Criticism of feature or EXT requests

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Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by potku » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:48 pm

I have been navigating phpBB.com since 2004, but this particular forum has always been slightly unknown to me, so I apologize if this has been discussed already. :)

In all my years here, I have seen one particular behavior that I have always found slightly peculiar. That is, when someone requests a feature or an Extension, more often than almost never someone tries to negate to whole request by analyzing it and offering his or her opinion about that request. That could be useful if someone has not thought of something important, but that rarely is the case. Almost always it is just a matter of opinion.

That in and of itself is somewhat of a problem. When someone request something, he or she is likely not willing to defend his or her request. Different people want different features with phpBB.

A bigger problem, in my opinion, is the tone in which these opinions are voiced. Surely, interpreting anything even in the real world is often highly subjective, let alone on the Internet. Nonetheless, I have never really understood why some people are so eager to start asking why someone requests what ever he or she requests. This is usually followed by opinions stating why that request is not sensible for one reason or another.

I would be interested in finding out more about this behavior. It is an intriguing social phenomenon, if nothing else. :)
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by KevC » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:55 pm

Quite often people suggest how something should be done rather than what they need and it may be that there is already a built-in way to either do exactly what they want or get really really close to it without the need for any coding. So part of the questioning is to determine what they actually want. Ultimately any request relies on someone actually wanting to devote some time to making it and if they think it's pretty much already available so it's not worth doing then it'll never get made, so it's partly to establish the full facts of what is being requested.

And some requests are just plain pointless! I know people think the thing they have asked for will be used by everyone but a lot really won't. And trying to get someone to code something for ONE person is hard to do.
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by potku » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:17 pm

Those are good points. :)

Of course, if someone asks for something that already exists, then that should be relayed to him or her them.

It also true that wishing for an Extension that would be used by a very small group of people is highly optimistic. But it does not hurt to ask, right? :) However, it must be stated that at times there have been requests that have not been receiving replies - possibly just for that same reason, no large public interest - and then the original poster has posted something along the lines of :roll: . That is simply poor social behavior and will likely not promote the original poster's agenda. So, there is that side of the issue, as well.

When it comes to some requests being pointless, that may well be the case. However, should we really point that out, and if so, why? It is always polite to reply - after all, we are all here to discuss with each other - but a simple mention "Unfortunately your request is technically impossible to implement" should suffice.

I once learned something that struck a chord with me. Before replying to anything (on the Internet), asking oneself three questions might be wise.

1) Is my reply necessary?
2) Is my reply helpful?
3) Is my reply friendly?

Just my 2 cents. :)
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by KevC » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:30 pm

potku wrote: ↑
Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:17 pm
However, it must be stated that at times there have been requests that have not been receiving replies - possibly just for that same reason, no large public interest - and then the original poster has posted something along the lines of :roll: .
More often than not those fall in to two categories.
1) They want something enormous with lots of addons that is far more complicated than they realise and highly specific to their board.
2) They've been very vague about what they want so no one really knows. Incessantly bumping it with a rolling eye smilie isn't going to get it any further.

I don't want to sound harsh about pointless requests because everyone always has their reasons for wanting something but if I see something that does seem genuinely pointless I personally do try and explain that no-one ever looks at that so it's not really worth doing.
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by potku » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:39 pm

It is vastly more helpful to reply by saying "No can do" than not replying at all. I totally agree with you there. :)

I have seen vague requests, too. Sometimes, I think, language barrier can be an issue. That does not apply to us fortunate Finns due to our education system, so I am only theorizing, here, but if it did apply to us and I was in a place to help, I would send a private message to such user in our native language and would ask them to explain their request in our language. Then I would help them to translate that idea into English. I am sure many people here already help each other privately like that. :)
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by mrgoldy » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:59 pm

Here's a question for you, how many actual requests are in that forum with a reply "Yes, let me code that for you"?

The truth to the matter is that most extension developers are just regular forum owners who have taken the time to write and develop an extension for their own board, that they themselves needed. And them generally being the nice people that they are, are willing to share it with the community. Then there are ofcourse the devoted extension developers, that are developing extensions that are useful to almost every board. For example something along the lines of logo, gdpr, contact, etc.. And as far as I can tell, these developers don't get their ideas from the Request forum.

Also, if you're unfamiliar with the actual coding of an extension it's easily misunderstood how much time and work there goes into developing an extension, not to mention maintaining it. So requests that look simple on the surface, could require a lot of code and time. More time than the 'common' user would think.

So, seeing the changes are slim that request are actually being granted and someone turns it into an extension, people offer assistance (tone is indeed debatable) on how to achieve a similar behaviour without the need of yet another extension.

Let's not forget, that often requests are made by users not that familiar with and/or active on this actual support forum so even though they "did a search with no results", it usually already exists, or something close it.
- but a simple mention "Unfortunately your request is technically impossible to implement" should suffice.
And unfortunately, that is close to never the truth. Anything is possible, especially cause phpBB is open source and you can change the core yourself. So in the end, everything can be created, you just have to put (a lot of) time into it. So, personally, I would advise those users (and pretty much any other using wanting an extension) to look into learning how to write some of your own. There are quite a few good and solid tutorials out there, good development resources. For example, among others, the Skeleton Extension. And I've been thinking about this lately, to write some tutorials on my own but haven't figured out where to start. A tutorial so a novice user can get a simple extension to work and actually understands what he's doing.

