Forum Moderation and Guidelines

I am somewhat concerned about where the community forums are headed. Ever since I registered I had the impression that a rather significant portion of people are expecting a quick fix to their issues, i.e. someone writing code or creating the workflow for them. Only thing worse than that is that so many people willingly do so. Let me explain why I think this is a bad thing.

  • Proving quick fixes that can be copied and pasted are short-term problem solvers. Mostly they don’t enable the individual; think about the “teach a man to fish” analogy.
  • When you’re the one providing the solution, you are also contributing to the issue. People will continue to expect someone to solve their problem - for free. This is bad for you as the expert, the community and the platform as a whole.
  • As a result, we’re creating an significant number of self-proclaimed RPA developers who - in reality, excel in copying and pasting someone else’s solution.

I am not against free dissemination of knowledge, quite the contrary. But I believe in enabling people over providing quick remedies, and that’s why I’d suggest adding moderation to the forums - in a way similar to Stack Overflow. For those of you not familiar with the platform, here’s what they expect when someone asks a question: https://stackoverflow.com/help/how-to-ask. If questions don’t conform with those guidelines, they can be downvoted and/or closed.

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@redlynx82

The “quick fixes” that some other people posted turned out really useful and teaches me a lot through the forums. And these days even the best developers are the best “googlers” to find and use (and learn) from other people’s questions and solutions.

I agree with most of your points. And I think guidelines should be in place for most of the forums. The point that should be moderated imho, is repeated questions or questions without the submitter appointing an answer to the solutions, or when a little research can get you the answer yourself (for example by doing the uipath course).

So basically, I agree with your option as to moderate the forums as the guidelines provide. Also Uipath’s own guidelines are pretty clear about that.

If they need more moderators, I happily apply :slight_smile:

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I find the help i receive on the forum is valuable trying to find answers for proper usage can be very frustrating. I find the activities guide answers all to be lacking any samples of usage. We know what we want to do but i think complete answers are completely acceptable as format fine tuning help is not plentiful.

I would certainly like it better off wrong answers were able to be filtered away.

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I see your point, and I don’t particularly like to do the work for a poster and will post pseudocode of ideas, a snippet example, or have them upload their own work that I can look at it. But, at the same time, examples of the solution are the best way to learn, to be honest.

Let’s say someone is asking what is the fastest way to process specific items by a criteria. - Someone who answers with an url to LINQ methods will be less helpful than someone who answers with a code snippet example of its syntax, how you can implement it into UiPath, and also with an url for further information of the methods. So, I guess you need a good balance.

There have been one or two times, however, where I just lost my patience and posted their problem solved in a workflow, just so they can get going on their work rather than messaging the forums like everyday :laughing: - I always make sure I provide organized code with good naming and annotations, though, in hopes that one day they will not be so lazy. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Anyway, good points and I agree mostly.

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Hi @redlynx82

Thank you for sharing your feedback. You are definitely not alone here, as per this topic from a few days ago:

You can see there for some of our thoughts about it.

In the end, it is as @ClaytonM said - we need to strike a good balance.

Personally, I think that people who want to actually learn something will benefit from the project samples just as much as those who just want a quick solution. When I was starting, I was really fond of the solutions that were condensed, clever and well-thought - qualities which are often directly linked to a clean, project file :slight_smile:

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well being a moderator is almost a full time job and not as easy as it sounds. but yes if @loginerror needs part time volunteers i too am willing to help as much as i can :smiley:

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+1

IMHO activities documentation is weak part of UiPath. Most often it is trial/fail exercise in a sandbox workflow to determine activity behavior. Maybe this is for a separate thread in “Users Voice”

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I agree a lot with @redlynx82.

I’ve seen this kind of behavior here in the forum and Slack as well.
It is really difficult to invest your time in giving a solution to someone that hasn’t even finished the courses and is asking about topics that are already covered in them.

I believe moderation is going to be a good tool to enhance the quality of the posts in the forum, and ensure that there is no one taking advantage of someone else’s knowledge and time.
I think it is really fair to help each other, but not by giving away the whole answer, there has to be some proof that you are actively working on finding an answer and you have not been able to do so; unless the question is something related to programming because I know there is a lot of folks in the Community that are not experts in that area.

