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To FAQ or not to FAQ, that is my question...

whoiewhoie Member Posts: 672
Hello everyone! :)

If you are the sort that "just wants to get to the point", please skip down to the tagged portion of this message. Otherwise, be prepared for a tangential, opinionated preface to the point.

I am posting this out of concern for the overall quality of this message board, and sanity of the regular participants. I am sure that anyone that has spent a fair amount of time participating or lurking here has noticed the above average frequency of certain questions. For example, "smart pointers" in C++, "memory allocation" in both C++ and C, "formatting" in C, etc., etc. There are many more, but I'm sure that most know what I mean.

Here is how I see a common cycle here. First, someone posts a question about topic X. Someone responds with an idea or answer, and someone else responds with a critique or better answer, and then discussion continues on to some pretty good solutions/answers. Only, the same or similar question on topic X gets posted very quickly afterwards and the whole process starts over again. This gets boring, and honestly, quite frustrating when the same incorrect or "almost-there" answer gets posted in response to it, and the whole cycle either gets repeated or just left to die. The person who posted the second question about topic X then doesn't get the same quality of help or direction that the original poster did.

Now, there are a couple of caveats to this. First, the second poster could possibly be the "smarter than the average bear" sort, and search previous posts on the topic and find the previous discussion. No problem. Or, they could post it, and a regular remembers the previous one, and provides them with a link to it. But this rarely happens, mostly because no one wants to pour through the previous messages to find it.





I would like to hear opinions about directing these "frequently asked questions" to the FAQ's linked to in my signature. I have noted a few posters in the past that did this as well, but it seems to me that the idea has never really caught on. Is this because there is some problem with them that I am not aware of? I know that there are a number of tutorials out there, but most of them aren't worth the web space they occupy. The FAQ's noted in my sig are made and reviewed by some of the foremost experts on C and C++ in the world. Including the creators of the languages themselves! Is this not a viable alternative to answering "why does while(!feof(fp)) { /* ... */ } read the last line twice?" for the 30th time?


Very interested in hearing opinions,
Will
--
http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
http://www.eskimo.com/~scs/C-faq/top.html
http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
http://www.accu.org/

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Comments

  • stoberstober Member Posts: 9,765 ✭✭✭
    Probably because (1) many people want the easy way out -- just post the question instead if searching faq's, and (2) unless you bookmark the links they are quickly lost.
  • Geeth AsokanGeeth Asokan Member Posts: 127
    : Hello everyone! :)
    :
    : If you are the sort that "just wants to get to the point", please skip down to the tagged portion of this message. Otherwise, be prepared for a tangential, opinionated preface to the point.
    :
    : I am posting this out of concern for the overall quality of this message board, and sanity of the regular participants. I am sure that anyone that has spent a fair amount of time participating or lurking here has noticed the above average frequency of certain questions. For example, "smart pointers" in C++, "memory allocation" in both C++ and C, "formatting" in C, etc., etc. There are many more, but I'm sure that most know what I mean.
    :
    : Here is how I see a common cycle here. First, someone posts a question about topic X. Someone responds with an idea or answer, and someone else responds with a critique or better answer, and then discussion continues on to some pretty good solutions/answers. Only, the same or similar question on topic X gets posted very quickly afterwards and the whole process starts over again. This gets boring, and honestly, quite frustrating when the same incorrect or "almost-there" answer gets posted in response to it, and the whole cycle either gets repeated or just left to die. The person who posted the second question about topic X then doesn't get the same quality of help or direction that the original poster did.
    :
    : Now, there are a couple of caveats to this. First, the second poster could possibly be the "smarter than the average bear" sort, and search previous posts on the topic and find the previous discussion. No problem. Or, they could post it, and a regular remembers the previous one, and provides them with a link to it. But this rarely happens, mostly because no one wants to pour through the previous messages to find it.
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    : I would like to hear opinions about directing these "frequently asked questions" to the FAQ's linked to in my signature. I have noted a few posters in the past that did this as well, but it seems to me that the idea has never really caught on. Is this because there is some problem with them that I am not aware of? I know that there are a number of tutorials out there, but most of them aren't worth the web space they occupy. The FAQ's noted in my sig are made and reviewed by some of the foremost experts on C and C++ in the world. Including the creators of the languages themselves! Is this not a viable alternative to answering "why does while(!feof(fp)) { /* ... */ } read the last line twice?" for the 30th time?
    :
    :
    : Very interested in hearing opinions,
    : Will
    : --
    : http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
    : http://www.eskimo.com/~scs/C-faq/top.html
    : http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
    : http://www.accu.org/
    :
    :

    Totally agree with what you have written.

