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How to ask questions (56 posts)

  1. NuclearMoose
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    The definitive place to find out all you need about getting the best answers possible by asking the best possible questions.
    Not fancy, just straightforward information. Scroll to the bottom of the page to read.
    You can find it here.
    Enjoy!

  2. Cena
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    And that whole big long thing can be summed up as: don't be a whiny baby, do your research before asking a question (the same questions keep getting asked, and answered, over and over and...). Most people also claim that they 'looked' for the answer first, to which I respond, 'mooseshit.' *tickle NM*
    Most of us started here with no prior knowledge of PHP/mySQL/CSS/whatever-the-w3c. You don't need to know those things to start using WP, but you do have to know how to, uh, READ.
    Craig, I appreciate the posted link (which I've seen before, over at Postnuke), but I fear that very few of those you intended it for will see it. That damn reading thing, again. ;)

  3. NuclearMoose
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Cena,
    I've no doubt that you are correct. BUT...now we have a thread that we all can use to point people to...hehe.
    BTW...If I told you once, I've told you a hundred times...I'm not ticklish... ;)
    C.

  4. _mf_
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Sometimes I answer even the obvious repetitive questions by doing a cut & paste of what I find and ending with "I searched for XXX in the Wiki", etc.. with precise links.
    Unfortunately the FAQ and documentation links from the main site are so badly presented and incomplete, that may be another reason why site visitors just use the forums. The FAQ even encourages writing to the forums instead of searching! I wish I could change that, fortunately there's the wiki to express myself :)
    I think it's just easier & faster to fire off questions without searching, until people realize an answer may never show up (check the 0-reply posts). Maybe then they'll see that taking the extra 2 *seconds* to enter a search term (and document their finding after that for others) will help them. But that is forcing them to put that extra effort, instead of designing properly from the beginning.

  5. TechGnome
    Moderator
    Posted 10 years ago #

    _mf_ - What it says is to start in the forums.... doesn't say anything about posting or writting to it forst. In fact, the next sentence says: "Be sure to use the search feature to see if your problem has already been addressed."
    All: From experience, you can put up all the "help" stuff & "that's already been answered" type things you want..... there will always be some that either don't get it, or are just plain lazy.
    TG

  6. WillM
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    At least the search feature is more prominent now, but it's still really dependent on knowing which terms to enter. I know newbies aren't encouraged to look in the Wiki, but I'm still not sure exactly why that is. It would cut out the middleman in a lot of these situations.

  7. Cena
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    There are *many* posts directing people to the wiki. But I agree, it needs more exposure than it's currently getting - a more prominent link in the forums, for example.
    The wiki also needs a good reorganization. Although I've been there since it's inception as both a contributor and a reader, I still have a hard time finding what I want sometimes. It's on my List.

  8. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    To my mind this is a really interesting issue to do with information architecture
    and the user interface. To we go right in to the blog? Or do we give more info
    on the front page? If so what does the info consist of. Sometimes I think (and this may be controversial) that the WP front page could be (gasp) static html. If you want to download read this. If you want to blog go here. If you need a Howto READ THIS. etc. Should the blog have a domain name or be a sub directory. This is complicated stuff and there is no easy answer. At least some folks think about it. None of this works perfectly but there are from time to time either rants or well informed commentary about the default interface from the IA / UI point of view. Maybe we need to listen. And think.

  9. WillM
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Yeah, but it's not up to the users how this site is designed. Ultimately this is Matt's domain and he makes all the decisions. He wants an ugly gray sidebar so we have one whether we want it or not. If he wanted a link to the Wiki from the main menu it would be there. If he wants a post to disappear it disappears. He's paying for the domain so he has the right to dictate these things.
    The Wiki however is a community effort where if somebody thinks a link needs to be added or made more prominent they have the power to do it. It will be interesting to see whether the official site continues to sideline the Wiki or embrace some of its flexibility by taking the opinions of users into account.

  10. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    I was not referring to the Wp site in particular. I was referring to the IA / UI issues in how we set up our blogs. Of course that does require raising the dialogue a notch beyond css compliance alone. As to the Wp log itself. It may or may not be a good model. What we do know is it has a lot of users some of whom are well informed. We also know Matt is a heck of a programmer. It is inevitable that how this blog works will affect some peoples build choices.

