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Old 08-08-2005, 11:28 PM   #1
Matir
Moderator
 
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: San Jose, CA
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 8,507

Rep: Reputation: 118Reputation: 118
Users who are only here to ask questions?


This thread is more of just a commentary/thought process that I want public input on. As of the time of this post, there are 185,505 registered LQ members. All told, they have made 1,788,617 posts in 350,373 threads. Yes, I know you could've gotten that information from the main page, but it's the background for my next comments.

This is roughly 10 posts and 2 threads per user. It's also about 6 posts per thread.

I've noticed a LOT of unanswered questions, and I've noticed a lot of users who only seem to post when they have questions. While I can't blame them, I wonder if this is more due to them not wanting to help (or not having time) or they actually don't know the answers.

Additionally, I'm curious as to what kind of statistical distribution we have in terms of median/std deviation of posts per user, posts per thread, answered threads, etc.

I must admit, there is one impressive statistic: of our 350,373 threads, only 23,946 have no answers. This means 93% of threads have SOME sort of reply.

I guess I'm a true geek since I'm attempting to perform statistical regressions on the posts on a Linux forum.
 
Old 08-08-2005, 11:58 PM   #2
paulsm4
Guru
 
Registered: Mar 2004
Distribution: SusE 8.2
Posts: 5,863
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
Hi -

Actually, I'm wondering where you find the *time* to have posted 3000+ responses. I've been a member for roughly the same time, and I'm lucky to have posted 1/10 that much.

My hat's off to you: but I'm definitely curious how you do it!

Sincerely .. PSM
 
Old 08-09-2005, 12:02 AM   #3
Matir
Moderator
 
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: San Jose, CA
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 8,507

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 118Reputation: 118
Well, to be honest, I'm a computer geek. And I have a relatively easy job working for my college where, between helping users, I'm allowed to surf the internet. So I spend much of my time at "work" on here. I remember when I first started using Linux, how much people helped me then. Now I want to pay the community back.

I'm honestly not that concerned with my post count, I'm more concerned with whether or not my posts have MEANING to them. That's what's important to the community. Trolls can get high post counts too, you know.
 
Old 08-09-2005, 12:08 AM   #4
kencaz
Senior Member
 
Registered: Mar 2005
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Distribution: Mandriva Slackware FreeBSD
Posts: 1,468

Rep: Reputation: 47
I brought up this issue before and tried to get members to answere 10 questions... well, let's just say that LQ is dynamic like a town hall meeting... There are some who ask questions and some who answer...

It really does not matter to me... I answer a lot of questions not only because I am helping someone but it also helps me research issues I would not normally persue...

Actually, I think that I learn more answering questions then I would if I had posted them... I just read the posts and If I can help, I will...

KC
 
Old 08-09-2005, 12:14 AM   #5
davcefai
Member
 
Registered: Dec 2004
Location: Malta
Distribution: Debian Sid
Posts: 764

Rep: Reputation: 32
It starts out when you encounter your first Linux Showstopper and post a question here. Hopefully you get a reply. Repeat 3 or 4 times.

Then you see a question you can answer......, so you do. The answer may be wrong, but you tried, and maybe get into a discussion. Then you become an active participant.

However I have seen a number of first questions go unanswered. Questioner probably gives up and reinstalls Windows.

Also the patronising attitude of some members can be a turnoff for some, so they don't come back. (There is/was one chap in the Mandriva forums who set my teeth on edge with each reply, especially the sig lines - I finished up ignoring any threads he participated in.)

These "lost members" are still on the rolls so they are probably distorting the picture.

Trouble is, unless one has a way of determinining the number of inactive members it will be difficult to get meaningful results - other than, WOW, this is a great site to get answers.

Just my .02 Euros worth.
 
Old 08-09-2005, 12:32 AM   #6
vharishankar
Senior Member
 
Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,142
Blog Entries: 4

Rep: Reputation: 121Reputation: 121
Answering questions is a very difficult art indeed. Even for a lot of experienced members it takes a lot of patience and learning.

