General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2290985

    Wild Tech Q&A idea


    by Jay Garmon ·

    I’m just throwing this idea out there half-formed, seconds after it occurred to me. What if we “inverted the market” in Tech Q&A?

    Here’s what I mean by that: Tech Q&A regulars are sick of people not closing/rating questions, repeating questions too often, and the wild discrepancies in TechPoint allotments. What if, instead of users asking questions, to which good citizens would offer solutions, users could simply post some of their best tips and tactics, which would earn the author TechPoints based on popularity?

    I realize this is contradictory to my ideas of moving beyond TechPoints, but stick with me.

    Let’s say you have a supercool windows trick, and you detail how to execute that trick in exquisite detail. Every time that solution gets read by a registered TR user, you earn a set number of TechPoints. We could even augment that by allowing users to “donate” some thank-you points if the solution was really helpful.

    Extending the model out, we could let users tack on Corrollaries, with comments and elaborations to a core solution. For example, Trick A shows you how to solve a WinXP Pro problem, Trick A-1 shows you how to adapt that solution to a Tablet PC. The author of the Corrollary could get a share of TechPoints based on readership of the addition.

    This incents people to write full, coherent, useful, archivable solutions and stops newbies and homework cheaters from asking dumb crap everyone hates. It puts experts in the driver’s seat. It also takes a lot of the guesswork out of our user rating system, since the value of your demonstrated knowledge is both qualitatively apparent on public quantified.

    Again, this is just me spouting off, but I’d love some feedback on this.


All Comments

  • Author
    • #3292312

      Extending the idea…

      by Jay Garmon ·

      In reply to Wild Tech Q&A idea

      …the current format of Tech Q&A would go away, which would force the newbie questions and homework assignments into the Discussion Forums. Here they could either be ignored–with no TechPoint complications–or you could post a link to a (your) related Tech Q&A solution, so that the author could benefit from the question, and so that anybody who stumbled upon the same post later would be guided to a complete solution.

      This doesn’t necessarily solve the “same question over and over” problem, but it does make answering them easier and possibly more profitable.

      The crazy brainstew bubbles further…


    • #3292310

      As Johnny Carson would say

      by oz_media ·

      In reply to Wild Tech Q&A idea

      “Thats shum pretty whacky shtuff!”

      OKay Jay, still getting my head around it but it has SOME potential although I was originally shocked at the thought.

      Pro’s- you have listed.

      Con’s- Everyone knows a lot of the same information, it would initially be a simple posting/submission race to see who could offer the best advice on Adaware,AVG antivirus and how to stop XP from Auto restarting on error. I think SOME people would be offering some lengthy papers on security, Active Directory etc. but for the most part, I don’t see those questions asked too often.

      Now, here’s where I see the two mixing like a Reeses peanut butter cup. 🙂 yummy!

      Leave the points system as is, BUT…offer bonus points based on submitted solutions as well. Q&A posters could then be prompted to search THAT library BEFORE seeking help from peers.

      SO I could write out how to fix IE hangs and slow downs, be awarded a fixed amount of points and then people could search a library for such documents for the answer. IF they decide to post a question after that, they MUST award the points as we have discussed previously.

      Too add an even greater incentive for peers to write useful and accurate solutions, people visiting the lbrary can rate the paper if it helped them, the original author is rewarded a small number of points, a residual points system.

      Getting too deep now?? Sorry. :p

      Like you said [i]”Again, this is just me spouting off, but I’d love some feedback on this>”[/i]

    • #3292294

      Lazy People

      by thechas ·

      In reply to Wild Tech Q&A idea


      Most of our answers could be readily found from previous questions, or a little pit of patient searching.

      I think it is also laziness that causes a lot of peers to not close questions.

      My point is that if people don’t search what you have now, is it reasonable to expect them to search a help database?

      I might be wrong, but I think you would end up with a significant reduction in overall site traffic without the TQ&A section.

      Of course, part of the issue is that many people just don’t know what to look for.


      • #3293965

        Some Don’t Know How

        by willcomp ·

        In reply to Lazy People

        I agree in principle with TheChas. Taking his argument a step further:

        Many people just won’t know what to search for since they are not familiar enough with the terminology involved. I know that I have had difficulty at times homing in on the right expression, terminology, or combination to find the desired information. It is safe to assume that most others well versed in PC terminology have had the same problem.

