Developer support vs. wiki admin support


#1

This comes up occasionally. Should we try to differentiate between developers and people who are just trying to run their own wiki, and have technical problems setting things up; and tell the wiki owners to ask somewhere else (on mediawiki.org, presumably)?


#2

IMO it would be contraproductive:

  • It’s hard to tell the difference. People can contribute to open source by reporting bugs or improving documentation; we probably want to consider the people who do that developers for the purpose of this site (see Am I a “developer”?); it can be hard to tell (both for the moderators and for the poster) whether something is a bug / lack of documentation or just the poster being clueless; they might have the intention of filing a bug / fixing the documentation once they have figured it out.
  • People running wikis are often developers in the making; treating them as such might help that process.
  • In the long term, I doubt it makes sense to have a separate developer support forum and wiki owner support forum, with all the maintenance / organization overhead that implies. We do want to support people running MediaWiki (for some vague notion of “we”; not necessarily the DevRel team or the WMF, but the MediaWiki community as a whole surely does); the requirements / use cases are largely the same; it stands to reason to use the same software for both. With bug reports, there are clear technical reasons to prefer Phabricator, but there is no such difference between developer and site owner support requests. Two places means two feature stacks to think about, two places to search before asking your question, two accounts to register/configure etc.
  • In the short term, for a new, small channel all publicity is good publicity - even slightly offtopc threads drive engagement.
  • Being constantly told that this is the wrong place to ask the question is one of the more unwelcoming parts of using Stack Exchange; I’d rather we didn’t reproduce that user experience here.

It might make sense to have separate categories maybe, so if someone is only interested in answering one type of question, they easily can ignore the other one (that would also the friction for moving questions minimal), but I don’t think they should be on a different site.


#3

It’s a good distinction to emphasize, I think, but yeah categories or tags here perhaps rather than a separate site somewhere (and I don’t think mediawiki.org is a great venue for asking for help for either audience).

I think site admins are the best people for developers to be talking to, as well, and so having them in the same place is sensible. Of course, this Discourse site is currently fairly aimed at developers, and that might be off-putting to sysadmins, but perhaps we can do more to encourage the latter to come here?

Good point about stackexchange sites being a bit unwelcoming to some sorts of questions that we’d welcome here. Certainly we want to be more open hearted.

Personally, I’m keen to be exposed to both sorts of questions, but a new category would make that easy and make it easy for people to focus on one or the other. It also further cements the idea the mw.o is the place for documentation and not support so much (which feels like it makes sense, considering we have various other functions on other sites too, e.g. Phabricator).


#4

Pinging @cicalese because she has been thinking about this.


#5

I agree that it would be counterproductive to send some folks elsewhere. There are indeed many third-party MediaWiki users who wear many hats from installing and maintaining the software, to choosing and using extensions, to creating and maintaining and socializing wikis on top of that software stack. They should not have to remember where to go with which question, especially as some questions span different roles. And, yes, there is nothing more de-motivating than being told that you asked your question in the wrong place by a community of people who very likely have the knowledge to help you.

I hadn’t focused on the name of this site before: Wikimedia Developer Support. I’d like to see something broader. I was thinking MediaWiki support, but I wouldn’t want to exclude tool developers. Thoughts?

Whether we should separate those questions into different categories: we may need to see over time whether the volume and variety of questions suggests a categorizations. I wouldn’t want to create unnecessary silos.


#6

I’ll be blunt and say why not calling it “Wikimedia Tech Support” and open the door not only to sysadmins but to users as well. In fact, we are already there. See https://discourse-mediawiki.wmflabs.org/u/abeason/summary, who posted 4 questions which pretty much cover the developer - sysadmin - user range.

MediaWiki.org also has a developer - sysadmin - user scope. Categories and preferences on notifications would help whoever doesn’t want to follow everything.


#7

I like “Tech Support” more than “Developer Support”, since it is broader. But, to be sure that the intent is clear, what would the “Wikimedia” in “Wikimedia Tech Support” connote? That the site is hosted using Wikimedia Foundation resources? It could also be read to say that support is only provided for Wikimedia-hosted wikis. Or that support is provided by Wikimedia Foundation staff.


#8

That we are not going to help someone resuscitating their laptop or repairing their phone? :wink:

Just like we do everywhere else (and here too), we are not going to discriminate MediaWiki-not-Wikimedia people. We cannot call it just “Tech Support”, right? If not, is there a better alternative than Wikimedia Tech Support"?


#9

Fair enough :slight_smile: I can’t think of a better alternative . . .


#10

I see a difference between someone who wants to hack on code (developer support) vs. someone who wants to change some preferences (wiki admin support). I’d love to avoid creating yet another blurry “general tech support for any and every somehow technical question related to MediaWiki or Wikimedia or whatever this website is called” catch-all place as we have a few of them already, such as https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Project:Support_desk


#11

Why blurry, if we have categories and tags and notification preferences?

Imagine if we would have a Phabricator instance for developer projects and another one for “rest of projects”. Wouldn’t that be a worse solution?


#12

@qgil, you’re right. I guess I was trying to draw some differentiation to other existing ‘support places’ as long as there is lack of a plan what to do with those other places.