markdown can be permanently changed. In a "newbie" forum the answer should possibly be "no" as it cannot be done directly through the UI, only using custom CSS code which could be considered coding(?). Also the person helping may be a "not-quite-so-newbie" trying to help but who is not familiar with custom css. Anyway, the answer "no" is possibly correct for that level of user but not technically correct. Then you would have to take into consideration Cunningham's Law**. You can bet that the next post will be saying that the answer is wrong and providing css code blocks (hopefully with an explanation of how to apply them ) or links to posts in the "main" forum. AND if the person replying was a "not-quite-so-newbie" who was getting more confident with Joplin, would they help again after getting corrected? Maybe I'm overthinking this...
Compared to many, the Joplin forum is polite and helpful. I think we should strive to keep it that way and if someone does not understand an answer they should not feel they cannot say so.
Finally, I am not sure that Joplin is targeting anyone other than those who want to maintain a collection of notes. The technical/professional bit only comes into play when something has gone wrong, or the user wants to do something extra with Joplin, and posts asking for help.
** "The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer."
Exactly. I have a few noob friends that I got into using joplin. When they get stuck, they either google or ask me; none of them have an account here.
The extra step of registering on a forum to talk about software already skews the distribution of the people on the forum towards the more technical.
If just that, NO. At least one more maintainer who understands what exactly the fresh user needs.
One of the reasons newbies afraid to post is they think here is not the place for them. Sometimes they just want to share something emotionally. I would say, when everyone only cares about the quality of questions and answers, what's next after you finally created perfect documentation that can solve all the newbie's questions? Is that mean forum no longer exists any value?
When this official forum is for professional Q&A, why not one more for just chatting and sharing how they use Joplin, just becomes more relaxing.
There's nothing wrong with both of our points, we are just thinking and concerned differently. If everyone thinks like you and prosas, this topic is not necessary to discuss. I am just here to share my voice as user feedback, and I hope it will be a consideration when making the decision.
Professional Q&A is not the only type of value, it is just one of the services that cannot be without.
Overall, as @dpoulton said, only creating a subforum won't have a huge benefit. But I can bet if the subforum launches with the Joplin UI changes and comes with good subforum maintainers (understanding what newbies and non-coders think), it must be another different story.
I've already tried my best to describe my experiences, I respect everyone who worked hard for Joplin and expects to see Joplin keep growing.
I think this is a good question to think about:
If every software provider could support professional Q&A, using the same technologies, both with great contributors and can solve all the user problems in a minute, what reason can make users keep using your software, and not change to others?
This doesn't seem restricted to just newbies/non-coders though. Maybe that is the point others are making. Take this very thread for example, posted in Lounge. I saw it in the email summary of posts, the title and snippet interested me, and I clicked to read. I do that for quite a few posts, am just in lurker mode in most, and reply to a few.
To me, this very thread has produced some interesting discussion that I expect could (and likely has) taken place between Joplin users with a range of tech background, Joplin experience, forum engagement.
I'm reminded a bit of Asana's forum, and not only because they are using Discourse in the backend also, but because I see them as having a very successful forum with a lot of user engagement at all levels. But they basically hire Community Managers who seem to spend all day engaging with people, merging duplicate threads, etc. And they have Asana pros who basically live on the forum and make their living out of using Asana. For now, it's on a whole different level, but there could be things to learn from that kind of success, both in terms of product and user engagement.
Maybe one thing that would help newbie onboarding is if the Joplin Forum link in the Help menu went to Categories - Joplin Forum instead of the list of newest posts. That way a brand new user would see the categories first, including the Support Category. Returning visitors may be more likely to come from email notifications (which is what I do), or have a specific view of the forum bookmarked that they prefer.
I wonder if the categories view would also benefit from being the default view for the "https://discourse.joplinapp.org/" link.
Really, they just need to ignore those posts then. Good old "if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all."
I have found this forum to be far above average in terms of healthy culture. And I don't think having a separate sub forum for new people would solve the problem you are raising. I mean, does anyone actually use the forum by category? I just look at the whats new page. I highly doubt there are many people who use the category mute feature or even know that it exists.