        If we have difficulty finding the correct information, how do you think the average home user would fare?

        Although Jay should be applauded for “thinking outside the box,” I believe he is a little too far outside it this time.


      • #3291485

        Fair points

        by Jay Garmon ·

        In reply to Lazy People

        The issue of “search hesitance” (or laziness) is legitimate, so let’s get really crazy. Suppose we take some of the previous suggestions of a more robust question form–which had the user list some basic facts such as operating system, RAM, etc.–and then add a step: a default search.

        The moment you submit a question, the system runs an automatic search and presents you with a list of closed questions/solutions and asks if any of them answer your question. If the user clicks No, then the question gets posted as normal. If the user clicks Yes, the question(s) they read or check or bookmark or somesuch will get some TechPoint credit.

        The step may seem intrusive, but it does create an instant answer, and since many of these posters are looking for instant gratification, that might be acceptable intrusion.


        • #3291480

          That would work Jay

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Fair points

          But I still want to add the caveat about assignment questions and a possible unfair advantage being given to a lazy student who thinks that they can just coast through a course on our backs and worse still derive credit where none is due.

          If this can somehow be limited I think it would be a great idea as there would be answers to real time problems and not just the expected problems that are listed on the various makers Knowledge Bases.


        • #3305136

          Sounds reasonable

          by thechas ·

          In reply to Fair points


          That does take care of my concerns.

          We are always going to have new issues, or problems that don’t have the “normal” solution.

          Like Oz and others have stated, just how many times do we need to answer questions about mal-ware, BIOS passwords, Windows Product Keys, User to support ratios, et-al.


    • #3294034

      Sounds good to me

      by bfilmfan ·

      In reply to Wild Tech Q&A idea

      An excellent proposal!

    • #3293995

      Jay while it sounds like a good idea

      by hal 9000 ·

      In reply to Wild Tech Q&A idea

      I can see a couple of problems as well. The first was raised by Chas and I think that he is quite right here as it would only be the lazy ones who wouldn’t take the time to have a look through the archived material much the same as they can not bother to properly research the MS Knowledge Base. What I’ve seen in the Q &A section is some of the people want an immediate fix with no “Brain Power” used on their part.

      The second issue is more related to the Assignment type questions that seem to be a common thing now and maybe it’s just me but when I was at Uni I had to study and find a lot of material myself that was not clearly listed or easy to find {True is was when the Internet was in its infancy and there wasn’t much raw data listed} but I tend to think that a properly archived thing like this while a bonus to the working IT people could be used as a “Cheat Sheet” by those in the education system.

      I know sorry but I do hate cheating in any form as the people involved are only hurting themselves and our industry in general when they pass with no idea of what they are supposed to know.

      The problem here would be that instead of the MS answers which are from a developers stand point we would have actual commercial fixes for real life problems that are not covered in the text books and they just might give a few a far better grade than they deserve. Of course it the site was made known to all the education institutions that would be a different story as the teachers would be aware of the possible listings and would be able to search out original answers as apposed to answers provided by others where the student takes the credit.

      I think there may also be a few potential problems as well with people getting and answer and not rating it or if they where doing just a broad search opening a lot of what would effectively be “White Papers” and not actually finding what they where looking for so they have to search a lot of different listings to get what they need. A balance would have to be struck where the number of times a page is opened doesn’t directly give that particular listing a higher listing/rating or whatever you want to call it than one that isn’t opened all that often but still has some very good information on a specific area of the industry.

      Also the type of thing on the MS KB where a survey is listed on the bottom of each page while in theory a good idea quite often doesn’t get filled out as the info is just grabbed and then forgotten about or even printed off and looked at latter.

      I do not know the answer here but I like the idea provided that it isn’t abused by students to get better grades than they deserve.


    • #3311111

      Let’s discuss an “enforced” search

      by Jay Garmon ·

      In reply to Wild Tech Q&A idea

      Regardless of what other changes we make to Tech Q&A, how does everyone feel about an “enforced” search feature?

      As discussed before, a newly submitted question would be used as the basis for a search query against previously asked questions (probably favoring closed/rated/accepted questions), and those results would be served up before the new question is actually posted. The user would be given a chance to browse these answers before confirming the post of a new question.