  11. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    o

  12. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    A good resource Nuclear Moose shared; it matters not really at all whether active participants here, including N.M. himself, may have seen it before he now decided its relevancy was worth making it accessible so much as the fact that now it is available to all. It's mind-boggling sometimes to step back and realize that for every person here who's familiar with the resource there are plenty who aren't and plenty more who won't be even for another year or two ... While it's very true that "Most of us started here with no prior knowledge of PHP/mySQL/CSS/whatever-the-w3c ..." it's just as true that WordPress in fact -- if it's any good and it's press and promo is any good, will draw in those entirely new to the web and internet and computing entirely! Does that mean, or should it mean, that WordPress is out of their range entirely? I don't know -- I don't know how far-ranging Matt and/or the developers' vision is for WP as I'd venture to guess that most of us don't, since we aren't mind-readers and/or since such information isn't explicity discussed here anywhere. In other words, if one is new to everything e-world entirely yet arrives at WP -- and people do! -- there isn't any information offered here to suggest that such a person -- who may be of extraordinary intelligence and aptitude -- might not be able to use WP. I'm not suggesting that it needs to be, either. I'm just saying that this is a reality and that part of that reality also is the fact that the notion and concept of the "forum" can be alien and a whole new world to such users. So that's something to keep in mind. Yet, how exasperating that people being people means that there are some who will attempt to read through things first whle others will not-- (afraid, for example, that they'll "get lost" attempting to navigate through things and opt to post questions first, as well as those who can't or don't read for other reasons?) While I may be appearing to defend such newcomers I can assure you that it has taken me a lifetime to be able to even accept the fact that there are those people who speak first without looking, investigating, thinking, reading -- in all of life and living and not just solely in experiences computing-related. And in fact, each of us have been guilty on some occasion or another of speaking first. It's all part of the territory, I guess. Which doesn't make it any easier, maybe, but it's perhaps worth saving one's self a coronary or, at minimum, undue stress, to know that despite all of the best intentions, there will be failings as experienced by this person or that, and that nothing, not even WordPress, and its community/support/developers, laudible that they are, just can't be all things to all people, especially when it comes to computing and e-technology. Which doesn't mean, interestingly, that that fact is a reason for not trying to take it as far to make it as all-encompassing as possible -- to strive for that, actually, seems a very worthy goal, but paradoxically calls for remembering that it is all about the human being(s) who meet the software/program/technology. Elsewise, no reason to make or create the thing in the first place, right? Again, I'm not suggesting or pretending to know how accessible WordPress means to or ought to make itself -- I'm just saying that there isn't any sort of control to be had when it comes to people who find themselves here and considering using WordPress and that -- people being people -- simply because someone is new to the whole virtual/e world entirely doesn't mean that they are incapable -- not at all -- of being able to jump in and do it. And that when such people post in the forums what may sound whiny or this or that may in fact be the farthest thing from that poster's actual experience -- that s/he is simply speaking the truth or querying according to how they might otherwise, in life not e-forum. It could be a very good thing, perhaps, to have things set up as mentioned earlier, with different options/levels of experience at "first meeting" --which I think could include info about asking questions/interacting forum-wise a la Nuclear Moose's resource -- or Not. Ultimately, that depends on the developer'(s)' philosophy, intentions while it also means that it's absolutely true that no matter how far-reaching and/or inclusive things are set to be, that still there will be people who will vex and try each involved participant when certain resources that cost a great deal to implement are nevertheless ignored... people being people, you know?

  13. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Assuming for a moment that the URI to which NM refers is useful and appropriate my point concerning information architechture becomes more relevant. If it is necessary or indeed critical to impart key information to bloggers before they post, then the message would need to be where they can see it before they do in fact start posting. I do not say that particular piece of information should or should not be displayed more prominently. I just say that the key information needs to be displayed up front where the first time user will see it. I would hazard a guess that the folks who might benefit from the particular link posted are least likely to find the link in this forum.That is an information architecture issue. Furthermore although it may be true that folks will some how always vex the system it is the task of the web constructor on his own site to make it as useable as possible for the greatest numbers. It won't be perfect. But that is not an excuse not to start.

