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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.

In reply to On finding the Perl Wisdom by Aristotle

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