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As far as I can tell, most close votes in the elementaryOS SE are for questions describing issues or missing features, which are voted for closure as off-topic.

I think it's telling and concerning that it happens so often for us to shut the door on the face of users who are seeking a solution to their problem, by redirecting them to an issue tracking platform (Launchpad) which is neither very beginner-friendly, nor likely to result in a solution in a short time-frame. This is a terrible user experience for those who come into this SE site with good intentions, and is detrimental to the long-term health and growth of this platform.

I have two proposals to address this:

  1. We could allow such questions (i.e. not close them), and add a link to the bug reporting guide in a comment. This would allow answers to provide workarounds, third-party apps that solve the problem, etc. (which, given the current maturity status of the project, let's face it, are quite frequently necessary).

  2. If we decide that those are not acceptable answers (which I don't think they are, but I'll defer to the community's decision), we could still close the questions as off-topic, but the closure message should mention both launchpad and community forums (IRC, reddit, etc.) where such answers and workarounds are allowed. This would provide the asker with at least a constructive path to attempt to get their problem solved in the short term (which, we must admit, is more important to users than the fix being part of elementary itself).

Thoughts?


Related questions:

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I agree with the issue but not the solution. The point remains that we are unequipped to help, especially in a Q&A format, when the issue is a bug and not something we can address. The obvious solution is that we need better triage and handling of incoming requests such that bug reports go straight to Launchpad rather than us... but that's an issue of site design and onboarding outside our realm (this beta site apparently has a rigid layout, though we perhaps can change some of the text, and Daniel recently posted on Reddit that they have no intentions of leaving the unwieldy Launchpad any time soon).

But I agree overall that the structure, as designed, gives new users the runaround. The elementary website directs all questions here, we tag a question impersonally as a bug report and leave new users (who struggled enough to post here in plain English) to figure out Launchpad. In the end, our bug reports, Q&A, new users, and power users are all hung out to dry.

If none of that is about to change, I would suggest that we still close bug reports and feature requests as off-topic but instead greatly revise the closed question's text to look less like boilerplate and instead explain how bug reporting works and why we cannot help with the specifics.

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    Thanks for the thoughtful answer. My concern is that, no matter how delicately we put it, the actual issue would remain unsolved for the asker, and likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future if it's merely reported in Launchpad. As I mentioned in the OP, permitting such questions to remain "would allow answers that provide workarounds, third-party apps that solve the problem, etc.", and these indeed provide short-term solutions that would, more than anything else, satisfy the needs of the askers. – waldyrious Nov 22 '16 at 19:23
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    But the sad reality is that many (most?) of the bug reports go unanswered anyway, and that users are no better off being told in our Q&A that the issue is a bug. In my experience, few of the bug questions we've left open here actually find a workaround. Moreover, the Launchpad regulars want the bugs reported by those affected rather than us so there is little we can do to help other than to direct and smooth workflow. – wolf Nov 22 '16 at 20:06
  • I'm all for directing users to Launchpad rather than SE a priori; I'm also in favor of encouraging/facilitating re-posting of questions that should really be bug reports into Launchpad. But I am against closing SE questions after they've been created only because they reflect bugs or missing features, for the reason you've mentioned yourself (the askers have struggled enough already), and for the one I mentioned (we block workarounds from emerging here, when they exist). A comment should be added to the question to point to the Launchpad report, but closing question is a net negative IMO. – waldyrious Nov 23 '16 at 15:48
  • Our ratio of our bug questions (even those left open) relative to the number of existing workarounds is low. The question is whether those new users are better served by getting no answer in the wrong venue or by getting no answer in the right venue. – wolf Nov 27 '16 at 18:10
  • As low as the frequency of solutions and/or workarounds (provided in reasonably short time-frame) may be here on SE, I believe it's fair to say that it's even lower/slower on Launchpad, so I'd submit that allowing questions to remain open here is a net positive. – waldyrious Nov 27 '16 at 23:29
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I disagree. There's nothing that can be done on StackExchange to close the report. If something is a bug, it needs to be reported in Launchpad where developers can see it. If developers never hear about the issue, it won't be fixed.

If there's a bunch of just unanswered open questions in StackExchange with no resolution, it makes it harder for people to find answers to things that are actually answerable.

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    (1) you're right from the point of view of the issue itself (it won't get solved on StackExchange; but you're ignoring the point of view of the question asker's problem (their issue won't be addressed, and the experience will be user-unfriendly). (2) even if the issues aren't solved here on SE, that doesn't necessarily mean that the questions will be unanswered. The idea here is precisely to allow answers that address the asker's issues, such as workarounds, alternatives, etc. Since SE is a user-focused resource, not a developer-centric one, I believe it's important to put user's needs first. – waldyrious Dec 12 '16 at 14:51
  • @waldyrious if there is a possible workaround sure we should leave the question open, but I think it's a very very small percentage of questions that can be worked around. Sometimes a bug is just a bug. – Daniel Foré Dec 13 '16 at 19:56
  • "if there is a possible workaround sure we should leave the question open" -- glad to hear that, but currently there's little room for such workarounds to be provided, as moderators are typically more active than other users who could provide them. In fact, how do we even ensure that questions that have been answered with workarounds aren't closed after the fact, since they'd still comply with the criteria for closing? Perhaps we could reword the close reason text, i.e. to say that it only applies to questions with no workarounds provided as either answers or comments after, say, a few days? – waldyrious Dec 14 '16 at 4:48

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