Archiving of - 1st March 2024

It’s possible to sort threads by “Votes” or by “Activity”:


I agree. I this plugin isn’t very good and I think it should be removed. Rather than providing value it is a net negative to this forum.


If we were to do that we’d need to find another, different, piece of software to replace OSQA. What do you suggest?

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How about just not doing that?

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In my opinion, the Help and support category worked fine with the Solution option before we enabled the Q&A plugin. I understand that upvoting and downvoting appeals to folks who are used to the old OSQA site, but we kind of have that functionality anyways in the (dispassionate) :+1: and :-1: reactions and, ultimately, polls.

The Q&A plugin would be serviceable, even with its technical flaws, except that it doesn’t fit how we actually communicate here. More often than not, the question doesn’t have a straightforward answer or there are multiple correct answers. Especially in Tagging help & support, the initial “answers” are merely the opening salvos in a long-ranging language design discussion – what should the right answer be?

The plugin tries to accommodate these tangents by allowing us to comment on answers, but that’s the equivalent of breaking up a meeting’s participants into small-group discussions and expecting the groups to hammer out a consensus without talking to one another. And the lack of quoting functionality just makes things worse, because folks have figured out how to use the normal quoting functionality in separate answers.

In my limited experience with the old OSQA site, the only reason that site didn’t have the same problem was that there wasn’t as much activity there. If we somehow found a way to graft this Q&A plugin onto the tagging mailing list, it would suffer the same problems.


No, we don’t - that’s something completely different. The idea of StackOverflow-style sites is that the best answer is at the top, and other answers are below, based on voting. This works well when people understand how this sort of site works, but a glance at shows that clearly not everyone does - people asking questions sometimes “answer” their own questions with followup questions rather than commenting on answers or asking new questions.

However, it seems a bit daft to turn the feature off just because a few people don’t know how to use it - especially when the creator of every single new topic can decide whether to enable the Q&A format for it.

It’s certainly clear that people want to have those sorts of discussions (this one is a perfect example of where that makes sense) - and there is literally nothing stopping people creating that sort of non-post-voting topic anywhere they want - even where post voting is currently enabled by default. The UI to turn it on and off is “classic Discourse” (completely impenetrable until you’ve had it explained to you) but it does exist.

That’s not a fair comparison. The tagging mailing list (and some of the longer tagging threads here) are basically the B Ark of OSM - a great place to chat about stuff; not so great for “How do I do X?” questions.

It is indeed a shame that some of the functionality in answers isn’t available in comments (and that’s true, by design, in Stackoverflow too), but the ability to comment on replies is extra functionality to the basic site - complaining that it doesn’t do X is a bit like saying that you don’t like the new bike that you got for Christmas because it’s the wrong colour :slight_smile:

I’ve chosen the conventional forum format for the help topics I’ve opened, but I’m not confident that users notice it easily enough – especially new users who are encountering both OSM and Discourse for the first time. Unfortunately, there’s no way to convert a Q&A topic back to a forum topic after the fact, after it has gone off the rails.

If you can stomach another loosely fitting analogy, the situation reminds me of wiki talk pages. It can be made to work, but only with enough handholding to leave a poor first impression. That said, I appreciate that the Q&A plugin encourages us to stay on topic, albeit in a strange way. If sunsetting the OSQA site comes with some additional discipline on our part, maybe it will go more smoothly than we’re expecting.

IMHO the two things missing are:

  • pinned FAQ on how the help category works (how is somebody even to know how the voting is supposed to work?)

  • moderation that enforces the Q&A style, for example by (re-)moving non-questions and non-answers

that technically the plugin is slightly underwhelming is undisputed, but it is what we have.


To be clear - it’s not just the help category, it’s “post voting” anywhere in the forum, which is turned on by default in the help category, but can be turned on anywhere. There’s nothing on “post voting” in or the usually more useful yet.


These ideas do seem like they could make a difference. Do you and the other moderators of @mods-support need some kind of assistance from the governance team in that regard? I can’t promise that we can always help, especially if it involves upstream changes, but please let us know in any case.


I presume that the ‘Account Removal’ option promised in the Privacy Policy will remain available here as well:

  • “Wiki and forum accounts will be renamed to a pseudo-anonymous name, but otherwise will remain as is.”

It would be advisable to ensure that after an ‘Account Removal’ request, the user’s OSM edits and help forum entries, activities, can no longer be linked.
In other words, they should not receive the same user_USERID ( pseudo-anonymous name ) globally, even if the email addresses for the 2 accounts are the same.

And I assume that the help forum’s email->username database will remain forever because how else could a user prove they are not trying to delete someone else’s data?

The question is whether we actually really need to recreate Stack Overflow style site. In the internet forum age we didn’t have that and the world did not collapse.
The point of SO really was gamification to climb up in ranks. OSM community forum is orders of magnitude too small for that to matter.


Could we make the placeholder text in the help and support category ore explicit about how the post voting topics work?

Maybe a less wordy version of:

Help and Support topics normally use a Question and Answer style post where answers can be voted up and down by the community. If your question is not likely to have a straightforward answer consider disabling voting by clicking the + in the top left corner of this draft and selecting “Remove post voting”.

I’ve asked about trying to make it clearer that responses to existing answers should be comments by removing the nearby reply button in another topic, but I don’t know if that’s possible with the current plugin.

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No, but OSM has had this since (at least) 2015 2010 and it’s been working well for “new user type” questions. Discarding the concept because the new software isn’t as good as the old software was would be a real shame.

(Date based on wiki page age.)
Edit: found question 1


This has been discussed recently in

where I argued that we should discontinue the “answer” format as inappropriate, confusing, inconsistent with the rest of this site, and overall useless. Just because it used to work this way does not mean it was a good idea in the first place.

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Looking at this again, the user summary pages actually do a decent job of gathering (links to) contributions all in one place (except votes). The main downside is that in my case I will need to archive 19 versions of the page to get a full list of all my answers.

I don’t suppose admins have a nice stable site setting that might be able to set the number of results per page for the questions and answers to e.g. 500, or 1000 prior to archiving? It might cut down on the number of static pages we end up with and make it reasonably straightforward to get a backup list of contributions.

See also Broken reply allowed to Q&A answer

Thanks for taking this initiative :clap: ! While the Q/A plugin may still have room for improvement, the community forum serves as an excellent resource for any questions I may have, and I frequently rely on it.

I’m simply curious about the reasons behind not importing the help data. Having the ability to search for such data directly within the forum could have been beneficial, preventing repetitive questions on new posts. Additionally, it would have facilitated the integration of a new community members with their pre-existing data readily available.

Is there documentation available that outlines the decision-making process? I’m new to these procedures, so I appreciate your understanding. :pray: :pray:

There is no existing importer for OSQA so we would have to write one from scratch and nobody has volunteered to do so - even if somebody did so it would require a considerable investment from operations to test and debug it before it was used live.

A number of people heavily involved with also expressed a view that quite of lot of information there was rather outdated so it might be better not to bring it over.


Actually the principle idea was to generate one high quality answer for each question rather than have dozens of forum threads repeating the same things.