Using the Help and support category I am a little puzzled. I am not sure I understand the way to use comments vs. replies. Mostly I miss being able to track recent activity for comments.
As far as I know with posts in other categories a new reply will bring the post to the top of the category’s main page and notify participants of new activity. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the Help and support category when new comments are added to answers. It seems to me that this makes it less likely that participants will notice that there is actually a discussion going on for a post. Even if there is a lot of activity the post just keep dropping down the main page of recent activity of the category.
Or am I misunderstanding how to use the Help and support category?
Indeed the way the Help category is being implemented with the plugin to look like stackoverflow (can’t remember the plugin’s name, nor this type of layout format how is called) is confusing for those who aren’t familiar, or maybe it gets confusing because users don’t expect a different style of threads than the rest of the forum.
Not to mention that besides not having notifications for comments or suggested topics, some replies are written in a way that resemble more of a comment than actual answer (in terms of what it is expected to be written in such type of thread).
To be fair, with the plugin it’s closer to OSQA (which the old help site uses) or StackOverflow. There are absolutely still some holes though - the lack of notifications about comments that you mention being one.
Part of that is due to the limitations of what you can write in a comment, and part is that people tend to “just reply”. We got a lot of “answers that were not answers” on the help site too.
I came here to complain about the same issue, only to discover I wasn’t first. Please turn this whole “comments” feature off, it’s much more confusing (for newbies and oldies alike) and down-putting than helpful. The existing comments should either be retained or converted to proper replies (whatever the result of disabling the plugin be).
Whilst I can see the logic behind what you’re saying here, the problem was that Discourse was touted as a replacement for the old forums (now ported over successfully) and the help site. If Discourse can’t handle the use case of the help site then some other replacement for that will be needed, because OSQA (the software behind it) is unmaintained and very much on its last legs.
For context, I’ve been actively mapping since 2019 or so and never got to discover the old help site (my main reading were Wiki and the mailing lists), so I don’t miss any of its features (good or bad). I could imagine that a good deal of posters in the Help and Support category would have similar experience.
Whatever one’s experience was, the current feature works differently than the rest of the current Community site (I’ve had at least two gotcha moments with it), makes the whole site even more complex and confusing than it already is, and I don’t see a clear benefit of the “answer” format (in the Stack Exchange manner) compared to the standard forum-like interface we have elsewhere.
Apart from the missing activity tracking, the main problem is that users confuse the two paradigms, and will inevitably continue to do so. See for example this thread, where everyone was at loss whether to “answer” or “comment” or “reply”.
But we already have that – just compose a normal reply and it’s indistinguishable from an “answer” in OSQA paradigm.
The outliers here are “comments” to a previously posted reply, displayed in fine print below it, and having an unclear (I would say: negative) value for overall user experience. Just kill them with fire.
What the old help site has, and I think the help and support part here really needs is the ability to convert responses between being a reply to the main topic and a comment and back again.
The point is to be able to vote them into the order of usefulness, so any conversations happening as normal replies need to be converted after the fact to comments that will always travel with the solution they relate to…
What would happen to these comments if the plugin is disabled? I’ve tried to be disciplined about replying to answers instead of posting new ones that quote old ones. If I need to go back and repost these comments as answers, I’d like to know that ahead of time to avoid some of my posts getting completely lost.