A long story of self recrimination is about to unfold!
(Sorry Peter [Psc] this is a very very long post & it carries a government health warning so you will need to take a very heavy dose of medication, cuz if you don't you will wind up in the looney bin, hudled in a corner spitting out little blue paper clips,
locked in a straight jacket in a padded room LOL!! Not a pretty sight!
I realise that now may not be a good time to pitch some ideas in light of the busy re-structuring improvements that are taking place to Boot-Lands web-site but I have been conducting some "Internal & some External" research in respect of the "starters section". Please realise that content of this post is from a discussion/suggestion perspective & are merely observations, which you the reader, are entitled to agree/disagree or amend, so please "Cherry pick" & yes please provide feedback to discuss further if you feel so inclined! Maybe it would be best to leave this on the back burner for now until the dust settles on the implimintation of Boot-Lands new upgrade etc.
3 steps forward 2 steps back "RECAP REVIEW"
(Internal considerations [to Boot-land] following the recent vote in respect of a "Starters" Section, A look back review")
I have taken the liberty of pulling out what I consider are those bits of information which raised concerns about the proposed Starters Section & are as follows:
-This is a good idea but I have some questions, who is to say what question should go where?
-Which question is 'only' for newbies and which is for everyone?
-and won't the questions posted in the 'newbie only' section suffer the lack of input by more advanced members who may be the only ones with the answers needed?
-How would this work, the more advanced members wouldn't bother to check in on these newbies, letting them prattle on incessantly about newbish nonsense?
-It seems to me it could make more sense to have a 'hands-free' web page devoted to answering all the basic questions, with walk-throughs to get 'em started and easy links to download everything they need.
-Bottom line, even if all stays the same; 'newbies' should not be afraid to ask honest questions but should be willing to try their best, through trial and error and Google search), to see if they can figure it out on their own first
-Nuno has created (along with our help) a very helpful, tolerant message board.
"n00bs" in our circle are already pretty darn competent.
-We're all n00bs in some respect so we respect our fellow n00bs. I say continue as we are.
1. Read available documentation.
2. Google for web-sites related to product.
3. Read/Post on forums related to product.
4. Experiment by using product.
5. Rinse and repeat.
-My only real concerns were/are, further 'fragmentation' of the site; it already takes me too long to go through all the sections
-Why should a newbie put his question in a forum where propably the users do not have much more experience than himself?
-Would be nice if also a (bit more experienced) newbie tells this facts to the brand new newbie.
-I agree with Peter. Having a 'newbie' section may be somewhat discriminatory.
-I like the forums here, people are friendly, so I don't see the need for a 'newbie' section.
-My vote is yes and no, yes to a section where we have an a-z walk-through on winbuilder and projects, but no to a "newbie" section.
-But unhappy that so many people vote for a 'two class community' with 'Capitalists' and 'Proletarians'.
-Read the Wiki
-Read the FAQ
-Look how the relevant forums are organised what is discussed there
-Follow a few Howto's and make first trials
-However, I do NOT think that it should be called "N00bie Land" or something, the word n00bie is a little harsh.
-I truly believe that a separate section could isolate or even hamper the students (probably not so good a term) development into a full fledged member of this great community!
Phew! I think that is the lot, if I have missed any, my appologies but from reading these concerns I think the general point is apparent & they are very valid points. (See I do listen/read on occasion LOL!).
So armed with these reservations in mind I have taken it one step further & conducted some External research on the WWW. to see what other forums & web-sites think about separate "Starters Sections" & these are the snipits of what I found! ("A very long mixed bag sorry but good points non-the-less")
Looks Guys I have "Searched" & look what I have found, Google is my friend!:
-"He who asks a question may appear to be a fool, he who does not ask will remain a fool forever"
-The real problem is the arrogant / smug behaviour of experienced Drupal-savvy users with their 'SEARCH FIRST' standard response vs idiot beginners like myself.
-A few minutes ago I again had a question, I searched on drupal.org and opened 12 different tabbed windows. None of them contained the answer to the question I had. As always deadlines are looming and I need the answers NOW!
-But I'll be damned if I am going to post a question on the forums and get a <your question have been asked before - search first> reply. My present comfort zone would be amongst a forum for absolute fools, idiots and zombies right now.
-Vocabulary - Sometimes you just don't know the right words to search.
-The purpose for a "forum, support, etc." is for helping those in "need", not the opportunity for someone to brag. Hey, we know you know..... that's why we are asking. So, if you can help, please HELP. And yes, I agree with the person that said "don't give us answers like "asked already, now go search for it". Search for what? If our question is not "relevant" (according to the hierarchy structure of the search tool), then it is buried in the "500" postings. And with that, I'm beyond frustration and my questions are still unanswered.
-"If we segregate 'newbies' then we risk people never realizing when they should move to the other forums."