      This would be an extra step, which some users don’t like, but it would help with the instant gratification factor, as a complete solution could be instantly served (especially for repeatedly asked questions). If the new interface is designed correctly, this should cut down on common newbie repetition, but it also might lead to more people posting questions in the Discussion forums.

      Does this idea have any standalone merit, or will it just turn people off?


      • #3311025

        Jay it sounds like a good idea

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to Let’s discuss an “enforced” search

        At the very least the person asking the question would find a lot of answers quickly even if the original Question was closed without leaving the actual solution.

        Maybe it’s just me but on almost every question that I attempt to answer they seem to get closed with most answers either not rated or rejected and no confirmation that the solution has been found.

        The question just gets closed. I think a good idea would be that the person asking the question has to go through a simple Q &A type of thing when they close the question so at least we know if the problem has been solved and how or if it remains.


        • #3316344

          Forcing a response = asdf

          by house ·

          In reply to Jay it sounds like a good idea

          Forcing a submitted question to go through a standard closing procedure will most definitely result in a lot of “asdf” and “qwerty” type messages, unless you limit them to a standard form where there will be no precise answer at all.

          I don’t agree at all with the “race to fill the knowledge base” solution either.

          Maybe we could enforce a “points penalty” where if a user closes a question without responding to all of the replies, they default some of their points.

          There should also be a third option that is not quite the solution, but not the word “rejected” either. Maybe a sort of “on the right track” or “good advice”.

          I don’t know whether or not there is a TTL on questions with a long period of inactivity. If there is not, then perhaps they should be marked accordingly as abandoned posts and closed (it would be a shame to lose a potential learning experience though).

          Sorry for the clutter of ideas.

        • #3316090

          But that is exactly what we have now.

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Forcing a response = asdf

          There are literally hundreds of questions that have been listed with all answers either ratted as “Rejected” or “Not Acceptable” and then the question is closed without any resolution.

          There are also the questions that Maxwell has shown as being nothing more than a points gathering exercise some of which are utter rubbish and others where the person asking the question doesn’t want help but to be led by their nose to a solution without doing any work for themselves.

          A Quick Fix so to speak which is great if the problem falls into that category but a lot of the more sensible ones do not and there is no easy answer as there is some sought of software conflict going on that isn’t listed or whatever. I’ve seen almost every question that I’ve attempted to answer closed without any formal resolution so you do not know if there was a fix if the problem still exists or the Software/Hardware maker has released a fix themselves. These questions just get closed without a resolution so we gain no new knowledge.

          By the way Welcome to TR Insiders I hope you enjoy the banter here as most of us are just throwing our hats into the ring saying what would be nice and may improve the site.

          I hope you enjoy things as much as the rest of us do.

          Col 😀

        • #3315849

          Author closing & comments

          by house ·

          In reply to Jay it sounds like a good idea

          I think that when the author choses to close the question himself, he should be given the opportunity to post a reason/solution.

          I’ve recently closed a question myself to change the category and the context of the question. I realized that I had to go back a step, leave my comment, and then proceed to close the question.

          It’s a good thing that the warning appears to verify your choice, otherwise, it would have been closed with no feedback on my part.

          * I thought I should mention too…when I closed the question, I received a nice chunk of Tech points (way more than I was offering). Is this a small bug in the program?

          I got 1250 when my question was only posted at 250.

        • #3315844

          No the way that it works

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Author closing & comments

          Is that you receive a 1,000 Tech points {I think from memory} for every question you ask so you can quickly build up your Tech points if like some you post numerous stupid questions and then have someone answer them.

          In one case there was/is a person with 2 accounts who asks a stupid type question and then logs on with the other account and answerers the question. What I mean by stupid questions is things like “gjb” and the answer is just a bunch of letters. It is things like this which takeaway the importance of this area of TR and relegate it to nothing more than a points gathering exercise.


        • #3315842


          by oz_media ·

          In reply to Author closing & comments

          In order to encourage people to close questions at one time, they started givig you 100 points for closing the question.

          People GENERALLY post with the defaulted 150 points, and then get 100 for closing the question?!? Yeah, I know…failed effort.

          There have been a few people who simply abused the issue such a a guy just a few weeks back who was posting complete garbage and ANY response was closed (usually offering 5 points!).