Doing something is one thing. Explaining how you do it is totally another.

That's why a lot of people who seem knowledgeable also have trouble explaining or answering questions which can be understood easily by somebody with lesser prior knowledge. It's difficult to adjust knowledge levels for each answer as such...

Maybe that's one reason why some questions go unanswered. The solutions may be well known, but maybe just nobody could quite think of a way to explain the solution in a manner that would be understood easily.
 
Old 08-09-2005, 12:47 AM   #7
aysiu
Senior Member
 
Registered: May 2005
Distribution: Ubuntu with IceWM
Posts: 1,776

Rep: Reputation: 66
Quote:
Originally posted by Harishankar
Answering questions is a very difficult art indeed. Even for a lot of experienced members it takes a lot of patience and learning.

Doing something is one thing. Explaining how you do it is totally another.
Worse yet, you have to explain it and coax the details of the problem out of the question-asker. Troubleshooting via forum is no easy task. It's far easier to do so in person ("Oh, yes, click on that. Do you see this part here?") than to do so over the internet ("It didn't work." "What didn't work? What errors did you receive?" "I didn't receive any errors." "So what happened when tried it?").
 
Old 08-09-2005, 12:48 AM   #8
kencaz
Senior Member
 
Registered: Mar 2005
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Distribution: Mandriva Slackware FreeBSD
Posts: 1,468

Rep: Reputation: 47
I agree with Harishankar, It's difficult sometimes to see the same question being asked over and over, and it seems on the part of the poster that if they had done a little research on the matter they would not have to have posted at all...

I have worked in Tech/support and IT for companies and It's kinda frustrating when you always are asked the same question over and again... I guess that's just human nature...

Again, we are not trained as teachers and as such, can be impatient at times but want to help none the less...

I would say to any would-be posters... Do some homework first then ask questions...

KC
 
Old 08-09-2005, 12:58 AM   #9
vharishankar
Senior Member
 
Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,142
Blog Entries: 4

Rep: Reputation: 121Reputation: 121
Quote:
Worse yet, you have to explain it and coax the details of the problem out of the question-asker.
Sometimes this is a sensitive issue. I've seen many questions framed wrongly or just vaguely, but if you point out some faults in the question, it can sometimes be a little bit difficult...

Moreover it's easier to answer questions where the solutions are in the form of commands typed rather than questions which require explanation of GUI aspects.

LQ doesn't allow image uploads and on many occasions a screenshot would speak a thousand words and the solution may be staring in the face of us all.

Screenshots can be a great help sometimes. I've wished many times that somebody could post a screenshot of an error rather than try and interpret it in their own way. Leads to more confusion.

Many people don't have the facility to upload images to remote sites, so allowing attachments would be a great way to improve LQ.

Maybe that's something to consider for the new version of LQ which Jeremy has announced recently.
 
Old 08-09-2005, 02:18 AM   #10
Ephracis
Senior Member
 
Registered: Sep 2004
Location: Sweden
Distribution: Ubuntu, Debian
Posts: 1,109

Rep: Reputation: 49
Added should be that a newbie may not help out answering questions because he is afraid he will write something wrong. I know this is most true when you come from more IRC-based support channels where people tend to be more direct and less respectful against new people on the block. And people are also lazy and it takes time and effort to help someone out.

I am still though happily surprised how people help each other out here on LQ (and elsewhere, too). This, for me, is the spirit that comes with FOSS, and one big reason why I love it. This shows to me that Linux is more than an OS, that there is a helping spirit in a big community behind it. When I get tired of corporations and/or goverments causing troubles and not helping out, or companies charging too much for just a little thing that would make your day, that's when I think of Open Source and that this is a rare place where people help for free, helping for the reason of being a good human being, not helping because of money (I am almost getting religious here).

Still we can improve those 93% even more. We can try to get people to contribute even more, we can get more people to check out the "0 replies"-function, and so on.

