We are always keen to help with support requests, however we often cannot do anything if no information is provided, such as version number, OS, sync target, etc.
All we need is specified in the template - so now if that template is ignored, we will also ignore the message by deleting it and by blocking the user. We make that clear at the top of the new message template:
I undersand that if I do not read and complete the below template, my message will be deleted and I will be blocked.
For bug reports, please post them on GitHub - Issues · laurent22/joplin · GitHub
If you are not sure if it's a bug or not, PLEASE POST ON GITHUB ANYWAY.
If you post a bug report here, we cannot track it and there's a chance it won't be looked at and fixed.
For other support queries please indicate:
On desktop, open the About dialogs, and copy and paste its content here.
On mobile, please tell us your version number: VERSION_NUMBER
If it is a sync issue, please let us know what you are syncing with: SYNC_TARGET
If you report a problem with the editor, please tell us which editor you are using: Rich Text or Markdown
Your operating system: Windows / MacOS / Linux / Android / iOS
Deleting the message is fine, but I think blocking the user is quite heavy handed. A lot of people coming to Joplin are coming from Evernote, especially now that EN is under new mgmt with significant pricing changes, and those users are coming from a forum where there is no standardized bug reporting or support request template.
I'd urge you to reconsider and simply delete the message, which will encourage people to learn the correct method used by this forum. Blocking them forever doesn't teach anything, it just drives them away from Joplin.
It's reasonable but if we simply delete the message, they'll just recreate it. And if we have to send them a PM to explain that the template needs to be filled, we're back to square one of having to explain what's already explained in the template they ignored and deleted.
I would be keen to leave that message at the top and see if it works as an additional motivation to actually read and fill up the template.
In the template before it was mentioned that posts without version info will not be answered, but we still answer them anyway, so there's no incentive for someone to care to fill up the template.
So change that behavior by NOT answering posts that don't follow the guidelines. Or take it a step further as you suggest by deleting those posts. Going all the way from answering posts that don't follow guidelines to blocking the user is skipping over multiple more moderate responses and going straight to the nuclear option.
It's reasonable but if we simply delete the message, they'll just recreate it.
People will learn. It takes time to write up a post describing an issue. If it gets deleted, I think many will pause before writing that all up again. And during that pause, many will likely realize that if they want their post to not get deleted, they have to follow the template.
Reddit subreddits often employ bots that autodelete new thread posts that violate guidelines. And the user is notified of the autodeletion and a link to the guidelines. Has happened to me many times, and then I learn what is expected by that subreddit. None of these subreddits take the drastic step of blocking the user - that step is reserved for more egregious behavior.
Many times I met users who are deeply confused about some flaky recurring issue following them for weeks or even months. Such people are usually very frustrated by the experience and on the verge to leave the app.
In such situation they're not particularly keen to learn ins&outs of their situation -- like terminology we use (sync target, version number, what OS is, distinction between codemirror editor, renderer, Rich text editor, etc etc), read help pages, fill up required templates and so on. So, from the standpoint of actually solving problems it is possibly the most annoying kind of users.
Tragically, the issue in majority of these cases is very basic and can be solved with one liner (given the person would actually listen). In fact, I'd wager they simply need the space to vent and then they'd solve their own problem themselves.
With this policy enforced, I'm pretty sure that such people would no longer be able to post on official forum/github -- whether it's a good or bad thing, I'll leave to you to decide.
However, I want to propose to refer these poor souls to other communities -- twitter, mastodon, reddit, lemmy. Usually, people hanging out there provide some emotional feedback -- which oftentimes is the only thing needed.
With that said the policy is very understandable. There's no and will not be staff to moderate the forum, so all this crud piles on the shoulders of few key contributors. That's unfair and wasteful towards their very limited time. So I hope more lax rules can be upheld at another place that doesn't take up their mental space.
When I try to weigh up how to deal with such requests, I come to a different conclusion. Yes, incomplete requests are made. Yes, specifications are ignored. But to immediately rule out any involvement here seems disproportionate to me.
If I could wish for a solution, it would be this: An incomplete support request is answered with a standard text that refers to the requirements that must be met. After this message, the thread is closed.
