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On finding the Perl Wisdom

by Aristotle (Chancellor)
on Jan 12, 2002 at 21:57 UTC ( #138297=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

You know, I find myself spending increasingly more time in Meditations these days, and I've also "discovered" the more static sections like Snippets - at the expense of time spent in SoPW, which I used to visit almost exclusively. Somehow, I find, SoPW has become boring and repetitive, at least to me. Sure I still check it all the time, and I try to contribute my share - but it's more like payback, like "doing my share" for being able to participate in the "actually interesting" parts of the site. I was wondering - is it just me? Have I been part of PerlMonks for long enough that I've seen the common answers now that just seemed new when I first got in here? Or has SoPW actually gotten more repetitive?

Originally I wrote the above on the Chatterbox. After the ensuing discussion which focussed on Super Search I decided to take a transcript here (with express permission! - before anyone cries foul). This is a heavily edited version with a lot of irrelevant material removed - but none of the remaining chat has been altered.

<Aristotle> you know, I find myself spending increasingly more time in Meditations these days, and I've also "discovered" the more static sections like Snippets - at the expense of time spent in SoPW, which I used to visit almost exclusively

<Aristotle> somehow SoPW has become boring, and repetitive, to me. sure, I still check it all the time, and try to contribute my share. but it's more like payback work, "doing my share", for being able to participate in the "actually interesting" parts of the site

<Petruchio> I think that as you become more experienced, you learn to figure things out for yourself. I always have plenty of questions... but few that I don't think I can figure out with sufficient effort. So I tend not to ask. I suspect many people are like this

<Petruchio> Except, of course, those who haven't figured out how to figure things out yet. And they usually have the same problems over and over.

<jptxs> maybe we should put in an ask jeeves like question search, make it a mandatory first step in posting for monk or below levels...

<Aristotle> what I was wondering is, it is it just me? maybe I have been part of PerlMonks for long enough that I saw a lot of common answers that seemed new when I first got in here, but are no longer? or has SoPW actually gotten more repetitive?

<Petruchio> Eh... I don't know about putting constraints on asking questions. I think we just need to recognize that some repetition is inevitable, and leave the answering to the patient. And improve our resources, so that it's easier for people to find answers.

<Petruchio> It can be hard to find things in the Monastery. And you've got the same problem as you have in coding itself. Searching for answers is also a learned skill.

<jptxs> i don't mean a constraint really, just another step. that way they at least see search results based on their problem. they can still go ahead and post it if they can't figure out howto apply them....

<Petruchio> Once you've learned the layout of the place, it's not bad, of course. But that takes a bit.

<Petruchio> Super Search is still anything but an obvious feature.

<Petruchio> In fact, it's obscured by the regular search box. People will not ask how to search the site when there's a search box at top left. And they won't find what they're looking for in that search box. So they'll ask, instead.

<jptxs> true. that's why I would think putting it's functionality in a more obvious place directly related to question asking would be helpful, no?

<Petruchio> Sure... I'm all for plastering links to Super Search all over the site. :-)

<dthacker> I'd like to see Super Search in a more prominent location, as well as categorized Q&A. My personal experience is that 80% of my questions have been answered in one of those two places

<Aristotle> do I have permission to explicitly quote you guys if I make this a post in PM Discussion?

<jptxs> i don't mean links to it all over the site (incase that was sarcasm I detect there), I literally mean using it's power in the question posting process to maybe actually help people more quickly

<jptxs> repeat questions bore people. so they don't get answered quickly, even if they're well formed and polite

<jptxs> having the search could help not only we the bored but the posters of the boring as well....

<jptxs> Aristotle: LOL. sure.

<Petruchio> You have mine. One thing I would recommend about suggesting changes to the site: consider the tone you take. Changing things is work... someone else's work. So reques politely. Not that you weren't going to anyway. It's just worth mentioning.

<dthacker> you have my permission to quote

<jptxs> very true, wise Petruchio. many have made "requests" with the tone of demands or which sound like, "Hey stupid, didn't you see *this* was the way to do these things?"

<Petruchio> And I do mean it when I say, 'plaster it all over the site'. In particular, there's room on the bar at the top of the page, between 'Search' and 'Perl Monks'. I think that's be a lovely place to put 'Super Search'

<Aristotle> thanks guys - Petruchio, I am aware of that. I adminster a site with a largish messageboard (some 500 active users, I estimate), and I know what it means to ask for features

<jptxs> could be. I'd be afraid of over-running the db, though. super search is pretty raw....

<jptxs> although i guess doing a SS every time you had a question being posted wouldn't be much better...

<Petruchio> Either we want people to use Super Search, or we don't. I don't see an alternative. If we don't, it means putting up with more redundant questions.

