Solved New Feature: Best Answers Expanded

Custom / CUSTOM
August 9, 2013 at 10:18:31
Specs: Windows 7, 2.507 GHz / 4095 MB
Hey there friends!

Wanted to let you guys know that we've expanded the Best Answers feature here on Computing.net!

Now, users who have established themselves as members of Computing.net with at least 200 points accrued will be able to set Best Answers in threads that have gone more than 5 days without receiving a Best Answer. Naturally, users still won't be able to select their own responses as Best Answers, but anyone who has been on Computing.net enough to acquire the prerequisite amount of points will be able to set Best Answers in threads where a response is deserving of one.

We expect with this new development, a lot of credit due to folks who have helped out other users diligently without much recognition or points to show for it in the past will be seeing their hard work pay off as others mark their responses appropriately.

Note, too, that Justin and I, as well as the Moderation Team, will be on the look out for any potential abuse of this system, and there are already methods of detection in place. Users caught trying to cheat the system will see their points reset, or be banned outright. As an additional quality-control factor, Moderators will be patrolling threads for Best Answers set incorrectly and making adjustments as needed.

This new expansion only applies to threads that have gone 5 days or more without seeing a Best Answer set, and we still encourage original posters themselves to set the Best Answer that most efficiently solves their problem first.

We hope you'll take advantage of the new expansion, and if you have any questions, feel free to fire away.

Yours,
-JP


See More: New Feature: Best Answers Expanded

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✔ Best Answer
August 9, 2013 at 16:16:51
Psssst. Ok Derek, here's what we'll do. In threads I haven't participated in but you have, I'll mark you as 'best answer' and you do the same for me in threads I've responded in but you haven't. Of course we'll have to do it on the qt so Justin and JP don't figure it out. Shhhhh.


#1
August 9, 2013 at 10:31:58
I think this is a very bad idea. You have ruined Tom's Hardware with this sort of innovation and now you want to do the same with these forums.

Just my personal opinion, but I can see these forums going the same way as the Tom's Hardware ones.


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#2
August 9, 2013 at 11:14:30
I can see these forums going the same way as the Tom's Hardware ones.

Oh, goodness. I hope so!

Tom's has seen unparalleled growth in the community over the past few years. The userbase has exploded. Best Answers are set with greater frequency, and abuse of the Best Answers system is infinitesimal. The helpfulness of threads, as measured by the number of Best Answers set and the retention of members has never been higher. The amount of discussion activity, badges, satisfaction and overall usefulness of the forum has increased by literally every metric we have.

This is not to say that if something works there, it will work here, but we spoke with the moderation team about this and got their input, and made sure to adjust it accordingly before proceeding. We're confident it's going to help by increasing the number of valuable threads for users looking for answers, and at the same time will give credit due where credit is due.

I don't know if you've noticed, but in half of the Member Spotlights we've done, one of the biggest pet peeves expressed, apart from users being too vague about their problems, is users not returning to say "This was fixed with your help. Thank you!". Expanding Best Answers is certainly a step in the right direction on that front. This also helps by replacing the voting mechanism that was removed, since voting was very ambiguous and you didn't necessarily know why a post would be upvoted (popularity, answer content, just a well-known user?).

If you are still skeptical (I was *very* skeptical when it came to Tom's), give it a short while and watch it in action. I'm confident that you'll find it working and the environment and credit given to users will improve.

-JP


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#3
August 9, 2013 at 12:22:10
Just seen one before looking at this post and wondered why it flagged me up.
Goodness knows where it was - so I missed the boat this time.
EDIT:
Have now managed to unearth it because I happened to recall the name of another helper on that post.

Bells and Whistles aside, we could do with a much better search on this website.
Even when you remember things about a post it can be impossible to find it again.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek


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Related Solutions

#4
August 9, 2013 at 12:40:16
Derek,

I'm not sure what you mean by flagged you up? That is a post I tested the feature on, but I undid the best answer I set. However, you are right that it would have made the post appear as unread, since the setting of the Best Answer resets the read tracker.

As for the search, its always so hard. Everyone is used to Google's quality of results :)

Justin


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#5
August 9, 2013 at 12:57:50
Justin

For some reason lately I get posts alerting me on "My Computing.Net" and find it hard to find the reason - nothing seems to have changed. In some cases I've not even been a contributor. Maybe double posts getting amalgamated is one possible reason. If "Best Answer" is awarded that also alerts me, so I kinda made the assumption that the new "Select Best Answer" was doing this too.

Whatever, that is what I meant but it's no big deal - could just be some passing glitch.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#6
August 9, 2013 at 14:36:06
Derek,

Yeah, let me know if you see any other weird behavior, we may be able to track it down.

Justin


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#7
August 9, 2013 at 16:16:51
✔ Best Answer
Psssst. Ok Derek, here's what we'll do. In threads I haven't participated in but you have, I'll mark you as 'best answer' and you do the same for me in threads I've responded in but you haven't. Of course we'll have to do it on the qt so Justin and JP don't figure it out. Shhhhh.

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#8
August 9, 2013 at 16:17:37
Oops. Did I say that out loud?

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#9
August 9, 2013 at 16:26:55
Haha DAVEINCAPS,

We thought of that. We have monitoring setup specifically to watch how the functionality is being used :)

Justin


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#10
August 9, 2013 at 16:30:47
Oh drat DAVEINCAPS. Justin has fixed it so there just aint any fun around here LOL.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#11
August 9, 2013 at 16:46:00
Yeah, that appears to be so. Oh, by the way, how do you like my new signature?

