It would seem that with all the postings on this, that someone would have already created and posted a little script that ran through the directory structure and created a symbolic link to a single custom php.ini, but I could not locate it.... (nor did I find this mentioned in the Tracker....)
Likewise, I would have assumed that there was an explanatory note as to how various strategies addressed a custom php.ini, again since default limitations by web hosters have created such a large discussion of this on the site, but again, this seems to be lacking.
I suggest that someone who has just recently addressed this issue create a new moodle documentation page referenced from the admin docs php page that offers a distillation of php info that would be of particular interest to moodlers, such as the ins and outs of custom php.ini configuration and the reasons why customization might be necessary (such as timezone issues, max upload issue, etc, all in one place.....) with links to such scripts as might be made available to address these apparently chronic problems, and that the install docs reference that page such that someone installling will be alerted to such "gotchas" before spending 30 hours digging through half a dozen different fora....
Unpredicatably, forums often develop very valuable group knowledge. Information that needs to be summarized, categorized and stored in an accessible place. This happens not only in these community forums, but also in my course forums with student-generated knowledge.
We need a new Forum Type that has several stages, such as:
- distillation by a moderator
- forwarding to a FAQ list, Wiki or Docs
A tracker search produced, among many others, the following, which all seem to acknowledge that this has been pending for years....
and as sticky posts are incorporated in virtually every php BB on the planet, along with the ability to quote and embed the kitchen sink I will cite http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-8036 which seems to reject the concept of integrating something like phpbb into moodle, though moodle has done that with so many modules. Are we spitting into the wind in suggesting such amenities when the developers are agin it....
Assuming for the moment that development along the lines we are discussing will not happen, what can we do to adapt? We do have docs that are editable by the community. I have seen dozens of posts by one or two persons in one area or another virtually repeating the same advice over and over, while there may be little effort to include this information in moodle docs.
On the flip side, I have posted questions as have many that receive no reply, and one could argue that any posting that has not been answered within some time limit should be addressed to a forum moderator so as to identify issues where there are no answers or catch questions that have fallen through the cracks. Of course, if there were aggressive moderation of a forum (which could arguably result in a forum being pruned and having branches moved hither and yon to be more intelligible (at least in someone's perspective) there would likely be howls of protest from some, as well, perhaps, as lingering silence when it came to volunteering for the post of moderator .....
Do we need a wiki when that is really what the docs are as opposed to sticky topics that provide if you will indexing to the docs which perhaps are more dynamic based upon forum exchanges? If we do, what would the differential function be, and how would a user be directed to one as opposed to other....
It arguably falls upon those doing the answering in the forum to edit the documentation absent some other methodology, or continue to bear the brunt of answering the same questions over and over. I piped up about php.ini simply because I had just fiddled this so it caught my attention... There are obviously those with substantial expertise in this area who could compile material in a broad context. But as is the case with everyone, where is the time?
Perhaps someone from development would like to comment about use of Moodle docs, changes to the forum to make features common to phpBB available, etc?
For example in this post, you made the summary post within a long thread. Somehow it should semi-automatically be made into either a highlighted post, a sticky post, or a wiki post.
"I think what has come out of the smiley discussion has been the following:
- If various components of any solution are essentially being managed out of the forum it becomes an unmitigated disaster as it gets very confusing very quickly and frustrating for the user, the developer and the maintainer.
- Since we are talking about three different levels of development, if we don't have coherency then we will have things that break. For example, the Dragmath integration still includes dbldollars while DragMath has also added same. (as I understand it, Anthony's solution is not the same as John's, John's is published, and neither addresses the new version of dragmath or the changes that allow dragmath to insert the dbldollars....)
- There will arguably be a different integration for each "plugin" to each editor.
- While you are correct in stating that smilies for example can be retained, the question becomes one of managing resources and those resources include not only the time and energy to cobble the code, but the time and energy as well as to manage QA and versioning...."
As for waiting for developers? Well, I consider everyone a developer. It is up to me. I can't code a single line of PHP, but have helped develop over ten modules and plugins simply by being a cheerleader.
So new forum types is on my list of things to cheerlead. It is about number 5 or 6, so I will be actively hiring coders for other jobs for now. But you might make it top of your list and consider getting a coding assistant. There are lots of eager, talented, multi-lingual open source coders in many parts of the world who will work for affordable rates.
I wanted to say that I like many of your suggestions, such as a strong moderation role to answer unanswered questions. This should have visible name with prune/merge/split/summarize functions. Moodle's weak/no moderation style is nice but we also need strong moderation in some designated areas--especially general problems and installation issues. For a moderator, an "Export to Wiki" button which would collate the posts of a whole thread for editing/summarizing as a first stage. Then compose a wiki page and forward that into an appropriate category and connect it with other related pages. Then at the top of the original forum, a Quick FAQ link would be added to connect to that new wiki page. This would build a list of those important already-answered questions. Not only invaluable for moodle.org, but my school site as well.
