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ADVICE TO POSTERS ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT EXISTING CONTRIBS

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I wish someone would post a stickly with this information in this forum and in the general forum.....

 

1. If you have a question about a contribution that has a large following or that has been in existance for more than a week, there is most likely a topic in this forum about it.

 

2. Post in the current topics, don't make new ones! We don't watch for new questions, we might watch existing threads.

 

3. Do a search. Your question has been asked and answered already in 90% of the cases. Yes, if it looks like your question it is the same problem and has the same solution, your situation is not unique.

 

4. DON'T email the contributor unless you really, really need to. These are free contributions and support is via these forums unless otherwise noted in the Readme that came with the file.

 

And that reminds me, you DID read the readme and other documents that came with the contribution before your posted, right?

 

I will be a hardnose and stop answering certain questions because they have been asked ad nauseum in this forum. And 20 threads with one or two posted about any single contribution is 15 threads too many.

 

The information is here, look for it, you are adults, go do some research. Put your skills to work and you will learn more than you dreamed.

 

Don't give me the "the search doesn't give me the right answers" line when right in this first page I can see repeated question after repeated question and the answers are in the contribs documentation.

 

This is not meant in a mean way, please don't post evil messages telling me how mean I am, this is an informational post that should save you and the contributors time and energy. If people are answering the same question over and over, there is software coding and upgrading and enhancement that isn't getting done.

 

I really would encourage the osc team to post a sticky with their suggestions on this subject, this is frustrating for both the posters and the contributors when communication is so hard to manage.


[no external urls in signatures please, kthanks]

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Nicely put :wink: - I will bring this up for discussion 8)

 

Matti


Matti Ressler

 

We were all once expert at...... nothing

_____

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Thanks! I hope it gets some consideration.

 

I try to offer solutions, and not just complain....


[no external urls in signatures please, kthanks]

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I wish someone would post a stickly with this information in this forum and in the general forum.....
I wish all the forums had stickies with links to some basic resources: Wiki, search tips, forum rules, contributions, etc.

 

Cheers,

Matt

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The search engine on this site is not conclusive. I can tell you that is why I can not find much of the information. I do not know how the indexing for the search engine is done, but it is not thorough. I will put in a search term (word or words) and not get any results. Then I retry using various combinations, still no results. Yet when I am looking through the posts, I will see that same term or terms used in many of the posts.

 

So, why doesn't it show up on a search? If it did, you might not be getting so many recurrent questions. I TRY to use the forum search to find the answers before I ask, but if the search engine is not thorough, it is NOT my fault that I have to re-ask a recurrent question. God knows, I hate to ask stupid questions, but I am a real newbie and need answers. I would much rather be able to quietly search through the archives and find the answer. If you have a solution to the search engine problem, I am sure that will help us greenies. But please don't blame us if the search engine on this website is not what it should be. Take Care, Sharon

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I wish someone would post a stickly with this information in this forum and in the general forum.....
I wish all the forums had stickies with links to some basic resources: Wiki, search tips, forum rules, contributions, etc.

 

Cheers,

Matt

 

Agreed, not everyone will read them, but up to 3 or 4 short, informative stickies at the top of each forum section would eliminate a large number of repeat posts and would direct people to the correct place to post.

 

Another good thing to sticky would be a post with links to the most common searches that seem to challenge people :) Like how do I change the text on my main page and how do I make my store "go live"... I know this is covered in the wiki, but the wiki is daunting to most folks and so is searching, if they see a link to a search that works, they may be tempted to search ofr other stuff.


[no external urls in signatures please, kthanks]

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The search engine on this site is not conclusive. I can tell you that is why I can not find much of the information. I do not know how the indexing for the search engine is done, but it is not thorough. I will put in a search term (word or words) and not get any results. Then I retry using various combinations, still no results. Yet when I am looking through the posts, I will see that same term or terms used in many of the posts.

