Topic Template for Neuro Questions

Hi everyone,

Following up on Suggested improvements to thread-level moderation, content structure - #7 by emdupre, I wanted to start a discussion on designing a Topic Template for the Neuro Questions category.

You can find more information on what Topic Templates are in the Discourse documentation, particularly here. For those who are familiar with GitHub issue templates, they functionally serve a similar role.

Given that so much of Neuro Questions traffic concentrates on software use, I think it would make sense to ask for more structured information when users open a post in this category. In particular, I think we can ask for :

  • The name(s) of the package(s) used
  • The corresponding version(s)
  • A short description of the problem
  • Any other relevant information

I’m sure that much more could be added here, but I think that this is likely minimal enough to be relevant across software projects.

Interested to hear what others think ! Tagging folks who engaged with the previous post: cc @effigies @Steven @jsein @PeerHerholz @psadil @foldes.andrei @adelavega @PradeepGeorge

Take care,



Sounds good as a minimal template, thanks Elizabeth!

I might suggest making “what troubleshooting steps have you already tried?“ part of the minimal set of questions. I might also recommend, since many of the questions resolve around BIDS apps and many problems might be solved by clues in validation, adding something like “If using a BIDS app, are your data BIDS-valid?”. But I recognize this is not relevant for every issue.


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Here’s what we ask for in fMRIPrep, which tends to get pretty good responses when people don’t ignore it.

  • Summary of what happened
  • Command used (and if a helper script was used, a link to the helper script or the command generated)
  • Version
  • Environment (Docker, Singularity, custom installation)
  • BIDS Validity (could generally say “Are your data formatted according to a validatable standard? Please provide the output of the validator.”)
  • Relevant log outputs (maybe prompt for 20 lines)
  • Screenshots / relevant information

Unfortunately, I find that GitHub templates are very frequently ignored. The forms with required fields have made things much better, but a determined user can still avoid giving useful feedback.

I’m also a bit concerned about doing this for “Neuro Questions” which is supposed to be for “any and all questions about Neuroscience”, which goes beyond software support, and I don’t want to show people this and make them feel that their non-software question is out-of-place. If we do want to make a template like this, I think we should make a new category and start closing software support posts in NQ and redirect them to the new category.


Thanks, @Steven and @effigies ! Always appreciate your feedback.

To your point on the scope of the template, @effigies :

I agree that the Neuro Questions category is loosely scoped, but I think (from my review of postings, though I’d love to hear if others disagree) that folks have naturally converged into a few key use cases, the primary of which seems to be software support.

Since these are optional fields (i.e., not enforced when the user creates a new post, just pre-supplied), maybe we could add a short blurb at the top of the template stating that these fields are intended for software support and can be ignored otherwise ?

Thanks again,


Ahoi hoi folks,

thanks everyone for this important discussion and your great points.
From my end, basically +1 re everything.

I very much agree with this and wondered if there’s an option to make folks more aware of this, ie why useful feedback is especially important for them, eg. in order to get their questions answered. Maybe the required fields could be expanded with a little note at the beginning/end a la “Could you please make sure that all information, required to address your question sufficiently, is provided?”. I’m not sure if this would actually do something but sometimes a reminder here and there does the trick (at least in my case, hehe).

I’m very sorry if I missed this but couldn’t there be different templates for different categories?

Cheers, Peer

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Agreed software support is a major use case, but I think that justifies creating its own category, not further entrenching it as the main use of Neuro Questions.

Yes, which is the main reason I’m suggesting a new category. :slight_smile:


I completely agree with the need for a specific category where a “bug report” template could be used but the question then becomes how to nudge people into using it.

Neuroquestion is the default category and I suspect most users will still use this one. So wondering how to make the other categories kind of “in your face” hard to miss.

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Thanks, everyone, for your feedback !

It sounds like the first step is to figure out a potential name for a new, software support only category. Suggestions ? Is “Software Support” too straightforward ? :sweat_smile:

I’m having some trouble figuring out how to highlight categories on Discourse beyond re-ordering them on the homepage – at least with the default Discourse configuration.

I do think we could re-organize the current categories to better effect, though; for example, the ABCD ReproNim, Neurohackademy, and Neuromatch Academy categories are all above Site Feedback, even though they’re not currently active.

Looking forward to your thoughts !

I don’t think we have much to lose creating a “Software Support” category in any case, no?

The risk (I see) is that we don’t successfully move topics to that category and it goes unused, or only some users move and it obfuscates relevant information.

I think we can avoid these outcomes relatively easily, though I imagine the first few weeks will require some manual intervention to re-categorize relevant topics.


… and just to bump the topic template question :

Are we agreed on this as the template for a new Software Support category ?


Couple of links I would add to a templates.

I read them 10 years ago when I started using psychtoolbox (that marks them them as recommended reading before postng) and still go back to them once in a while:

They also come with translation in several languages which is kind of a plus I think

@emdupre Agree with your point regarding the site feedback category, I have moved it above the Institutions. Also re-grouped ABCD ReproNim, Neurohackademy, and Neuromatch Academy under the category Courses for a cleaner look. Have you decided on the Software Support category?

Thanks for the links, @Remi-Gau ! I’m a little hesitant to add specific links, just since there are a number of similar resources and I’d feel like we were “endorsing” a particular one.

I do, though, think that we could take core ideas from these resources and add them to the template as HTML comments.

This approach removes the benefit of multiple supported translations, but given that the rest of the template will be monolingual, I’m not sure that we’d really capitalizing on that benefit with this structure.

These are just my opinions of course ; would be great to get feedback from others !

Thank you, @PradeepGeorge !! I think that looks great.

The consensus from this thread seems to be to move forward with a new Software Support Category. If we adopt the initial template proposed by @effigies , would it be reasonably easy to modify it later to add additional information as @Remi-Gau suggested ?

@emdupre I have created the Software Support category and added the topic template suggested by @effigies. Currently the category is visible only to moderators so that you guys could have a look and provide suggestions/changes. We may have to fine-tune the category description of Neuro Questions to mention about the Software Questions category. Have a look and let me know your thoughts.


Hi @pradeepgeorge, I can’t create a post in that category. Does something else need to be done with permissions?

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@effigies It should be working now.

Hi, I do not seem to be able to find the Software Questions category.

@Steven Currently it is open to users with Moderator status, after their review it will be open. :slight_smile:

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Ah sorry I did not know there was a distinction between “Leader” and “Moderator”.