Lessons for the Glowforge team about the forum

This article is interesting:

While we’re nowhere near the level of problems that stack overflow has, I personally struggle with some of the concepts here:

Too often, someone comes here to ask a question, only to be told that they did it wrong. They get snarky or condescending comments for not explaining what they’ve tried (that didn’t work). They get an answer… but the answerer gets scolded for “encouraging ‘low-quality’ questions.”

I find myself answering more and more questions with a simple “search the forums for x”, and then always feel kind of like it comes off as too blunt. The problem, though, is that if the OP had done even a small amount of research, there would have been no need to post.

I’m not sure what the long term goal is here, but… I’m wondering about the long term health of the forum as it relates to fatigue by more experienced users simply opting not to answer because of the exhausting nature of repeated “how do I engrave with no crumb tray?” and “what settings do I use to cut X material?”

Anyway. It’s a half-baked thought at this point, but I’ve already found myself thinking “I won’t answer that, the person hasn’t even bothered to look” more than once… and then feeling guilty for thinking it.

Man, I just wish there were a more rigorous form for submitting problem topics. It’d save a bunch of time and effort.


It’s a good article. Brings up many issues relevant to the Glowforge forum. I think in general the answers are polite, if not kind. Even the ones that are simple search suggestions are fairly non-judgmental. I try to include a search link if at all possible to send them on the way. I know the vocabulary and the history of the forum enough, I can usually get the topic that best answers their questions. Was there any particular issue you thought we need to address?

I’m edified and uplifted by the folks who have been on the forum for a long time who consistently help and positively affirm those who post. There doesn’t seem to have been a dustup in a while, although I still have a little backlog to go through.

I still think there is some room for assisting total newbies to lasers and digital design. We have some tutorials and great tips, and the Glowforge tutorial for making a custom luggage tag has the basics, but there still is room for accommodating many different people, especially if we take into account all those that need to deal with a language barrier.


Any forum for a complex undertaking is going to have some volume of newbs asking the same questions over and over and over and over.

To handle it you can either compartmentalize topics and try to at least segregate the newb questions, or you can get strict about enforcing rules and making people search first and handing out flags and scoldings.

I know which I would rather see here–the more friendly choice, even if it “wastes” my time seeing the same questions over and over.

I think they should make a beginner’s area here, and let the regulars who want to participate there move topics into it as needed and make the same kinds of replies they do now.

For a good example of a friendly forum that supports a detail-oriented hobby, constantly overrun with new users asking the same questions, look at HomeBrewTalk.com. For an extremely unfriendly example, look at the official Kodi forums.


Not really, no. As I said I don’t think we’re at that level of issue yet, but the future is big and so thinking ahead about long term health of the forum is a good idea.

1 Like

I’m a member of a 3D printing forum where if you post a question, 15 people will jump in and yell at you to upload a file, but when you do upload a file, nobody responds.

So far, this forum has been much kinder than that. People actually WANT to help, not just slap you down for being ignorant. I like that. I hope we can keep it that way.

I’m not experienced enough yet to help, much of the time, and don’t always have time to read every post, but I’ll try to do my part toward that goal. :slight_smile:


I just discovered that there is a significant update to the Glowforge manual that should help newbies learn some of the basics of creating GF designs and operating their GF . Version 2.2.4 of the Glowforge Manual can be found at https://glowforge.com/manual. I also think that the forum or Glowforge web site could add a FAQ section that could provide answers to a lot of often repeated questions asked by new users. The 10K topics and 100K posts on this forum can be pretty daunting to new users.


It’s also hard for newbies to really know the correct search terms to try. :slight_smile:


To be absolutely blunt though - some users (less so on the forum than on the facebook group) have me scratching my head and thinking “If you don’t know the answer to <question>, why did you buy a laser cutter in the first place?”… Although to me, that generates more amused puzzlement than irritation - and usually, somebody has given them a pointer long before I read the question.


or (though this becomes less relevant as people are able to buy and receive in a matter of weeks in the US now) people who bought their GF two+ years ago, finally receive them, and haven’t thought at all about how they create files. two years waiting and never really considered software or how they would create.

i like this idea.



1 Like

My thought on this is, hey, this is an internet forum. Worrying about “wasting time” is a moot point. :rofl: The folks seeking help likely drop their question online then go about life for a bit and check back later. The folks who are here for discussions and answering said topics, well that’s basically being here for the entertainment value and that’s pretty much the definition for burning free time.

I don’t post a whole lot anymore for help topics, not because I don’t care or can’t be bothered, but because there’s a ton of new people coming up that can help with the basic stuff. I’m here for the tricky stuff :slight_smile: and really my time to be here is cut down anyway just with life and projects at home.

To get a little irked, frustrated or irritated with repeat stuff is human. Yeah, it would be great if everybody read manuals or dug deep for information, or were self-starters that even knew how to find those resources but in general, people don’t. They need to be a bit spoon-fed. However, they don’t know what they havent experienced, you simply can’t fault them for that. When those that are more knowledgable about something get actually annoyed for realz, it’s more of a reflection on them than it is the person asking the question.

So, help if ya can, don’t if ya cant or don’t wanna. No bigs. You can read it, roll yer eyes and move on to another post if ya wish.

Nobody is going to notice that YOU did not post a response on every thread asking for help. They WILL notice a snarky or crappy response.


My two-cents on the whole “they didn’t search before posting” mentality is that they probably did. The last time I searched for something I found 15 different answers for 15 different ever so slightly different problems, none of which were my problem. Now, granted, that pointed me in the right direction. But if it didn’t, I would have posted, and probably forgot to mention the fully amount of previous work.


I find Discourse’s search very difficult to find specific posts when I know for certain they are there. It is not surprising people ask the same questions again and again.

It is also symptomatic of GF’s refusal to document anything properly, hiding everything and only supporting Proofgrade. Also the many bugs and workarounds needed to get it to accept SVGs and lack of error messages. For a supposedly easy to use machine there are many pitfalls.


I agree wholeheartedly that the forum is difficult to search.



I agree that there are some people who have tried to search before posting, but there are also people who definitely didn’t – either because of cluelessness (which I forgive and have done myself) or laziness (which irks me greatly).

There’s no great technical solution to humans being humans, but I’m saying that now’s the time to consider the future of things so that the community doesn’t start to falter as we mature and grow. Thinking about how to best serve our newest users pays massive dividends later as they become experienced users with their own great ideas and we all benefit from the diverse skills and perspectives that they bring.

Also, not to get on a tangent, but facebook splintering our userbase is a shame. We’d be better off with a single community I think. Critical mass is a real thing with community size. I would also say that now’s the time to try to think of ways to entice people to come here instead.


I’ve been here since the beginning and even I still have that trouble once in a while. At which point I will post a question. I’d say that 99% of the time it had been addressed, but I couldn’t find it using a search.


Good question, but I’m taking that to mean than you knew all about lasers before you bought a GF? I sure did’n’t, but I bought one anyway.



1 Like

I think one thing that hurts is the separation of this forum and things like this:

If all of the sites were more cohesive it would make finding useful information easier for all.

1 Like