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A forum post that gets answered

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February 29th, 2004
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I have long had a pet peeve with forums and discussion boards. People simply do not pay attention!!

There are a few simple rules that should be adhered to with every forum/BB posting (if you want your questions looked at/answered)

Numero Uno: Please search the forum first to see if your question has already been answered. Many people that want to answer your question will simply ignore it if your question has been answered succintly and the problem solved in the recent past. Almost every (caveat) forum has a stupid search button for just that purpose! The same questions appear over and over again, albeit with ridculous disclaimers like “Sorry if this is a repeat post, I was too lazy to look it up so I am posting again and again and again. Sorry again, please forgive me. I am new to all of this.” Who cares? It is common sense to look for a search and see if you can find what you need. About 7 calories…TOPS!

Numero Dos: Provide ALL, I repeat, ALL information about your problem. This has been said over and over again but does not seem to sink in. If you are getting a “Run Time Error”, simply mentioning that there is a run time error gives people no clue. (of course, if you are using Windows as a Desktop OS, try changing that first!) Give supporting information, people. If this is a web app, say you are using Internet Explorer, this is the URL of your app, the version number, what created the problem, what you think the problem might be. A single line post like “freaky error, very interesting, HELP HELP HELP” reminds me of my physics advisor in college. If you expect someone to spend time reading your post and find some more time to help you out, your one liner will get ignored. You dont care enough to type some words, people dont care enough to answer your questions! Please post code, links to stuff, information, browser, OS, server and anything else you deem pertinent. There can never be too much information in a BB question.

Numero Tres: If you are seeking help, or “participating in the community” in any way (such as submitting bugs, providing feedback, announcing your engagement to Elmo) QUIT BEING A FREAKING TROLL! Any community that you feel that strongly against, you should not be visiting anyways! In real life, that kind of action would land you in jail and worse, land you a job as someone’s princess! Come on. If you dislike something or someone that much, move on, go somewhere else. If you kick someone in the nuts, how do you expect them to turn around and help you get off your lazy ass? Trolls are unappreciated. Period.
PS: And if you think posting as anonymous is protecting you, think again. If you are connected to the Internet and are not posting “telepathically”, you are traceable and quite vulnerable (unless of course, you use an Amiga, then I give up!)

Numero Quatro: If you dont like an answer, instead of being a jackass, be respectful. Ignore it if the answer was a troll. That is hard to do, I concede. But that behaviour is necessary. Trolling is an occupation for many people (spammers). Your retort, however, can poison the discussion and the end result is that you dont get the answer you obviously wanted.

Numero Canc: Unless you are going to add ANYTHING to the dicussion, dont add to it! Sounds obvious doesn’t it? One liners that say “me too! I wish this would work!” are useless. Leave them out! They add traffic and confusion and people that want to help, are turned off by them. So if you want an answer to your question (and no-one has answered yet), leave it alone and check back in a few. Give it a few days. Rest your hiney. If there is no answer in a few days, then try your 2 bits. In extreme cases when you just cannot wait (not because you are itching to get your porn dialer working before you roommate, but more pressing reasons such as your pet rock dieing!!) find an IRC channel or email one of the people from the forum asking for quick help.

Numero Six: “Thank you” or “worked great, thanks for the response” are, on the other hand, welcome and greatly appreciated. Even people that help out on forums, BBs and email lists need feedback and a good pat on the back is always welcomed! Give some thanks for heaven’s sake. If you got your little doodad to work, go back to the forum that helped you and tell them that it worked well. Threads and emails that are left hanging add to the traffic of the forum but never authenticate the solution, leading to redundant posts (see Numero Uno). Spend another 7 calories, hit your back arrow a couple of time, and tell people that the solution suggested worked (or failed as the case may be, failed ones come back though) Dont be selfish. People are spending their time helping you, give some back.

Forums are like P2P (Kazaa, Bearshare etc. Free for all file sharing). If you dont give, dont expect a lot in return!

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