          I think TR is aware of it and it will be resolved eventually.

          Your tally, 250 points returned because they weren’t awarded and 1000 more for closing the question = 1250.

          And to think, if someone had worked for ahalf hour to help you and provided links and information that actually worked, you’d be happily dishing out the 250 but would get 1000.

          Knowing that it is USUALLY the same handful of people that help with most of my answers, I always try to offer at least 1000 and at simply break even while giving someone points.

          For you to offer 250 anyway is actually rare, most people just go with the default, the funny ones are complicated server issues with 5 points offered, but even then it’s not as bad as the misposting in Discussion I suppose.

        • #3315805

          This promotes abuse!

          by house ·

          In reply to Author closing & comments

          So the plot thickens! The abusers of the Q&A have a lot more avenues than I had originally thought.

          It’s good to know this stuff. It must have sounded like a stupid inquiry to everyone else here, but coming from an outside point of view, I would never have expected to earn points by closing my own question. Time to post some asdf type questions…just kidding!

          The fact that I didn’t expect these points at all, should tell you that granting points for closing a question, isn’t really all that necessary. A 1000 point incentive for closing will definitely draw in more abuse to the Q&A. Just getting back my points to offer them elsewhere was good enough for me.

          What if, when a user submits a question, they are “automatically” subscribed for an email notification when somebody submits a response. On top of that, for every subsequent week that there is “no” activity, they receive a notification as well. This might convince more people to take an active part in closing their questions, but then again, the questions may be closed just to stop the messages…and this will not help when you’re dealing with a person with a collection of useless email addresses.

          Every solution to the Q&A seems to have it’s downfall.

          * I think that a new member should not be allowed to use “hotmail”, “yahoo”, or any other addresses in this category. This, combined with the above solution, would probably reduce the amount of transient non-closers, and would convince people to be a little more careful regarding their behavior on this site.

      • #3316021

        An idea for your enforced search

        by house ·

        In reply to Let’s discuss an “enforced” search

        I have to say that I’m interesting in hearing more about this enforced search idea. How would you base the search? Key words in the title or trigger words in the context of the question?

        If you scan the question and give key words the value of 1, and assign +1 the value for each repeat instance of that word…and maybe more points, let’s say (4), to words that are in the title of the question…


        a) email = 7
        b) server = 3
        c) outlook = 2
        d) ssl = 1

        Use the same technology for the closed questions, and display closed question links in order of relevance (a being more important than d) by using the sum of the points allocated to the words.


        display (13) a,b,c,d //contains all 4 words
        display (12) a,b,c //contains these 3 words
        display (11) a,b,d //contains these 3 words
        display (10) a,c,d //contains these 3 words
        display (10) a,b //contains these 2 words

        This might be a little overboard, but if closed questions were already tagged and ready to go, it just might work.

        I just don’t know if anybody would bother reading the questions. It would be a shame to develop the search engine for nothing.

        There might be an easier way to do this…after all, I’m not a programmer. It all makes sense in my head, but I might not have explained it thoroughly.

        • #3315972

          Will people bother?

          by oz_media ·

          In reply to An idea for your enforced search

          The heuristic scanning/ranking of replies is a nice idea, may be a little slow on a busy site but it may work.

          Anyhow, I noticed your comment “I just don’t know if anybody will bother…” and that is one thing I have been thinking of lately. The more steps added, the more boxes to check and the more text fields to complete, the fewer visitors stay. I’d say they have a chance of keeping new visitors if the registration AND opening a question post window takes 30-45 seconds. Sorry but even THAT is a long time to hold a new visitor, the norm is about 12 – 25 seconds.

          It needs to be simple, radio buttons or check boxes, the only problem with layered radio buttons though is they often need to refresh the page after each button is checked in order to drill down through the process. I find that really annoying, better to check all buttons and submit, but then the server starts to slow down.

          I think it will take a few tests and some changes as it progresses through the initial idea.

        • #3315803

          May be slow – maybe a new problem too

          by house ·

          In reply to Will people bother?

          Not a ranking of replies, but a ranking of closed questions and their context.

          Display the top ten -> twenty “closed” questions that are nearest the keywords in the new question. The only problem here is…nobody wants to type out a question without actually submitting it anyways. They may find their answer in the archives, then proceed to submit the question, and then abandon it altogether.

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