-Perhaps you underestimate newbies. As we find more difficult questions, we will go to better resources;
As a newbie, I don't find Drupal intuitive. I do, however, find Drupalers (we just had a DC Meetup) "exceptionally helpful, which gives me hope."
(I think this one is very relevant & applies to Boot-land in my humble opinion, amen to that)
-The bigger problem is not contributions, it is information architecture.
(& this above to me is a very valid point to me?)
-I wouldn't even know where to classify myself sometimes.
-I'm a person who does a lot of their thinking by asking a lot of questions and poking at as many angles of a subject as I can get at. This tends to come across as negative when all I'm doing is exploring the subject from these areas. It comes from world-building a lot, I suppose?
-I'm thinking of this less from a standpoint of 'segregation' and all the connotations of 'elitism' and 'am I good enough' and more from the angle of, "How would I go about properly putting my piece into the correct area/under the correct title?"
-I still think that shifting people into different groups "Advanced" or "Beginner" isn't going to be very useful. See-also: peoples' basic strengths and weaknesses. Someone may be extremely strong in one area, and only a beginner in another.
-I think it's a good idea, but I think a lot of people are going to get hung up on the terminology "Advanced" or "Beginner" makes a kind of disparity that people don't like.
-Jakkal, I think that's a good idea, and might be a good place to start. If topics were separated by some other criteria than 'beginner'/'advanced,' it would still allow people to look through a set of topics to find the ones they need, rather than having to sift through all of them, which is one of the things I thought would help people a lot.
-I don't think an advanced/beginner forum is really such a good idea. First of all, I think that if you have an advanced forum, people will spend most of their time there because there's no point to a beginner forum.
-The terms beginner & Advanced are relative subjective terms that can mean different things to different people. There are those who see themselves as advanced yet in reality, overestimate themselves (an extroverted confident individual with a low I.Q.) & those who are Advanced but who lack confidence shy and reserved. It can be a matter of self perception & overall subjective definition.
-What do you do with posts that are in the wrong section, who grades the level of competance, what criteria is used to define whether a post is a beginners question & that of an advanced question, there is a risk or danger of confusion & duplicating moderation work. Offence may be caused if a person posts a question in the advanced section only to find it demoted to the beginners area.
-How is the beginner/intermediate/advanced question determined, is it the moderator or the the person posting that decides which category the question should be in. There is no clear demarcation. The diversification of questions that could be asked is extreme!
-Prosumers are people who see themselves as professional but are actually unaware what the professional level actually means.They're frustrating for a number of reasons. Firstly, because they often spurn the advice of professionals because they don't fully understand it and see them as being overly complex.
-These forums tend to be populated by users at varying levels of usage. Amateurs tend to be looking for training and answers to questions that require a certain level of expertise in order to research oneself. These users drive professionals mad. Because they often are asking to be able to do incredibly complex or difficult things without actually studying and training enough to even understand what they're asking. Add to that, they often belittle the fact that it does take a lot of training and dedication. They often have a certain level of entitlement to these more difficult techniques but don't feel the answer that it requires time and experience is fair, and it breeds anger.
-Do we need to pass an exam or test to go from a newbie to advanced status?
-why are some of us labeled "newbies" and the rest "group members"
can anyone explain this caste system please?
-What's the solution? The forum moderators need to try to categorize their forums. Create subforums. Create beginners forums. Create topic forums. This keeps everyone from getting in everyone else's way. This is the way XSIBase is organized actually. And its a good approach. You'll find most of the professional level users who are concerned with scale-able solutions in the "scripting" and "programming" forums.
-No offense, but why the hell would you want to divide the newbs and advanced people? First off, let me say, many newbies come in here to get tips from the advanced people. I come in here all the time, reading what the pro's have to say and asking questions to them. If you divide us up, who will the newbs turn to? The point of having a forum is to talk about things and get a response, whether from a 1st day newb, or a 4 year pro. Seriously, you divide the newbs from the pro's, and the LW wont be considered as a community, that we have long strived to be. Anyway, thats just my opinion.
-Dude, I saw the same discussion rise and die many times on the Adobe Premiere/ AfterFX forums. True, some of the basic questions that could be answered by just RTM do tend to annoy and waste bandwidth, but the really dumb questions tend to not get answered.
-I'm still learning LW. Got about 40 hours into it now and am starting to feel like I can actually do some things with it. But I still read this forum every day just to pick up new ideas. I like having the pros around, and if they were split off into another forum I'd still go there to read the stuff they are talking about.
-How did the following components contribute to your learning LW?
1. reading the manual: 30%
2. reading the forums: 30%
3. reading online tutorials: 20%
4. posting questions to forums: 9%
5. calling tech support: 1%
6. attending classes/workshops: 0%
7. pure brute-force trial and error: 10%
Phew! that was very long, but the overall consensus of opinion appears to be against segregation particularly in respect of the "Questions & Answers section" or as we call it "Learn & Teach". I have to concede & appologise to those members who through experience can see the apparent pitfalls, (not only within the boundaries of Boot-Land but also outside in the "big bad world").So with this in mind here is a further amended proposal?
