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[community] Is css-tricks forum full of abandoned topics?

  • dyr
    # May 8, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Hello everyone, sorry for the provocative title; I hope it isn’t misleading. I’ll start off with a huuuuge shout out to Chris Coyier for continuing to maintain this site (and forum.) It is such a wonderful resource! Thank you!

    I post replies to topics from time to time (not a tremendous amount) but I enjoy sharing knowledge, solving problems, and helping people gain a better understanding of the tools and technologies they’re working with.

    My hopes in starting this thread is to generate some discussion and ideas for ways to improve the community: specifically with regards to the forum experience both for ask-ers and answer-ers.

    I’ve noticed that many of the topics I’ve replied to (with helpful information, examples, code snippets, links, etc.) end up being abandoned with no further response from the original poster. As you might imagine this is frustrating when I, or others, take the time to address a question and formulate a thoughtful and informative reply.

    I believe many topics here are created by people who are at a beginner to intermediate level and who’s questions would likely not get much traction on StackOverflow (for example.) I think it’s great that this forum provides a place where newer developers feel comfortable asking “dumb” questions (there’s no such thing!) however it concerns me to see so many topics created and abandoned.

    I’m well aware that there are limitations on what can be done about this particular issue and there are tons of topics that don’t suffer the same problem. So, I’m looking to you and everyone who is part of this community for ideas that can help improve the quality of both questions and answers. I notice several names continually posting high-quality responses and I want to say thank you to those of you who take your time to assist in others’ learning, moderators included! That’s awesome!

    So, do you have any ideas on how we can make this forum more effective? How can we motivate new and existing members to follow-up on the topics they create? Is it time to gamify the css-tricks forum?

    Cheers
    -dyr

    __
    # May 8, 2014 at 1:24 am

    I’ve noticed that many of the topics I’ve replied to (with helpful information, examples, code snippets, links, etc.) end up being abandoned with no further response from the original poster.

    This is more of a general phenomenon on discussion boards, and not with css-tricks specifically. A large portion of users don’t participate until they need a problem solved, and once it is, have no motivation to return. An even larger number of users don’t realize that “discussion board manners” are even a thing. As annoying as these issues can be to regulars, neither (necessarily) reflects the user’s intent or attitude.

    “dumb” questions (there’s no such thing!)

    oh, sure there are. : ) It’s not the content of the question, mind you, but how well (how badly?) it is asked.

    No one should feel bad about not knowing something, or not understanding it. People most definitely should feel bad about throwing out an incomprehensible mess (and I’m not talking about language barriers, here), or not bothering to type a few words into google as a first step, or equating “please help” with “you have to do it for me.”

    That last one I see way too often, and I have a really hard time excusing it.

    (On the flip side, of course, answering a question for someone who is genuinely interested in learning and puts forth the effort required is a true pleasure; even if you do end up writing the whole thing for them.)

    So, do you have any ideas on how we can make this forum more effective?

    Honestly, I think css-tricks is in good health already, and on an upward trend.

    Is it time to gamify the css-tricks forum?

    uggh…

    no offense ; )

    # May 8, 2014 at 5:11 am

    I wonder if part of it is because taking the time to write out your issue goes a long way in clarifying that issue in your mind and, once that’s done, the solution comes quicker.

    Then as @traq says, they have little motivation to return. Not sure what can be done about that. I’m sure there are highly effective methods like sending email reminders to people with threads they started but didn’t return to and stuff – but that kind of thing feels gross to me. Keeping it simple feels better.

    I’m down to consider any ideas, but in all likelihood, we’ll just continue chugging forward here making slow incremental improvements as we can.

    Anonymous
    # May 8, 2014 at 7:00 am

    ….they have little motivation to return.

    IMHO they are doing themselves a disservice. I check the blog here and search old posts to try to learn new things. I just started CSS last fall, and yes like most others I came here because I needed to know how to create a new site using CSS. My site is still a work in progress and I want to modify it so it can be seen on smaller formats. For me there’s just too much knowledge here for a stop-by just to get enough information for a site and then toodle-loo. I’m not in a place yet to be able to experiment with all the goodies on this site, but once my site is up and I can have some CSS fun, you can bet I’ll be here.

    Yes, there are other sites to glean information from but I’ve not found any with the wide coverage of topics and CSS tricks as this site.

    Off the soap box now.