Also, sending a private message for help is a noble cause, but one you will probably not uphold for long. Once you've written an extension or two, people tend to already starting pm'ing you for support or private requests. And that becomes very tedious, very quickly.

Don't misunderstand me, I completely agree with you on the tone that more often than not is present, but we also have to face the hard reality.
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by KevC » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:44 pm

I didn't mention the feature request comments.

That one is a bit more tricky I think because the purpose of the ideas forum is to suggest things that could/should be in the core code of phpBB out of the box and that would therefore be of use and benefit to the majority of people who install it.

A lot of topics in the ideas forum fall in to the box of just straightforward extension requests that someone wants for their board and so they would like it in the core. The other kind are ones that have very limited appeal like (and I mean no disrespect to anyone who has requested these) dice rollers or limiting the number of posts in a day. Things like that are highly specific to the subject of the board and therefore are much more suitable for extensions but sometimes people find it hard to think of the bigger picture of how many would actually use it.
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by potku » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:13 pm

mrgoldy, thanks for offering a coder's perspective. :)

In general, at least when it comes to Extensions, there are two kinds of people here: those who can code and those who cannot. The latter should always show utmost respect for the former starting with how requests are worded and presented.

I have heard and read about people using private messages as a means to ask for more detailed help. I think that is somewhat short-sighted; by asking questions publicly, more people can offer help and more people can benefit from those replies. Asking for help privately is understandable if both parties have agreed to it. Merely thinking about asking for help privately should, in my opinion, generate ideas of PayPal or other means of transferring funds. Coding is work. Also, if one finds - whether they asked for it themselves or not - an EXT very useful, those same thoughts should arise. Sharing is caring, and it is two-way street. Take care of the people who help you. The very least, show your appreciation one way or another and always behave respectfully toward those who help you.

I have not visited the feature request discussions all that often, but I can imagine some of those ideas can be...wild. And yet, some people have to reply to them all.

In the end, what people do here at phpBB.com is something very beautiful, if you think about it. People come together, they generate nice ideas, some realize those ideas, and then everybody celebrates that. And that happens on many levels at any given moment over and over again. Wow. :)
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by HiFiKabin » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:00 pm

mrgoldy wrote: ↑
Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:59 pm
<snip>
Also, sending a private message for help is a noble cause, but one you will probably not uphold for long. Once you've written an extension or two, people tend to already starting pm'ing you for support or private requests. And that becomes very tedious, very quickly.<snip>
... and no matter how much thought you put into writing an extension, someone will always ask for another feature which means more work and testing.

... and why won't it work in xxx style?* (usually but not always a paid for style)

... and why has it broken my board?* (usually but not always a conflict with another extension)

... and so on.

Personally I either write extensions that I want to use on my own forum, or a request that gives me a "Hmmmmm, that looks interesting I wonder if ... " moment.

* These problems are always the extension authors fault of course :lol:

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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by KYPREO » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:17 am

The OP makes a very valid observation and I had the exact same reaction.

I understand responses that point out why a particular feature or extension might be difficult to implement or require a significant amount of work, but that's not the kind of criticism I frequently see on this board.

The criticism I have observed, much of it from one user in particular, is to completely shoot down the feature/extension request by arguing that it is not required or that no one would have a use for it. There are a number of problems with this:

- it is purely opinion - just because that user doesn't have a use for it, it doesn't mean others wouldn't. Prima facie, the OP would find the extension useful/beneficial, because otherwise why would they post the request?

- the opinion is usually wrong and is not support by any factual basis. The best examples of this I see are criticisms rejecting outright the benefit of auto-image rotation/scaling, push notifications and mobile apps. The one particular user who frequently makes these criticisms does not appear to inhabit the real world or administer a forum with a large userbase composed of ordinary, non-technically minded people. Those directing the criticisms didn't even appear to understand that large numbers of people have migrated from forums to Facebook groups because of perceived ease of use from mobile devices. One user disputed that the majority of users are accessing the web from mobile devices. People who are not in touch with the basic modern landscape of internet usage really should refrain from commenting.

- it is arrogant. Shooting down a feature request on the basis it is not needed assumes the OP is stupid and hasn't thought about why the feature/extension would be beneficial. It also assumes other users are not in the same boat. The arrogance is entirely misplaced because, Invariably, other users will chime in and say they would find the feature useful too.

- those making the complaints clearly wouldn't be using the extension/feature anyway, so they don't have 'skin in the game' to complain about the feature's usefulness.

This kind of posting would be considered flaming or trolling on many boards and would not be tolerated.

