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Very, very short blog today.  I’ve been browsing around in the questions lately. Very few of them are closed. So I look at them and see things like this has been answered in the answers by the person who asked the question. Self-defeating. I love the fact that most people take the time to write how it was answered. I have a similar question and I also look at it.

What is the best way to do things?  – accept an answer  It’s in the comments of course! Actually Jürgen L ‘s blog is much more detailed. So I’ve even made this one shorter.

If you close your question or accept an answer – I can quickly skip it. Then with limited time, move on to a different question, and possibly answer it.  Also one of your favorite very technical gurus (not me) may be able to quickly move on. Who knows your question may be at the bottom of the pile.  They quickly skip someone’s question and you may get your perfect answer!

Their is also a discussion in coffee corner around this.

I’m sure Jerry Janda and his team have some more great tips.

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  1. Joachim Rees

    Hey Michelle,

    a short blog, but maybe it triggers a longer discussion 😉

    I personally don’t see a big benefit in ‘closing’ the question – I rather *accept* one of the answers ; (You can do both, if you like, those two actions are not mutually exclusive).

    We recently wrote about that in CoffeCorner, too, but I don’t find it now.

    Not sure if there even is a official guide on which is ‘the right thing to do'(TM) here…

    best
    Joachim

     

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    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      No idea which is better.  But I’m now skipping both.   I didn’t look for the answered. in the corner.  I think I am filtering that out. Which is good. That means I do filter out the accepted answers.

      Close does stop more people from answering. 🙂 I’ve noticed more answered on some questions that their was an “answer” saying solved.

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      1. Joachim Rees

        I’ve noticed more answered on some questions that their was an “answer” saying solved.

        If I had something valuable to add, I’d do that, too! (And I wouldn’t like it if it was closed and I couldn’t give my Input!)

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  2. Jerry Janda

    “Great tips”? Whoa. So much pressure… 🙂

    The Q&A page does offer advice on accepting and closing questions, but I recognize that that hardly addresses the problem.

    As I noted over in the Coffee Corner (See? Big Jerry is watching you), this is the subject of many heated discussions. In addition to debates/discussions within the community, there are behind-the-scenes conversations with moderators and ideas about solving the issue. (See exhibit A and exhibit B.)

    It’s a tough nut to crack…and a nut that drives us all nuts. We are discussing options on our side, which probably doesn’t give people much faith (considering how often I say that), but solving this makes the community a more valuable source of information. (Closed/answered questions are more appealing and helpful to anyone searching for answers.)

    I hate being vague, so I’ll see if there is anything else we can share at this point.

    Best regards,

    –Jerry

     

     

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    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Perfect! Vague is good. We all know you are working on it that way.

      What is interesting is that it is not just this platform. Yes, I think closed/answered makes it harder. However, sometimes people left a question opened for a very long time. I believe our moderators – who have way too much to do – would finally go in and marked assumed answered. Actually I think that do that now at times too.

      It’s just another nice way to keep things going if people would accept an answer. Perhaps then more people would answer questions.

      So even though it is kind of a platform thing – it is a people thing too. If that makes sense.

      Michelle

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    2. Lars Breddemann

      Sorry if I’m dismissive of all the discussions, but I believe the lack of motivation to close questions & to mark best answers is easily and correctly explained by the absence of negative consequences if these are omitted.

      Every registered user can post an unlimited amount of questions. To see whether the poster is playing nice, one has to check the profile and go through the past questions. That’s way too much effort on the side of folks who would like to contribute.

      What’s stopping the platform from making the poster reputation easily visible with the question? Think Uber-rider ratings. If I know that a person has posted 10 questions, got replies to 7 but only ever closed one of them within a week of the last reply, the expectations are pretty low.

      On the other hand, if I know the poster has a good reputation I expect a productive dialogue and closure to the problem. Maybe that’s just me, but I suspect others are problem solvers just like me and the closure of having figured out a problem is rather satisfying to us.

      Anyhow- as said above – that all probably already had been discussed and all we need to do now is to sit back and watch the platform changes being rolled out just now…

       

       

       

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      1. Jerry Janda

        Hi, Lars:

        Limiting the number of open questions has been the subject of much discussion as well. There’s even an idea submitted for it (https://influence.sap.com/sap/ino/#/idea/138563/) and it remains a possibility.