I think one way to signal a change in discussion is to follow the thread but change the Subject, and I like to quote, though moodle forum makes this unnecessarily difficult, so that a post makes sense out of the thread.
As you suggest, those with the perms do have the power in the moodle fora to prune, move, split, etc. and the questions are who has those perms and to what degree should they be bestowed upon a forum moderator.
BY way of example, perhaps a moderator would have split out your posting and this thread and put it somewhere else, or suggested it be linked from something somewhere else....
I am not totally sold on moderation though.... it takes a special kind of person to recognize that there are no weeds in one's garden.... but I have to acknowledge that with so many in moodle acting in very much that capacity and doing a pretty good job of it, maybe that is the ticket here....
I am intrigued by the export to wiki concept.....though I wonder if the time necessary to rig that up would be more appropriately done the old fashioned way.....
You'll notice I've split your discussion from the php.ini discussion. Unfortunately there is no automatic notification of split discussions being moved to a different forum (please vote for MDL-12624), so I hope you find this thread here.
Regarding the documentation wiki, please note that all contributions are welcome. If I find some useful information, in a forum thread but don't have time to copy, paste and edit it in the wiki, then I simply add a "See also" link to the thread (see the forum subscription documentation for example).
In any event, the primary (?) question would be, "If you use the split or move feature of the moodle forum, does it change a post's or a thread's URL(s)?" If so, this is arguably very bad!
For instructional purposes, could you explain what you did (operationally, mechanically, logically, etc) so I can make sense of this?
Crete a new database (possibly even with the database tool) called the knowledgebase. This is a tool you normally find in many helpdesk apps. The knowledgebase is also categorised and allows for ratings based on usefullness(categories would be set by site admins)
This is a database that can be added to manually by users of the "Particularly helpful Moodler's" group or through a moderated process by any other user on moodle.org. Essentially it functions in a Q&A style format and would not have commenting features. Debate can stay in the forums.
To aide in the distillation process, it would be nice to have a "Add to knowledgebase" icon or text link on forum posts. This would allow for users to nominate content suitable for the knowledgebase. This would add the content to the moderation queue along with the author's details. This would do nothing to the existing post as I also believe in not harvesting posts as such.
Hopefully it would not take long to populate due to the sheer amount of content already in the forums that could be distilled and new content known to the Particularly Helpful Moodlers. Once populated with minimal content it can be made a first point of call for those with questions and like the Moodle Tracker, would be good to have some kind of filter aiding with links to content (i,e, FAQ12).
Now of course none of this exists, so maybe this is a pipe dream, but it would make sense...at least to me.
Splitting isn't the real problem. The real problem is people completely changing the subject of a thread. People should start a new thread when they want to talk about a "different topic" ...otherwise they should leave the original subject alone other than maybe adding something like "solved" to it to indicate the status.is that one can't be assured that the persons one wishes to discuss the matter with are subscribed to the forum.
So, I would have to argue that one should prepare to note in the discussion that one wishes to draw the present participants into the "new" discussion and then create the new discussion and the redirecting post, then post the new post and pull the URL to insert in the redirecting post which should be posted virtually simultaneously so that further discussion takes place in the redirected location, assuming that everyone in the initial discussion agree that the discussion should be moved. Sounds like jarndyce and jardyce...
I raised the matter in the initial discussion because it was an issue that arose repeatedly and there was no comprehensive answer.... Had I raised it in this forum, how am I to know whether any of the persons discussing the underlying question will ever read those comments?
I think you are making a simple thing overly complicated. For example, let's say I don't want to talk about "How To vs Forum Thread" any longer and instead I wanted to discuss Tinkerbell and the Tooth Fairy. I may reply here with something like this:
Hey, everyone. I would like to talk about Tinkerbell and the Tooth Fairy. So instead of hijacking this thread, I'm going to go over and start a new thread in the Roles and Capabilities forum. Are Tinkerbell and the Tooth Fairy really two different people or is one person trying to make us believe she/he is two different people? If you're interested, come on over and let's talk....
What's so hard and complicated about that?
For a starter it would make more sense to read new forums and have FAQs for frequent asked questions, like the famous "header already sent"from the days before there was an installer...
And, no.. The Moodle Docs serve an other goal. although a FAQ chapter in the docs could cover this need..)
In 1999 we discussed on Edmedia in Seattle in a "birds of a feather session" the typical lifecycle of an online forum:
1. it starts with a question
2. it generates lots of answers and new questions
3. some questions deserve a new fresh forum (Helen as moderator does this for Moodle.org)
4. then the discussion gets its climax
5. and the it becomes less focused, less interesting for most of the readers.
6. In the end most forums die
(getting out of date is an other big problem, despite the last-answer-on-top-mechanism)
How could we harvest the valuable parts of these discussions and cleaning the forum area every year at least once?
How could we harvest the valuable parts of these discussions and cleaning the forum area every year at least once?