We keep the tutorials section, walk throughs, faq's etc etc but discard the "Learn & Teach" section & retain this area within the general forums & point new starters to the tutorials area. Taking the internal & external into consideration, competancy is a immotive, relative, subjective issue, or entitiy very difficult to quantify & upon reflection will cause confusion, we human being's are complex creatures, Sorry Guys & Gals I got it wrong! (twas blind but now I see!)
A further possible suggestion could be to provide a system whereby the "user" or the moderator etc could tag the posting with say a red flag = "Intermediate to advanced" question & a green flag for "beginner" or alternatively use a traffic light system when posting that would have say Red light for "Advanced", Yellow light for "Intermediate" or again green for "Beginner" click on the appropriate corresponding radio button to determine levels as a rough guide at the time of posting. In this way it is not separation but a visual indicator of the perceived question asked. Also it might prove useful in statistics as a very rough guide as to the frequency & level of questions that is being asked on a yearly statistical basis, trends will be identifiable. This is my vain attempt in trying to save face LOL!
Another suggestion, what about a red triangle within exclamation mark as a Logo button for to flag up inapropriate postings within the header bar maybe, self regulation and policing, a PM would draw a mod attention to potential offending postings, help the members to help the mods.
Conduct of behaviour policing:
If the "Beginners" are combined with the "Intermediate & advanced users what about a condensed set of rules (Bullet points e.g. see below) afixed to the header of the posting to remind the newcomer of his/her obligations, with a link phrase to the full set of rules. or if the traffic light or flag system is adopted a baloon tip pop-up would appear with the condensed set of rules contained therein with a close button to acknowledge sight of. maybe just for the "Beginners" Gween flag/Traffic lighters LOL!
A "Kudos" points system suggestion!
"Encourage a bit of healthy competition"
In my travels within the deep nether regions of the net in particular in respect of forums I noticed that some web-sites have established a system of Kudos points system, e.g. you get say 500 points for registering as a member then further additional increments of points for various positive activities like providing helpful advice to a starter shall we say. A new starter can then award a certain number of points in appreciation. these points would in fact have NO real value except by way of reward be "patted on the back" to encourage, reward & recognition of positive contributions! Darn it, I just lost 100 points for the length of this post!!! Again mild discipline would result in a reduction of points. Over the years an average could be recorded for sustained consistent Kudos reward structure! Just further food for thought, to me it would not influence me a great deal, but is worth consideration!
Why am I saying this then, well there has been conducted a recent survey that suggests that 20% of forum users like the idea of points because of there competative nature & this method provides the stimulus through encouraging Kudos & the benefits good forum behaviour. So with minority groups in mind (the 20%) & equal oppertunities as a consideration what about this an an idea?
The next consideration or proposal is about:
-The bigger problem is not contributions, it is "information architecture".
I maybe talking out of turn here as GK Portal maybe predominenetly forum orientated, you will have to educate me on this one, if this next proposal is unachievable?
If hyperthetically we were to remove the "Learn & Teach" section, please just humour me for a "Mo". The "Getting Started" on the main section could be contracted to a smaller size with a single "link phrase" or "Icon button".
You would click on the Link/Icon button (Tutorials) which would open a secondary menu page as shown below as purely an example, so please don't laugh at the amateur layout as I am not a web designer (see fig 1.) This type of configuration would permit a modular representaion format that the user would be able select from a menu of options in not only WinBuilder orientated Tutorials & help info but could include all the Grub4dos, Linux, & miscellaeneous resources (not forums) under one Umbrella, so to speak. The page would be scrollable so as BootLand expands so could the Tutorials expand with it (Flexibility & adaptability being the primary consideration & defined classification of information) With careful thought & implimentation and a systematic order of cross referencing, this would afford easier site navigation & ergonomic improvements. I am NOT proposing that this idea is implemented NOW but from a single link/Icon all the tutorials teaching aids would be neatly classified. Sometime in the future or when a future upgrade is scheduled maybe IF deemed applicable.
Other categories could be:
- How to make full system backups
- English grub4dos Tutorials
- Linux tutorials
This would make it easier for the experienced members to point the "Starters" or newcomers to the growing wealth of information that is slowly & systematiclly being formulated within BootLand.
These proposals would ultimately give Boot-Land the benefits of an existing front end forum led web-site with a underpinning, seemingly "one Click" support base of a repository of supplementary resources & tutorials (To aid the Advanced user to point to in respect of the beginners queries) that can grow at the same frequency & pace in line with Boot-Lands ongoing future development.
This research started out as ideas & concepts but has, "I'm afraid" grown into an encyclopedia. One thing though there is always the option of the delete button to this post if considered inapropriate!
Mucho Regards & Best Wishes,