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I've seen questions lately that only ask about how to upgrade from one version to the next (not LTS, not skipping releases) that are even getting upvoted (for godness sake). I don't see where is the point of this questions where either update-manager or do-release-upgrade could cope with any situation (again, I'm talking about questions that only ask how to not I tried, but now I have a problem). Obviously, there is a canonical question but it feels that somehow is too complicated/long answers could make afraid users since it's either needlessly detailed or overly complicated (Foss answer is ok, if you are willing to read).

So, when someone just want to do something "simple" and "fast" just write the first 5 sentences in a "Quick Start" fashion, normally that's what users that aren't willing to 'read' will read and just take the ride, and if something fail (Murphy's law in action?) then include notes in between about where to read.

  • So you're saying that perhaps we're trying to cover every edge case, and we should instead focus on the majority solution? – jrg Oct 22 '13 at 14:20
  • @jrg no, I´m saying that make the "how-to" streamlined, with details at the end. Most of the "how" questions that I answer I explain what is happening at the end of the answer so the user gets what they wants fast and continue reading if they are curious. – Braiam Oct 22 '13 at 22:21
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You shouldn't assume the user has found the canonical post. Either because they couldn't find it, or they didn't look, or it not coming up when they wrote their title* because the canonical one is too generic... There are many reasons people don't find the big posts.

If you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, assume they stuck "ubuntu upgrade" into Google. The first result is an Ubuntu.com page:

URL looks good. Content is clear enough but it's extremely simple. The user said they were having issues (this isn't a simple "How do I upgrade?") and look at the bottom of the Ubuntu.com instructions:

And if you get stuck… Ask Ubuntu

Neat for us, but rather than giving them better documentation (which already exists) we're pushing them at a support site where people are expected to ask questions.

We should either be recommending that Ubuntu.com links to specific questions, or that Ubuntu.com links to the Ubuntu Wiki which then links to us in a "And if all else fails..." gesture.


And on the subject of canonical question quality, there are two exclusive states a good post can fit into:

  • Canonical, thorough but a long and over-achieving
  • Concise, easily digestible but won't cater to all edge cases

You can't really do both in one question. Thankfully when somebody asks a specific question, we can give a concise answer and link to the second.

We don't need to dupe everything against a canonical question. We should strive that there's only one or two 13.04→13.10 upgrade questions but having one or two of those means that users in the future will be able to find the right thing.


*The title search is awful. Put "upgrade 13.04 13.10" into a new title and none of the posts that come up seem useful or relevant.

  • First point, yes, users are being pushed too fast into interactive support (don't know why) and that overhelm us. I don't know the channels to make the proper changes so users first get into selfhelp (autohelp?) before arriving to us. There should be some layers of support so users already know (or have an idea of) what they need. Next, I think that we should strive for the 90% when answering, since no answer will be fit all possible situations, something in the middle should be good or that both types of answers are given; I don't know. About the third, we already ranted enough about that ;) – Braiam Oct 22 '13 at 23:03
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I suggest a new section on the site listing the top ten 'quick help' answered and verified questions for the most common queries for such users. If not a full-time section, we can have it up at least for special event times such as new version release...

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    That would pretty much be the "Frequent Questions" page which can be found from "Questions -> Frequent" or at askubuntu.com/questions?sort=frequent – kiri Oct 27 '13 at 0:06
  • Thanks, but I was thinking of a section with specific 10-20 questions with verified answers....sure-shot things that can help n00bs get a quick answer without flooding the forum with many similar questiosn. – charlie Oct 27 '13 at 9:26
  • I'm just saying that most of the questions in the section you propose will be in the Frequent questions page. Those are the high quality questions which are frequently visited by unregistered users. – kiri Oct 27 '13 at 9:27

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