  14. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Yes, anonymous, I was driving at that notion -- that it would be good to have not necessarily that exact resource per se but the appropriate relevant pcs of info contained within it made specific and/or relevant, or it to serve as a starting pt/template maybe, better said, for that level/depth/ knowledge base -- what have you -- for the new to everything of which WP is only a part user. But again, that is more a philosophical/perspective decision or choice that isn't mine to make. Information architecture is a function of the development/er(s) intent and interest. There's no obligation implied or inherent. I can create whatever work of art I please and it can be shown and make available to be seen by whomever but in terms of social responsibility/consequence, nothing's owed by me. Bottom-line. And, like you say/reinforce, once the decision's made to have a certain amount of concern for "the populace" that may be affected, as I see fit, it is still imperative to understand that my efforts (1) will still not satisfy or fulfill all needs but that (2) that is no reason not to make those efforts.

  15. WillM
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    I just noticed that peg doesn't have a link to her profile under her username. How did you get your username to display if your not a member?

  16. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    This is not really the right dialogue for this forum. But I constrained to say that many of us will be unable to agree with you when you that IA is a function of the developers intent and interest, that further; nothing is owed by you in terms of social responsiblity or consequence with no obligation, inherent or implied. Nothing could be further from the truth. But I really am not inclined to bore the readers here by explaining that to you or why you are wholly wrong.

  17. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Anonymous, I don't know if this is or isn't the right dialogue for this forum or if you are the one to say whether it's so. What I do know is that I am prone to looking at things within their contexts, which includes a pretty big picture. Thinking about things in that way, with awareness or in terms of hypertext consciousness (<http://www.grammatron.com/htc1.0/intention.html>; <http://www.grammatron.com/>; <http://www.markamerika.com/>) may or may not bore others and may or may not be worth discussion in this forum. (If not here, then where?) It might be seen that by you determining that this is not the venue for it is antithetical to your point of view on social responsibility and consequence: the express opposite of the "truth." If you want to talk IA then don't you have to indeed talk it? That is, you brought up the topic but then say discussion of it is not to be had -- are you now not obligated to provide a venue other than the forum where it can be discussed? Who determines the range of how far reaching or how much can actually be covered and accomodated? WordPress -- its very name! (and not to mention "code is poetry") -- very compelling for the poet, the writer, [the thinker] ... how does that figure into things? Blogging, the blogger ["cyborg" narrator] -- is there an obligation inherent in the selection of WP in terms of name/description? What is the express intent or implicit intention? Is it worth considering? If what you say is true about obligation and consequence, it's not just worth discussing it's absolutely mandatory. Boring? None of this is boring to me. Just the opposite -- it's fascinating but then I'm incredibly taken with those like string theorist Bryan Greene <http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/personalities/birnbaum_v_brian_greene.php> who value decompartmentalization or know, perhaps, that the intersections are from where the breakthroughs and new understandings, creative solutions, et al arise. Anyhow, I hope that this bit will be taken in the spirit I mean it, which is not adversarial in nature nor a need to be right. Quite often I'm not right at any given pt within the discussion of something or other but I am always interested in the questions and in learning enough so as to ask the next questions, and while some can experience such interest and questioning as threatening, you don't have to and I hope you won't.

  18. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Of course it is the appropriate forum. 'Miscellaneous', to state the obvious, means 'variety' or 'that which does not fit elsewhere within a predefined set of compartments', making this the obvious and logical place for this thread.

  19. Cena
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Oops, THAT anonymous was me. :)

  20. WillM
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    But it would make sense for a forum moderator - if such a thing exists - to split this thread from the original - if that ability exists in this software - because I think most people would agree it has gone significantly OT and that may be what anon was getting at, rather than some desire to censor other people's opinions.

  21. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    TY WillM. The ethics, morality duties and obligations of web site proprietors (if any) are way off all reasonable definitions of this topic which was about first the protocols of posting and later about useability. It is further a pit for long winded posts. It has no bearing on Word Press. The subject is boring because the battle for web standards has already been won. We have assumed moral obligations voluntarily. Our dialogue presumes that as a starting point. I do not what to debate the issue from first principles. I can't be bothered. And it's off topic. Plus many people here may not share that commitment. And some folks might not understand it. Or we might explain it badly. @peg: With your obvious communication skills have you considered writing a book?

  22. Cena
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    The problem is that there are no moderators other than Matt (I believe), who has somewhat live-and-let-live attitude about the forums. So if you're concerned about a post being OT, or too long (and why you've chosen to single out this particular thread as for exihibiting those qualities is a mystery to me, when there are many other much worse offenders out there ;)) start a new thread yourself and reference this one.

