Computing.net Gurus

October 4, 2010 at 06:53:28
Specs: Windows 7
Guru – one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area and who uses it to guide others. As I’m sure you know, there are quite a few computer gurus here on Computing.net. These are awesome individuals who have given of their free time to help resolve the hardware and software issues of their fellow users and visitors to the site. We’d like to provide a system for recognizing these folks and the assistance they provide with problem solving. With that in mind we’d like to introduce a new featured user group. But before we do, Justin and I would like to put it up to you guys for direct community input on the concept.

Here’s the proposal so far –

• Gurus are special users that have submitted at least one published How-To and achieved Silver Member status.
• Gurus will be picked by Moderators and Administrators based on their expertise.
• Guru's will be have a special identifier on their name when they post. We haven't determined exactly what this will be yet, but it will be simple and elegant.
• Gurus will be requested to post just one new How-To every month that can be as simple or in-depth as they desire in their given area of specialty.

Simple enough! We welcome your feedback, and want to hear from you on this. What are your thoughts?


See More: Computing.net Gurus

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#1
October 5, 2010 at 07:46:09
Seems like a good plan :-)

One note, though:
The requirement of 1 How-to per month could ideally be calculated as an average of the last 12 months or so, no too fast or strictly implemented. But that could pose a technical challenge, perhaps.

(more and more people take longer trips and holidays etc., and thus are away or unavailable for more than 4 weeks at a time)


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#2
October 5, 2010 at 08:20:54
Calculating an average would work out great. I'd thought about that, the extended leave and whatnot. Doing it via averages works by me.

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#3
October 5, 2010 at 11:14:01
Isn't the gold, silver, bronze rating system enough? How about putting that in writing somewhere near the username rather than, or in addition to, the colored "lollipops"?

For instance:

jpishgar (Section Moderator)
jam (Silver Member)
Leeteq (New Member) or possibly (Rookie) or (Rookie Member)



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Related Solutions

#4
October 5, 2010 at 13:00:59
I get the occasional request via PM to answer questions that belong in the Office forum. They usually start with something like "You seem to know what you are doing. Could you answer this question for me?"

They then go on to ask the question, which at times can be fairly lengthly.

I always inform them that I do not answer questions via PM since not only would they miss out on help that others might offer but also that the Q&A would not be saved in the archives as a help to others.

My concern is that the PM's would increase if the word Guru were to attached to a member's name as posters tried to get directly to the "expert" as opposed to posting in the forum.


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#5
October 5, 2010 at 14:26:52
I'm with DerbyDad on this one. I have had a number of PMs from people asking a question hoping to short circuit the system and get a personal answer. I suspect that the same PM was sent to a number of people on the belief that they would get a number of replies and decide which one was the best.

I think having Guru next to your name would treble these PMs at least.

Stuart


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#6
October 5, 2010 at 15:42:19
I get a couple PMs a week and my canned answer is: start a thread and send me the link.

A guru tag could only increase the incidence of short-cutting the system.


=====================================
Helping others achieve escape felicity

M2


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#7
October 6, 2010 at 04:50:39
I also share that concern about increasing PMs if using Guru stamps.
Perhaps Gold/Silver/Bronze tags would cause less of that? Those terms does not directly indicate skill level, could for a newcomer simply mean that the person has registered long ago, or have posted a lot of questions (activity).

Perhaps the system could also offer an option of enabling an auto-reply with such kind of standard text only when contacted by people who have not been in touch with you before, neither through initial PM (or having received any PM response from your account earlier), nor have been receiving replies from your account in any discussion thread they have been active in. That could perhaps add to the strain on the server ("heavy" db queries?), though. When such a criteria matches and the system sends out an autoreply asking the user to post in the forum and send that link as a PM, there could be a visible indication on that message (even without opening it), indicating to you (the account owner) that such an auto-reply has been sent, thus suggesting that you might not even need to open that message (yet).
Just a thought, perhaps overly complex and resource intensive.


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#8
October 6, 2010 at 05:04:49
Hmm, further on that Guru concern - from a strategy point of view, concerning the various possibilities of how flexible community features could help advance a community and its potential..:

If using labels such as Gold/Silver/Bronze, then additionally, there could be a color indication on the skill level based on user votes and perhaps admin votes. That could work in a way that (most) new users did not immediately understand the meaning of the colors, but after having made some posts and gotten familiar with the community and features, that part would dawn on them. If that would be possible, then a Gold member could mean anything from activity level to skill level, and only be descriptive in combination with that color "code".

