|Don't ask to ask, just ask|
Flagging Follow-Up Questionsby Sherlock (Deacon)
|on Jun 27, 2001 at 20:55 UTC||Need Help??|
I've had this thought before, but I was really spurred to asking something about it when I read Re: Writing answers for newbie questions by nysus. In that post, nysus said:
Too often, the newbie asks a question, gets some answers, and that's that. But I'm sure the newbie still probably has lingering questions...
I have an idea for a new feature that would allow nodes with follow-up questions to be "flagged" in some way to draw attention back to them. Let me construct an example and then I'll show you what I'm getting at.
Consider me a newbie Perl programmer. I have a question about how to use hashes with HTML::Template or some such thing. I post my question and it is quickly answered by merlyn (you know, it works perfectly, but the title of the response is longer than the response itself) - no offense, merlyn. ;) As more experienced monks, many of you will view the response and deem that question "answered." I, as a newbie, might not totally understand the solution, though. I'll take the code in the response and put it into my script and, sure it works fine, but I really need to understand why. At this point, I'd like to post a follow-up question asking for an explanation of why this works or where can I find more documentation on this, etc. Unfortunately, most of the monks might have already viewed my post and most likely will not be coming back to it. What I really want to know is if there is some way of flagging that node to show that it has a follow-up question and the author is asking for more attention? This could help direct some of the monks that had already viewed the post back to it in order to address the follow-up question. I don't think such a feature currently exists, so perhaps I'm asking for consideration of something new.
I think the easiest way to flag a node as having a follow-up would be to re-"timestamp" the root node with the time at which the follow-up was asked - this should bring that node back to the top of the Newest Nodes list.
Now - a few ideas and concerns I've had toward this notion.
1. Can it be done? Obviously, this is an important question and I don't have the answer. I don't know if the nodes even can be re-"timestamped." That was just my best guess as to how to get the nodes back to the top of the Newest Nodes list.
2. Will it get abused? At first glance, I thought some monks might abuse this feature by constantly posting follow-up questions in order to keep their nodes on the Newest Nodes list longer in hopes of attaining a higher reputation on those nodes. After thinking about this, though, I feel that the other monks around here would police this just as they police useless posts made by Trolls. If someone keeps creating follow-up posts (which keep getting more useless), the other monks will eventually vote those posts down and the original poster will be losing XP, rather than gaining the XP they had originally hoped for.
3. Is it necessary? Well, I wish I could say that every reply to a question is thoroughly explained, but they aren't. Granted, I've seen a number of questions get answered very thoroughly. Take this node entitled Hash Tutorial by dhammaBum. The replies by tilly and stephen were outstanding. Other times, however, I think some inquisitors are left scratching their heads as much (if not more) than before they had posted. It's for these cases, when the other monks feel that they've answered the question, but the original poster isn't yet satisfied, that I believe this feature could be useful.
4. Is it only for newbies? I don't think so. Obviously, my example uses a newbie, but I don't believe that my example really shows the only case where this feature could apply. Perhaps higher level monks might use this feature in Meditations as well when they want clarification or want to prod on a discussion.
5. Why not just make another post? Frankly, I often don't feel that a follow-up question is worthy of another post - nor does it belong in a separate post. It belongs with the original question; hence, it is a follow-up question.
Well, I think I've gone on about this feature long enough. I really just wanted to get the opinion of the other monks as to whether such a feature would be worth taking up vroom's time to implement or if we, as a community, should either do a better job of explaining ourselves or revisiting nodes. I just feel that there is so much to do here (and I'm sure we all lead busy lives) that no one really wants to take up extra time if they don't need to.
Let me hear what you think.
Skepticism is the source of knowledge as much as knowledge is the source of skepticism.