Don't forget to 'best answer' me!!


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#12
August 9, 2013 at 17:22:17
Great, can we all do that?

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#13
August 9, 2013 at 18:12:03
There are hundreds of unsolved posts where an answerer deserved a best vote, my guess is lots of people just give up.

:: mike

edited by linusmike


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#14
August 9, 2013 at 18:36:28
This expansion should hopefully be improving that by quite a bit, mikelinus. :)

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#15
August 9, 2013 at 19:11:01
Derek, if everyone did that it would remove the advantage it would give me. We can't have that! Seriously, I wonder if doing so would help prompt posters to give a 'best answer'.

Don't forget to 'best answer' me!!


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#16
August 9, 2013 at 20:21:51
I changed it back. It seemed kind of tacky--like trolling for compliments.

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#17
August 10, 2013 at 05:47:46
nah, I just think it raised awareness..

::mike


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#18
August 11, 2013 at 12:50:28
We get points? I didn't know that. LOL

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#19
August 11, 2013 at 13:41:02
Just a thought.. Maybe should include who marked it best answer? That will help differentiate if the op marked it best or another user.

www.standby-it.com


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#20
August 11, 2013 at 14:07:48
The OP can't mark it best answer. (Well, not under their own name they can't.)

Edit: Oops, brain fade. Of course the OP can mark it. It's the poster of the solution that can't mark it as best. But I agree that (if you have to have such a facility) it would be helpful to know who marked it as best solution.

I'm not a great fan of all these points sytems in forums like this. The badges sysytem in Tom's Hardware forums is quite ridiculous now - hence my disquiet that there is a desire to take these forums in the same direction.

message edited by ijack


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#21
August 11, 2013 at 17:31:16
I definitely can see your point. It can be misleading as well.

www.standby-it.com


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#22
August 11, 2013 at 18:18:45
jpag3074,

We actually discussed this during the initial phase... I think it might be confusing to users to give information like that. The best answer is intended to help more novice users realize that there is good information in the posting. After all, expert users will be able to tell what is and isn't a good answer just by reading it. By qualifying it somehow, I think we diminish it. With the tracking system that mods/admins have, we should be able to keep an eye on it to make sure the quality stays good.

Thanks,
Justin


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#23
August 15, 2013 at 12:52:21
Justin

Can a moderator change the selected best answer during the initial 5 day period. If so, I don't see how. An example is the best answer in this thread. I don't see a way to change it. The reason I ask is because I recently came upon a thread where there was a best answer marked that was completely wrong and I didn't see any way for me to change it.


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#24
August 15, 2013 at 19:22:27
OtheHill,

Yes, check your Private Messages.

Justin


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#25
August 15, 2013 at 23:52:13
I'd say that in a thread such as this the best answer was very much a matter of opinion. So why would one person's opinion be less valid than, say, one of the moderators?

I sincerely believe that the best answer in this thread is one pointing out the potential for abuse in the system. By all means change it and prove my point.


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#26
August 16, 2013 at 05:31:27
ijack

I understand your concerns, but you must admit that in at least some cases there is clearly a best answer. In an ideal world every thread would have a solution but in my experience many threads will never get a best answer. At least not from me.

Many times the original poster does not post a clear and complete question and never comes back to reply to questions. Without the OP input it can be a guessing game as to what the problem really is, let alone the best answer.

I suggest we give this some time and see if your fears are justified.


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#27
August 16, 2013 at 05:35:28
ijack,

I agree with you, of course, on discussion-type threads a best answer doesn't make any sense. However, 95%+ of threads on Computing.Net are questions. In these types of threads, having a best answer does make sense.

We actually even thought about having a separate identifier and type for discussion threads vs question threads. What we decided was that there were so few discussion threads on the site, it would just be confusing.

Justin


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#28
August 16, 2013 at 07:46:27
I've no problem with best answers as such. But I don't think a system where a single poster, not the OP, can be the sole arbiter of what is the best answer. I would be in favour of a system where the same answer had to be selected by a number of different people - say 3 - before it registered as "best answer". That would avoid individual bias and/or manipulation.

If it is to be just a single user selecting best answer then we should be able to know who made that selection.

Edit: Actually, I think the previous system of upvoting/downvoting answers was more informative than a single "best answer".

message edited by ijack


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#29
August 16, 2013 at 11:40:14
ijack,

In theory, your concerns make sense. However, in practice, they aren't panning out. We have a log of BA activity for non-OP marked BAs, there has been no abuse or bad content marked yet. Anything that you may have seen lately (aside from this one marked by you) that you don't agree with was either marked by the OP or a moderator.

When the voting system was in place, it was almost never used. The only threads that had any significant number of votes were ones receiving a lot of search traffic. In those cases, the votes made no sense. Even nonsense replies had tons of upvotes. The bigger concern was the fact that about 99% of questions and replies had 0 votes. This made the feature pretty useless.

Justin

message edited by Justin Weber


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#30
August 16, 2013 at 11:45:25
Posters used to click votes up and down out of curiosity (to see what happened), also there was a general tendency to "play" with this feature. It was one of those ideas that looked reasonable in theory but really didn't work out or achieve anything in practice.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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