That could have 2 dimensions:
Could for example have 3 GoldMember tags with different background colors, 3 for Silver, etc. The Actual level (Bronze, Silver, Gold) could be calculated by the total number of posts divided by the number of months since registration. Then the color code could indicate skill level, and it would then be possible to reach "high skill" color even when being freshman having Bronze status.

Looong shot..:
If implemented intelligently, those color codes could serve as system categories, which could be used for filtering and queries, etc. and be generally useful in several contexts. A bit beyond normal forum features, and more a matter of Content Management features, though.


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#9
October 6, 2010 at 05:15:01
I'm with Derby, Stuart and Mechanix.

Like them I receive all too many PM's and I believe being labelled a "guru" on CN would just make that worse.

To be honest, I don't want any such label either.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***


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#10
October 6, 2010 at 05:24:21
Not to be snarky here but Leeteq, why are you participating in this thread at all? You have no history here. I don't think you are qualified to help shape policy.

jpishgar

What I see happening here is a struggle between quantity and quality. When CN was a more obscure site the quality of the posts was generally better. Now it appears that as more users are able to find their way here the general quality of the questions and answers is declining.

I think I understand the motivation behind all the changes but don't lose site of the site reputation.

I have been participating in various forums for years. The custom has always been that newcomers troll for some time and then jump in when a thread that they are knowledgeable about comes along. That doesn't seem to be what is happening here at CN.

I hope this response is taken in the best possible light.


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#11
October 6, 2010 at 06:26:57
I don't consider myself a guru, I just answer questions that I think I can help. Ocassionally I get a few questions in the PM and a few thanks for answers that helped.

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#12
October 6, 2010 at 06:35:26
You mentioned that the requests via pm are only occasional. If a user who was writing How-To's became a guru with a special tag or title, the incidence of private messages would likely increase... but this is assuming the casual user ignores all of the "Ask your question" boxes on the way to sending that private message. The purpose of the initiative is to better highlight responses from people with expert-level knowledge and to promote the authoring of How-To's. Do you think a small increase to the incidence of private messages from casual users would offset this benefit to the community?

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#13
October 6, 2010 at 07:27:26
re: "the casual user"

What's a "casual user"? I don't know if the PM's I get are from "casual users" or "committed users", new members vs. old. I don't check, I just send them back to the forum.

re: "better highlight responses from people with expert-level knowledge"

As far as the Office Forum is concerned, there are certainly those that know more than others, but the occasional pearls of wisdom for other members should not be relegated to second level status. If the OP doesn't know the difference between the various solutions offered, they will probably choose the Guru's answer even if in some situations it's not the best.

re: "promote the authoring of How-To's"

If that's the goal, then you'd have to ask those that you plan to anoint as Guru's whether they care enough about the title to put it the extra work - however large or small that extra workload will be - in order to retain the title.

On the off-chance that I would be so anointed, I can say upfront that I wouldn't suddenly start writing How-To's just because of - or to retain - the designation.

I remember Jason's request that we start writing Stickies. (BTW How's that working out?) I have lot's of ideas on stickies and How-To's, but just haven't found the time to author them yet. Sure, I've probably wasted a lot of time answering similar questions over and over again, but it's often easier to find the short bursts of time to answer a question than to author a How To or Sticky that will work for the majority of questions related to that subject.

I honestly can't say that if anointed as a Guru I would be able to find the time to fulfill the "requirements" as they relate to a monthly How -To, especially if we want them to be quality work.


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#14
October 6, 2010 at 07:52:27
A casual user is someone who knows of the site and uses it as a resource to answer questions they might have on occasion. A committed user is more like someone who reads the site daily or semi-daily and follows it for trends. Hardcore users are individuals who actively respond to threads like this one and others.

And yes, the original poster of the question would typically lean more towards a response from a guru. As for the extra work involved in authoring How-To's, only those willing to commit to that would receive the title, so it would be self-selection. Granted, a unique title and recognition is small consideration for those who already write How-To's and those who may want to, but it may provide a mild incentive and that added prompt to bring things further.


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#15
October 6, 2010 at 10:32:27
If you think it will help the site, then by all means, proceed with designating the "experts" amongst us as Gurus. We'll see how it goes.

