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Hi :)
The people answering questions at the AskBot site need more people to join in with answering 
questions.  If you  just lurk on this list because something about it bugs you then it might well 
be because you prefer the way AskBot is set-up.  It's a much more modern approach with more 
flexibility and looks prettier (but don't be fooled.  It does have a lot of power under the bonnet)

To Robinson ... 

There is going to be another more traditional forum soon.  It might be useful for the Ask 
contributors to hijack/create a part of that to help coordinate and build-up their Answerers Team.  
This mailing list might be another approach if people can sign-up without receiving any emails and 
then just create threads in Nabble.  This approach would bring answerers from both parts together 
on a more frequent basis.  

Alternatively maybe AskBot can be tweaked into providing a more useful place within itself?  or 
perhaps you could set-up a mailing list purely for answerers at AskBot or maybe include people from 
this list and the forum.   There's always Facebook and stuff too that are allegedly quite good at 
helping build communities 

Good luck and regards form
Tom :)

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Robinson Tryon <>
To: Marc Paré <> 
Cc: documentation <> 
Sent: Tuesday, 12 February 2013, 3:43
Subject: Re: [libreoffice-documentation] Re: Questions galore!

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 1:05 AM, Marc Paré <> wrote:

When I first went to the site, I thought that it was a
site for end-users because of the highly-prominent links to books for
sale, but now I believe that the website is largely focused on
internal production. Perhaps there's something we can do to make
things more clear to regular users as well as to our volunteer

ODFAuthors have been partners with OOo and in particular with LibreOffice
from the very start.


Jean Hollis Weber of ODFAuthors is one of our most
prolific contributors on the project, we also make use of ODFAuthor
resources and goodwill. I believe it is we who should be thankful for
ODFAuthors helping us out with the docs teams and resources. I doubt things
would go as smoothly without Jean and her team at ODFAuthors who work at
quite high professional standards.

Yes, I'd previously run across the "Taming LibreOffice" website, but
didn't put the pieces together until just recently that she was the
head of the Documentation Team :-)

As far as I can remember, all that same information is already up on the Ask
site. You just have to find it. No need to go to

ok, cool.

IMO, most questions users ask on the site are
best answered there, and, IMO, I don't see a reason to work on any
user-related FAQ when the site is probably the best
of solution for a good living/breathing FAQ site.

Using the Ask site as the general FAQ as we go forward sounds like a
solid plan to me. The FAQ on the wiki currently has some overlap with
the Ask site: >

What do you guys think about migrating questions from that FAQ to the
Ask site? I'd be happy to shepherd that work, if that's amenable to

I don't think this would be an acceptable option as the FAQ is, again, used
in large part for contributor work.

Ah, okay. Most of the questions on the FAQ on the wiki seem to relate
more to *use* of LibreOffice than being a *contributor* to the
project. The contributor-specific content I see on that page is a link
to the "List of Frequently Asked Questions for Development".

These types of questions/categories seem like they're more suited to a
user-targeted FAQ:

- "Spell-checking doesn't work !"
- "What are the system requirements for LibreOffice? "
- "How do I change the email client used by LibreOffice? "

IMO, there is nothing wrong with
overlapping/doubling or information as people tend to operate in different
ways; some like to get information from FAQ's, others from Ask sites, others
from mailing lists, others from forums ... IMO, it is up to the site
maintainers to triage the information appropriately so that it is factual
(as best as one can get) for their own particular user base. To me, it
doesn't sound like a good idea to remove a contributor tool for users when
we are in need of contributors.

I think doubling could be okay if we had enough manpower to maintain
all of our web properties. As you mention, we are in need of
contributors, and every additional copy of documentation or
information requires additional personnel to keep it fresh and up to

To wit, some of the entries in the wiki FAQ are merely pointers to
other pages (e.g. the System Requirements) and seem unlikely to
change. However there are other pages, such as the information about
supported file formats, or information about the user profile, that
may need more frequent updates: (redirects to
Also see

I believe that since 3.6, LO has dropped support for export in some
StarOffice file formats, and I believe that the user profile for LO4
is stored under .config/libreoffice/4/, but we haven't had a chance to
update that information yet.

The Ask site is mostly reactive, rather than proactive, so while we do
have updated info about the StarOffice formats:

...we don't have up to date information about the User Profiles:

The Ask site contributors seem to be basing their information on
what's on the wiki, so perhaps we should put a stronger emphasis on
keeping the information on the wiki up to date. I know that's a really
big task, but it's definitely worth some thought.

