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How do you find nodes that need your answer most?

by PetaMem (Priest)
on Nov 08, 2005 at 16:04 UTC ( #506777=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

The recent changes in the voting/experience system gave me new motivation to contribute to perlmonks. I sat down and asked myself, where such a contribution would be most helpful (and of course perceived as such).

I believe, that we can improve significantly the value of perlmonks as "source of finding the best answers to perl-related problems" by instantiating a more formal feedback/communication mechanism between the questioner and the answerer(s).

I have - as you might have already guessed - mainly "seekers of perl wisdom" on my mind and am not sure, whether this is applicable to the other sections as well - but maybe it is.

Most of the time when I entered perlmonks with some spare time on my fingertips and the intention to answer now questions especially from people who seem to need it most, very often this plan was undone.

Why? I had trouble to find such nodes. Most of the time there seemed to be already enough answers or the node seemed so old, that it seemed irrelevant to answer.

On the other hand, some friends and colleagues constantly reported about questions not being answered at all, or not satisfactory.

I plea for the possibility of setting a "red flag" on your post. The default will be, that this "red flag" is not set. If you set it, after a certain period (a week?) it will be unset automatically.

This "red flag" will indicate, that you are - in some way - unsatisfied with the answers you got. This can be by having no answers at all, or simply having (in the questioners opinion) irrelevant answers/comments.

To prevent abuse of this "red flag", we could make raising it cost something. Say <level> XP (So it would be cheaper for the lower levels which I perceive as fair). In SuperSearch, there should be a possibility to search also for nodes that do have this flag set.

The advantages:

  • You could also raise flag in some of your old nodes. As this flag has a self expiration, it would be a clear sign, that this topic is still - or again - active and of interest, or that it hasn't been resolved yet. It could also prevent from "writing a new node just to attract attention.
  • Monks searching especially for "red flag"-nodes to answer these, could end the day with the great feeling of really having contributed needful things(tm).
In my opinion, this system would qualitatively enhance perlmonks by providing a dynamic feedback mechanism that is formalized and - because of SuperSearch, the cost of rising a flag, a valid priorization of questions when needed.

Bye
 PetaMem
    All Perl:   MT, NLP, NLU

Comment on How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
Re: How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
by xdg (Monsignor) on Nov 08, 2005 at 16:21 UTC

    I think it's an interesting idea, but like many proposals, risks over-engineering a solution away from the simplicity that makes Perlmonks work, all for the sake a what I believe are relatively few instances of PM "not working".

    Personally, I see very few questions that aren't answered. The ones that aren't are usually poorly written or lack sufficient information for someone to help -- and there's usually at least one reply that points that out. If I see a good but poorly answered or unanswered question, I'll Front-Page it (if it hasn't been already) and give it a little more attention. (There have been similar proposals to yours about "re-Front-Paging" things that fell off and for simliar reasons.)

    My default view is "Recently Active" so I can see what does and doesn't have significant activity. If you haven't tried it, I recommend reading PM that way for a week -- at first, don't mark the threads as read and you'll get an ongoing view of the pockets of activity and which posts are drawing less interest. It may help draw you to areas where your contribution will be valued.

    (P.S. Statsmonks -- just for curiousity's sake, any way of counting how many OP's have zero replies? Or a distribution of # of replies?)

    -xdg

    Code written by xdg and posted on PerlMonks is public domain. It is provided as is with no warranties, express or implied, of any kind. Posted code may not have been tested. Use of posted code is at your own risk.

Re: How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
by talexb (Canon) on Nov 08, 2005 at 16:35 UTC

    It's an interesting idea, but as has already been pointed out, won't really be helpful. If you read, ask your local TPMers, search PM, Google and finally post and still don't have an answer, see if there's another way to do the thing you want to do. Or think again about what you're trying to achieve.

    Perhaps even put it aside for a week, then come back to it again.