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#16
October 6, 2010 at 10:38:15
Hey all,

I think the main question Joseph and I want to know the answer to is, how many of you guys would be willing to write one or so how to's a month in order to become an Guru. Right now, the How to section of the site is very stagnant. We are trying the best we can to grow that.

Justin


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#17
October 6, 2010 at 12:45:17
think the main question Joseph and I want to know the answer to is, how many of you guys would be willing to write one or so how to's a month in order to become an Guru

Speaking solely for myself. I have absolutely no interest in being labelled a guru.

I was relieved to see the following:

As for the extra work involved in authoring How-To's, only those willing to commit to that would receive the title, so it would be self-selection.

I do not want to be labelled a guru and it's nice to know I can avoid it. My only other alternative would have been to stop coming here and I really don't want to have to go that far.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***


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#18
October 6, 2010 at 16:46:17
Curt,

If you didn't want a label, we wouldn't give it to you, even if you qualified for one by writing how tos! We're just playing with the idea for the users who may want the label.

Justin


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#19
October 6, 2010 at 17:57:01
Actually I thought the assigned moderators were supposed to be the gurus....but after awhile I realized different LOL...no offence meant.

I too get lots of PM's, especially when certain new members 'seem' to give clueless answers (which the poster PM's me with) and the poster would rather be helped by a so-called Gold member...which i do understand their dilemas too.

I think the point that certain members in forums are highlighted in each forum is how the poster decides who to PM.

As far as gurus, I think it would be pretty hard to pick them out....some of the helpers like myself ( self employed) do computer repairs for a living and have some spare time to try to help others with their problems.

As far as the How-Tos go, I myself wouldn't publish all the shortcuts I use as that is what keeps me in business. I try to help people to the extent of their capabilities.

Computing.net being an open tech help forum is great, but from what I can see, I really don't think there are too many members here who could be classed as gurus. All in all, I myself find computing.net the most organized tech site on the net, bar none...I've been to many of them and believe me, none can hold candle to this.

My final thought is that it may be virtually impossible to label certain people as gurus. After all, computing.net is a help site for people with problems and hopefully they can fix their own instead of paying big $'s in a computer shop.

I had a few run-ins with some of the old members that left in a huff when computing.net got bought out by Tom's Guide. Funny thing is, they actually thought they were the gurus and computing.net would not survive without them, SURPRISE! but I guess that was just in the eyes of the beer holder...LOL.
Keep up the good site!

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


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#20
October 6, 2010 at 23:46:17
To guru or not to guru that is the question. About the only thing I even post anymore is here in the lounge. 1 because I for one am no guru and 2 more often then not I won't respond to a users problem unless I am rather sure I have the right solution. Those times are few and far between as I said I am not a guru. The times I have responded either I get a snobby response in return or I get no response. Now I basically just hang out reading a lot and learning a bit. As for the issue of PMs to be honest by the time i pay them attention they may be a month old so I don't respond to them at all.

It would seem that requiring work to be performed is ok if one is being rewarded (paid) but if the guru is willing to do so just to have the word guru next to his or her username I see no problem with it. It does though seem as if you are asking people, that I imagine do this for a living being this well versed in computers, to do for you what they get paid to do for free.


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#21
October 7, 2010 at 07:42:17
Hey,

I agree that the term "Guru" is sort of misleading. How can anyone really claim to know everything there is even about a small sub-section of the computer world? However, in this case, the label is more saying, "this person is a very active helper on Computing.Net."

Its sort of the same way the medals work. Just because someone has a gold medal doesn't mean they know everything about everything. It just means they are highly active on the site. I think any ranking on any website works in that fashion.

Justin


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#22
October 7, 2010 at 08:00:13
I think the problem with the bronze, silver, gold is that many people just post senseless things in posts just to get up to the highest rating. Most are definitely not experienced helpers, that I think is a flaw in the system.
Like people sometimes say...'it looks good on paper.'
But in reality it is not really what it should be.

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


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#23
October 7, 2010 at 08:22:32
Justin wrote ...

It (medals) just means they are highly active on the site

If this is the objective of the so-called Medals, then how come the Highlight: Medal Members windows still lists many names (such as KTTD & Hooner both Gold Medal, & lurkswithin - Bronze Medal) that are no longer with us? I think you need to re-engineer the algorithm that populates the Highlight: medal member window.

i_Xp/Vista/W7User


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#24
October 7, 2010 at 08:48:04
Hey,

Well, those users were highly active at one point. I don't really want to take away points as a user becomes less active. I think, if they've earned the medal, even if they stop coming as frequently, they still have all that experience that they have built.