  • AsmGuru62AsmGuru62 Member Posts: 6,519
    [blue]I have a site with 19Mb empty room - wink, wink... - I can maintain (copy/paste/make a link) the best answers there. It can be a few main topics - like you mentioned. All anyone have to do is send me ('[email protected]') a text doc. - NOTEPAD written or whatever - just not plain text, b/c HOTMAIL will screw it.[/blue]
  • DB1DB1 Member Posts: 1,142
    : Hello everyone! :)
    :
    : If you are the sort that "just wants to get to the point", please skip down to the tagged portion of this message. Otherwise, be prepared for a tangential, opinionated preface to the point.
    :
    : I am posting this out of concern for the overall quality of this message board, and sanity of the regular participants. I am sure that anyone that has spent a fair amount of time participating or lurking here has noticed the above average frequency of certain questions. For example, "smart pointers" in C++, "memory allocation" in both C++ and C, "formatting" in C, etc., etc. There are many more, but I'm sure that most know what I mean.
    :
    : Here is how I see a common cycle here. First, someone posts a question about topic X. Someone responds with an idea or answer, and someone else responds with a critique or better answer, and then discussion continues on to some pretty good solutions/answers. Only, the same or similar question on topic X gets posted very quickly afterwards and the whole process starts over again. This gets boring, and honestly, quite frustrating when the same incorrect or "almost-there" answer gets posted in response to it, and the whole cycle either gets repeated or just left to die. The person who posted the second question about topic X then doesn't get the same quality of help or direction that the original poster did.
    :
    : Now, there are a couple of caveats to this. First, the second poster could possibly be the "smarter than the average bear" sort, and search previous posts on the topic and find the previous discussion. No problem. Or, they could post it, and a regular remembers the previous one, and provides them with a link to it. But this rarely happens, mostly because no one wants to pour through the previous messages to find it.
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    : I would like to hear opinions about directing these "frequently asked questions" to the FAQ's linked to in my signature. I have noted a few posters in the past that did this as well, but it seems to me that the idea has never really caught on. Is this because there is some problem with them that I am not aware of? I know that there are a number of tutorials out there, but most of them aren't worth the web space they occupy. The FAQ's noted in my sig are made and reviewed by some of the foremost experts on C and C++ in the world. Including the creators of the languages themselves! Is this not a viable alternative to answering "why does while(!feof(fp)) { /* ... */ } read the last line twice?" for the 30th time?
    :
    :
    : Very interested in hearing opinions,
    : Will
    : --
    : http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
    : http://www.eskimo.com/~scs/C-faq/top.html
    : http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
    : http://www.accu.org/
    :
    :

    I've only been here a short time, but I have noticed some questions being asked multiple times, probably due to the desire to get a quick and easy answer without all the reading or research. There are probably two reasons for this, one is that the asker is a beginner and the prospect of digging through endless posts, FAQ's, or worthless tutorials is a daunting task, especially when all you need to know is one seemingly simple answer such as "why doesn't while(!feof(fp)) work right?", or two, the asker is a semi-beginner (such as myself) who's eyes are already bleeding from just spending the last 2 hours digging through the MSDN to find a seemingly perfect function for your needs only to find out that another hours' worth of MSDN hacking can't reveal the header that needs to be included to use the function (heh, personal gripe here) and is not about to read another line of FAQ's to find out. It would be a good idea somewhere if someone could put up a nice short FAQ somewhere with the answers to the most asked questions here, and direct askers to those FAQ's instead of answering the same question over and over, but I don't think it will help much. It may be better to just direct them to the Beginner C/C++ message board instead. There is nothing easier than asking a question here and getting an experienced answer/opinion back. Even in one of Will's links, trying to find something like " are pointers-to-static-member-functions type compatible with regular pointers-to-functions?" could take hours of digging and still yield no answers if you don't really know what to look for.