If this cannot be done automatically, perhaps there is a group of volunteers who are already very active in the forum here who can take over? if I were eligible, I would probably raise my hand, but I don't know how the rights to close threads can be distributed here, and whether such a delegation of rights is desirable.
I understand the weariness and exasperation of developers, but repressing rather than educating is a risky policy.
You run the risk of
– diverting new users to other products;
– acquiring a bad reputation (intolerance, elitism, etc.) and on the internet, a bad reputation spreads faster than a good one. That would be a shame, because I think that today, Joplin has a rather good reputation.
It does seem extreme, to allow no mistakes, getting deleted and blocked, without any chance to correct the mistake. I would ask for at least another chance to get it right. Though I feel for the background that led to this decision.
I agree with this less extreme solution:
Would the message deletion and user blocking be automated? If so, maybe the above could be automated, too? Or semi-automated.
Thanks for the feedback on this change. I see it might not be the best way to address this issue so I've removed it from the template. A good solution would indeed be some sort of automation where a post that doesn't answer the template is deleted, and a PM is automatically sent to the user. I'll see if that can be done.
Turns out Discourse recently added an experimental form feature so I've implemented it for the support tickets. It's now required to provide at least the version and operating system and hopefully the provided upload fields will be an incentive to provide screenshots and logs (although those are optional).
I like this option! It may have the potential to serve both sides. Just an idea: Maybe a short introductional sentence could help, á la „the more info you deliver, the better/faster you can expect helpful amswers“ or to just quote the first post from Laurent here:
If you are going to be so drastic in requiring information (which is not unreasonable) I think you need to make it as easy as possible for folks to give it. Remember, this may be the very first support request someone has ever made in their entire life.
The first line on the right is kind of superfluous now. And especially the here in the green box doesn't make sense.
But in any case, neither the line on the right or the text in the blue box on the left tells you how to do that. I recommend saying something like "On the desktop app go to Help > About Joplin and then click Copy
And now that you have dropdowns, I recommend removing the bullet points on the right dealing with sync, editor, and system. No need for it and the more unnecessary things you have, the less people will read the important things.
Also, make sure that a brand new, first time user has permissions to upload files. I know that Discourse severely limits new users as to what they can do and I wouldn't be surprised if this was blocked.
Thanks so much for all you are doing, both with the app and the forum!
Thanks for the suggestions, I've implemented some of them.
I'm not sure why the text on the right was showing up for you, it wasn't for me, but anyway I've cleared it now so it should only be the form.
I thought about that but it's different on macOS, and hopefully users know where the About box is depending on their operating system.
The settings have been fine tuned over time to allow as much as possible for new users while restricting spam as much as possible. It's a fine balance to find. What annoys me the most is that we can't allow links by new users because we immediately get a lot more spam.
I don't think we as non-moderators can appreciate all the spam that you get. Thanks for your hard work.
I just remember a while ago I joined a Discourse based forum to post a support question. I gave lots of details and screen shots only to be auto rejected because as a new member I wasn't allowed to include more than 3 screen shots. Frustrating.
I don't know if it matters, but maybe include an "I'm not sure" under the editor drop down. It would avoid the situation where the user just picked one hoping they were correct. Of course you can't prevent all bad things, but maybe it might help.
I think, in a forum such as ours, there are two very different kinds of people answering new users' posts.
There are the ordinary crowd, like me, that is able to repeat simple tricks ('you didn't RTFM, but do this, it'll solve your issue')
And there are, too, the 'bosses', the very authors themselves, saturated with the ongoing evolution of Joplin and in search of real bugs -but not time wasters like ha, you killed one instance without leaving it delete its lock file, so you must reach that folder in your archive and delete it manually -posted for the 100th time.
This double capacity makes all the huge interest of this forum. In order to help the 'bosses' filter better while not banning newcomers, I think a clear sentence, in the template, could announce something like if you do not fill up this template correctly, it will NOT be taken into account by the actual Joplin team and only your fellow onlookers may react : to get an in-depth reply by a dev PLEASE fill up the template!