    __
    # May 8, 2014 at 11:04 am

    I wonder if part of it is because taking the time to write out your issue goes a long way in clarifying that issue in your mind and, once that’s done, the solution comes quicker.
    @ChrisCoyier

    That’s called asking the duck.

    # May 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve found this to be the case as well.

    @dyr your replies to my first thread are actually what kept me here, I felt like I needed to give back. So you can take that with you anyway :)

    It seems like there are a small handful of people here that are daily checking in on threads and helping beginners out – I love that! Like you said in the OP, SO can be quite intimidating to those that are just starting out (I’ve even made what they consider faux pas aplenty there), I feel the same way and I’m in no way just starting out…

    I guess the way to ‘fix’ it, is to keep on helping people… they will naturally come and go, can’t stop that. There might be a few people like me though, they find a welcoming place and put down a tent.

    __
    # May 8, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    SO has great knowledge, but no patience (in fact, I would go as far as to say they have an intolerance of patience).

    Thinking about that, I bet that’s part of my aversion to the “gamification” idea. SO is highly gamified. I’ve been on several forums that used “rewards” or “reputation,” and they are rarely a positive influence, especially on the community as a whole.

    NIX
    # May 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I’ve been coming to CSS-Tricks for years but just started participating in the forums about a year and half ago.

    I try to share what knowledge I have where it’s applicable. But, this is more of a place where I like to engage, talk about things I’m into and share mostly opinion. I think for those just looking for a one off answer, this may not be the best place. Stack Overflow or even Reddit would be phenomenal for the quick “I need an answer” post.

    For those who want to interact often with the same people, this place is awesome. Many of the conversations I’m involved in go on for 3-6 pages. It’s fun because I get to learn and grow with a group of people who are into the same things as I am. That’s fun.

    I don’t think the CSS-Tricks forums should be gamified. I think there is a place for that and it is not here. Stack Overflow is world renowned for it’s strict guidelines and “RTFM” responses. That’s fine… because it’s actually a job placement service, not a forum. The quality of answers directly correlates to the placement commissions the Stack Overflow sales team can earn. I know this because a good friend of mine worked in sales for Stack Overflow and explained the entire business model to me, including the world famous “Hell Ban” etc.

    These forums are a welcoming and friendly place for people wanting to learn. There will be some flakes… but there are a TON of people that love it, just the way it is.

    Believe it or not, this is one of two sites I check at the start of every day.

    # May 9, 2014 at 3:38 am

    The problem (well one of them) with SO..and I’m active participant there is that too often the answers you get are inappropriate, wrong, or based on old information.

    The number of answers that I see that are in the vein of Useposition:absouteor add 10px margin when it’s clear from the question that something more complex (or basic) is required amazes me.

    The sheer repetitiveness of some of the questions is mind-boggling because new users don’t, they just DON’T, bother searching to see if the question has been asked before.

    # May 9, 2014 at 3:46 am

    The sheer repetitiveness of some of the questions is mind-boggling because new users don’t, they just DON’T, bother searching to see if the question has been asked before.

    Perhaps that’s a UX issue Stack Overflow should address in their design.

    @joe_temp My account was banned for a while. Somehow it worked itself out.

    Believe it or not, this is one of two sites I check at the start of every day.

    You live here =P.

    NIX
    # May 9, 2014 at 10:09 am

    You live here =P.

    I’ll say this… I’ve always got a CSS-Tricks tab open ;)

    # May 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

    [insert ironic quip about OP not returning to thread he started about people not returning to threads]

    NIX
    # May 12, 2014 at 10:04 am

    [insert ironic quip about OP not returning to thread he started about people not returning to threads]

    HA HA HA HA!

    dyr
    # May 12, 2014 at 10:19 am

    :D I’ve been watching this thread!

    Thanks for all the comments guys. Seems like the issues I outlined are not particularly specific to this community which is encouraging.

    And thanks again to all of you who volunteer your own time to answer questions and help others.

    I’m going to continue to do the same even if it makes me rage sometimes to see OPs not return to threads. :)

    NIX
    # May 12, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Ha ha ha. We’re just having a little fun. Clearly you’re watching it or you wouldn’t have seen that joke so quick.

    I will say this… most abandoned posts tend to reside in Design Den oddly enough. I would think that people would want to talk all day and all night about their subjective design opinions. But… oddly enough, someone will submit a site for critique and then NEVER COME BACK. This happens all the time. CSS Combat is pretty great, as is Javascript Jungle. However, I notice that most of the deeper engagement happens in the Other Discussions section… where we are now!

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