Common Forum Courtesy

February 18, 2010 at 19:23:29
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, 2.596 GHz / 2038 MB
I have a question for those of you who answer questions in these forums.

How do you handle OP's that never really ask a question, but merely state what they want or need?

Here's a snippet from a current question in the Office forum. It seems like we get at least one post like this every day.

I have two validation lists with possible values in Excel. 

I need to write a formula to flag a selection...

I want the formula to perform the following:...

There's no "Can anybody help?" or "Thanks in advance" or "I'm looking for some help" or anything that resembles common courtesy towards those that they expect help from.

Nothing but a list of "wants" and "needs" like we're supposed to drop what we're doing and fulfill their every wish.

Do you answer these questions, ignore them or respond with something like "Are you asking for our help or just telling us what you need?"

Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.


See More: Common Forum Courtesy

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#1
February 18, 2010 at 21:28:53
it can be a lot of things other than arrogance or discourtesy, but sometimes that's just what it is. Sometimes it can be a language struggle (people minimizing words because they don't know them in english), cultural differences. Sometimes it can be that posters don't want to appear "pleading".
I'm not excusing all lack of etiquette, but i don't think too much about it until i get feedback (if i do) on an attempted solution: YOUR SCRIPT DIDN'T WORK NBRANE.
ok, thanks for (not) letting me know what the screen or files showed! Or posters who "evaporate" with no feedback whatsoever. These bother me more than the initial request, because at this point, i have invested at least a few minutes in trying to help, even if my script sucks. "Tell me oh OP: WHY/HOW did it suck?" I almost always put some echos into my code, and i will prob'ly do more of that now that this as come up. On the other hand, i try to always thank the OP (via p.mail) for constructive feedback whether pos or neg, because that's helping me to learn.

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#2
February 19, 2010 at 07:32:01
re: Sometimes it can be a language struggle

I get that, and I can be tolerant in those situations.

It's the posts where it's obvious that the OP is fluent in the English language that get to me. They'll provide a detailed explanation of the issue, examples of data in and desired output, etc. - basically everything you would want in a post to be able to help, yet there's no real request for help or anything on a "personal" level...just a list of wants and needs.

It's these types of posts that bother me.


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#3
February 19, 2010 at 08:18:51
there's no real request for help

I don't think most posters come here for the social interaction. :-)

I think it can be taken as a given that if they post, their looking for help.
I agree that a bit of courtesy goes a long way, but when your desperate and have been beating your head trying to find an answer, courtesy is sometimes forgotten.

MIKE

http://www.skeptic.com/


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Related Solutions

#4
February 19, 2010 at 11:10:40
re: "when your desperate and have been beating your head trying to find an answer, courtesy is sometimes forgotten."

Forgetting to be courteous when frustrated is not a good excuse.

When you're desperate and have been beating your head trying to find an answer, that is the time to be the most courteous because that is the time you need the most help.

If someone calls me or comes charging into my office spouting that they need this or that without so much as an "Excuse me" or "Hey, I could use some help" they're more likely to get a "When I get a chance" answer than any immediate help.

It should be no different in electronic communications than face to face.

I have no problem dropping what I'm doing to help someone with an urgent issue, but I would want to know - upfront - that my efforts are going to be appreciated. If you need me to put forth effort of your behalf, then put forth the little bit of effort it takes to be courteous.


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#5
February 20, 2010 at 14:37:50
I agree wholeheartedly DerbyDad... manners in all things have gone out of the window not just in these pages. In some instances help is expected as a matter of course and when it is not forthcoming some OPs resort to some very terse retorts.

Thanks are very seldom offered and when someone does offer help and asks a further qualifying question of the OP the thread stops right there and no information is forthcoming.

Some correspondents like TubesandWires give highly detailed answers and then when he requires just a bit more information the OP disappears never to be heard from again.

Home Page http://ewen.uuuq.com/


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#6
February 21, 2010 at 07:38:33
Have to agree with DerbyDad03 & Ewen. We appear to be entering the age of "the spoiled brat"...

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#7
February 22, 2010 at 13:24:57
That question has been raised before. I just move to another post. Water takes the path of least resistance, people don't. Flow like a river.

How do you know when a politician is lying? His mouth is moving.


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#8
February 22, 2010 at 14:15:09
OP: I have two validation lists with possible values in Excel.
Razor2.3: Okay. Let us know if you need help.
It's surprisingly effective.

Depending on how much of it is just a copy/paste from his homework assignment, I might also give my standard, "We won't do your homework for you," post.


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#9
February 22, 2010 at 17:35:43
re: "We won't do your homework for you,"

See this thread and make sure you click the link I offered in Response #2.


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#10
February 23, 2010 at 09:49:02
Case in point, I suppose.

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#11
February 23, 2010 at 13:30:03
You are a bit rougher than I.

I tend to at least hint that they should be asking for help.

"Is there a question in there someplace?"

"We'd be more willing to help if you actually asked (nicely) for help."

"Do you have a question or did you just feel like telling us what you need?"

In 99.99% of the cases, they get the hint, apologize profusely, and we move on with helping them.

I just wish we never had to waste the bandwidth to get them to that point.


