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Re: Forum/Reality Disconnect

December 23, 2012

I just saw this absolutely amazing post by Gregg Eshelman in reply to an old blog article, “Forum/Reality Disconnect“, and thought it just had to be shared on its own.

The two most annoying things on technical fora (including ye olde USENET) are the people who will not read *in full* the OP and tell the person to do EXACTLY what he said he’d already tried *that did not work*.

Apparently many people are incapable of reading and comprehending plain language, or at least incapable of thinking beyond a set of rote responses for what they assume is a common issue. READ the entire post so you don’t look like a clueless, script reading “tech support” goon by telling the person with the problem to do what they’ve already tried.

Even worse is when I’ve posted links to articles with fixes that are supposed to work but didn’t and someone replies *with the exact same links*.

If you cannot READ then come up with something different, don’t bother to reply, not even to say you don’t know of anything different. It only pisses people off.

Then there are the hosers who figure out or simply stumble upon a fix for their issue and cap the thread with an “I fixed it!” without saying HOW they fixed it.

HTF did you fix it? I’m reading this thread because I’m trying to fix the exact same problem. C’mon, GIVE! Tell the world how you fixed it!

I’d love to mod a tech forum just so I could kickban both sorts. :D Help or say nothing. Don’t be useless or condescending. People come to these forums for help. It doesn’t matter if a search of the forum would turn up the answer if the person with a problem has no idea *what to search for*.

Most forum searches are quite useless. Given the heavy use of numbers and acronyms and “nonsense words” and words of 4 or fewer characters in computer jargon and how the default search indexing is set to exclude such things, it’s highly likely that a forum search wouldn’t work anyway. A tech forum search should be set with as broad an index setting as possible. Too bad if it makes for a giant index, if someone is searching for info on a GBX-39/WQ23 ver9.53.2 *all the numbers and punctuation characters are important*.

15~20 years ago, web searches were much better. If you knew EXACTLY what you wanted to find you could put quotes around it and the search would look for EXACTLY that, nothing else. These days they all “suggest” that we’re all a bunch of idiots who don’t know what we’re looking for and everything entered in the box is spelled incorrectly. Try putting quotes or + and – signs in and they’re ignored.

I was just trying to find out reasons why Microsoft DaRT 6.0 wouldn’t boot and what’s the top “hits”? People asking why their DODGE Dart won’t start. I tried adding -dodge and still got bogus “hits” on the car.

Companies like to creatively spell words in their names and product names. When someone enters such, *they are not spelling it wrong!* so don’t ignore it and present only hits with the ‘corrected’ version.

The computer world needs a “search idiot” that only looks for EXACTLY what’s entered and strictly obeys boolean operators and regex commands. I wouldn’t care if the query has to go into a queue and I’d have to wait some time for a reply, as long as the results only contain links to sites that actually contain what I’m looking for.

For some years I’ve had a name for such a search engine, LookStupid – as in “Look, you stupid computer, I know what I’m doing! Stop trying to outsmart me!”.

I agree 100%. I wonder if the owner of DuckDuckGo would be able to come up with a search engine aggregator like LookStupid…

One comment

  1. Utterly correct! Search engines are dumbing-down people by telling them what they are supposed to be searching for. If Google is paid to prioritise certain results, then people will have been wilfully-mislead into spending time on things they never wanted to search for in the first place (or something along those lines). Thus stealing their time (and if they buy something, their money). Thievery is what it is – the technicality of it being ‘illegal’ under any given legal system does not change the logic of abuse that thievery follows. Searches DID used to be a lot better. Now, for ‘convenience’ (because people cannot apparently type properly any more… now ask yourself why touchscreen devices were pushed so hard, apart from any other aspect… dumbing-down, again – it’s in order to make people be a passive consumer, not a creator of text-based content, of course…). Good luck, glad there’s some people who still challenge the current, lying, orthodoxy.



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