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Shawn_Melton avatar image
Shawn_Melton asked

Why not finish the question

Was just curious about something... Is there anything wrong with creating a privilege to mark an answer for a question if the OP has not returned to do so? Which I don't know if this matters to many but I just think having so many unaswered questions out there should be cleaned up in some manner. It leaves a perception in my eyes that nothing is being answered to the OP desires, without going through reading all the post. It may be that it was a one-timer that needed an answer that just never returned back to the site or just folks don't know that they are suppsoed to (yes I know the email notifications tell you this, but that does not mean everyone reads the emails). If you have a few folks that are familar with the material the OP is talking about, they should be able to mark a post as the answer. Or maybe after a certain date of the question having no activity, once one of the post to the question get enough up votes have it automatically mark that post as the answer, or a "suggested" answer maybe. I'm taking this from the way MSDN forums are handled. The "moderators" will usually go back after a few weeks of the OP being inactive and mark the answer they think is the most accurate to what the OP was looking for. If the OP never returns to the question and only one response was provided they will usually just mark whatever was posted as the question, which I disagree with for the most part cause it may not have actually been a response, but another question to get more information from the OP. In those instances you could just mark the answer is "abandoned" or "orphaned" maybe. There are only 6 users showing above 15k karma on the site as of 06/26/2011. The easiest thing would be to give a badge the permission to mark post on question as answered once you get to a karma number. Although that would not mean the person would be familar with that subject matter to know if the answer is appropriate or not, a best guess could be given by the up votes a post received. Just saying...
meta-askssc
3 comments
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I just caught this in reading the FAQ, when I ask a question and actually mark an answer it will give me (the OP) karma points along with the answerer.
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@meltondba - do you think advertising that 'reward' or increasing it would make people more likely to do the necessary?
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I would think answering questions should be worth more than asking them. Since the answerers do alot of the work. I guess it would depend on how much a difference in points it is. Adding a statement to the fact in the email might not hurt though.
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KenAWatson avatar image
KenAWatson answered
Good question. I noticed that right off when I joined, that there seemed to be a lot of unclosed questions. I have been a member for 3 days now, and it took me a little fiddling with the site to figure out what I was supposed to do. Perhaps, for new users, it would be a good idea to send, in their welcome email upon account creation, some basic instructions on 'how to' about using and getting the most out of this site. It was not immediately clear to me at first and the interface is not like any other I have had occasion to use. Perhaps a KB type section for more advanced topics like how to get/change your gravatar, etc. Not entirely intuitive. But, now that I have learned this myself, I quite like the interface. Nice site.
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Regarding the "how to", the FAQ section of the site goes over a good bit of stuff. I've been pointed there a few times on the way things on this site are handled.
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sp_lock avatar image
sp_lock answered
@KenAWatson and @meltondba excellent points very well made. In response to the welcome mail about forum ethics, when an answer is added it does advice the person to comment or mark the answer (or something on those lines). All the system can do is ask, right? I sometimes think the same, but we all have to think of the bigger picture. We ask and give help, not for the karma or the badges but for the all-round experience it offers. Hopefully and person asking their first question, will one day contribute on a regular basis. I do support the possible Mod's marking the answer, but how do we know if it resolved their specific issues... again "it depends" (had to get that in). On the other hand, it does help people passing through know if that should resolve the problem they are possibly experiencing. P.S. Keep up the good word ALL!!!
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I wouldn't close them--I am currently working on an answer to a question that that is several months old :) haven't had the time to give it the thought it deserves. May be too late for the OP but others may find it useful
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I agree with @scothauder, closing them may not help the peeps passing thru the site to find answers... Another option is to have enough mod so that there can be a "quorum" vote, especially if the its not in the area of expertise if the one mod.
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Yeah, marking it answered when it may not be a good answer would be the issue. That was where I mentioned maybe just marking the question as closed after so much inactivity or something. Overall I don't guess it really matters. Alot of questions are more to getting advice or suggestions.
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+1 for "it depends".
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Tim avatar image
Tim answered
Great question. I am not sure who all the moderators are on this site but there are some that can mark responses as the answer. I like the idea of marking responses that are just so obviously the answer as such, but there are those few that you just don't know. How does one strike a balance? I can support the idea of it being Karma based too. I do think the welcome letter could contain more details on how to work the site. That might possibly encourage more to contribute. I like @meltondba had to be referred to the FAQ section many times as I "caught on" to how things are done. Heck I am still learning. Maybe a current moderator can comment on what it takes to be a moderator and give their opinion on checking the boxes on obvious correct answers after a period of time goes by. It could be a simple matter of time. Everyone who contributes and works on this site is volunteer from what I have gathered.
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Håkan Winther avatar image
Håkan Winther answered
I think the site should send a reminder to mark an answer after a couple of weeks. And when you log on to the site again, you would get a notification that you have unmarked questions.
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+1 agree : I'd love more 'automatic' user prompting - it was one of the good features of the SE model
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Top suggestion... Spam them daily/weekly if older that a few days and and answers has been given.