I think it is a good idea to "harvest" the information from forum threads and "plant" the valuable information in some other format--wiki, FAQ, etc. But, I do not agree that it is a good idea to "clean" (remove) threads or forums. In my opinion, the information contained in forums here is infinitely more valuable than the documentation wiki will ever be. Periodically archiving a forum, thread, or even an entire course may be a viable approach, but ALL the historical information should remain available to, and searchable by users.
I think Steve is absolutely correct in arguing that the forum provides an invaluable record and should not be pruned. But I disagree that postings are infinitely more valuable than other forms of documentation, especially for the newcomer. Pity the newcomer, indeed! I have spent countless hours trying to sift through the forums to find answers that have arguably been obscured by the idiosyncracies of the forum, while I invariably heave a huge sigh of relief if I am able to find a current doc on point.
However, I think the key is not one or the other, but a synthesis. Forum postings are much more valuable I think when they include specific references to version, moodle docs, etc. and moodle docs are much more valuable when they are updated as a result of a discussion. Troubling aspects of the forums as sources of solutions are the fact that forums are often asynchronous and misthreaded, suggestions that appear appropriate may in fact have been limited and inappropriate for the reader, but have those limitations hidden in layer upon layer of discussion, and what some would argue is a short editing time may make comprehensive responses problematic (I would like to see a user be able to adjust the editing time so that the long winded have time to wax eloquent ;=} ).
In the situation that started this thread for example, I posed a question that hopefully is answered both in the forum, and in the documentation; what impact, exactly, does moving, splitting. etc have on the URL of the post? As we have seen, since users expect (and I think rightly so) that a node's URL will remain constant, this poses some management issues, especially when action is taken days or weeks later (as one might do after a discussion has concluded) making such action arguably more appropriate for the poster as argued by Steve, than for a moderator. In other words, the forum served as a way of identifying that the docs or their indexing were wanting, and therefore should be amended to include the result of the discussion in the forum.
Perhaps another aspect of this discussion is the posters responsibility vis-a-vis the community.... in other words should posts be viewed as a way of only responding to someone with a questions, or rather as a way of adding to the community, which are not necessarily the same.
The "best" solution is one that provides a variety of paths to the prize, each addressing a different way of addressing the problem, much as we would argue with respect to pedagogy. A forum, a wiki and a faq all can function together and I think a faq, which in my view is a great distillation focus, is the missing link here. DO I think we have to have a FAQ? No. I think the moodle docs could actually address the need. But unless the docs become more dynamic (and there is a very reasonable argument for docs not to become too dynamic for obvious reasons) a FAQ or a "sticky" topic (a design request that has been pending for quite a while) may be a good solution.
In a sticky topic "old hands" could be afforded perms to sticky notes where discussions, solutions, answers could be distilled, as well as new users reminded that whereas they are not expected to be Sherlock Holmes, a bit of elbow grease will be expected.
SO I guess I have to vote "Aye" for sticky topics
Other communmties create archives for old forums and email-lists, so the current playground will stay clear and your wishes to have a museum of old discussions is als fulfilled
In a school or university this problem does not exist, because you clean the courses each year (=school) or every three years (= university)
My vote goes strongly for sticky topics as well. Sorry, Helen, I lost this thread when it was split. Five weeks later, I hope someone is still watching.
The sticky topic option would offer many advantages:
- preserve forums without pruning
- key points in the thread would be easily viewable at the top of the thread
- a moderator role could transform an ordinary thread into a sticky thread if it proves more valuable or popular.
- links to Moodle docs or other references could be added at any time to the master post at the top
- Moderator highlights a section of text in a forum topic
- Click a button to "transform topic into sticky topic"
- The highlighted text is changed into a "sticky" post at the top of the thread. It remains there throughout the life of the topic.
- The "sticky" post can be edited manually by the moderator and linked to Moodle docs or other wikis, FAQs and references.
- The whole thread also becomes "sticky" in that it remains on the top of the forum list, even if there are no new posts.
Thanks for sharting the Edmedia typical lifecycle which helps with the bigger picture. Although for Moodle it left out the "old-new" question cycle. I have observed that new users don't really look too deep in a forum or the search engine is too #$%*()_ . I am thinking of the Lesson Forum. Where the same question is asked over time. (There would be a good research subject). Here I am thinking of Import PPT , or why does lesson act one way in preview mode and another as a student.
Questions like these help me figure out if areas of MoodleDocs need to be improved to answer the question. I also personally would rather new users go to MoodleDocs first, then the forums but what ever path works is what someone will take at that moment in time. \
Then there is the whole version issue with harvesting. Our production Moodle is still 1.5.x ! I do look at those old dusty posts ! Would tagging the issue similar to Tracker or the MoodleDoc template be of help to the visual learners?
I support your "freedom for the user".
Maybe an extra "Moodle for beginners button" in the footer, pointing to a special chapter in the moodle docs for beginners?