Greetings - this a general question regrading the formums in Moodle.org. If there are no responses to a question a Moodler posts - what should the next step be? I totally understand and know that there are hundreds of postings on Moodle.org everyday and I am amazed at the ability to answer the vast majority. I have searched - and I am not aware if Moodle.org has a next step - for if a post goes unanswered for a specific time - should the person who posed the problem post it again? I have only experienced this a very few times - but when it has happened I have found myself wondering where do I go from here? As always thank you - for your help.
Hi Nancy, AFAIK, you are correct in assuming there is no procedure. For a question to go unanswered though usually means that there is far too little information given in the first place, or the question is couched in terms that are so vague that no-one is sure what the question is, (my personal favourite), or is just too esoteric for anyone who does not understand Moodle coding to answer, or is so definite the solution is obvious, which happens.
In many cases, many unanswered questions are not retrieved by their authors because they have found solutions for the problem themselves so any supplied answer becomes irrelevant. Occasionally, not often, rarely in fact, the person asking the question will post their answer, for the benefit of all.
In all cases, it is best not to wait for an answer anyway, try different things. I have always maintained a test Moodle to try to find solutions to problems, but I only ever use standard plugins, or common features, not because I am not adventurous, but because my clients do not need them. I do not have many of the problems others seem to, but then I run two small Moodles, which do not take up much time. I use the test Moodles to work out things before I use them on the sites, testing everything. This means I have few issues also. This can work well, but it also slows down some development at times.
If you have a question, post it, if you get no answer, bump it, or look at it and see if it falls into one of the above categories. Rewriting the question can illicit a response.
I second colins post. If you are confident you have posted enough information for an informed person to try to help you then a bump is fine. I wonder if a rating of "insufficient information" in addition to the useful rating would make sense?
While a rating of 'insufficient information' is a good idea, wouldn't a better approach be some way to help the poster include relevant information?
How about a small paragraph of text (and/or link) right above the 'Your reply' box which briefly list information one should include in posting and/or provides a popup link to an example.
Please provide relevant information. An example.
The text 'relevant information' pops up a quick list/info box and the word 'example' pops up a screen (info box) as indicated.
In addition, how about a 'bump' button which auto copies the posting with text added at the top of the original posting indicating it's a 'bump'?
'spirit of sharing', Ken
See the forum intro.
Actually, there is a blance to be struck here. My impression is that very long posts rarely get answered. So, as well as including all the relevant information, you also need to be short and to the point
(Off topic: I would love it is someone did a proper analysis of the Moodle forum posts database, to see if the actually data bears out my "frequency of reply depends on length" guess, or to see if we can learn any other interesting things about what goes on here.)
Now, I am slightly reluctant to give the next link, because it describes a far more hostile environment than the Moodle forums are. It is, however, a classic: Eric Raymond's "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way". http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html. The advice there is good, if you get get past the style and the opening rant.
Yes, information/directions are there, but ... question is ... how do seekers for problems hit forums? Many might do a Google search which won't necessarily show the intro's to any of the forums.
There used to be a saying ... 'tell 'em, tell 'em what ya told them, tell 'em again'. Wonder if redundancy in forums whose purpose is to be able to get assistance and find resolutions to problems is not in order to some extent.
'spirit of sharing', Ken
Ken, a recently retired politician, if there is such a being, told me how relieved he was going to be. He could say something different every day and it wouldn't worry him that someone might not get the message. Exactly the same thing here. Now that Tim has talked about doing an analysis of questions and answers, I wonder how many times I have answered the same question? The thing is that as we are all different, the same questions are asked, but couched in different terms, terms that we understand both as writers and in answering. We must not assume that literacy levels are the same everywhere and one answer will be universal, quite clearly they are not.
When I started programming for instance, I had real trouble understanding arrays, every explanation I was given was meaningless. I got objects, I got recursion, I got instantiation, I got far more complex programming elements, but I could not picture arrays. I then asked someone else and he put it into simple street addressing, how houses fit on a street and how a block of units fits within a street and how do we send snail mail to them. The penny dropped and I finally got it. To me, the more valuable lesson I learned was not about arrays, it was about using language.The concept was not difficult, but the language was just not used in terms I could get.
This is why I try to answer the vague questions, trying to illicit more information, trying to respond with useful language. Not easy and I don't always get it.
You just helped me understand arrays! (I still need help with everything else, now...)
Ahh, glad to help Tonya..
There are many possibilities:
- Just bump http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=212840 , as others have pointed out
- Bump with more information, and/or problem reformulated http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=210158.
- If there is a better forum, could message the moderator asking to move the post to the other forum.
A rating "Insufficient information" is not a good idea. It does not fit the the same category as "Useful". And is also not "politically correct". Moodle.org is too polite to give anybody a negative rating! Thirdly, how often is the present rating system used. How many posts have you rated in the last 6 months?
People not reading the introduction to the forum they are posting is sad (a good number of my replies are to ask people where to start). I've noticed a cute feature in the Lounge: The webform for "Add a new discussion" has a header which is different from the header to the forum. One could make use of it to remind to read the introduction first.
There is a problem though: How many forums have a detailed intro?
I'm not that in love with "Insufficent Information" as a flag but I also don't see it as particularly negative.
With reference to rating, I don't have any figures I would describe my rating activities as "regularly". It would be nice to see a rating count flag in your own profile.
About "Insufficient information" flag: It is OK for me to have a collegial dispute over it. Rereading your post, I realize that our dispute is really minor.
The question, how often you rate posts: I'm sorry, that "you" was supposed to mean everybody who is reading my post. I should have used a better expression.
My understanding of the rating is, that it is not something only for the OP, anybody else who finds that post helpfull, to himself or others, should also rate the post as "Useful".
I love the idea of being able to rate a post as "useful," anticipating that this may be able to generate responses to queries that much more effectively.
That is also my idea, when I said, everybody should rate useful posts as such. When others scan the discussions they can pay more attention to those posts with higer ratings. That won't work if only the OP rate answers to "his" posts.
A sincere thank you to all of you - excellent advice.
Thanks everyone for your comments regarding what to do when a question receives no replies. I'm going to move this dicussion thread to the moodle.org design forum so that it's easier to find in future.
Regarding the 'Add a new discussion' text in the Lounge, this is also done in several Using Moodle forums e.g. General problems: Add a new discussion topic and could be done in ALL forums so that forum introductions can be kept short in order to display them on the course page.
Regarding bumping, I think moving your post to the top of the forum by replying with additional information is fine, but replying by writing 'Bump!' without any useful information just increases forum activity for no good reason. Some posters can become impatient for help and appear to forget that support is provided by volunteers in different timezones. If someone requires very urgent or complicated help then I would recommend that they contact a Moodle Partner or other company offering paid support.
> replying by writing 'Bump!' without any useful information just increases forum activity for no good reason.
There is a reason. As explained above by Collin and Marcus: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=213274#p929209.
Thank you Helen and again I deeply appreciate everyone's comment on this post. I have to keep telling myself to be patient and keep in mind the time zone differences.