Justin


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#25
October 7, 2010 at 10:13:35
Well of course the general populace will favor a guru's answer over a non-guru's answer. What other reason would there be to become a guru?

Justin Weber: Right now, the How to section of the site is very stagnant. We are trying the best we can to grow that.
There are . . . other issues in the way of growth, I think. Specifically, the main page. The only link to the How-To section is 90px * 15px, out of a page that, minus ads, ends up at 1023px * 1276.53px. My math sucks, but that works out to, what, 0.1% of the smallest page?

And that section of the site itself is kind of a b---tard offshoot of the main site. There's no way to filter and show How-Tos in specific topics. There's no ranking of How-Tos. There's no feedback/comment section. There's no connection between the CN forums proper and the associated How-To links. I know it's great for Google ranking, but there doesn't seem to be anything in it for the community. I'm not sure an acknowledgment level above Gold would be adequate motivation.

But if we do go about the whole Guru thing, it'll be interesting to see if anyone I consider knowledgeable would consider writing How-Tos. I'm also assuming the quality of these articles will be one of the criteria.

tl;dr: I'm not sold on the idea.

XpUser4Real: they actually thought they were the gurus and computing.net would not survive without them
That's kinda funny. Anyone I'd know?

Everyone: I get too many PMs!
Man, now I feel left out. I'll get one or two a year, tops. :(

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way


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#26
October 7, 2010 at 10:20:23
What exactly is a Guru?

A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others (teacher). As a principle for the development of consciousness it leads the creation from unreality to reality, from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. In its purest form this principle manifests on earth as a divine incarnation (saint), a person with supreme knowledge about God and all creation. Other forms of manifestation of this principle also include parents, school teachers, non-human objects (books) and even one's own intellectual discipline

Source

i_Xp/Vista/W7User


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#27
October 7, 2010 at 10:24:40
Razor2.3, I don't really want to name names, all I can say is that one of them posted a so-called problem seeing what kind of replies they would get. Then they proceeded to slam computing.net for being sold out to a french firm and that all the new helpers pretty much knew nothing and all posted generic answers, etc.

Then as the ppl answered the posts, the other 3 would jump in with their negativity, and when I finally posted a reply, they all jumped me....it was a fiasco...the entire post was then removed and gone.

I have been a fully active member for many years now, so I have seen many changes.

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


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#28
October 7, 2010 at 10:25:25
Razor,

You do bring up some interesting points. Quite frankly, on a lot of them, I don't have very good answers. You can show howtos for specific topics by clicking on the Section name where it says "In ...". I guess its not that clear. The other points are quite valid though. Perhaps I should look into doing some of those things to encourage the growth.

Thanks so much for the ideas,
Justin


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#29
October 11, 2010 at 06:59:13
Razor,

I have implemented a rating system on the How to section. I have been thinking about a comment section, but I'm not so sure if its such a good idea. I don't want those to turn into "micro-forums" where people try to get help with problems. I could envision that happening. I think I might just put a big link to the forum at the bottom of the how to posting.

As for linking the How to section in other places on the site, I am now trying to come up with some ideas for that.

Once again, thanks for the suggestions!

Justin


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#30
October 14, 2010 at 10:27:51
I don't want those to turn into "micro-forums" where people try to get help with problems.
One possibility, I suppose, would be to auto-create a thread in that forum, and add links where appropriate. It'd help the how-to authors get acknowledgment from the rest of the site, sections with more how-tos automatically get more links to the how-to section, and it keeps any discussion in the spot more people will see it.

The flip side, I imagine it could discourage conversation about the how-to, and you'd get a few, "Okay, what's the question?" posts early after deployment. It also wouldn't stop someone from asking in that thread for help on an unrelated problem. There's also the auto thread close mechanic.

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way


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#31
October 14, 2010 at 18:06:30
re: It also wouldn't stop someone from asking in that thread for help on an unrelated problem.

Just an FYI...

In the Office forum, if someone posts an unrelated question in a thread, I copy the text of the post and send it to the OP in a PM, asking him to start a new thread. I then delete the post in the original thread.

They don't get mad because they don't have to retype their question, they can just copy it from the PM into a new thread.

So far it seems to have worked out, because in most cases I see the new thread started shorty thereafter.

Hopefully the next they have a question they'll remember to start a new thread.


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