Request for comments about the Ubuntu Signpost

Andrew Sayers at
Sun Jul 19 18:39:21 UTC 2009

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the feedback.

I should point out that, despite constantly going on about the 
importance of evidence, the "Flowq" page is itself based on very little 
evidence, so I expect parts of it to be rewritten as time goes by and 
evidence rolls in.  For example, I'm starting to think that questions 
should be weighted in favour of asking impatient people fewer questions.

About flowcharts - the page is a bit misleading about this, but I don't 
think the flowchart needs to be a tree.  If users sometimes go down path 
P expecting answer A, and sometimes go down path Q expecting answer A, 
then answer A should be available in both P and Q.  If supermarket 
shelves were stocked on the same principle, I would be a happy man.

I like the filtering model - less like a flowchart, more like a game of 
20 questions.  I don't see any way to do this with Ubuntu's current web 
offerings, but it would be interesting to look at an IRC bot that could 
answer support questions like this, being taught answers as time went 
on.  I'd be willing to put some time into writing up the bot for this, 
if you could get other people interested in doing the legwork on 
teaching it.

As to the splitting, rebalancing, importance etc. - these are things 
we'll have to work out based on the evidence.  I write shell scripts to 
automate most things I do, and I don't expect this to be an exception. 
I'd rather not be responsible for a whole new website though, and 
getting the stuff implemented as macros in HUC would take a long time.

About FAQs and NAQLAs - it seems that HUC's built-in system for 
monitoring page usage is broken ("page hits and edits" on the "info" 
pages just hangs and eventually gives a proxy error).  It also seems 
like page hits are being reported to Google Analytics.  If either data 
set were available to us mortals, it would be a lot easier to tell which 
Qs were being frequently A'd.

One last point I'd like to make is that the probability of user error in 
a Flowq is, by definition, nil.  So anyone that comes to the forum 
asking a question is by definition filing a bug report.  I expect this 
will lead to a Flowq that's a horrific mess and doesn't promote 
"important" questions to any great degree, but will hopefully be more 
usable for it.

	- Andrew

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