By all means, debate on pros/cons and whether implementation is technically feasible should be welcome, but rudely shooting requests down as described above really should be stopped. Sure, some feature requests truly are pointless, but it really is a question of tone and civility. If the feature request is no good, it will not be implemented so what's the point of sticking the knife in as well? Otherwise, why have feature/extension request sections at all?
Last edited by KYPREO on Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by 3Di » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:53 am

^ This ^
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by AmigoJack » Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:53 am

See my signature: the language issues are one factor. Others are (as others already wrote) plain silly requests:
  • way too vague formulated,
  • author isn't even sure about it himself,
  • wanting a whole new software instead of just a feature,
  • wanting features that are there already,
  • trying to solve social problems with technical solutions,
  • not distinguishing between moderators and administrators...
When I reply to ideas I rarily think "oh yes" - due to my experience with phpBB in all three roles (user, moderator, administrator) I then think "no, your workflow is just wrong" and explain why it's a bad idea, and how it could be achieved already in a different way. Sometimes it's a mix of both, and I list advantages and disadvantages from both perspectives: coding it and using it.

potku wrote: ↑
Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:17 pm
1) Is my reply necessary?
2) Is my reply helpful?
3) Is my reply friendly?
I find these partly mutual exclusive: a necessary warning does not need to be friendly. A friendly reply might be less helpful than one that hits the point. Just like I could ask why you didn't use the LIST BBCode could be "helpful" as in you finally realize "oh, that's what it's there for" but with the variety of human nature you could be one interpreting it as not friendly - that's why I try to ignore it. But it's still one detail of you that is added to my overall impression, and once it comes down to precisely formulating a request for anything I then think "how much effort did he put in", "how well is he used to phpBB's features" and things like that and then base my reply on that.

Being "helpful", "friendly" (and maybe also "necessary") are not one way either - whoever started a topic/discussion has also the responsibility to think about these 3 things when he wants to be treated the same way. A topic with the subject "Help!" is most likely not helpful. Likewise asking about features is not necessary when reading the manual would have answered every question already. Yes, nobody should start off harsh/rude, but when you know that user for a longer time and he's always demanding more than he is willing to do himself/repeating the same mistakes/over a long time still not used to phpBB and you need to reply then it just happens.

mrgoldy wrote: ↑
Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:59 pm
Also, sending a private message for help is a noble cause, but one you will probably not uphold for long. Once you've written an extension or two, people tend to already starting pm'ing you for support or private requests. And that becomes very tedious, very quickly.
I wrote Why contacting members via PM for help is bad years ago. After providing a lot of MOD instructions yet unknown people started to PM me because they figured I'd be the man for their job.

KevC wrote: ↑
Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:44 pm
the purpose of the ideas forum is to suggest things that could/should be in the core code of phpBB out of the box and that would therefore be of use and benefit to the majority of people who install it
It's not even a forum to begin with (I'm forced using the "Ideas" system instead of having the benefit of viewing a forum - I even have no chance to see a sticky topic to read FAQs) and the "in the core" philosophy is nowhere mentioned. It might be clear to you staff members, but how do regular members should know that? I understand what you all want, but I always found it inconsistent to argue that way when it isn't written in general anywhere.

KYPREO wrote: ↑
Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:17 am
The criticism I have observed, much of it from one user in particular, is to completely shoot down the feature/extension request by arguing that it is not required or that no one would have a use for it.
As with everything: not explaining/reasoning/proving your argument makes it just an opinion. I cringe when posts start with "I think..." or "IMO..." because that mostly doesn't help - it's just a waste of time to read the opinion when facts and substance is needed. I rather want to read "I know that..." or "From my experience..." - that's much more a help to me than just thoughts and opinions. And this applies to both: topic author and replies. If "shooting down" comes with facts: fine. Otherwise I agree: personal opinion should just be a bonus, not the main reason to reply.
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Affin wrote: ↑
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The problem is probably not my English but you do not want to understand correctly.
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by KevC » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:12 am

AmigoJack wrote: ↑
Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:53 am
It's not even a forum to begin with (I'm forced using the "Ideas" system instead of having the benefit of viewing a forum - I even have no chance to see a sticky topic to read FAQs) and the "in the core" philosophy is nowhere mentioned. It might be clear to you staff members, but how do regular members should know that? I understand what you all want, but I always found it inconsistent to argue that way when it isn't written in general anywhere.
The announcement forum topic says it's for suggesting features to be included in future versions of phpBB.

That's clearly different to just an extension which is an 'add-on'.
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by AmigoJack » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:29 am

KevC wrote: ↑
Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:12 am
The announcement forum topic says
No, if by "the" you mean Where to post what. Otherwise if you mean the non-sticky topic Reintroducing phpBB Ideas I can promise you nobody expects that to exist, and it doesn't explain things either. The index also has no description for Ideas, only a link.

No, I'm still not able to read that anywhere. Can you link the topic you mean? And ask other staff members if they're sure it must attract the eye of users so they clearly know what "Ideas" is about?
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Affin wrote: ↑
Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:51 am
The problem is probably not my English but you do not want to understand correctly.
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Re: Criticism of feature or EXT requests

Post by 3Di » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:39 am

That's totally irrilevant, let's discuss the topic instead.
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