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"Does anyone bother to search anymore?"
Old 10-06-2007, 01:28 PM   #1
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"Does anyone bother to search anymore?"

[Curmudgeon]
These dang new posters keep spouting off or asking questions on subjects that we've discussed a million times, only we did it better and in less space and without any of that new-fangled Internet Google XML stuff... why I can remember when the only "fashion accessories" anyone wore to work were belt-holsters for our slide rules and pocket protectors for our grease pencils... HEY YOU DARN KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!!!
[/Curmudgeon]

If this repetitive-discovery behavior could be changed then it would've happened long before now with the "Search" feature or the "Best of..." threads, but here's another windmill-tilting suggestion. Maybe this option will gain traction.

We keep re-inventing the wheel on certain popular subjects. Instead of admonishing the newbies to use the broke flawed quirky user-hostile search feature or to peruse a bunch of threads that they never thought would apply to their question, perhaps we could create a FAQ forum filled with links to threads on that subject.

Each thread in the forum would be closed/locked, modified only by moderators or other volunteers, be devoted to one question/subject, and consist only of one post of links to subjects such as "Should I pay off the mortgage or invest the money?", "Should I convert my conventional IRA to a Roth?", "What should I read?", "I wanna be a landlord!!" and so on. As new threads provide new perspective or updated information or legislation changes, that thread's link could be added to the appropriate FAQ post. Old links could be dropped when deemed necessary.

Users would have to nominate (or PM or e-mail) thread links to the person in charge of the FAQ forum. If this board's software can handle it, the person running the FAQ forum wouldn't have to be a moderator at all-- just a volunteer whose powers are limited to threads in that forum.

Gimme the permissions and I'll make it happen.
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Old 10-06-2007, 01:37 PM   #2
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I love the idea. I can help searching for threads to go in the FAQ. I am especially interested in this because several times lately I struggled to find threads discussing a particular issue.
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:21 PM   #3
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Suggestion- I brought this up before, was thinking of acting on it on that last 'payoff mortgage' thread, but I am lazy. Here is the ides, it is simple and I think it will be better all around:

A) Start a thread on the FAQ Subject.

B) Post the 'considerations' for that topic (this might be less confrontational than pros/cons?).

C) In turn discuss, add, edit the list of 'considerations'.

Here's the important difference:

D) When the list input seems to be winding down, and some degree of consensus is reached, publish ONLY THE LIST as the FAQ, not all the discussion (but provide a link to the discussion if someone wants to delve into the background). Lock it until new info comes along.

I think this is better because those 'Best of' threads ARE good, but man, you have to be retired to have enough time to slog through them. I think the FAQ list format would be much more readable for newbies, and the discussion is there for the COD types.
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:51 PM   #4
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I guess I'm a dissenting voice here.

I feel like NO one thread is the "be all and end all" of discussion on any topic. If someone wants to start a thread on a much discussed topic, and if anybody is interested enough to discuss more on it, maybe some new light will be shed on the topic.

Those who aren't interested in a previously discussed topic always have the choice of not clicking on a new thread on that topic. That's what I do on a lot of the topics I am not interested in. I am sure all of you do that too.

I think it is great that we have a "best of" section. Then, we can refer people to threads in that section and they are easy to find. That shouldn't be done to squelch further discussion (in my opinion) but to educate and perhaps even elevate the discussion in the new thread.
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:57 PM   #5
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I agree with Want2retire.

What you're proposing sounds a lot like w*rk.

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Old 10-06-2007, 04:00 PM   #6
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I'm not sure I've seen consensus on a lot of these threads anyway.
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Old 10-06-2007, 04:20 PM   #7
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I don't think anyone is proposing that there be no new threads on much-discussed topics.

What I see proposed is a quick way to point a poster to prior discussions on a topic so that they can read and gain information. It also provides a quick way to get a question answered, much faster than waiting for someone to show up and reply to a question that may have been asked a dozen times (think health insurance).

If the poster doesn't find an answer, doesn't understand something, disagrees or whatever, a new thread is always an option.
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Old 10-06-2007, 04:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Suggestion- I brought this up before, was thinking of acting on it on that last 'payoff mortgage' thread, but I am lazy. Here is the ides, it is simple and I think it will be better all around:
Links and pros/cons summaries-- good idea. People won't have to read as much, although it may deprive an occasional poster of the benefit of our wit...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
I feel like NO one thread is the "be all and end all" of discussion on any topic. If someone wants to start a thread on a much discussed topic, and if anybody is interested enough to discuss more on it, maybe some new light will be shed on the topic.
That shouldn't be done to squelch further discussion (in my opinion) but to educate and perhaps even elevate the discussion in the new thread.
We'll have to see how you feel about that in another 12-18 months.

I'm not trying to stifle discussion. I am proposing to keep the earlier discussion/research in corporate memory and to make it more easily indexed & accessible. Too many threads make the same errors & omissions or we end up fumbling around saying "Didn't we already figure out these numbers?" Too many times the search feature (or the whole board) crashes, I get frustrated, I turn to some other activity, and I never get back to the original question. Hopefully this would let more people figure out the answers to their own questions without requiring a master's in library science.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post
I agree with Want2retire.
What you're proposing sounds a lot like w*rk.
You mean, as opposed to being a moderator? And, hey, I volunteered me-- not you.