  • stoberstober Member Posts: 9,765 ✭✭✭

    Pouring through hours of MSDN docs is semingly difficult and boring, but the time spent is often worth it. Next time you have a question about one of the topics you read you might remember where you read it, and your job will become easier and easier as you gain experience.

    If it's a Win32 API function you are looking for, just include and you will get the works.
  • whoiewhoie Member Posts: 672
    : Probably because (1) many people want the easy way out -- just post the question instead if searching faq's,

    Yes, I think this is all too often the case. However, I think it shows a lack of respect for other people's time. "I'm too busy to look in the FAQ, so I will make someone else do it".


    : and (2) unless you bookmark the links they are quickly lost.

    That could very well be, but a search string of either "C FAQ" or "C++ FAQ" in Google brings them up as the very first hit.

    I have them in my signature as a kind of hint, and so that someone can just search for one of my posts and get the link that way. Perhaps we can get them posted on a welcome page for the board?


    Will
    --
    http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
    http://www.eskimo.com/~scs/C-faq/top.html
    http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
    http://www.accu.org/


  • whoiewhoie Member Posts: 672
    I am glad you thought it so! :)

    : [blue]I have a site with 19Mb empty room - wink, wink... - I can maintain (copy/paste/make a link) the best answers there.[/blue]

    I never really thought about that, but that isn't a bad idea. We should really do it on programmers heaven though, then we can flame people for being too lazy to search the very site they posted on - wink, wink... ;)

    I think it would be important not to duplicate information contained in the FAQ's already, but we could tailor it more for the subjects that come up on this board specifically. I mean, this board is much more relaxed than Usenet about off-topic material, and system-dependent questions are pretty tolerated here. I don't think it would be a good idea to entertain /everything/ about system-dependent topics, after all, that is what the other boards here are for. Then again, maybe the FAQ's are all we really need, and we could all just agree to point questions there first?


    [blue]: It can be a few main topics - like you mentioned. All anyone have to do is send me ('[email protected]') a text doc. - NOTEPAD written or whatever - just not plain text, b/c HOTMAIL will screw it.[/blue]

    Perhaps we could do that very thing. For example, we could have "recommended abstraction layers" for inherently system-dependent programming. Like a ttyio (or conio, I don't care) interface. A socket one, maybe some embedded stuff for analog to digital and vice-versa. I don't know exactly, but anyone who wanted to could post it (or a link) here first for review, and then after a period of time, we could move it to permanent space. Just a thought...


    Will
    --
    http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
    http://www.eskimo.com/~scs/C-faq/top.html
    http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
    http://www.accu.org/


  • whoiewhoie Member Posts: 672


    : I've only been here a short time, but I have noticed some questions being asked multiple times, probably due to the desire to get a quick and easy answer without all the reading or research. There are probably two reasons for this, one is that the asker is a beginner and the prospect of digging through endless posts, FAQ's, or worthless tutorials is a daunting task, especially when all you need to know is one seemingly simple answer such as "why doesn't while(!feof(fp)) work right?",

    I think it could also be that the poster isn't aware of that resource. I know I found it to be a godsend when someone first pointed them out to me, I think it would be a good idea to return the favor.

    Also, I think it goes with the old "give a man a fish, teach a man to fish" principle. After all, web searching is a very important skill in our line of work IMHO.


    : or two, the asker is a semi-beginner (such as myself) who's eyes are already bleeding from just spending the last 2 hours digging through the MSDN to find a seemingly perfect function for your needs only to find out that another hours' worth of MSDN hacking can't reveal the header that needs to be included to use the function (heh, personal gripe here) and is not about to read another line of FAQ's to find out.