About that screenshot thing, to make it work we must prevent people from abusing it, attaching other stuff than just screenshots. This is a hard one and a reason not to implement this function (although it would be great if we got it and could be sure that people would use it "the right way"). And besides, it may cost diskspace and I am not sure if the servers has enough space for such a thing. Correct me?

Regards.
 
Old 08-09-2005, 02:34 AM   #11
vharishankar
Senior Member
 
Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,142
Blog Entries: 4

Rep: Reputation: 121Reputation: 121
The same URL rule should apply to attachments: members with > 5 posts can post attachments. That would prevent basic spam.
 
Old 08-09-2005, 02:42 AM   #12
kencaz
Senior Member
 
Registered: Mar 2005
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Distribution: Mandriva Slackware FreeBSD
Posts: 1,468

Rep: Reputation: 47
Quote:
Originally posted by Harishankar
The same URL rule should apply to attachments: members with > 5 posts can post attachments. That would prevent basic spam.
Attachments take a lot of bandwidth...Are you proposing that LQ should support uploaded images? Links to your own site or other image hosting sites I would say OK, however, I don't think LQ's servers would be able to handle the bandwith of posted attatched files...

KC
 
Old 08-09-2005, 06:12 AM   #13
frankie_DJ
Member
 
Registered: Sep 2004
Location: NorCal
Distribution: slackware 10.1 comfy, Solaris10 learning
Posts: 232

Rep: Reputation: 30
My hat off to you guys for helping people out. I've been pretty much hanging out on this site all day long lately (for last month or so, since I decided that I can't live this miserable life any longer untill I become a Unix guru).

I too am among the group that only asks questions here. The main reason I guess is the fact that I have so many unanswered questions myself, I can't really worry about someone else's problems. (I did however write a small HOWTO in the Solaris forum on connecting svga monitor to Sun workstation, after struggling myself to make it to work for couple of days. But that's about it: I don't think I answered a single thread, even though sometimes answer seemed obvious.)

It seems that most of the questions being asked by the newbies on this site are only relating to a specific problem that doesn't have any broader usability. People who ask those probably didn't do any research, and don't really feel like doing it; their goal is not to learn the OS but to get an easy end-user answers. There is a quite small percentage of questions that relate to a conceptual, deeper understanding of subject.

To answer some of your concerns, I really don't see the point of trying to make your answers impeccably understandable and clear, aproachable to everybody. I used to teach physics at the community college for two years and there is one thing I realized: there is no learning unless a learner takes an active participation in it. Unless HE/SHE takes responsibility, you will be answering the same old questions over and over again. And that leads to MSWindows type stupification all over again.

Cheers!

Last edited by frankie_DJ; 08-09-2005 at 08:00 AM.
 
Old 08-09-2005, 07:30 AM   #14
floppywhopper
Member
 
Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Albany, Western Australia
Distribution: Mageia 4.1, SME Server 8
Posts: 624
Blog Entries: 2

Rep: Reputation: 55
sometimes you can help someone
sometimes you can't
sometimes you point someone in the wrong direction
sometimes you misread the question
sometimes you get it spot on
and the person is very grateful
sometimes they just switch distro
after a big long post that would cure their problem
sometimes you're so frustrated trying to help
someone who just doesn't understand
and should join a LUG
sometimes the question is way over your head
and someone else types a one line command line answer
sometimes three or four people will give an answer
to a question and the person never comes back to tell you
how it went
sometimes there is no answer
sometimes you just have to walk away

thats life
floppy
 
Old 08-09-2005, 08:16 AM   #15
DJOtaku
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: USA
Distribution: Fedora 20; Arch; Kubuntu; Debian
Posts: 710

Rep: Reputation: 31
If there's one thing that I think would really help make LQ much better it would be a better search algorithm. I *try* to find other posts similar to mine before I post, but I always come up with nothing close. Sometimes when I try the same search string in google.com/linux, I actually get some LQ posts that are relevant. I know searching is an artform, but do others feel like I do? That what works in the search engines just doesn't work as well here.
 
  


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