Just for one I suggest anyone who wants to experience newbie frustration use the initial search feature to look for a posting s/he has made recently. What becomes immediately obvious is that the existing simple search is more likely to confuse than enlighten. Re titling posts that have solutions helps, but the user still has to search, and threads can have dozens and dozens of posts, many that would just totally confuse users.
Hence my suggestion to essentially automate the search by making it part of the posting process. A user begins typing in their post and up pops a window that parses through their post, searches the dictionary and pops up suggestions as to where the user will find their answer. And of course there is a little obligatory check box that indicates that the user has reviewed the suggestions BEFORE completing their post..... Here is the URL
to the post in that thread (http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=98115&parent=434158
) and here is an excerpt, citing just one of a number of solutions (this uses php and ajax
) to effect this live search:
I have come across some php/ajax that does a live
search based on an xml dictionary
http://www.w3schools.com/php/php_ajax_livesearch.asp that is I think more along the lines Todd is
thinking than the KISS type option I was initially
suggesting. There are also similar resources for doing the same kind of thing in js.
In place already is a rating system (and I won't rehash here the recnt discussion of the possible flaws in that) and a PHM group (ditto) and the same dozen questions continue to be posted. Another suggestion from the other thread cited was sticky posts in forums, which are essentially comparable to FAQs. Of course, there are those who weighed in that the docs are there to serve that purpose.... One has to ask, why publish a separate FAQ, which will inevitably result in an inconsistency with the docs, as opposed to putting adequate tags in the docs and pointing people to comprehensive docs with perhaps howto sections. I think the secret to making things workable is keeping them simple, and adding a FAQ doc actually makes the doc mechnism more, not less complex. In other words, why not spend the time making the docs better, as opposed to creating another iteration of the docs.....
I think we are better off building the data directory to help search the amazing breadth of information on the moodle, then building more places to hide possible inconsistent info.....
However, my idea resulted in only one rating of useful (I am saying this a bit tongue in cheek you understand). We have hordes of trackers items that sit lonely and abandoned ...... While there may be those who want to see this kind of active lookup accomplished, at least I haven't been convinced that there is enough support to push this in tracker.....
Lastly, I think you are correct about need for data and jargon. I made some suggestions as to how I think pertinent data could be used, but I did not see a lot of encouragement there. As to users, we see quite a few people saying, "I have absolutely no idea about how to manage any OS but I want to run Moodle, so how do I do it....." and for these folks what are you going to do? I think this is in part a response to a broadly accepted concept that anyone can do this "web stuff", and if a 3rd Grader can't do it, it is garbage (this last bit a poor paraphrase of someone posting about the paypal module). One suggestion is that Moodle provide a moodle course that one must pass before being able to install, post or what have you.... I don't know if this is a good idea or not (I think, based on my own experience as a user and teacher that academic laziness is one facet of the passivity I think I see growing in U.S. "culture", and that lowering expectations has a very clearly foreseeable conclusion.....)
On the otherhand, for those of us who maybe can do (or at least acknowledge that something should be done) how do we proceed?
Whoops..... sorry, I promised to try and stay off the soap box (at least I was going to tag rants.... the best laid plans and all that......