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Old 26th July 2010, 10:48 PM   #1
dfidler is offline dfidler  United Kingdom
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Default Q&A?

Hi Everyone,

I was thinking of tossing this in as a feature request for the site but I realize that I don't have my finger on the pulse of this site yet so I thought I'd throw it out there for some feedback. I currently view this site as more of a resource than a place to hang out (that will come later when/if I become more involved in diyAudio) but I don't know if my demographic is representative of a remarkable percentage of the people on this site.

Anyways, feedback would be appreciated.

The Challenge:

Being new here, I find myself doing a lot of searches for answers to my questions. Sadly, I nearly always end up with 51+ pages of search results and, when you have 1000's of questions (as a noob), that adds up to a tremendous amount of time spent reading a lot of information that is either irrelevant (though interesting) or that I'm just not capable of absorbing right now.

The Goal:

Make it easier to find answers to common questions.

The Suggestion:

Create a forum for each of the major categories called "General Knowledge Q&A". The point of this forum is for users to ask questions that do not pertain to a particular model/brand of product. Then we knowledge seekers have only one place to look for our questions (rather than 4+ forums that it is right now).

Perhaps also implement a Q&A-type mod (like Answer Forums 1.0.0 - vBulletin.org Forum similar to answers.yahoo.com) so that the most relevant answers appear at the top of the thread, thereby allowing us to avoid reading dozens of posts in a thread to find a relatively straight forward answer.

Forum rules might be:
  1. General Knowedge questions only; no brand/model specific questions
  2. all questions should start with "howto" or "what"
  3. one question per thread
  4. moderators have the right to murder anyone asking many questions in a single thread
  5. phrase questions such that they request a simple answer - eg - what are the different types of speaker enclosures? (although google sorts that one out quickly enuf)

The Downstream Implications:

Like anything, the more data you have, the more difficult it is to search without active management so I'm not sure if this would just turn into another mass of data that was difficult to search. although it would carry the benefit of Q&A-type threads being separated from the build projects (which, IMHO, deserve a forum of their own). What I'm trying to do is figure out a way for people to share knowledge with the minimum amount of manual intervention possible.

Wiki's are a great resource but they require community commitment to maintain so they're ill suited to house FAQs, though they are great for articles are more complex topics. Thread keywords are also a great resource, but due to their free form nature in vB, they quickly become noise as well.

So I'm not really sure what the best response to this challenge is or whether it's even worth addressing any more than it already is by the current site structure.

Your thoughts?


Last edited by dfidler; 26th July 2010 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 27th July 2010, 03:51 AM   #2
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Hi Dave and welcome to the forum.

I agree that some sort of FAQ in each forum would be a good idea. The wiki thing isn't really working out. There are a lot of folks just seeking basic info, so many of the same questions get asked over and over. Also, long and complicated threads should be included in the FAQ, making it easy to find info in a thread that spans 1000s of posts.

However, it's a lot of work. So I don't know of it will ever get done. I will point the other mods this way.
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Old 27th July 2010, 06:07 AM   #3
dfidler is offline dfidler  United Kingdom
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While I have four wikis on the go (one for development of my website, one for personal stuff, one for work and another shared one at my work), I find that they're only really useful when people are directly incented to contribute or when their vocation naturally predisposes them to the documentation of knowledge (ie - academia). I find that 90% of wiki content is contributed by 1-5% of the people who use it. That's a lot of work for a small group to maintain without some incentive.

And I find that most people want their names attached to the knowledge that they share because, in communities such as this, doing so carries the recognition along with it.

The more that I think about this suggestion, the more I'm convinced that it will only work if the content can be categorized in such a way as to make it more searchable and that's the hard part, isn't it.

I found a post (Membership ideas) by bearberry which was relevant to this topic.

Originally Posted by bearberry
... better searching is a high priority. Part of that is dependent on user training. It bugs me no end to review the list of recent posts and see line after line of "What about this" and "Latest idea" etc. Come on, put some useful info in the title, e.g., "BB's sealed B3S desktop build". If that's in the Full-Range forum I have all the info I need to decide if it's worth reading - size and type of speaker and driver(s) chosen. This approach should be suggested to new board users in the welcome message; perhaps it could be added to the "new post" entry page; and maybe some key word fields could be added to new post entries, e.g., for speakers, choose sub-forum (multi, full, sub, exotic); 2, 3, 4, n-way; size - desktop, bookshelf, stand mount, tower, large tower; material (BB, marble, ...); finish (veneer, paint, ...).
If those could be displayed along with the normal thread info, browsing would be way more efficient, and keywords like that would be great to search on.
John has touched on the heart of the problem but I don't agree with all of his ideas. Keywords, in vB, are free form and they are optional which means that not only must people remember to put them in, they're often at a loss for which keywords to use.

I don't think that you can ever overcome this training issue because a site's population is transitory. You can train the old dogs but keeping the new ones in line will be a constant battle. I'm left to wonder if requiring thread titles might help here. For instance, with speakers (I don't know about amps), there are some pretty basic categories that people want to know about. Enclosures, driver selection, calculations, crossovers, construction techniques, "Something we havent thought of". (though the latter does require some active management in terms of adding new titles and migrating these threads into the right titles).

By requiring people add these titles, you are requiring them to categorize their posts more. This doesn't work for existing content, but it at least works for future content.

Originally Posted by bearberry
Still on the topic of accessing the great info on the site, how about earning (paid) membership status by submitting articles that are accepted (mods or members vote on value?). I'm a newbie at audio diy, but have a woodworking background, and have toyed with the idea of pulling together info scattered across many threads about, for instance, joinery techniques for boxes. Just need a little more motivation to take the time and do it!
I love this idea and I've used it at my own site to generate initial interest in developing content. It gives people a financial incentive to contribute to the knowledge pool of the community.

Originally Posted by bearberry
Authors should commit to update the article, say quarterly for the time their complimentary membership lasts.
This sounds good but it wont work because it needs to be policed. Never rely on people to do more than you're willing to nag (or incent) them to do.


Note: Perhaps this thread should be renamed to "Making content more available" ?

Last edited by dfidler; 27th July 2010 at 06:15 AM.
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