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Wild Tech Q&A idea

By Jay Garmon Contributor ·
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.

--Jay

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Extending the idea...

by Jay Garmon Contributor 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...

--Jay

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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.

Like you said "Again, this is just me spouting off, but I'd love some feedback on this>"

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Lazy People

by TheChas In reply to Wild Tech Q&A idea

Jay,

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.

Chas

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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.

Dalton

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Fair points

by Jay Garmon Contributor 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.

--Jay

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That would work Jay

by HAL 9000 Moderator 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.

Col

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Sounds reasonable

by TheChas In reply to Fair points

Jay,

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.

Chas

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Sounds good to me

by BFilmFan In reply to Wild Tech Q&A idea

An excellent proposal!

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Jay while it sounds like a good idea

by HAL 9000 Moderator 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.

Col

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Let's discuss an "enforced" search

by Jay Garmon Contributor 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?

--Jay

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