    Yes, I wish I could say that I haven't been there myself, but I have. However, a gentle nudge to the right place in the FAQ could be more beneficial. After all, the answer is correct, and then any further questions could be more specific. Did that make any sense? ;)



    : It would be a good idea somewhere if someone could put up a nice short FAQ somewhere with the answers to the most asked questions here, and direct askers to those FAQ's instead of answering the same question over and over, but I don't think it will help much. It may be better to just direct them to the Beginner C/C++ message board instead. There is nothing easier than asking a question here and getting an experienced answer/opinion back. Even in one of Will's links, trying to find something like " are pointers-to-static-member-functions type compatible with regular pointers-to-functions?" could take hours of digging and still yield no answers if you don't really know what to look for.

    Well, that isn't a particularly good example, because the C++ FAQ has an entire section on that very thing. Actually, I think that is an excellent example, because the answers /are/ there, and by knowing that, we can keep duplicates down (hopefully...it's a pipe dream...I know).


    Thanks for your response,
    Will
    --
    http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
    http://www.eskimo.com/~scs/C-faq/top.html
    http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
    http://www.accu.org/


  • PeterTheMasterPeterTheMaster Member Posts: 636
    100% true. its really getting unnerving. it would be really cool to have users accept some agreement when signing up (that they have to read previous posts, faqs, google), and being able to ban them when they infringe 3 times.

    btw: i had to smile when i read the suggestion to search for one of your posts to get the links. i did that lots of times myself.


    : Hello everyone! :)
    :
    : If you are the sort that "just wants to get to the point", please skip down to the tagged portion of this message. Otherwise, be prepared for a tangential, opinionated preface to the point.
    :
    : I am posting this out of concern for the overall quality of this message board, and sanity of the regular participants. I am sure that anyone that has spent a fair amount of time participating or lurking here has noticed the above average frequency of certain questions. For example, "smart pointers" in C++, "memory allocation" in both C++ and C, "formatting" in C, etc., etc. There are many more, but I'm sure that most know what I mean.
    :
    : Here is how I see a common cycle here. First, someone posts a question about topic X. Someone responds with an idea or answer, and someone else responds with a critique or better answer, and then discussion continues on to some pretty good solutions/answers. Only, the same or similar question on topic X gets posted very quickly afterwards and the whole process starts over again. This gets boring, and honestly, quite frustrating when the same incorrect or "almost-there" answer gets posted in response to it, and the whole cycle either gets repeated or just left to die. The person who posted the second question about topic X then doesn't get the same quality of help or direction that the original poster did.
    :
    : Now, there are a couple of caveats to this. First, the second poster could possibly be the "smarter than the average bear" sort, and search previous posts on the topic and find the previous discussion. No problem. Or, they could post it, and a regular remembers the previous one, and provides them with a link to it. But this rarely happens, mostly because no one wants to pour through the previous messages to find it.
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    : I would like to hear opinions about directing these "frequently asked questions" to the FAQ's linked to in my signature. I have noted a few posters in the past that did this as well, but it seems to me that the idea has never really caught on. Is this because there is some problem with them that I am not aware of? I know that there are a number of tutorials out there, but most of them aren't worth the web space they occupy. The FAQ's noted in my sig are made and reviewed by some of the foremost experts on C and C++ in the world. Including the creators of the languages themselves! Is this not a viable alternative to answering "why does while(!feof(fp)) { /* ... */ } read the last line twice?" for the 30th time?
    :
    :
    : Very interested in hearing opinions,
    : Will
    : --
    : http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
    : http://www.eskimo.com/~scs/C-faq/top.html
    : http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
    : http://www.accu.org/
    :
    :

  • whoiewhoie Member Posts: 672
    : 100% true. its really getting unnerving. it would be really cool to have users accept some agreement when signing up (that they have to read previous posts, faqs, google), and being able to ban them when they infringe 3 times.

    If we ever need a new moderator, you have my vote Peter! :) We just need to offset you with a very friendly greeter. Something tells me that board traffic will appear to have a major slow down (Like only one post out of 5 will actually make it through, lol)...


    : btw: i had to smile when i read the suggestion to search for one of your posts to get the links. i did that lots of times myself.

    That really makes me happy to hear that. Sometimes, I wonder if I am just polluting web space (I probably am in some other way... ;) ).


    Will
    --
    http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
    http://www.eskimo.com/~scs/C-faq/top.html
    http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
    http://www.accu.org/


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