  23. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Oh and by the way. Both the two sites kindly posted by peg must rank among the worst examples of design on the internet. Nice choice.

  24. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Calm down, Anon! I know that my posts are long, which is entirely different from long-winded, and yet they barely scratch the surface of the impt issues at hand. One of the things ironically that contributes to their length is the desire to find a way to say things that might help you to understand that I am not coming from an adversarial place and establish a plane upon which we might meet. All the while I'm conscious of how really much lengthier my posts probably need to be to come close to accomplishing that. Nevertheless, it doesnt mean I ought not to try -- which mirrors something you said earlier: "It won't be perfect. But that is not an excuse not to start." The sites I "kindly posted" I'd hoped would provide some of that info for you in lieu of more length [my posts]. Maybe they still can, at a later time. Hopefully, anyhow. It is hardly worth arguing the merits of their design for several reasons, not of which the least is that in fact MarkAmerika's "GRAMMATRON project is a public domain narrative environment developed by virtual artist Mark Amerika in conjunction with the Brown University Graduate Creative Writing Program and the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Graphics and Visualization Center, "was one of the first works of Internet Art to ever be included in the prestigious Whitney Biennial (2000)," and "has been exhibited at international museums and festivals including Ars Electronica, The International Symposium for Electronic Art (ISEA), SIGGRAPH 98, The Telstra Adelaide Arts Festival (South Australia), Virtual Worlds 98 (Paris) and the International Biennial of Film and Architecture (Graz)." While it's always true that it's important that all of us not be taken in by value judgments of such entities as the National Science Foundation, the Whitney, Brown University, et al --that we do feel empowered to raise questions [euphemism for your proclamation "among the worst examples of design on the internet"] all of this completely misses the point, Anon. The point had to do not with design but with the information and thought expressed there within. Maybe this thread is or could be considered OT, but I think it's impt to consider if first of all, that is in fact true, and second, if that is necessarily unwanted when it all comes down to it. At this point, once again, I wish that you might allow yourself to absorb a little of the site I shared or referenced for this reason that illuminates the fact that the internet/web mirrors our brains' workings -- the associative process -- and rather than be dismissive of this reality, which in fact is responsible for WP's genesis and why we are even gathered here talking. It seems to me that one of WP's strengths -- hallmarks -- what it strives to be and/or what its developers/creators are striving for it to be as one exceptional factor that sets it apart, is its semantic nature. Is it really possible -- is it desirable? -- to imagine that the semantic nature is no more than lite fare, superficial, an afterthought, marketing hyperbole? I don't take that approach, Anon; I refuse to see it that way. But in the interests of length, here's how this thread has evolved (for the sake of clarification -- out from under the revisionist historical perspective most recently given it):
    1. how to ask questions resource shared
    2. agreement on worthiness of the resource's value along with reiteration that some will nevertheless not bother to read the reference (hmm... yes, that certainly bears out, come to think of it)
    3. poster who shared the resource agrees and says yet it's still worth sharing
    4. next poster discusses personal experience in terms of dealing with questions posed in the forum, i.e. comments on one way of dealing with this issue [how to cope with questions in the forum that indicate the poster hasn't referenced available materials] and also pts out that it may be difficult for such questioners to feel inspired to seek out the resources because they're hard to locate easily and because the info questioners first meet with seems to suggest that they turn to the forum with their questions.
    5. next poster clarifies the "seems to suggest" part, stating what exactly is said. Also adds insight that some people will still disregard resources no matter what.
    6. next poster points out that things are better with the search resource but that the wiki resource, which could be helpful more than it is, isn't getting accessed.
    7. next poster says knowledge of/making known it exists wiki figures in prominently from within the forum posts, but could be that a more prominent link would be useful, and that the wiki itself needs help, substantiating this with his own experience as someone who's been in on it from the start.
    8.Anon says this is an issue of information architecture and poses questions to (it appeared, at first anyhow) to get people thinking about where and at what pt info be structured more effectively. It seems that anon wants others to think about the users who come here and how info might best be structured to meet the needs so far voiced from those who've come here and had difficulty.