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#12
February 23, 2010 at 14:02:22
Really, it's just a matter of reminding them they're in a social situation, not talking to the Magic Answer Box. How you choose to do so is entirely up to personal preference.

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#13
February 23, 2010 at 15:38:42
Oh. Hey Magic 8ball is my computer going to crash again?

(shake shake shake)

Likely


I want to go like my grandfather did. Peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming at the top of my lungs like the passengers in his car.

(\__/)
(='.'=)
(")_(")


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#14
February 23, 2010 at 16:02:43

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#15
February 23, 2010 at 17:06:07
Lmao that's cool.

Now I know where to send those that ask questions about Linux.

Likely


I want to go like my grandfather did. Peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming at the top of my lungs like the passengers in his car.

(\__/)
(='.'=)
(")_(")


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#16
February 26, 2010 at 11:39:20
"but when your desperate and have been beating your head trying to find an answer" My desperate what?

Sorry. I couldn't resist. LOL

LIR


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#17
February 27, 2010 at 14:39:24
I just humor them and say that my crystal ball is not working right. Especially when they don't put in any specs or whatever and then post something like.

"My pc quit working, why?"

Some HELP in posting on Computing.net plus free progs and instructions Cheers


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#18
February 27, 2010 at 16:35:42
"My pc quit working, why?"

Because it's broke.


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#19
February 28, 2010 at 00:43:34
Invalid syntax supplied by the user. Wash on delicate then tumble dry.

Likely


I want to go like my grandfather did. Peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming at the top of my lungs like the passengers in his car.

(\__/)
(='.'=)
(")_(")


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#20
February 28, 2010 at 01:39:25
Does this qualify

Likely


I want to go like my grandfather did. Peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming at the top of my lungs like the passengers in his car.

(\__/)
(='.'=)
(")_(")


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#21
February 28, 2010 at 03:22:46
likely...

I get:

File Not Found
The file was not found on the server. Please try again.


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#22
March 2, 2010 at 16:45:45
Jennifer #16

I guess that was left to you're immagination LOL.

some other bloke...


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#23
March 3, 2010 at 01:48:50
Hmmm I guess maybe the post was removed?

Likely


I want to go like my grandfather did. Peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming at the top of my lungs like the passengers in his car.

(\__/)
(='.'=)
(")_(")


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#24
March 3, 2010 at 07:50:33
I can't see anything that is missing but logically one wouldn't would one? LOL.

some other bloke...


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#25
March 5, 2010 at 12:24:22
I thought that was his response to them.

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#26
March 6, 2010 at 14:33:55
Here's a nice example:
http://www.computing.net/answers/wi...

They tend to cause me to make silly responses LOL.

some other bloke...


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#27
March 7, 2010 at 12:52:21
Then there is this sort of thing:
http://www.computing.net/answers/wi...

some other bloke...


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#28
March 8, 2010 at 05:50:18
Hey, at least the voting system is being used in that thread. ;-)

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#29
March 9, 2010 at 17:39:43
... and yet another here:
http://www.computing.net/answers/ha...

I find it infuriating. Helpers on this forum should not expect to be insulted. When we run into this sort of thing I reckon we should support our buddies and tell these posters exactly what we think of them, then demand an apology - hence my #6.

some other bloke...


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#30
March 31, 2010 at 08:07:18
And why is this such a common response?

I apologize as I am new to this site

I just got one of these today after I suggested that the OP actually ask for help as opposed to just telling us what he wants.

How does being "new to the site" make any difference? Is it OK to demand help at other sites without a please or a thank you? Are we (am I?) the only one that expects some common courtesy?

Rhetorical questions all...


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#31
March 31, 2010 at 08:45:10
I apologize as I am new to didn't spend time lurking to learn the customs of this site

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#32
March 31, 2010 at 09:34:37
More likely had a rotten upbringing.


What's the time?


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#33
March 31, 2010 at 09:52:56
More like

I apologize as I am a spoiled little weenie on this site and all others too.

Skip


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#34
March 31, 2010 at 11:20:37
I hate to be the voice of reason here, but I didn't find the guy that offensive. He just assumed we believe every thread started was implicitly a question. We do not; it is not.

I see a started thread as an opportunity to ask a question.


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#35
March 31, 2010 at 11:48:45
hmmm, as razor mentioned, I don't think that Q was out of line. It may have been better for the poster to say, Can someone please help me with this....but all in all, it was a good way to state his problem.

Some HELP in posting on Computing.net plus free progs and instructions Cheers


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#36
March 31, 2010 at 12:27:20
... had to post after viewing this thread received this #Response Number 5 today

http://www.computing.net/answers/dr...

... was in two minds whether to "Report offensive" (..."the" option to remove) ;but the job's been done (not referring to removal), maybe(?)

... there goes my gold !


.

... Posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties
http://img36.imageshack.us/img36/62...
Grrrr... ...im


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#37
April 5, 2010 at 06:18:35
Here you go...

Anyone want to tackle this "question" from the Office forum.

This is the entire post...

Subject Line: datareport coding

record does not update in datareport when i update it into form


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#38
April 7, 2010 at 10:27:05
Can I play, too?

EDIT: He's quickly becoming a repeat offender, too. (Also: My canned response.)


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