I've done my own share of fumbling around the board looking for things I thought I remembered discussing or reading, so this will just help me index my own memories as well as yours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
I'm not sure I've seen consensus on a lot of these threads anyway.
I think the best a FAQ post could hope to capture is a summary of the issues, maybe a top-10 list of pros & cons, and a bunch of links. And if a reader doesn't like something posted in a FAQ they're welcome to ask the FAQ guy to add their own post/link...
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Old 10-06-2007, 04:57 PM   #9
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Even if we end up with just a collection of links, it would be helpful. In fact, that is best because why argue about the pros and cons.
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Old 10-06-2007, 05:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Even if we end up with just a collection of links, it would be helpful. In fact, that is best because why argue about the pros and cons.
Agreed. That's what I hoped the original "best of" area would be. Instead of closing and moving the threads, just put an annotated list of links in that area.
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Old 10-06-2007, 08:00 PM   #11
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Some valid concerns posted above.

I do think it is important to not stifle discussion. This would be more of a jumping off point, to avoid rehashing ad nauseam.

So when someone posts a FAQ question, someone could just respond something like: Hey, welcome -great question. A lot of it has been discussed and summarized on the FAQ titled < insert link to really boring repetitive questions that we asked when we got here FAQ>.

Check it out, and if you have specific questions, get confused, or just want to chat about it, head back here and we will pick it up.

Or something like that. If done right, I actually think it would facilitate discussion, not stifle it. The person will get a faster, detailed response, and an offer of more abuse personalized attention thereafter.

Best of both worlds (in theory)

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Old 10-06-2007, 08:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
You mean, as opposed to being a moderator? And, hey, I volunteered me-- not you.
Oh, I noticed. I was just tweaking you a little bit, not raising an objection.

Thank you --sincerely -- for your fine service as moderator.

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Old 10-07-2007, 08:04 AM   #13
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I'm guessing that this would require too much programming to make it worthwhile, but I've seen several "tech support" type of sites that scan your post for keywords, search the database of previous posts (or the FAQs), and ask you to check that your question hasn't been answered already prior to publishing your post.

It might not be too much work if this were limited to a list of FAQs that were pre-tagged with certain keywords ("SWR", "health insurance", "what do you do all day?" ), and if those keywords showed up in the first post of a new thread, to suggest a perusal of the appropriate FAQ before hitting the "Post" button.
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Old 10-07-2007, 01:23 PM   #14
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I like Nord's idea, and he volunteered to do the work. I think we should give it a try.

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Old 10-07-2007, 10:02 PM   #15
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Thanks Nords. I agree some kind of indexed FAQ of prior topics would be an excellent addition to the board. I can't think of anyone better for the job than you. Glad you brought it up and volunteered to do the dirty work. I hope Andy and the others will agree to this and find a way to make it happen.

I try to steer all the new folks I greet with a suggestion to use the Search function but like you said, it is not perfect and can be frustrating ot use. The FAQ and links would help the Moderators by giving folks a gentle nudge into the archives instead of beating a dead horse in the forums.
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Old 10-08-2007, 06:57 AM   #16
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What the heck - give it a shot. Nothing ventured as it were.

Otherwise you sometimes get guys like me answering theads: do what I say not what I do;

Rent is usually better then either a mortgage or paying off the mortgage - paid up fish camp pre Katrina and 30yr mortgage post Katrina.

Put off SS rather than take it early - took early SS age 62 post Katrina after getting 'emotional' about my 84.6 longevity estimate.

And I cracked recently and frivolously bought a new big box of dryer sheets/ not on sale even! At least they were generic - not name brand.

heh heh heh - a little hurricane, 13yrs of ER and some grey hair, Mr Market does the old portfolio good - there goes cheap bastard/ here comes spending like a drunken sailor. Yep - need some wiser heads to post a FAQ or two.
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Old 10-08-2007, 07:14 AM   #17
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Should we get the FAQ started then? I don't think we need to put much of the work on Nords at all. Let's just pick a topic to start (mort payoff as good as any AFAIAC). We could just start building the list of concerns and links, adding and editing, and when it's reasonably complete, Nords can just move the final post to the 'Best of' or a FAQ list and lock it.

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Old 10-08-2007, 10:30 AM   #18
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I searched on the word, "search" to get back to this thread; it came up as the fifth thread.

The BogleHeads forum is concise and mainly informational but, man, it is duller than watching paint dry. I almost never go there. Here people get more excited, have more fun, etc. Can you have it both ways?
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Old 10-08-2007, 11:05 AM   #19
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Quote:
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duller than watching paint dry

versus

more excited, have more fun, etc. Can you have it both ways?
Sure, why not? I sure am not suggesting we don't have some (or lots of) 'fun' or 'off-the-wall' threads. But it can be frustrating when some good discussion on a complex subject gets derailed by obtuse interjections.

Time and place for each, I say.

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Old 10-08-2007, 11:15 AM   #20
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This may be related to the subject at hand. I find the topics very vague and usually use the mouse-over function to get some idea what the thread is about. Then when I see the topic and choose not to follow it, sometimes I see it still going and return to see what could keep it going so long only to find that it has morphed into a really interesting topic and you all have missed my sage perspective for several iterations. ;-)

On some boards, the moderators rename the topics to maintain relevance and split off the "morphs" into their own threads. This enhances the quality of the threads and makes searching more productive.

I like the idea of the FAQ summarizing the key issues. That can bring clarity to subsequent discussions.
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