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itsjustme 07-20-2005 06:17 PM

Posting guidelines... Answering guidelines?
I was just sitting here thinking, and after the smoke cleared, I was just wondering if there are Answering Guidelines similar to Posting Guidlines?

Many times someone will ask for help on some topic and the answer, from possibly more than one answerer, is, "Forget your problem and do this other thing." An example, completely made up, might be something like, "How do I get my ATI card to work." And an answer might be, "Forget that and get an nVidia card." Or, in other cases, "I'm having problem with with my gonkulator. Need help." And the answer might be too short and terse, "You should fix the config file." And that's the whole answer. These are highly generic examples, but you might get my drift.

Before anybody starts casting their stones at me :cool: , I know I have posted completely unhelpful answers before. But I've also posted specific, helpful posts. (And I think the occasional humourus post that doesn't really help, and doesn't really hurt, is not so bad. ;) )

The thing that brought this up was a post today about a problem with a monitor. A poster answered with 'check your sync rates in the config file'. The original poster only had 3 posts and may not have known where his config file was or what it was called or where to look within the file.

Maybe, it's asking too much to expect someone, taking the time to answer, to be more specific? But, it seems it doesn't take that much extra effort to give a little more detail about what config file your talking about, where it is, and what section might need further investigation or modification.

I don't mean to single out any particular post or thread. Even terse answers can lead to solutions. I'm just thinking in general about some of the answers that get posted. And I'm not complaining, I'm just curious about the topic?

Any other thoughts on this?

titanium_geek 07-20-2005 07:14 PM

"he who has commited no *bad answering of threads* shall throw the first stone" thud (sound of stone dropping to ground)

I think that the first thing someone will say in contrary to this is: "if the person posting had done it right in the first place..." well, I agree and disagree. Firstly, they are more likely to get a better response if they post a better question. However, even if they post something that is badly worded, then we still need to treat them nicely. They might be a complete newb and not know better, and thus need extra help.

I always make it a point to ask questions when I reply to a question (ok, I try. :D ) and try to worm more info out of them.
I think that people get frustrated, and thus answer tersely or not at all. This is wrong. If you have the answer, and the question is stupidly worded, then you should gently guide them and answer the question. Concession: if the question is so badly worded you can't tell what they are asking, then you can't answer thier question. However, you should still be courteous and try to help.

:D ranting again- but I think we do need to remind the gruffer people among us to be nice to n00bs. (bittorent install thread comes to mind- the newbie was scared away by countless people saying "read the instructions")


itsjustme 07-20-2005 07:22 PM

Hey, thanks for the reply.

For the purposes of this thread, let's assume that the question being asked, or problem being addressed, is completely reasonable and well worded.

Thanks... :)

IamDaniel 07-20-2005 07:35 PM

Different people have different posting/answering styles plus, perhaps they assume too much on the poster...

Just a thought anyway...

titanium_geek 07-20-2005 09:25 PM

A well worded question deserves a well worded answer. A reasonable question deserves a reasonable answer. (allowing for personality of course)


scuzzman 07-20-2005 10:15 PM

If said question is like in your example (the monitor question) and the answer is "Check your sync rates in your config file", I don't see a problem with this. People come here all the time with plenty of Linux knowledge and next to no posts, or no Linux knowledge and 1000+ posts. It is up to the asker to tell us how much knowledge they have, not up to the answerer to guess. Typing full instructions on editing the xorgconfig or XFree86Config-4 can take an hour, and I'm personally not typing that unless the poster says "I have no Linux knowledge" - in which case I'm still not typing it unless after searching like hell for a tutorial I cannot find one...
The way I see it, if a poster has problems with the provided instructions, ask more questions.

kencaz 07-20-2005 11:00 PM

I think some posts are simple enough for a direct answer, however, most are better refering someone in the right direction rather and letting them do the research themselves... They will learn much more along the way...

I will not continue catching your fish for you, but I will teach you how to fish!!!

Sounds like an old saying to me...


titanium_geek 07-21-2005 06:48 AM

I think that sometimes you post something to the point like "check the refreshrates in the config file" and then the newbie wails "nobody gets this! I need help to set the resolution and I'm totaly stuck, I've only been on this stupid operating system for a week, and I'm frustrated. I don't want to go back to evil windows but :cry: "

The newbie needs to know that the answerer needed to know that in the first place, and that they don't need to abandon the board, or start a new post. Now it is the answerers responsibility to sooth them, and tell them in more baby steps how to get things done.

I, personally, would really dislike if you told me how to do something in specific steps, now. When I was a newb I needed that, but now, my system will be diferent to yours, and if I want specific steps I can track down a howto.
So, the default is to give broader answers, that freaks newbies out. Perhaps we need to let newbies know that if they ask, the answerer will usually go down to their level and help them out.

anyway. The fault of both parties, I believe. :)

XavierP 07-21-2005 11:12 AM

Here's a thought: when you work out what you think the guidelines should be, how about one of you puts together a Tutorial? It would then complement the Tutorial on asking questions.

ctkroeker 07-21-2005 03:10 PM


Originally posted by XavierP
Here's a thought: when you work out what you think the guidelines should be, how about one of you puts together a Tutorial? It would then complement the Tutorial on asking questions.
Good Idea on the Tutorial. If anybody comes up with something good, you mods should make it a "sticky".

IamDaniel 07-21-2005 07:15 PM


Originally posted by XavierP
Here's a thought: when you work out what you think the guidelines should be, how about one of you puts together a Tutorial? It would then complement the Tutorial on asking questions.
or perhaps, moderators should make a sticky thread...where it contains all the well answered FAQ posts...

for example:

Slackware Installation Issues:


Monitor Issues:


...and followed by others well answered FAQ

scuzzman 07-21-2005 11:01 PM

If you have time, feel free to draft a copy to those FAQs and place the article in the Wiki. That's why it's there.

titanium_geek 07-22-2005 09:39 AM

* ''All ways be courteous. ''
* ''Answer only if you are going to help.'' (bad: I have no idea about it, but I think your name is totaly cool.)
* ''Be sensitive of newbies. ''
this doesn't mean giving specific steps each time you post an answer- but adding "if you need any extra help, just ask" to the end of the post then the newbie will be less likely to freak out.
* ''Read and Re Read the question''
* ''Post links where helpful.'' any howtos, tutorials etc that might be useful for the asker.

scuzzman 07-22-2005 10:50 AM

Perhaps a little more elaboration and formatting titanium, but it looks good to me.

titanium_geek 07-22-2005 01:08 PM

edit away!


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