<Aristotle> jptxs, one idea might be to have a "super search" _box_, not link, there, which defaults to a relatively restricted set of rules, like only searches in SoPW+Q&A, and maybe some more constrains

<jptxs> Aristotle, that wouldn't make the SQL all that better. especially since those are the largest most populated sections by far...

<Aristotle> well I do agree with Petruchio that we either want or don't want people to use SS

So if it was possible to conveniently do a Super Search from the top of the screen, possibly with a sensible set of common constraints, novices might more often find answers before posting to get them. Of course, I realize, every feature requires work - but I believe this one would require hardly if anything more than putting another <form> in the main template.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: On finding the Perl Wisdom
by theorbtwo (Prior) on Jan 12, 2002 at 22:51 UTC

    Another good place would be at the bottom (or top!) of the normal search results screens. I relise it's already on the Not Found page (Not found), but it isn't on the results page (Search Results).

    James Mastros,
    Just Another Perl Scribe

Re: On finding the Perl Wisdom
by Moonie (Friar) on Jan 13, 2002 at 07:47 UTC
    I think part of the problem these days or so it seems (I'm generalizing...) is that people don't research or read documentation or try searching Google for their answers first. They like the quickness of 'jump to aid' of forums and whatnot. Some of the questions that seem to come up repetitively here are simple and really quite easily answered if one just re-reads the documentation OR search. I think it happens partly due to coding day in and day out, one often times misses their mistake. The problem is the familiarity of the code. Always good to have a second pair of eyes to take a look and see the inane error. But a second pair of eyes and opinions are not always necessary and should never take the place of one's own research and learning of the language. So, those who are new here - never forget to use Super Search or Google or re-reading of documentation first!! - Moon

      The problem, I believe, is that people are becoming less patient with actually having to think. Typing out an entire question, waiting a few hours and checking back certainly is more work than punching three keywords into a search engine and skimming the results. But it doesn't require any thought.

      That is what jxpts's suggestion of putting an Ask Jeeves like stage in addresses, and if there really was a practical way to do it I'd be all for it. As is I can only think of ways to give Super Search another (or several) more promoting spot(s), where it gently but firmly pushes itself upon people. If someone has better suggestions, by all means express yourselves.

        I completely agree. But there is also the point that bosses are getting less patient. Too many expect solutions right now. "If you can't get it done right now, I'll find someone who can." attitude.

        I luckily, haven't had to deal with this type of boss. I always go in search of an answer before posting a question, which is why I still haven't posted a question to PM ;-). I do PM searches regularly, and have used both google and to search newsgroups. It takes time, but you learn more (especially about tangent subjects) this way. A good boss knows this!

        One of the best lessons my CS prof taught in his class was to learn how to find things. He didn't want us to fill our minds with C syntax. That's only good for C. He wanted us to learn how to learn, and how to find what you need. Those skills follow you from C to Java to Perl, and even to other areas of your life. Its a lesson I don't see taught very often.... Brian
(kudra: repetition is everywhere) Re: On finding the Perl Wisdom
by kudra (Vicar) on Jan 15, 2002 at 14:12 UTC
      *grin* Well I'd like to think your node and mine are slightly different; my question in the chatterbox certainly started on a different premise, although the resulting suggestions are quite strikingly similar :-)
Re: On finding the Perl Wisdom
by metadoktor (Hermit) on Jan 13, 2002 at 07:17 UTC
    Somehow, I find, SoPW has become boring and repetitive, at least to me.

    I think this is a result of your long-term exposure to the site. I know that I feel somewhat the same with regard to Slashdot but I do not, yet feel that way towards perlmonks. So far it is still interesting even if sometimes repetitive. I too find elements in Meditations and elsewhere illuminating.


    "The doktor is in."

Re: On finding the Perl Wisdom
by guha (Priest) on Jan 13, 2002 at 02:23 UTC
    Actually it can readily be found, in the leftovers nodelet, which in a sense is a misnomer.
    I mean grouped together with items like The St. Larry Wall Shrine and Saints in our Book.
    All three major cornerstones in the monastary!
    It's unfair to be an expert.
      I'm totally torn over whether to take your post seriously, as a good joke or a masterpiece of trifling sarcasm. ++ for throwing me off balance if nothing else.
Re: On finding the Perl Wisdom
by screamingeagle (Curate) on Jan 15, 2002 at 04:28 UTC
    My goal (for now) is to become so comfortable with Perl that I start feeling the same way that Screamer does...unfortunately,in my case, it's still a case of "Miles to go before i sleep..." :)

    Well,screamer , all i can say is ...good for u man...novices like me still find SoPW invaluable :)
      "novices like me still find SoPW invaluable :)"

      Soo true!! I can't begin to stress how valuable it has been for me! At first, when in a dilemma, I find myself searching Doc's for a little push. If I can't seem to pin it down I canter on over to SoPW, where I am usually baffeled by the wise monks in the Monastary.

      Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity.

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