 

So, why doesn't it show up on a search? If it did, you might not be getting so many recurrent questions. I TRY to use the forum search to find the answers before I ask, but if the search engine is not thorough, it is NOT my fault that I have to re-ask a recurrent question. God knows, I hate to ask stupid questions, but I am a real newbie and need answers. I would much rather be able to quietly search through the archives and find the answer. If you have a solution to the search engine problem, I am sure that will help us greenies. But please don't blame us if the search engine on this website is not what it should be. Take Care, Sharon

 

I have to agree with this statement. The problem is not with this board but actually with the phpbb software used for this forum. I have "owned" 4 different forums all using phpbb as the framework and there are well documented flaws in the search algorithm. I also know there are several contributions in the phpbb world to correct this and improve the search capabilities.

 

A suggestion might be to add some contribs to this phpbb board to help us out!

 

8)

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I do my best to search and read through the existing posts. I know how annoying it can be to see the same post over and over again. A few thoughts.

 

The search on this site is mid-grade. Less than adequate for detailed searches. I often get No Topics Found when I know I can't possibly be the first one with that question.

 

I often go back to the WIKI documentation but that too is less than adequate for most of the questions I have. While I'm no power user and am quite literally feeling my way around inside osC, I have graduated beyond the basic installation and customization questions - though now that I've said that - I'm sure I'll run into a basic stumper again soon.

 

I don't think your post is mean spirited. But I do think it paints some of us less knowledgeable members into a corner. It's hard not to repeat a previous post if 1) the search doesn't work that well and 2) you're not sure what to search for to begin with. I'm all for reading and solving the problem myself but sometime I have a hard time finding out where I should start. In fact I have begun a few threads just seeking a little information rather than asking for the answer. On more than one occassion I never got a single response. Luckily I figured out the problems - or found a workaround - often my own mistakes.

 

The point of this rambling post is that I think I'm not the only member who would be happy to help themselves. But a little more documentation or helpful hints would be most appreciated.


Apathy is a dominant gene - mutate.

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Another thought - if it were possible to search the forums using Google - that would be a big help to me. It's what I use on WebmasterWorld. Their search feature is ... um... less than adequate.


Apathy is a dominant gene - mutate.

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I know the search sucks, but I you have to be persistant, and during the searches take clues from the answers that do pop up on how to modify your search.

 

Google tool bar lets you search only within a site.....

 

If you can write a post to explain something that might help a newbie solve a problem similar to yours, do so and post it. It might come up in a search and help someone. Tips and Tricks is a good forum to post things like that, but most people won;t look there for answers, they come to the General, Features and Contribs forums.

 

It does no good to tell the site they need a different forum (they are testing other software) or tweaks, we need to work with what is here and make it work better by being better forum members.

 

And while you are at it, if you are a person that has good communication skills and you find a contribution that needs documentation help, re-write it and send it to the contribution author. They may be extremely grateful. Most write code and are not good at explaining to others how to install.

 

Some of the people on this board appear to be excellent writers, so come on out of the woodwork and re-write some reame's or make an FAQ for your favorite contrib that it took days for you to install :)

 

Back to the subject though, stickies can be VERY helpful to point people in the proper direction.


[no external urls in signatures please, kthanks]

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loxly,

google toolbar

Wish I could - but I tossed MSIE a few years ago - now using opera. :D

 

If you can write a post to explain something that might help a newbie solve a problem similar to yours, do so and post it.

 

I have and will continue to do so. I am 100% behind helping where I can - even if it is in a limited capacity because of a lack of knowledge on my part.

 

Tips and Tricks is a good forum to post things like that, but most people won;t look there for answers, they come to the General, Features and Contribs forums.

 

Guilty. My intuition says that it would be such a mixed bag of T&Ts without adequate documentation as to what versions they could (and could not) be used on. But - to be fair - I haven't visited that forum ever. Now I will.

 

It does no good to tell the site they need a different forum (they are testing other software) or tweaks, we need to work with what is here and make it work better by being better forum members.

 

Understood and agree. Take my post from the point of view of someone who is trying to work with what we have; acknowledges your points re: repeated posts and encouraging members to help themselves more; but realizes the limitations and is looking for a better way to accomplish the goals.

 

As for helping to rewrite documentation - I'd love to - but I don't feel qualified just yet. I'm still quite wet behind the ears with osC. 8)


Apathy is a dominant gene - mutate.