    9. next poster muses about things coming from the vantage pt of wanting to drive home the pt that this is all irrelevant in what might be seen in terms of a personal agenda (bringing up some old bitterness about the appearance/design of the forum, e.g. which of course has nothing to do with the topic at hand but of course can be said to be meant as an illustrative example only of the pt he wishes to make) all of which again is about Matt as the beginning pt for all that's ensued since; and more musing issues about the wiki with more personal agenda-like editorializing on how its "sidelined" or whether it shall be "embraced," and in short, poster makes it difficult or at minimum discomfitting for anyone to care much about anything that might have some validity coming through the thinly veiled potshots at the originator -- source and source of respect as well.
    10. anon poster next attempts to clarify, vaguely, that it's all a call to info architecture for users apart from this site and remarks upon the fact that there is a wide range of ability and knowledge when it comes to users, and is careful and good about establishing the fact that Matt need not be disrespected -- anon respects Matt for programming. ends on a note of how "this blog" (which blog?) "works will affect peoples[sic] build choices," attempting to subtly raise the ante on or give weight to how important it is that info arch follow some predestined pattern that is not yet expressed or given but is again hinted at as a sort of agreed-upon standard that probably everyone knows and agrees upon but you, whether you be Matt or any reader elsewise who should then out of ignorance of what this so-called standard be, rather than question it and thereby risk exposing yourself as someone who doesn't know [what everyone else knows] just go along with this thing for the good of WP and preventing the possibility of users otherwise not selecting it for their "build choice."
    11. next poster (me) harkens back to original opening post -- the resource "How to Ask Questions" -- and attempts to say why this is a good resource to have in view of the vast range of experience and knowledge that new users drawn to WP will have. Adds agreement that nonetheless there will still remain people who will not partake of it. But that doesn't mean not making it and other such helpful resources available. Has the thought that it's hard to know where to draw the line with this sort of thing -- how far to go in meeting the user; what does the developer think? within the purvey -- how reasonable it is or how completely deconstructed the info arch should be has to be something the creator of the thing speaks best to as that's who has the key insight in so far as its design goes. what's the intention?
    12.Anon admits to not having read the resource that is in fact the subject of this thread. "Assuming for a moment that the URI to which NM refers is useful and appropriate my point ..."
    Is this where things go off-topic?
    I posted in terms of having read the thing -- the substance of the topic? You, Anon, did not. As you admit. Or, in fact, should we really hold you over the barrel and say you went off-topic before that, even, with switching to IA?
    I say that no, we should not -- because as you no doubt believe, it is [ASSOCIATIVELY] organic to the actual topic or subject of the thread. I'd like to say that my post previous to yours in fact attempted to kindly and respectfully bridge between all that had come before including your [OT?] remark.
    Clearly, I could continue to outline the very organic and germane progression of the discussion and its the issues involved, without the sort of fallacies, illogic fallen to mistakenly support the preceding error of labeling discussion "boring" nor resorting to backhanded remarks about what potential skill your posts might indicate (yes, I do also have an imagination from which to draw) -- but, BUT, this is not about me and it is not about you or about anyone else who finds it an opportunity for giving voice to his personal bits of bitterness or grievances or agenda, what have you. I am already annoyed at myself for allowing myself to care enough about this whole thing so as to take this big chunk of time trying to sort it out, all the while understanding that likely it will not affect you enough so as to get you to see that we are on the same side and ought to best find a way to be better at that and steeling myself for more of not that. That doesn't mean, though, that I shouldn't hope and shouldn't act upon that hope, right? And, look, if this is too much, really, goes too far beyond the concerns or interests or possibilities of WP, then it is. But I think, again, that it's not for me to say as I didn't create it and I don't have insight into the creator(s)' minds or visions or dreams for it.

  25. WillM
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Thanks Cena. On second thoughts, I think we're better off just leaving the trolls to play in this one. ;)

  26. OperaManiac
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    omg. what are we down to now! :(
    _____________
    The sig you hate!
    Why Opera? 1 2 3 4

  27. NuclearMoose
    Member
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Personally we should all just get naked and play beach volleyball and then sing some songs around a big fire.

  28. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    And this is the weekend?

  29. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    No wonder the net seems to have slowed down.

  30. Anonymous
    Unregistered
    Posted 10 years ago #

    Here is a novel idea. Blogs are for blogging. Simple huh.

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