    Apart from that, ask your question, follow up on each reply, provoke discussion (in a nice way, of course) in order to chase down that nugget of information that you desire.

    Good luck.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

Re: How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
by Perl Mouse (Chaplain) on Nov 08, 2005 at 16:44 UTC
    First of all, hardly any root-node remains without replies for more than an hour. As for the OP being able to 'raise a flag', I don't see much benefit from that. Most of the time, the OP will not be satisfied because he doesn't recognize a good answer. Either because there are conflicting answers, or no good answers at all, or because of lack of understanding. Or because he asked the wrong question. Setting a flag doesn't solve this problem. Further asking may.
    Perl --((8:>*
Re: How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
by sauoq (Abbot) on Nov 08, 2005 at 16:53 UTC
    Why? I had trouble to find such nodes. Most of the time there seemed to be already enough answers or the node seemed so old, that it seemed irrelevant to answer.

    If all you are going to do is repeat what has already been said, then there probably is no use in adding your answer. But, if you have something new to say on the subject, I'd suggest saying it. If the node is so old you are afraid your time will be wasted, consider whether it may warrant a small meditation instead. (I'd actually like to see some more mini- or even micro- meditations.)

    On the other hand, some friends and colleagues constantly reported about questions not being answered at all, or not satisfactory.

    This hasn't been my perception at all. I see relatively few nodes go unanswered, particularly if there is feedback from the OP clarifying the question when answers don't quite hit the nail on the head.

    This "red flag" will indicate, that you are - in some way - unsatisfied with the answers you got.

    I don't care for the "red flag" idea. Here's why... The current mechanism for this would simply be to re-ask the question. Or to engage those who try to answer your question in a dialogue. Asking the right question is often the whole trick and sometimes it takes some back-and-forth. Substituting a "red flag" for actual feedback would make the process more difficult for everybody. It would be like shooting at a target blindfolded and being told only that you hit or missed rather than that you are aiming high or low.

    -sauoq
    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
    
Re: How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
by artist (Parson) on Nov 08, 2005 at 17:59 UTC
    Pouring more knowledge, via tutorials and meditation is a good idea. You would be more focused. That would boost your XP and users would be more informed. You can write FAQ or tutorial for any question and point a link to it, wherever you can. There would be more people, who can use FAQ or tutorial to satisfy your helping thurst.
    --Artist
Re: How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
by pg (Canon) on Nov 08, 2005 at 21:36 UTC

    I see your point, but on the other hand, it is quite normal to see some posts not getting (correct) answers.

    Many questions not only requires Perl knowledge to answer them, but also specific knowledge in certain areas. Remember that Perl is just a language, which you use to resolve your problems in all kind of different areas. If nobody here has the answer to a particular question, that's nothing but normal.

    Chances are that those questions will stay in the same situation even with red flags raised. I am not saying that it will not help in all cases, but personally I think it will rarely help.

Re: How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
by spiritway (Vicar) on Nov 09, 2005 at 08:16 UTC

    I can sympathize with your concerns, but the old saying goes, "If it works, don't fix it". We don't have any red flags, but we do have other ways of getting attention. First, there is the chatterbox, which could get you an answer in minutes if you're lucky. In the case where you post a question to SoPW and don't get a satisfactory question, you can update your original post calling attention to it; or you could take a good hard look at your question to see whether you have asked it in a useful way. The problem may not be lazy monks, but rather a poorly-asked question.

    It seems to me that Newest Nodes already does most of the things your red flag does. By using it you can see how many replies have been made to a post, and decide whether you want to take a close look. It doesn't help with old nodes, but those should probably be reworked and reposted.

Re: How do you find nodes that need your answer most?
by Cap'n Steve (Friar) on Nov 12, 2005 at 01:21 UTC
    I agree that it would be nice to be able to call attention to older threads. In my time here, I've discovered that if your question doesn't get answered within 24 hours, you're out of luck. Sure there's Recently Active Threads, but does anyone really check that often?

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