New Topic Template ideas and discussion

To follow on from a question brought up in another topic:

Doesn’t it already do that? If you open a Help topic there’s a template. If you open a topic in another category, either by accident or to avoid filling out the template, then all bets are off.

It does, yes, but this is to discuss the content of the template… float some ideas about as to whether or not changes could be made to it to make it more a more helpful tool to us/power users in diagnosing users issues.

As exists below:

Please follow the below template, it will help us to help you!

## Expected Behaviour:

*[Replace this text with what you think should be happening]*

## Actual Behaviour:

*[replace this text with what is actually happening]*

## Debug Token:

*[Replace this text with the debug token provided from running  `pihole -d`  (or running the debug script through the web interface]*

And yes, if it is not filled out at all then sure… all bets are off, but it can be useful when it is used properly.

Fully agree, the token is the most vital piece.

I’ll diverge to the philosophical: We help everybody that comes in, no matter if they provide the information or not. A large amount of time is spent chasing down errors and issues unrelated to Pi-hole and we help fix other issues with users systems. There is nothing to cause users to actually fill anything out. GitHub issues without tokens are closed, here they get 100+ post threads.

So the question of what should be on the template? I don’t think it matters, there’s nothing we could have asked for that would have changed anything. We could ask for the OS and Pi-hole versions, but it doesn’t change anything if we don’t do anything to “encourage” compliance.

I agree that adjusting the template will only ever get the chance of proving useful in absence of a debug token. Having a debug token is the preferred way, as it should be.

I also concur that the probability of a user actually supplying these values wouldn’t be very high, and then chances are they won’t (be able to) supply the correct values.

While this information isn’t vital, I think a few bases should be covered, as it could help focus the discussion before its participants get lost in petty details, only to discover a user is running some unsupported OS after a dozen posts.

Also, we quite often ask the user to run some commands to check (e.g. nslookup for DNS resolution, nc for Pi-hole stats, netstat for port allocations).
Though the questions differ, it seems to me a select few commands see widespread duty.

I don’t envision this as being forced on the user, but rather as a preparation of both the OP and the mods / users that are going to getting involved to provide assistance.

Let me spin another idea:
I quite liked your tutorial bot introduction.

Would it be possible to make a similar bot reply to a new post automatically (after edit period cooldown) only if a debug token is missing, and ask a few basic questions. maybe also providing some commands a user could run to give us at least a much shortened version of a debug log?

That way, we would still rely on user cooperation, but only ask for it in lieu of a debug token, and the results of commands (e.g. a netstat) would at least be machine-generated.

I’m not going to veto any changes, the template contents don’t really affect me much. The debug logs show just about everything needed.

Just note that the more you add to it, the more it will just be deleted and ignored completely.

I know I’m short and curt and rough but when you see the volume of posts and questions, well there’s just not enough time to fix things and make people feels.

Mods can see the full list, I didn’t want to call out others that have less time to help out.

That’s a built in feature of the Discourse software, and from a cursory google there isn’t much of a way to customise it.

By the by, I didn’t create this thread to ensure we acted on it, just wanted to keep any ensuing discussion on the matter in it’s own thread to limit the noise in the original.

It’s certainly worth discussing, even if we don’t actually change anything in the template, we can bounce ideas around on how certain types of problems/issues/whatever are dealt with. And as we’re talking about it in a public thread, anyone is free to chip in. There are no right/wrong solutions ultimately, but it’s good to talk them over.

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My preference would be to keep the templates generally as is, and if needed add a few things to the debug log if we find that it doesn’t show us enough to diagnose common problems. As an example, we recently changed the way debug checks for running processes, to help get that information accurately. We don’t include regex, but we may want to do that in the future, etc.