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Kev Riley avatar image
Kev Riley answered
Moderation 'powers' are given simply as you gain more karma - having said that though I'm not sure whether accepting an answer on someone-else's question is one of those powers. @TRAD would be a good candidate to try this. The admins of the site (those with double diamonds next to their name - like me), do have the power to accept answers, and I remember Grant and Matt purposefully going through a LOT of older questions and trying to accept the best answer - it just took time/effort. It is a difficult one to call - someone may be leaving a question unanswered as they simply haven't got the answer that suits them and their situation, whereas a lot of others (I suspect) have got the answer they want and have simply moved on. I don't like the idea of closing questions - to me closing is for other reasons, not simply that it is 'old'. Maybe we should work harder to educate the users to accept an answer - something you will often see when an OP has added a comment that says 'thanks that worked', we tend to add another comment to prompt them to accept. It's possible, and certainly still an issue as you have demonstrated, that the information a new user needs to successfully use the site is not the best, or not in the right place at the right time.
3 comments
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according to FAQ there is no mention of a certain karma level allowing you to mark a question answered, just editing a current answer (2000+ karma points). I was wondering what the double diamonds meant, figured it was some admin priv.
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@meltondba, the double diamond means they are SPECIAL... ;-)
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If you need another MOD I am in. I wouldn't mind helping out.
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Fatherjack avatar image
Fatherjack answered
It appears I am first moderator on scene!!* Quite a few points raised, I'll try to pick them off one by one.... Yes, it would be good if all questions were answered. In a perfect world I'd get paid to read every question, and every answer, and come back around and mark an answer right. I dont, I get paid to do a full time job and this is something that happens in the gaps/free time. I think its the same with the other moderators but they can add something here if they wish. **Some** questions are subjective - its the personal decision of the OP if a question has been answered. **Some** questions are not yet answered (see mine about querying [Exchange data from SQL][1] for one). **Some** questions are clearly answered and a moderator could come along and tick the right answer. **ALL** questions and **ALL** answers would have to be read in order to categorised them above. This is a tricky situation to resolve, I like the idea of a reminder email that a question has answered but none have been selected as the right one, with a link to the question. I think the main responsibility has to lay with the OP rather than another forum user. On a side note - While we are talking about emails - do you feel the forum sends too many/few emails? - If there is anything you'd like altered, in the FAQ** or elsewhere then let us know and we can make changes to content where it is appropriate. Some time ago, when the site was born, there were only moderators from RedGate staff, it became apparent that they had other work/projects to deal with and were not able to frequent the site often enough and a few of us got approached to see if we would be OK to step up and be more active moderators. Grant, Kev, Matt and myself are what you got. Once again personally, I think we have a pretty good mix on here and are currently managing OK but there is, as far as I know, no limit or ratio of users to mods that we are following so anyone can, I guess, get picked or put themselves up for selection. Permissions to do things on the site are 'karma' based, I am not sure if there is a limit to reach however to mark answers as right, other than if you are at mod level... If you think that it would be useful to do then we could propose it to RedGate and see what their opinion is. (* - I started writing my answer before Kev but obviously type more slowly) (** - I would be happy to work with people on adding, reviewing content on FAQ's or new pages to help people understand more easily how to get the most out of this site.) [1]: http://ask.sqlservercentral.com/questions/2318/tsql-to-query-exchange-server-data*
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The number of emails is not that heavy to me. I like the content of them as well on the notifications. Seeing the answer or comment someone posted through the email is convenient when I'm not at my computer.
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Regarding marking a question answered, is is possible to add the ability for the OP to mark more than answer as the accepted answer? I had one question I asked a while back that my final "resolution" came from more than one answer.
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yes, there is a setting that allows for more than one answer to be marked right. There is then a setting that sets how many right answers a single person can provide. As a starting point, would 3 right answers and then 1 per person be a suitable change, in your opinion?
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That sounds good to me. Most times once one person answers the question, the remainder either expand from that first one or go a completely different route. I would like to give props to folks that give me a quick response that is the answer. Then also to those that expand on it in more detail as well so that I get an answer but also an explanation.
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Grant Fritchey avatar image
Grant Fritchey answered
There was a period of time about a year ago that I went back to old questions and marked any that I could find that really had answers but that the OP had failed to mark. It was a very long & tedious process that I finally gave up on. But I agree, it ought to be done, we just need a lot more people to make that happen.
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thank you for the time you do spend moderating the site... I can imagine it takes up a good bit of time going through questions. I start reading a few and then find I'd spent 2 hours on the site already.
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I don't do very much as an editor, but thank you.
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Matt Whitfield avatar image
Matt Whitfield answered
Same as Grant - I must have gone through and marked about 400 answers as correct. But I found myself just going through and ticking the highest voted question rather than determining if the answer really was 'correct'. Plus it was incredibly time consuming!
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It would probably save time if you focused on ticking my answers :)
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And to add to what you and Grant did, ticking the right answers is only part of the story. There's also lots of question title editing, question body formatting, tag management, etc - all of which are important for improving the content so that not only is user experience improved, but the site's natural ranking on search engines is enhanced.
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