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Old 11-02-2017, 06:36 AM   #1
isladogs
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How to respond to advice given in forums

Comments made in a recent thread have prompted me to write down my own views on how best to respond to advice given

AS I hope everybody who posts here realises, none of us get paid for the time & effort spent answering questions on this forum.
Furthermore, it can take a long time to answer certain questions, providing or correcting code samples and / or researching suitable links for the OP to check.
There are several forum users who spend several hours each day, patiently and (usually) politely answering questions from users, some of which may be unclear or contradictory.

There are many reasons for doing so but it is always encouraging when such help is acknowledged.
So here's some advice for those who don't already do so (with apologies for the many who already do all of this):

1. Respond politely, even if you don't think the advice is to the point - sometimes we misunderstand the question (or perhaps the responder doesn't know what they are talking about...)

2. If you have worked out the answer yourself or using advice from others, state what the answer is.
Forum posts are trawled regularly by Google spiders and are often the best source for answering questions online
It is frustrating / unhelpful when users do not bother to respond to answers (did they ever read them) or who write something like "I've worked it out now thanks" without stating what they did

3. Thank those who reply for the advice given.
a) For example, comments like this (all taken from recent posts):
"Thanks dude, you are the best" ; "OMG, you are a superstar", "There's a pint waiting for you at my local now"

b) Better still, click the Thumbs button where the person responding has been helpful.
Seeing the Thanks totals going up gives some of us a warm, fuzzy feeling and if it happens a lot can help make the time spent seem worthwhile

Having said that, please don't thank every single post just because someone answered.
An extreme version of this is a forum user with just one post to their name but 1957 thanks added!

The number of thanks against a user's name can indicate the quality of the advice given.
Having said that, even very experienced forum users do have a bad day and occasionally say things that are incorrect though usually someone will step in and correct them.
Similarly, those new to the forum may have years of useful experience and their advice can be just as valid.

c) Most useful of all in my view are reputation points - the Scales button at the bottom left of a post.
The idea is that those with more RPs are likely to offer high quality advice (though the same caveat applies as above)
A brief summary of reputation points is given here:
https://www.access-programmers.co.uk...vb3_reputation

However it doesn't give a full explanation of how the system works.
Unlike sites such as Stackoverflow, users can't see what effect using the system has.

According to the forum owner, Jon, RPs are dealt with automatically by the forum software.
As I understand it the system works something like this:

When new users join the site, they are awarded 10 points and get one green blob under their name together with a rather twee comment about being on 'a distinguished road' or something like that

Every time someone clicks the scales, adds a positive comment AND clicks "I approve", points are added.
The number of points added depends on how positive the comment is AND the reputation of the person awarding it.
So those with most reputation add more points when they use the system.

Note that you have to spread RPs around - you can't keep giving them to the same person just because you like them - this helps prevent abuse of the system

Conversely, though I think less often used, writing a negative comment and clicking "I disapprove", removes points.
So in theory users can have RP total < 0 and I believe will have RED blobs under their name.

When the RP total reaches 100, another blob is added and the twee comment changes to something like "will become famous soon enough" or "is just really nice" or "has a spectacular aura" etc depending on the number of blobs .. all very silly.

So in summary, please do acknowldege the time & effort users put in by:
a) responding to their posts
b) outlining the solution once you have one & also marking the thread SOLVED
c) acknowledging the input of those giving advice by using one or more of the methods above - you can use all three methods if you're really keen

You could also consider supporting the site to help cover its costs ... and also to cut the number of adverts you'll see to almost zero

If you have read to the end of this very lengthy post, many thanks ...
you "are a jewel in the rough" (3 blobs)...

And of course if you like this post, you know what to do
And if you didn't, you can either ignore it or politely reply telling me why ...

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If this answer has helped, please click the Thanks button and/or click the 'reputation scales' symbol on the left.

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Colin (Mendip Data Systems)
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"As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns the ones we don't know we don't know. It is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones" Donald Rumsfeld

Last edited by isladogs; 11-03-2017 at 04:10 AM.
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