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Part of what I mean when I talk about stickies at the top of every forum, would be to offer people resources to make it easier to do things like search. What I envision would be something like this for Contributions:

 

Post subject: Posting in this forum

 

Before posting in this (or any other) forum please read the forum guidelines.

 

Also, please read the Wiki documentation. It has many helpful tips and may hold the answer to your question.

 

Please search the forums before posting. If someone who posts on the forums has already dealt with your issue (be it problem or desire), there is a good chance that they posted a solution. Some tips for more successful searching.

 

Some special tips for searching this forum include using the contributor's username in the search and displaying results by post rather than by thread (as the threads are frequently long). If you can't find anything by searching by contributor's username, then you should expand the search by removing it. In some cases though, this can help you get to the answer quicker (contributors tend to post answers; if they post on your issue, there is a good chance that it is an answer).

 

In this forum (Contributions), it is best if all posts on a contribution are made to a single thread. Then when you are having a problem, you can read over that thread for solutions.

 

Btw, now that you've read this, if you are having a problem with a contribution that you are installing (or just installed), now would be a good time to read over the install instructions again and double check that you did all the steps correctly. Sometimes it just takes fresh eyes to see the section that was left out or the variable that was misspelled.

 

If all else fails, post! Remember though, if people answer, they are doing you a favor. As such answers are neither your right nor birthmark. So be polite. Be informative. How to Ask Questions to Get Answers. Also remember that the person who contributed the software has already done you a favor. They have provided you with code. If they are willing to favor you again with an answer, that's great but not required.

 

If posting fails, then try to solve the problem yourself. Make changes and see what happens. Then post about it. Maybe what you have done now will make someone realize that they know the answer or at least a step towards it that will help you.

 

Frustrated? Desperate? Just want someone else to fix the problem for you? That's the purpose of the Seeking Commercial Help forum. It's only code, so someone should be able to fix it. Then they can contribute the fix back to the community. This is part of how you can contribute to open source and keep it free if you are not a coder.

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As for helping to rewrite documentation - I'd love to - but I don't feel qualified just yet. I'm still quite wet behind the ears with osC.
This is the best time to start working on documentation. Right now is when you have the best appreciation for how instructions can be misinterpreted. Others (or a future more knowledgeable you) can always correct errors and fill in gaps in knowledge, but that awareness of where the current documentation is going wrong or simply lacking can't be rebuilt later.

 

This can also be a good way to find out things you want to know. If you can post 80% of what is needed for something and pose good questions about the remaining 20%, you are likely to get good answers. :)

 

Cheers,

Matt

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I use the search engine at SiteLevel.com for my Rare and Pediatric Cancer websites. I think it is excellent. Takes time away from my having to answer questions, and makes the users happy too. Great indexing routines, schedules, inclusions, exclusions, etc.. Good website engine. Take Care, Sharon

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The search on this site is mid-grade. Less than adequate for detailed searches. I often get No Topics Found when I know I can't possibly be the first one with that question.

 

Exactly... I did a search earlier for "recommended products", and turned up...

 

"No topics or posts met your search criteria."

 

When I know I've seen that phrase in posts before :)

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We shall soon be moving over to new forum software - this was announced by HPDL here:

 

http://forums.oscommerce.com/viewtopic.php?t=49633

 

Please read this, and give Harald some feedback on his thread - give the new software a fly here:

 

http://www.oscommerce.com/ib/

 

The search function of Invision Power Board is far superior to the one we find here, so this will greatly improve the situation for everybody.

 

Please keep posting with your thoughts and ideas regarding stickies etc. 8)

 

Please post regarding the new forum software back on Harald's thread


Matti Ressler

 

We were all once expert at...... nothing

_____

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Right now is when you have the best appreciation for how instructions can be misinterpreted. Others (or a future more knowledgeable you) can always correct errors and fill in gaps in knowledge, but that awareness of where the current documentation is going wrong or simply lacking can't be rebuilt later.

 

LOL - a "put your money where your mouth is" challenge?!