        But…I’m still not sure if limiting the number of open questions would make a big difference because so many people register, ask a single question, get an answer, and move on. As I hinted above, we’re looking into ways to encourage people to come back (if only just to accept an answer/close a question), but if they’re “one and done,” it’s tough to change that.

        –Jerry

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        1. Lars Breddemann

          Hey Jerry,

          limiting the number of questions anyone can ask is not what I wrote about. Such a mechanism could work to throttle single user traffic but I don’t think that is the problem we are talking about. I would not even consider “too-many-open-questions” by a single user the problem to worry about.

          What I tried to make a point about is that there is an imbalance in the communication situation in the Q&A that enables and promotes the unwanted behaviour.

          As the “asker” I can register, fire my question and move on. No questions asked (yeah, pun!). If I get an answer, that’s great. Maybe I post another question because the “big solution dispenser” just worked for me. There always seem to be someone eager to show off their know-how. Great for me – these oaks doing my job for me. For free. And I can press the answer button as often as I like. Life’s great.

          As the “answerer” I am invested into the Q&A thing and the community.
          I may have seen others that have become “famous gurus” and seemingly successful by answering questions and adding to the community.
          Or maybe I consider it part of “community duty” to work on some questions.
          Whatever the driver to answer questions, I usually like to find and provide the correct answer (see the point about closure I made before).
          Unfortunately, I have no easy way of guessing whether or not the effort will be worthwhile because I cannot see how the “asker” behaved in the past.

          Having a clear and easy indication of how well the “asker” behaved in the past could level the playing field here.

          Now, that wouldn’t stop the once-off drive-by askers. There’s simply no way to have both “questions open to everyone” and “only vetted people ask questions”.
          It’s like having a shop. New customers always carry the risk of not paying up or stealing your stock. The reason for still letting those strangers in is that’s the only way to get good customers in.

          Realistically we will have to accept this for the Q&A area.

          But it would not be hard to indicate with the questions whether or not an “asker” had been a “good customer” in the past. Uber does that, eBay does that, other community platforms do that – we could have that here, too.

          There’s plenty of ways to do such a thing. Anything from star-ratings, over up/down-vote ratios to personalised block/filter/strikes lists could be considered here.
          Any of those ways could help to set equalize the imbalance between “askers” and “answerers”.

           

          — Lars

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          1. Moshe Naveh

            Hi Lars Breddemann and Michelle Crapo ,

            Thanks a lot for raising this important topic for discussion/brainstorming ideas to improve the situation. As being responsible for moderation and Q&A I heard many complaints about having a lot  of unanswered/unattended questions and also that when they do get answered the original poster doesn’t bother on following-up/marking an answer as correct. There are many reasons to this and for sure just one feature or another will not solve the issue. This became extremely visible to Mynyna Chau , Iris Ostrin  and myself during the unanswered questions project and other initiatives we’re conducting with the aid of tens of contributors trying to reduce the amount of unanswered questions (we were able to improve the situation but it’s obviously not enough). It is a vicious cycle as it decreases the motivation of contributors to help when they don’t get feedback from the original poster and then the users are also frustrated because they get less attention/support to their questions.

            G Lakshmipathi approached me (thank you!) last year about adding back the limit of 10 open questions per user. I agree that adding this feature would help but it needs to be a part of a larger plan. And like all other features we are after, they need to be prioritized against all the other important things that are required.

            We don’t wait for all the features we desire to be in place and we already (actually since the launch of the new community) try to educate users via the notifications and training material however like Jerry Janda indicated most of these users are random which means they will just create a new account once they reach the 10 open questions limit and won’t bother going through training or making an extra click. We’ve realized that the only sustainable solution would be an automated one so it impacts all users. What you are suggesting sounds very similar to behind the scenes discussions aiming to use user’s reputation/missions/notifications to motivate users to mark questions as accepted and/or reply back to someone who is asking them to provide more information. We’ve also asked for the support of our UX team and I hope this will be addressed later-on this year.

            Anyhow, I will get back to you all with what our research yielded/plan to address this. This topic is extremely important as it’s the bread and butter of this community.

             

            Thank you,

            Moshe

             

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