Linux - DistributionsThis forum is for Distribution specific questions.
Red Hat, Slackware, Debian, Novell, LFS, Mandriva, Ubuntu, Fedora - the list goes on and on...
Note: An (*) indicates there is no official participation from that distribution here at LQ.
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As a moderator (and this may just be me) I have noticed that we seem to be getting a huge number of "What Distribution Should I Choose?" threads.
As anyone who has read and answered a number of these will know, they all seem to be almost identical and so do the answers. They tend to be: get this distro for newbies, try them all and see what you like, what do you want to do with this distro, etc etc. My worry is that they either get lost among the more focused questions or that there are so many of them that they either swamp the boards or don't get answered because members are fed up answering them.
There are a number of ways of dealing with the questions, Trickykid has posted a sticky in the Linux-Distributions forum, we have the reviews section, I tend to post links to these and to Distrowatch. But still they keep coming.
So, I had the idea of having a forum or sub-forum for just these questions. All these questions are there together and so you can either read through the existing threads or at least be able to see what sort of questions have been posted and received meaningful answers so you can formulate your own.
So I am posting this short poll to see what you all think. Will a seperate place for "which distro" questions make the board any easier to use or is it a fairly pointless exercise and you like it the way it is?
Distribution: Slackware, Windows, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Mac OS X
imh(h=humble)o, if that forum gets created, it'd would probably need to be incorporated into the registration process somehow. sorry jeremy, i'm not trying to make more work for you, but i feel as if many users run through the registration process, and post what's on their mind at the time and mostly in the newbie forum. maybe the forum could be the first, or at the top of the forums by itself. possibly putting trickykids sticky in the newbie forum or a copy of it, might help. i think most new users are kind of drawn to the newbie forum, so there it would get more exposure. the idea of a separate forum is not a bad one, imho(see description of h above), the important thing would be making it seen by new users. i thought i'd just throw a few more options out there. do i still need to vote?
I agree wholeheartedly. Perhaps, rather than just being a part of the registration process, any title with "Which distro" should redirect the poster to the search page with a short reason, like "Your question has been asked more than any other on this site and has already been answered". That's my biggest beef (as a Google junkie): I don't see that many people use the search engine on this site before posting a question.
We could just put a nice thorough answer to that question in the wiki (if it's not there already) and then link it prominently on the main page. Or maybe, after someone registers their username they could be presented with a little gateway page with links to commonly-answered questions. A whole forum dedicated to the question doesn't seem like it'd be that useful, though.
edit: I couldn't find anything like this on the wiki, so I started one. Please contribute!
Given the swift rise in numbers in the LQ community, I think it's also safe to assume that these kinds of questions will only become more common. Although I'm sure it would be a pretty hefty amount of work, I agree with Peacedog's basic idea, and that it might be worthwhile creating a mandatory "New User Tutorial" type of thing, which would contain info on a variety of standard newbie issues rather than just the single "which distro" question. A new user would need to go through the tutorial before being able to post on the boards.
If such a thing were implemented, it could also include sections on How to Ask Good Questions, How to Search, and so forth. (All those things are covered on the site already, but not in a single central place.) I will guess that the majority of these kinds of all-too-common questions are asked simply because a newbie doesn't know any better, and if he/she were taken through a few pages that discuss these common topics, he/she would then know the proper steps to take. Granted, there's no way to be sure a person will remember or pay attention to a tutorial lesson, but if you assume that people will make an honest effort to do what they think is the right thing, then presenting them with that info up front may make a difference.
While reading your post, something came to mind that really stood out in my mind. When someone comes to this site, they usually are looking for a quick answer to their question, so they ask it. One of my peeves is that the search function is underused (which is a shame, as it works well, once you realize how powerful it is). This site stands out in its real responsiveness to questions. I have been all over the place here and I rarely see flames. I usually see a genuine desire to help, which is what the first-time poster may not realize. A bit off topic, I guess.
Perhaps a first time post should be counted and a disclaimer about this topic could pop up before they are allowed to post their first time. Or, an autoresponder to threads with no answers in, say 72 hours, that refers the poster to one of the places XavierP mentioned on the opening of this thread.
Everyone, thanks for voting in this. The outcome is 70% (14 votes) to create a new place for these threads and 30% split evenly between no or don't care. Yes, it was a low turnout, but governments get elected on less ()