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Re: [tor-talk] is it me or did tor talk get really quiet?

Thanks Moritz. Most of that sounds good, but seems to leave the quality tech support issue in limbo (not your personal responsibility). I'm not being rude & hope I'm not beating a dead horse - just asking, what's the hold up on such an obvious need, that (apparently) requires relatively little, or else one man operations would never be able to do it.

Upshot: I don't know why major software project, communicating on a world wide network wouldn't have a company run support forum.
Manned by company employees or their appointees.

I may be stating what many users are thinking. I think many potential Tor users fear or distrust what they don't fully understand. Which would seem to slow the increase of users. Tor Project says it needs to increase users, right?

If that forum is to be stackexchange, shouldn't there should be project reps / mods - sometimes, qualified to answer many questions, or have tools to find answers? Many small projects provide excellent support (I use them all the time), on a fraction of Tor Project's resources. They often give precise, detailed answers in < 24 hrs. They usually don't answer, "Not sure. Good luck." Some years back, I contacted the Tor help desk, which told me to post on stack exchange. It got no helpful answers, when I was sure one existed. That was long ago, but typical users generally don't like that. Many walk away if they can't get help quickly. Or lose their freedom if using Tor incorrectly in some countries.

Maybe Tor Project sees the value of a well run support forum, but never act. Tor-talk or any mailing list may never provide the best support for Tor users. Mailing lists aren't worthless, but lot's of users find long, technical discussions hard to follow on them - even w/ "conversation or thread view."

Partly, because users reply in different "formats." Sometimes not quoting enough, for full context (then you have to find / read prior emails?); sometimes forwarding far too many replies - repeatedly. Sometimes a true pain to find earlier details. Sometimes they top / bottom post, or insert inline. Some mail clients don't display other clients' formatting correctly.

Forum software puts everything in order & makes it easy(ier) to find & refer to full, previous comments - even link them. You just scroll down the entire conversation. Better search, easier to quote, insert images, code, etc. Maybe a Tor operated forum would allow including a few, small, unintrusive ads - or not (not from Google, etc.). For donations, sale of T-shirts - "I hacked the NSA & all I got was this lousy T-shirt," Alien hats, caps that look like aluminum foil?? Maybe most users wouldn't mind, so long as ads didn't come from trackers.

Kind of touchy subject - maybe conduct a survey. Some might not mind small pay for click ads, when using TBB, if it generated enough revenue to matter - it may not. I believe? some Tor leaders have said the current funding model needs to change? There are only so many ways to do that. It has to start somewhere, or nothing ever changes. I'm not the 1st to say, a large % of potential users will never trust anonymity software largely funded by any government agency. That's no secret to Tor Project. Just a thought.

On 9/28/2016 11:46 PM, Moritz Bartl wrote:
Hi Joe,

I agree with what you wrote. The topic comes up at every dev meeting,
but we have not found a way to address that problem, or, phrased
differently, it is unclear what path to take.

On 09/28/2016 08:28 PM, Joe Btfsplk wrote:
For a *technical support list,* why not moderate tor-talk?  To keep
peace, but also provide qualified support?  There's nothing preventing
making changes.
Personally, I believe a mailinglist is a poor tool for support questions
(and answers). Some of the problems are: Archives are a pain to search,
older posts are a pain to reference, most people want a questions
answered and get freaked out if they get a flood of messages that are
not relevant to their current question, etc.

That's one of the reasons why Tor created https://tor.stackexchange.com/
. I'm not saying it is the perfect answer, far from it, but I think it's
a fine platform and it could use a way larger number of people answering
questions (a problem any other platform will have, too). Also, I've been
advocating for a "support portal" for years, and there seems to be some
traction now to finally get one online. I don't know what it will look
like, but at least from the "technical support" side of things, it will
help a lot more users than those who are comfortable using mailing lists
these days. I'm not saying I like that, I do embrace mailing lists, but
I accept that most of Tor's users hate them or at least don't understand
them well enough.

That being said, tor-talk is now moderated, sort of. A few annoying
fellows were asked to find some other forum for their rants. I also try
and tell people within Tor that unless _they_ come back and use this
list as a forum for their conversations, we cannot expect it to become
better. The other chance is for all the people who still follow this
list to use it more and try and answer questions that come up or
politely point to relevant resources, even if it does not immediately
bring back "the hardcore Tor experts".

_Polite, sincere_ suggestions for features or policies changes are often
necessary.  Many forums allow that.  I've made polite, critical
suggestions on many forums, that lead to change - though sometimes
initially got criticism.  A few got snarky, initial comments from the
devs, until the reasoning was clarified or they thought it over.  Then
some showed up on change lists.   Very different from ranting.
I think this is happening here as well. Even if people might be too busy
to reply, more Tor people than you think still at least read it, and
more often than not pick up things from here to other Tor people.

It seems that's what's happened to Tor users.  For most software or
hardware, if users can't get timely support, the user base may decline.
Even one man, open source projects often have active, moderated tech
support forums.
I totally agree, and this is being worked on. I wished this list would
be used by more Tor folks, and the plans and ideas for improving support
channels could easily have happened here, but I also acknowledge that we
have quite a number of new(-generation?) Tor folks who are not into
mailing lists (or IRC!). Crazy, I know, but that's how it is. :-)

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