 

I know I can come back and write instructions to be more clear but I can't write about something I don't understand well enough. It's just how I think/work.

 

Tell you what. Let's start with something relatively small. I'm working with a contribution that was intended for MS1 (I think). I've installed it in MS2 and am just about 'there' with it. A few glitches have popped up and been overcome. But now I have one final glitch.

 

If I can overcome the last hurdle, I'd be happy to compile a list of the updates and corrections into something I can send to the creator once I smooth the one (hopefully) final error I'm getting. ;) I'll steer clear of the technical explanations simply because right now I have to follow recipes until I get a better handle on the code.

 

How's that for a start - fair?


Apathy is a dominant gene - mutate.

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Thanks Johnson,

I missed that thread. The new forum looks nice - and the search actually seems to work better. Bravo!

 

Now back to problem solving...


Apathy is a dominant gene - mutate.

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As much as I hate the search function with phpBB, it has actually helped me quite considerably.

 

I never find what it is I am searching for on the first two or three pages of returned results, but in reading through all the threads that are returned prior to the one I actually wanted, I have learned of and implemented many new contribs/tips to my site. I know it's frustrating not getting the answer you want immediately, but searching through threads will teach you even more. The ones who aren't willing to spend the time to search are also the ones who want everything handed to them on a silver platter.

 

When I am done with my MS2 site, it will be extremely modded. It will contain over 50+ changes, contributions, & tips/tricks. This may not be much compared to some people, but compared to my first site, it will be much more robust.

 

Don't expect perfection with your sites overnight. If you do...then you will be extremely disappointed tomorrow! Be patient and have fun!

 

PEACE!!! :)


Lee

 

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work" -- Aristotle

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Another thing that would be neat, would be to give each contribution it's own forum/thread in the contribution. You can see part of what I mean by looking at the manuals at www.php.net and www.mysql.com. Even neater would be something like slashcode (e.g. www.slashdot.com), where you have one long discussion divided into threads.

 

Just a thought,

Matt

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Another thing that would be neat, would be to give each contribution it's own forum/thread in the contribution. You can see part of what I mean by looking at the manuals at www.php.net and www.mysql.com. Even neater would be something like slashcode (e.g. www.slashdot.com), where you have one long discussion divided into threads.

 

Just a thought,

Matt

 

I think it would be nice if threads in the Contributions channel could only be initiated by contributors, thus keeping a check on threads by those unwilling to look - and a team of you wonderful people out there gleaning useful info perhaps into a Contributions FAQ section in Wiki

 

A way to divide the threads would be nice - I don't know how difficult any of this is - we are soon going over to Invision Power Board :D


Matti Ressler

 

We were all once expert at...... nothing

_____

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Another thing that would be neat, would be to give each contribution it's own forum/thread in the contribution. You can see part of what I mean by looking at the manuals at www.php.net and www.mysql.com. Even neater would be something like slashcode (e.g. www.slashdot.com), where you have one long discussion divided into threads.

 

Just a thought,

Matt

 

This is a request that I have also made, and whether it is phpBB or Invisions board, the major contribs need there own sections or the problems we see here WILL continue.

 

How to decide which ones? That is pretty easy, the ones with multiple threads of 20+pages and the ones with the most unanswered posts.


[no external urls in signatures please, kthanks]

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i aggree with this post and all the search pbe , but there is can be something usefull :

 

1. put the "official" link in each contribution page to the forum thread where to discuss it

 

2. write in the contrib page the version that have been tested or are compatible with

 

3.very usefull tools like in the osc shop :

 

* being able to send a link to some member or email adress

* being notified when a contrib has an update

 

4.for the contributor not to be annoyed , dont give in the contribution page his email but rather the forum link

 

5.they are other board where member can be warned , and even ban when it s certain they didnt even do the search work

 

6.for the search fonction :

* by default set it to search from all dates

* being able to use " " like in google when we want several word in a certain order ...

 

I know it s hard to check all the board functions before using it , so maybe people that have tested several php board could tell which one seems to be the most valuable

 

I hope moderator or harald himself could answer my post !!! :idea:


MS2

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