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Improving the quality of questions

Browsing the Unanswered Questions I'm struck by the large number, asked by people with a rep of 1, that don't stand the faintest chance of getting an answer because they're so poor, like "Why doesn't my Thing work?"

I feel like replying "Sorry mate, but not the faintest clue what's up with your Thing. Anyway, what make and model of Thing is it, and for that matter, what is it that it doesn't do? And while you're at it, let's have a bit of the history."

Such questions, unanswered, risk leaving the questioner thinking iFixit is a waste of time, and they waste the time of any of us patient enough to request clarification in comments, which quite commonly seems to go unheeded anyway.

The Ask a Question page does say "Be specific and include what you've already tried" and gives a link to "Better questions get more answers", which it would seem plenty of people don't bother to read.

It seems to me that just a little more guidance on the Ask a Question page would pay dividends. I would suggest the following minimum guidelines:

  • Be sure to include the make and model of your device.
  • Be specific about what the problem is. Tell us what still works (if anything), what doesn't work or how it misbehaves, how the problem came about and anything you've already tried to fix it.
  • Photos always help, especially of misbehaving screens or suspect components.
  • If you are less than fluent in English or a widely spoken European language, do your best but also include your question in your own language. There may be someone who can understand it and answer or translate it, or who can make sense of it using Google Translate.

Such guidance must strike a balance between covering all the desirable points whilst remaining concise enough not to be skipped over by those who need to read it.

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I call those "Fix my thing" questions where the titles are quite literally as vague as that.

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@pccheese so how can iFixit resolve this issue? Suggestions?

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@oldturkey03 I have asked questions similar to this before. There were no clear answers. My best idea would to be a robot that could detect when an answer is incomplete and provide a generic suggestion.

Perhaps there could be some way to demonstrate a properly asked question. An image of a detailed and complete question next the text field. It couldn't be a link or button you press- it'd have to be there for at least the first few questions, then after you've asked several questions it would go away or automatically be switched off. Nevertheless it would be a switch that would automatically be on when a new user goes to ask a question.

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A similar issue:

The reposting of repeated questions. The OPs, never search to see if their issue have been. "How to recover deleted photos". I've linked single thread a few times in the same week.

Maybe changing the flow of posting a question should encourage a user more strongly to look through existing answered questions first.

And the most annoying offender is where a lot of people post random phone questions on a post specifically on one where it just is for LCD replacement. For example "How to replace LCD for LG K20". Comments pop up like "I need sim for this phone". or "how do I root it", or "software update not working". This completely hijacks the original intent of the question, and OP often never gets a satisfying answer due to the pollution in the thread.

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@evan @avanteguarde how bout adding a button next to "post answer" or "answer this question" add a button that says "ask your own question"?

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@pleriche I think that would be a great idea. For greater effectiveness, these instructions/guidance should be multilingual. I am sure that the Admins can tell where most of the traffic originates from and could make the language determination based on that.

This has been an issue for as long as I have been participating. It has caused us regulars a lot of frustration and moderation. We are always trying to illicit more information by using the comments, the same as you have. Amazingly enough, most posters do either not answer the requests for clarification or just do not come back at all. This will then leave an orphaned question that eventually gets closed as unanswerable.

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what can we do about them leaving and not coming back though?

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@captainsnowball absolutely nothing ;-) The best is to continue to be nice and kind and answer questions we know the answer to.

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Philip Le Riche will be eternally grateful.
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