Forums are great resources. If somebody got a dollar for every time I had a problem and found a solution on a forum, well… if that dollar came from my pocket, I’d be broke, and they’d be filthy rich.
Anyway, there’s one aspect of forums that really bothers me. I’ve seen this oh so many times. You’ve undoubtedly seen it as well, and it goes something like this:
Person 1: How do I …insert question here…?
Person 2: It’s been asked a hundred times. Use the search.
…and that’s it.
Why does this bother me? Because I’ve seen countless forums where if you actually do a search, you get 100 results. 1 of them is a thread where the question was answered. The other 99 all end with “use the search” and give no solution whatsoever.
If you’re Person2, I have news for you… you’re contributing to forum “clutter” a lot more than the people asking the question. I also have a question for you: why did you bother answering at all?
So what should you do if someone asks a question that’s been asked many times before? I have 3 suggestions.
- Answer the question. If you feel obliged to respond to the question, maybe answer it. I mean, you’ve seen it a hundred times, you must know the answer, right? The positive side is that now when somebody does a search and this new thread shows up in the results, the answer is here too. The negative side is that you don’t get to make this person feel dumb/little. Then again, you could give them the answer and say “use the search next time you dummy” and get the best of both worlds.
- Post a link to the thread(s) with the answer. I actually see this quite a bit. If you want to show them how leet using the search is, say “I did a search and came up with these threads”. This is good, because someone who does a search and hits this thread finds a link to the thread(s) with the answer.
- Say nothing at all. If #1 and #2 are too much for you to handle, say nothing. You’re not contributing by saying “use the search”, because the next bozo who actually does search is going to find thread after thread of “use the search”. Guess what he’s gonna do…. start a new thread.
Why do I bring this up? Well it might surprise you, but I’m not typically one to actually post a question and wait for an answer. Anything I want to ask has been asked before 99% of the time, so i do use the search. And I’m sick and tired of having to read through 100 threads with my question before I find the one that has the real answer.
Maybe next time I’ll just post a new thread and ask it again.