Topic
  • 6 replies
  • Latest Post - ‏2012-04-12T23:52:30Z by kolban
kolban
kolban
3321 Posts

Pinned topic Meta discussion: Content of forum posting questions

‏2012-04-06T15:50:38Z |
Folks,
I'd like to start a meta discussion (a discussion on our discussions). This forum is pretty much the only forum I participate in on any subject. I try and assist with as many answers as possible. After having been watching for about a year now, I seem to see something "odd" and I am wondering if it is simply my perception or if there is some bigger story.

I keep seeing postings being made to the forum by folks looking for assistance where the amount of information in the post is relatively low. Sometimes the posts are only a few lines long.

It strikes me that if I were looking for assistance I'd want to be as clear as possible in what I am looking for, what I have tried and what my current "thinking" is on the topic. By sharing where my "mind is at" in trying to get something resolved, I can only imagine that would be goodness as it might highlight some misconception.

I also see relatively few screen shots or attached PDFs or sample TWX files.

What do the rest of us in this community think of these thoughts? Do others beside me prefer to read "summary" posts or would you yourself like to see more information in a post? If you do feel that more content in a post is beneficial, how do you feel we should go about encouraging such behavior?

If you yourself feel that you have been posting "short" questions and you feel that you want to keep doing that, perhaps you could post and help me understand the motivation?

Neil
Updated on 2012-04-12T23:52:30Z at 2012-04-12T23:52:30Z by kolban
  • jmac_EmeriCon
    jmac_EmeriCon
    279 Posts

    Re: Meta discussion: Content of forum posting questions

    ‏2012-04-06T17:21:16Z  
    Neil:

    I am of the opinion that a poster needs to have done some "due dilligence" and at least made a cursory attempt at researching their issue. Having monitored the MQSeries.net workflow forum for years, I would say that ignoring those quickly made posts that do not show any effort in solving the problem does help, but I don't think you can stop that type of behavior, it will always be around. Plus, I have to admit, that I am guilty from time to time, of posting too quickly.

    As to attaching twx files in particular, I can understand why you might not want to post a solution to a public forum. The way I handled this on the MQWF Forum was to use private messages to exchange FDL files or Logs when a poster had a problem that needed more insight into the issue. Private Messages exist on this forum, but do not seem to be used much (at least I have not seen much use of them).

    Regards,

    JMAC


    _______________________________________________________________________

    John McDonald

    EmeriCon, LLC
  • vlit
    vlit
    930 Posts

    Re: Meta discussion: Content of forum posting questions

    ‏2012-04-09T14:59:48Z  
    Neil, you are right absolutely.
    I have already written about this. There are no extrasenses here and the people cannot give a good advice without input data.

    Vladlen.
  • SystemAdmin
    SystemAdmin
    7615 Posts

    Re: Meta discussion: Content of forum posting questions

    ‏2012-04-09T17:19:46Z  
    • vlit
    • ‏2012-04-09T14:59:48Z
    Neil, you are right absolutely.
    I have already written about this. There are no extrasenses here and the people cannot give a good advice without input data.

    Vladlen.
    ESR's thoughts on this (from back in the NNTP days) are still pretty timeless : http://catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html#writewell . It's worth reading if you haven't seen it before. It might also be worth creating a IBM BPM specific version, posting it here, and then linking back to it when we get a badly worded question. (Eric's treatise is great, but it is treatise length.)

    I have to admit that I frequently pass over questions on this forum just because I can't understand what the heck the poster is saying. Or when the poster violates one of Eric's other core principles of smart questions. (Primarily when it's just some vague "things aren't working" post without listing what enough background, details, or what they've already tried.) I'm usually posting here when taking a five minute break from "real work", and I'm going to prioritize posts that I can understand and answer quickly.

    David
  • kolban
    kolban
    3321 Posts

    Re: Meta discussion: Content of forum posting questions

    ‏2012-04-12T03:05:45Z  
    ESR's thoughts on this (from back in the NNTP days) are still pretty timeless : http://catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html#writewell . It's worth reading if you haven't seen it before. It might also be worth creating a IBM BPM specific version, posting it here, and then linking back to it when we get a badly worded question. (Eric's treatise is great, but it is treatise length.)