   - When answering a Q, there should be a clear/easy way to ask the Doc
Team where to find the latest documentation on a particular topic

   - If "How do I do X?" comes up and we don't have (can't find?) good
docs on it, there should be an easy way to ping the Doc team about the
need [File as an enhancement bug?]

   - The text of really good Answers should be fed back to the Doc team
for inclusion in the next iteration of the documentation [Not sure if
this should be a pull or a push action]

This sounds more like a business model/plan where the people who work on the
project are considered employees and not volunteers. While this sounds like
an ideal plan, I would venture to guess that an organizational scheme of
this magnitude would not work. This would set up too many regulations rather
than opportunities to contribute.

I'm not sure that my suggestions would introduce "regulations," but I
do agree with your general assessment. In particular, I believe that
what I'm describing is a more integrated workflow, and such a workflow
is difficult without a commitment from the senior members of each team
to make sure that incoming requests are dealt with promptly. It's
difficult to get that kind of a commitment from an all-volunteer team!

We are built on a meritocratic philosophy
which is why we have seen so much growth in our dev section -- this is what
is so attractive to our contributors. Unfortunately, our other contributor
branches have not been able to keep up to the pace. It is all up to us to
trumpet the values of our project and try to attract contributor in our

A little friendly competition for volunteer talent :-) So there's no
unified approach to attracting new talent, like a Volunteer
Coordinator? It would be neat to have some coordination on how we
could suggest people to participate. I know we have the page about
getting involved (, but
someone to help with proactive recruitment might not be a bad idea.

IMO, the quickest fix for the problem at hand is still the rationalization
of the Ask site, culling the question/answers that are on the database at
the present time ... I know it is a big job ... but regardless of any fix,
you will still have to do this.

I think one of the strengths of the Ask site is the ability for users
to see a variety of questions and answers. We could consider
"curating" the site more, but that would require more users to step up
into positions of greater power and responsibility, and require some
tough calls because we can't easily combine information from two
questions into a single question. Closing questions is reversible (and
those questions are still searchable), but I'm much more cautious
about deleting content. In any case, any culling of the answers will
need to wait a bit until we've dealt with our backlog.

It also sounds like the Ask site should try
to involve more contributors on their site to help with responses to user
questions, have you tried to grow your contributor base by inviting regular
competent participants to join your ranks?

Yes, I've definitely asked some people to join us. I've also lost a
couple of key contributors. One of the issues is that the Ask site
doesn't have a unified mailing list, IRC channel, or forum for us to
cultivate a community. Our only interaction is through Questions,
Answers, and Comments (which can lead to some interesting situations,
like using comments on an Answer as a poor-man's forum thread :-)

IMO, the fact that there are different contributor FAQ's are fine, the user
FAQ is supposed to the the Ask site.

(not sure what you were intending to say here)

And yes, unfortunately, there may be
some overlapping, but the quality of answers on the site still remains the
responsibility of the people behind the Ask site.

If, when you say "the people behind the Ask site" you mean the
mods/admins, I'm not sure I agree. The quality of the answers on the
Ask site comes from how vibrant a community we create, and how
involved our senior, knowledgeable members become. The people behind
the Ask site -- the mods, admins, etc -- are already kept busy by a
lot of 'housekeeping' tasks, and some of the key members also try to
make sure that every question gets at least a cursory answer. I think
we all strive for quality, but don't always have time to give each
question the care and research that it deserves.

To compare with a similar situation, would you say that the
Documentation Team is currently responsible for the quality of the
documentation on the wiki?

Note that I am not annoyed with your questions nor with your suggestions.
But, it looks to me that you are looking for answers to the problems on the
Ask site in the wrong places. Once the Ask site is cleaned up, you may find
that most of the problems will have lessened.

But, as we are following meritocratic philosophical values on the project,
there is nothing to stop you from organizing such a structure as you
describe, and, perhaps it may be adopted by the rest of us. Put in writing
on a wiki for people to read and if you find enough contributors to run it,
then we may all follow. It may work!

Fair enough. I believe that better coordination between the
Documentation Team and the members of the Ask site could be very
helpful to the user-support process, and I'll do what I can to help
keep the lines of communication open. Putting proposals up on the wiki
sounds like a good step once I've had a bit more experience
interacting with the different teams and can formulate more complete
solutions. For now, I'll join as many lists as I can handle, fix bits
and pieces here and there, and learn a bit more about how the various
parts of LO operate :-)


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