Well, as someone that has had to do a lot of research (not net-wise), you learn that when you get thousands of hits, you have to learn how to prune, typically by going to the most relevent hits and deciding how to modify your search to reduce the number of hits. When I did that search, I saw at least 10 pages in the first page listing that were not ads but pointers to "web based software testing" resource pages and links. I'd use those to see if they answered my question, or otherwise use additional keywords to narrow the search. Yes, it's daunting, but that's how research works. If in that case that did not prove fruitful, I would then approach a forum, but adding that "searching on google gave me more hits that useful".
And while most questions can be done by searching on the web, there are some times where you don't know the right terms that make the web search 'click'. For example, the question that I'm replying on about header() and redirect() functions of CGI; I don't think the original poster would have hit a solution just by web searching given his confusion. There are times that I'm trying to read up on a perl concept, and even if I know the terms, I don't know what portion of the perldocs that it is stored in; even searching at perldoc.com can be fruitless given the number of times that concept appears in the perl documentation, and then it just becomes a matter of reading anything that matches.
I think in the case of the indicated post, there is absolutely no indication that the user has done any research. Maybe he had, maybe he hadn't. But because of that, there is a negative tendancy to disregard that question, particular in light of the developing trend of using the speed of replies on the internet to ask many smaller and not-thought-out questions instead of asking well-thought-out, thought-provoking questions. I took a look at how SoPW questions are handled with posting hints enabled, and there is no point where the user is giving a link on how to write good questions. (There's sections on where to post, and how to format the writeups, however). I know the site FAQ has this information in it, but I'd doubt an AM looking for the quick answer is going to read this. What I think we need to do is simply add "How to ask a good question" link in the various submit panes, so that we tell users to do:
- Stay on topic, if possible
- Provide as much details on the problem or question
- Reduce any code to the basic problem code
and other 'simple' things that, to me, would see to be obvious but not necessarily so obvious to newcomers. It may be just as easily ignored, but it could also be beneficial with very little change to the PM source or functionality.
Dr. Michael K. Neylon - firstname.lastname@example.org
"You've left the lens cap of your mind on again, Pinky" - The Brain
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