    I have to admit that I frequently pass over questions on this forum just because I can't understand what the heck the poster is saying. Or when the poster violates one of Eric's other core principles of smart questions. (Primarily when it's just some vague "things aren't working" post without listing what enough background, details, or what they've already tried.) I'm usually posting here when taking a five minute break from "real work", and I'm going to prioritize posts that I can understand and answer quickly.

    David
    Quite by coincidence I have been reading other forums not related to work. These have been on the subject of computer games programming. Reading those game writing forums has been a real eye opener for me. Here is just an example posting:

    http://answers.unity3d.com/questions/238744/comparing-two-coordinates-in-a-vector3.html

    What I seem to be finding are a large number of threads/posts which start:

    "Ok I did blah ..."

    or

    "Okay, I started my code with ..."

    What is fascinating me is the notion of folks starting their posts with "Ok ...". It isn't just one or two ... there are dozens of such examples. Has anyone heard of a forum or newsgroup that discusses "forums and newsgroup" philosophy and psychology? Personally, I'd be fascinated to read/study more about how we communicate with each other through this media.

    Neil
  • CBradley
    CBradley
    82 Posts

    Re: Meta discussion: Content of forum posting questions

    ‏2012-04-12T13:29:05Z  
    I believe, a lot of times, people don't post a ton of information or include snippets of code because they are really unsure of where the issue is really coming from. This can happen to the point where they are not even sure what to post. Mostly I think these posters are looking for guidance on this aspect as well - what information will be useful for you to help me with this...

    It might be nice to have every user who enters a question pose the perfect question with all of the detail needed to resolve it in the post itself, but if it was that easy, they may have been able to answer it themselves. Sometimes the errors and their causes are quite cryptic or really aren't easy to root cause.

    I get questions about our application from our own end users that are sometimes very brief and very vague and they do take a bit more work to glean out what the real issue is. Even though we are all software developers of some sort here, we can be guilty of the same thing. But I don't see that as a fatal flaw and I feel for people whose questions get ignored because they didn't know how to detail them from the beginning.
  • kolban
    kolban
    3321 Posts

    Re: Meta discussion: Content of forum posting questions

    ‏2012-04-12T23:52:30Z  
    • CBradley
    • ‏2012-04-12T13:29:05Z
    I believe, a lot of times, people don't post a ton of information or include snippets of code because they are really unsure of where the issue is really coming from. This can happen to the point where they are not even sure what to post. Mostly I think these posters are looking for guidance on this aspect as well - what information will be useful for you to help me with this...

    It might be nice to have every user who enters a question pose the perfect question with all of the detail needed to resolve it in the post itself, but if it was that easy, they may have been able to answer it themselves. Sometimes the errors and their causes are quite cryptic or really aren't easy to root cause.

    I get questions about our application from our own end users that are sometimes very brief and very vague and they do take a bit more work to glean out what the real issue is. Even though we are all software developers of some sort here, we can be guilty of the same thing. But I don't see that as a fatal flaw and I feel for people whose questions get ignored because they didn't know how to detail them from the beginning.
    CBradley,
    Great post ... I do very much like your thinking. My job is IBM BPM and so I am thinking about it all day, every day and have been for over a year now. As such when questions come in, it is human nature for someone who spends all their time on it to ask "why did the poster not include this or that" ... but that is based upon my own back knowledge of what I would personally want to know.

    If I have frustration at such questions, it is not frustration at the poster, but rather frustration that the answer to the poster is going to be delayed because more information is needed. I commonly (and hopefully politely) ask for additional information relevant to the subject area that would help me along.

    Now ... that said ... there are occasions where I see questions that appear to have been posted by folks from the Pakled species from Star Trek (wonder if anyone gets that reference without a google :-)

    Questions that "seem" to me to be of the sole content of "I wrote a program, it doesn't work, what did I do wrong?".

    Sometimes I consider writing a "checklist" or "process flowchart" of debugging problems but those frustrate me when asked by IBM defect support. Some of them are too generic. For example, asking me to list every application installed on my machine and the settings of every environment variable have shown (to me) to have never been of any value to any defect I have ever raised. If 1 in 100 reports are solved by this information then 99 out of a 100 were a waste of time recording.

    So I guess the real answer is when a question comes in with (what I consider to be) too little information, I'll just politely ask for more and hope that comes in.

    Neil