I am not suggesting that a complete solution does not help with the learning process, quite the contrary. And as @MickeyFireMouse mentioned, I probably wouldn’t survive a single day without Stack Overflow (SO) - and I do find myself copying and pasting a lot, too. However, I would never have the audacity to ask for a finished solution let alone expect one - unless I pay for it.

However, this is precisely what happens in the forums. @ClaytonM mentioned that he ran out of patience (which I can absolutely relate to), so he provided a finished solution instead of taking much more of his precious time to explain the concepts. Kudos to you, yet I believe that this enforces laziness and boldness.

If you did something like that on SO, your question would be closed by the community - either forcing you to invest more time to do your research and attempt something on your own - and if you still struggle, you can always come back for aid. In contrast - I just saw a post here yesterday where someone got an answer - a complete solution including a workflow file, an explanation - however, it didn’t work for him or her, so he or she demanded another solution. Sure, that’s an isolated case, but it’s not just me making those observations.

The post mentioned by @loginerror pretty much hits the nail on the head, and I perfectly reflects my own views - thanks for linking it. It slipped past my radar.

Now, this brings us to the question, “what can we do about it”, otherwise my post is just another angry rant :slight_smile:
I am not sure if this forum supports all of the ideas listed below, yet I think that they would help maintaining a high level of quality posts.

  • Upvoting and Downvoting. This applies both to answers and questions. Plus, if your posts or questions get upvoted, you’ll gain reputation. If you downvote something or if your questions and answers get downvoted, you will lose some of it.
  • More Flags. As of now, we can flag posts as off-topic, inappropriate, spam, or something else. What about “Unclear”, “Too broad”, and most importantly “Duplicate”? Flagged questions would be automatically closed or locked if, let’s say 3 flags were raised by members above trust level 1, for example. This would leave moderation within the community - so most of the heavy lifting still is done by us.
  • Moderators, or better Community Managers. @VirajN mentioned that moderating a forum is a full-time job, and I agree. I also think that this is a job for someone at UiPath - i.e. someone who is getting paid for it. Anything that happens here reflects on UiPath, so keeping things civil and of high quality should be their concern.

On a different topic raised by @cmrobertson and @J0ska, I agree that documentation lacks examples. This could be fixed quite easily by either letting us suggest samples here i the forums, or directly submit examples in the Activity Guide. Turn it into another competition, provide goodie bags for the most up-voted examples, and people will gladly jump in. In fact, this forum already contains plenty of useful snippets and workflows, so maybe someone needs to write a robot parsing in order to retrieve them automatically :smiley:

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@redlynx82 you get a like for most names mentioned in 1 post.
Also good post!

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And here I was, expecting an achievement.

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@redlynx82

Fair points. Believe it or not, we already have a few full timers on the Forum :wink:

The current plan is to enhance community collaboration, outsource some of the moderation work and improve the experience when interacting with the Forum in general. Neither can be done in a few hours, so give us some time :slight_smile:

Currently, the growth is crazy and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon (but speed up, rather), so we do have a sense of urgency in place to make those changes.

Keep discussing this topic in the meantime! Some valuable feedback has already been collected! :rocket:

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How about a “New Post Question Bot ?”

In the example of new questions from first timers.

“How do I do X thing Y product”

get the Bot to use some NLP and take note of the forum context and have it perform
half a dozen separate searches perhaps at the Postgres Level using some tricky ruby if needed.
surface those results as please read these similar questions to see if your question has already been answered.

Hey @nathank

Thankfully, similar thing is already natively supported by Discourse. See this small sample for our all time favourite:

It might not work perfectly, but on the other end if someone wasn’t prone to click those and created the new topic anyway, I’m not sure we can do more :sweat_smile:

There is still place for improvement there though, I’m sure. For example, it is very easy to find solutions on the Forum for simple error messages. As such, you only need to search for your error message between quotes and with in:solved added afterwards, like so:
“one or more errors occurred” in:solved

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True that.

Maybe just a nice way of saying “If your post is clearly a double up etc” it will be removed could be added to the standard terms and conditions. If people aren’t being singled out then they shouldn’t be offended. It’s likely this site will pass 100,000 user milestone in the near future so some discipline now will pay off in long term.

I will admit the balance is tough over on StackOverflow the thought police will delete your answers if they don’t think they are advanced enough they go too far often particularly on coding sections.

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