Changes to the Forum (November 2018)

Dear :qiime2: community,

The forum community has been alive and kicking for more than two years now and we could not be more pleased with the way this community has grown and flourished! Over the past two years we have noticed patterns of user support needs. In response to these needs, and to feedback from forum users, we have decided the time is ripe to introduce new forum topic categories and other minor changes to improve the way support is provided on the forum. This announcement will describe the new topic categories for seeking support and discussing general topics on the forum.

New Topic Categories

We receive many different types of questions on the forum, and already have a number of categories to distinguish, e.g., user support from other bioinformatics tools and developer discussion. We have noticed that user support questions tend to fall into four different categories, which we discuss below. We feel that formally separating these categories will improve the experience of forum users and moderators in a few ways:

  1. This will allow us to prioritize response to technical support questions, which often need an urgent response. This is because technical issues (e.g., a bug) could impact more users. Clearly delineating these support questions will improve response times for those with genuine technical issues.
  2. The forum should be a place where we all go to discuss problems and questions related to :qiime2: and microbiome research, not strictly technical support. We love seeing general discussions flourish on the forum, and we love seeing forum users interact with each other! We hope that by designating discussion categories and clarifying their objectives we can encourage more user-to-user interaction and participation in these channels and elsewhere across the forum ecosystem.
  3. QIIME 2 has grown to include many community plugins and omics domains (e.g., amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, metabolomics). We forum moderators are not involved in the development of all these community plugins, nor are we experts in all areas of omics research! We hope that we can bring other voices to the fore and allow users to seek support from the broader community of plugin developers.

With this in mind, we introduce the following categories. Please keep in mind that these are not the only categories on the forum! Other categories abound, e.g., for developer discussion and other bioinformatics tools. Feel free to roam, post, and give back to the community to your heart's content!

User Support

This topic category already exists, but now it is narrower in scope. This category is for, e.g., questions about specific results while running QIIME 2 and warnings observed while running a QIIME 2 command. Error messages should be reported to "technical support", and questions about how to perform analyses, e.g., to answer particular experimental goals, should be directed to "general discussion"

Technical Support

Post to this Category if you are experiencing a technical difficulty while running QIIME 2. Examples of difficulties include installation errors, help deciphering error messages, etc. Posts in this category will be triaged by a QIIME 2 Moderator and responded to promptly.

Community Plugin Support

Post to this category if you have a question about a community plugin (bug report, technical detail, etc.). Community plugins are plugins not distributed in the QIIME 2 Core Distribution. Please note, in the future we are planning on moving away from the notion of a "Core Distribution," where all plugins will be "Community plugins". Posts in this category will not be responded to by a QIIME 2 Moderator.

General Discussion

Post to this category if you have a general question about microbiome science, bioinformatics, or other general questions, ideas, or topics to discuss. Examples of posts include study design, paper discussion, etc. Posts in this category will not be triaged by a QIIME 2 Moderator, and everyone is encouraged to participate in the discussion!

Note that all topics from November 2018 have been recategorized into the appropriate categories. Older categories may be recategorized as needed, e.g., for popular topics in the forum archive.

Future Plans

As part of our long-term goals, we are hoping to move away from the notion of a "Core Distribution," and instead have users install all plugins in an ad-hoc fashion from the Library (for more details, check out the Library Announcement, as well as the Library Roadmap). The structure of the forum will likely change one or two times in the lead-up to the removal of the core distribution --- we are always thinking of ways to improve the QIIME 2 experience for users and developers, and that includes how the QIIME 2 Forum works. If you have thoughts or ideas we would love to hear them!