Also, just because the person is new that doesn't mean that the question is necessarily insignificant. A new person could be raising an issue/problem that more technical people would need to see.
Broadly yes, but narrowly no. What really sets up for newbies/non-coders is an "atmosphere" where they can feel comfortable. You can just imagine there are two groups of people, Group A likes city life (coders/professionals), and Group B likes nature life (newbis/non-coders), so they both choose to live in a different environment. However, "B" sometimes might want to go to the city based on the existence of some benefits in the city that are not found in nature, but it doesn't mean that they can feel comfortable living in the city for a long time. The keyword is "SOMETIMES", and this kind of need is usually based Emotionally, and not Rationally. Even Group A will also want to go hiking in nature sometimes but whoever would not give up their original residence based on "sometimes needs".
Yes, but not only user-share. It's a topic also related to the whole branding of Joplin itself, that's why I didn't support the idea of creating a new subforum without any changes in the main thread.
Yes, it's worth a reference, but it's not a fair comparison, I think we can just simply set the Logseq as a competitor for comparison. Think about why happened and how you would explain the below numbers:
Yes, I agree, that's why we have 484 members here feeling comfortable with it. Is it actually the goal or value that Joplin aims to exist? I agree it is a kind of value that Joplin already exists, and yes, it is worth it, but it is only suitable for a few users in the market. So, how about the largest part? Even I don't think logseq has done really great overall but why can't Joplin do better?
If market share is one of the concerns, don't doubt it, just try to help users understand their requests and find out what their actual needs are. Your principles will automatically help you drive away customers who don't belong to you, which is fine but in moderation.
In short, a successful forum is to maintain the volume of numbers, such as members, posts, replies, likes, etc... Without those numbers, it means nothing in the market but you. If you only want to create a perfect Q&A-based service, it doesn't have to be a forum.
The core consideration of subforum is not about "should we create?" is about "what we are fighting for?" If you are understanding your goals clearly, just keep going with what you are doing, you will get what you want in return. If not, change your mind.
I think the whole idea is to have a successful note taking app. Having fewer forum/reddit members could actually be an indicator that the software is easy enough to use that you don't need to join a forum to use it.
That means you think a good product would never need promotions.
Great to see a good debate going on here.
For clarification, I am not hooked on the sub forum solution.
I was basically just asking the question "Do we want to find a better way to successfully and smoothly onboard non-coding newbies" because right now it's not that great an experience for them. There are many valid and good reasons why this is so.
There is also the question of whether Joplin even wants those kinds users. I mean by definition they are high maintenance and worth avoiding in the early years when you are relying on scarce volunteer devs, for resource reason alone.
It probably comes down to, what is Joplin's mission statement, and then it becomes a choice of getting behind it or not.
The logseq va Joplin screenshots are interesting perspective. @Sinacs what are you showing with the last screenshot though?
I'm all for ways for making a place more welcoming, encouraging good participation, etc. To the credit of this forum, I'm here, reading the email summaries, contributing to discussion, asking questions, and wouldn't be doing that if I hadn't found this place inviting enough. I am a dev though, although I have no knowledge of most of the actual tech stack used for Joplin. There's a lot here that goes over my head - but I just don't read those posts.
No, not at all. I just don't think that a user forum is a good method of promotion. But that's not really related to the OP's request.
"Do we want to find a better way to successfully and smoothly onboard non-coding newbies"
My quick win suggestion would be some link and discourse reorganisation like this --^
A next step would be to couple it with a "Start Here" category that's at the top, which basically has welcome posts, points you in the direction of the help guide (as you may have gotten here via Google), links to how to create an issue on the repo?, and to other significant places or threads that would be useful, e.g. suggested plugins. Someone might want to write and maintain a "Newbies Guide to Using Joplin" post.
One thing that maybe halts adoption is that Joplin doesn't seem to do what they'd like, so realising the possibility of it will be what some people need to stick around and try it more.