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What about a stackexchange site?

I wonder if it is worth proposing a psychopy stack exchange site at Most of the sites are about software
with bigger user bases (e.g., ubuntu, emacs, and mathematica), but
technically it only takes 200 dedicated users to get a site started.
That would be less than 10% of the psychopy-users list.

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Right now I’m enjoying having a one-stop site for all our discussions (dev, builder, code etc…). But, then again, two weeks ago I didn’t know how much I’d love having a dedicated forum and thought I was happy with googlegroups!

So… what are the advantages of stackexchange?

Btw, alternative platform/portal you might like to consider is . It is intended to be the open source and community driven and supported Q&A platform for neurosciences.

Again, the question is whether that buys us anything.

Discourse is continuously blowing my mind. In particular:

  • everything updates live:
  • live previews of your message
  • live suggestions for emoticons (hit : and start typing names)
  • live suggestions for users to include like @yarikoptic
  • live suggestions of other topics that look similar to the one you’re writing (OMG!)
  • nice set of keyboard shortcuts (hit ? to see them)
  • you can copy a screenshot and paste right into your post (no need to save and upload images)
  • discourse themselves are kindly hosting for us (including software updating, storage and backup) so we have minimal effort but full control of the forum including the domain name

Basically we’d need really good reasons to want to move/fragment

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My big issue with psychopy-users, and why I don’t help very much, is that most of the questions are so poorly described that they take a lot of back and forth to get at the real issue before an answer can be given. In general, I don’t think most of the threads on psychopy-users, or here on discourse, will be useful to anyone but the person asking the question. The thing I like about Stack Exchange sites is that they are un-apologetically not a discussion forum. They are a site to get answers to questions. More importantly, the idea behind Stack Exchange is that the questions and answers will be useful to other people. The voting and moderation tools force users to ask “good questions”. The commenting and editing tools allow a user to refine and revise their question until it is in a “useful” and answerable state. This results in questions and answers that are useful to other people.

In terms of features, Stack Exchange has live previews of messages and live suggestions of other related questions. Screenshots need to be saved locally and uploaded. They do the hosting/backup, but also control the domain name. I am not sure about emoticons, but I think they are a no go. By design it also does not allow suggestions to users to include. That said the tagging lets people easily follow topics they are interested in and users can favorite questions they want to keep track of.

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Well, we could use that technique here; pushing people to edit their own post until it makes sense, rather than creating a back-and-forth. Or the admin/mods can edit/remove posts that are just adding noise. I guess the balance is the effort of doing it.

Voting in Discourse is about liking (either a Topic or a specific Post) but there’s no down-vote. We can also look at popular topics by number of views

So my feel is that we try and take on some of that editorial practice but keep it here. (i.e. maybe it’s us that needs changing not the site location)

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I agree to pretty much everything you say, @daniel.e.shub. But the way problems are discussed on psychopy-users, and that one has to ask again, and it sometimes goes back and forth until one finally arrives at the actual problem that needs to be solved – well, it simply reflects the not-so-tech-savvyness of our user base. It’s simply 1st level support. This is exactly the point why it’s so important to have this forum (or the psychopy-users Google group, previously). An advanced programmer can always phrase a question that fits into the Stack Overflow scheme. Many of our users can’t, and we should try to support them as best as we can anyway. :slight_smile:

As for the smileys, I think they help reduce the risk of misunderstandings – I use emoticons a lot even in email for that reason.


But how would we let the users know that they need to rephrase the question, and what additional info we need? This would always require (written!) intervention, i.e., replies to the original posting. But these replies would be without any context as soon as the OP has edited their post to “fit our needs”…

We could say something like:

Could you edit your post to provide the error message? You can remove the detail about the theory - that isn’t useful on this occasion

Yes, the confusing thing about edits (here or on stack) is that you can’t tell if comments were written before or after the edit.

Site admins can also add a template for each category (in Settings>Customise) which might help get more useful posts if we can work out how to write them to be flexible. Actually, I’m surprised @lindeloev hasn’t found those and edited them already! :slight_smile:

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This sounds like a great idea. Some projects on GitHub have implemented templates for their issue trackers, where you essentially have a list of check boxes/todo items you’re supposed to go through/complete before submitting an issue. This usually also includes the operating system and software version used. Could be a feasible approach for our forum too!

I was wrong about setting location. Go to the category and edit, then you see a single template option. We could do this for Builder, but maybe it’s too restrictive:

If something isn’t working you might like to fill in these fields. Or just delete this and start from scratch.

OS (e.g. Win10):
PsychoPy version (e.g. 1.84.x):
Standard Standalone? If not then what? (y/n):
What are you trying to achieve?:

What did you try to make it work?:

What specifically went wrong when you tried that?:
Include pasted full error message if possible. “That didn’t work” is not enough information.

I agree with @daniel.e.shub. But we now have almost three years of experience on StackOverflow and 247 questions. And too often we see that a post requires too much back-and-forth, leaving most of the content in the comments sections, and that users to not upvote or accept answers.

… so the strict StackOverflow format (which I love; I started our presence there) is not exploited for it’s useful properties. To the contrary, the format is sometimes an obstacle. For example, you have a weak idea of what the user should try to do because of a ill-specified problem, but it’s a few lines of code which does not fit into the comment section. Should you post it as an answer? Sometimes this just results in me leaving the question be, because it’s going to be too much work using the SO site.

I :fire: hated :fire: Google Groups for the same reasons as you mention, @daniel.e.shub, so I also stayed away. But I think that Discourse has a chance of hitting an optimal balance between these two “extremes” (and “optimal” doesn’t necessarily mean “excellent”, but hopefully it means “good enough”).

@jon, I’d say let’s try the template, but be open to changing or dropping it. Sometimes people force nonsense into these categories :slight_smile: Maybe we should ask people to label OS and psychopy-version using tags? I wonder if that could be forced, just as the category is?