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C++ Topic Area Policy on Post Answer as (Comment or Answer)

Posted on 2001-06-08
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Last Modified: 2012-03-15
On one of the previous question, several of the top 15 experts had a discussion on the Policy for posting Answers as Comments or Answers.

Most of the top ten topic areas have a policy in which experts post answers as comments.

I want to try to get a consensus on this.  One in which we can agree upon as to what should be the Policy for this topic area.

Although this mainly concerns the behavior of the experts, I would still like to hear from questioners as well.
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Question by:Axter
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by:Axter
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http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/cmtyQuestAnswer.jsp

In the above EE link, it states the following:

Advice for Experts on Providing Solutions Through Comments or Answers
Experts may post solutions to your question in the form of a comment or answer, so be sure to check every email notification as soon as it arrives. Often, an Expert posts the solution to your problem as a comment because it is early in the collaboration process and other issues may be involved. In addition, it is common etiquette in some topics areas to always post comments and not answers. There are several reasons behind this thinking:

Questions do not become prematurely locked and the collaboration process is not inhibited when the question is indexed as open for proposed solutions.
The question-asker has the power to select the best solution rather than one that is simply suggested as an answer.
Watch out for unclear or multiple-part questions. You can send a comment to the member requesting that they rephrase or break up the question before you submit an answer.
If you don't know the answer, leave the question for someone else.
If you are unsure of your solution, post it as a comment rather than an answer. Members can accept comments as solutions and award points for them.
You are only responsible for providing one reasonable answer.
You may review information about a member, including their grading history, by clicking on their member name.
If you're having a problem with a Member, you can refer it to us.
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by:griessh
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Axter

I would agree with that policy. There are a few cases where it is obviuos that an answer is the answer. Most of the time there have questions to be asked and clarifications to be given. And then someody comes in, posts an answer (which usually ends in "... I think"). The asker should have the right to pick the solution he/she needs and give the points to the person who gave that specific answer.
So no objections here to the policy.

Werner
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by:Axter
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Visual Basic
Microsoft Access
Windows 98
Delphi Programming
Active Server Pages

The above top five topic areas use the policy of posting answers as comments.
Because of this, there's usually a lot more interaction between the experts.
Usually the questioner well get a variety of possible answers.

I believe that one of the reasons that these topic areas are in the top five is because of this policy, and I think that the C++ topic area can easily enter the top five, if we agree to post our answers as comments.

I think this will only work if the top experts can have a unanimous consensus to use and enforce this policy.  By setting an example, we can easily get the corporation of the other experts.

I know that every now an then, we'll have the odd newbie-expert that will post an answer as an answer, but when this happens, if the other experts educate the individual promptly it will keep this type of behavior to a minimum.
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by:Axter
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griessh,
>>(which usually ends in "... I think").

Good point.  Another thing I see is that some Experts post an Answer, and ask a question in the answer.
Example:
******************************
Is this for a windows application.
Well if so, do ...................
******************************

If you have to ask a question in your answer, then you don't have a definite complete answer.

If you post "I think" in your answer, then you don't have a definite complete answer.
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by:imladris
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What about the set of questioners (in the 10% to 30% range in my experience) that never closes a question? What incentive is there to motivate them to improve their behaviour if they never pay for their answers?
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by:Axter
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>>What about the set of questioners (in the 10% to 30%
>>range in my experience) that never closes a question?

I think if a user does not make a reply within 3 days, that it is perfectly acceptable to change your comment to an answer by posting an answer referencing your previous comment.
We could agree on some type of criteria for changing comments to answers.
Something that everyone finds acceptable.
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by:jkr
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I did not know that seperate topic areas have certain policies. Nor do I think that there ever will be anything like that.

Let's focus on why this issue was brought up, as there is no need for a discussion. Actually, everything is covered by the EE guidelines.

Axter disagreed with the way nietod was answering questions. That's OK, everybody has the right to have their own principles. Axter criticised in particular nietod's almost immediate locking of Qs (which I don't agree to, as nietod almost always gave excellent, detailed answers and was willing to help beyond the requirements). Now he's jumping on locking questions, with the subtle difference being that he's overdoing it. Don't get me wrong Axter, I certainly will not crticise anyone posting an on-point solution when being the 1st one to do so. I'd like to additionally point out that noone is perfect, so that can also happen with incorrect answers.

What I now wonder about is: Why did you abandon your principles, Axter?
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by:Axter
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>>I did not know that seperate topic areas have certain
>>policies. Nor do I think that there ever will
>>be anything like that.
Didn't you read the Official EE link I posted up above?
It states the following:
"it is common etiquette in some topics areas to always post comments and not answers. "
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by:Axter
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>>Actually, everything is covered by the EE guidelines.

Yes, I agree, and that is one of the items that is covered in the EE guidelines.

>>Axter disagreed with the way nietod was answering
>>questions.

That was not just me who disagree.  With the exception of yourself, all the other experts in the following question, also disagreed with nietod.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=cplusprog&qid=20130756

This question is not posted here for a nietod against axter discussion, nore should it be.  Please don't make it that.  Lets keep this constructive.

>>What I now wonder about is: Why did you abandon your
>>principles, Axter?
I abandon my princeples in an attempt to make a point.
If all the experts use this type of behavior, this would be a less productive topic area.
Contrary to your previous post, I did not do anything different then what nietod was doing.

If everyone post this way, I don't think you would like the results, as you quickly pointed out to me.

I'm more then willing and eager to go back to my old method of posting answers as comments.
I just don't want to be the only one doing it.
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by:nietod
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>> The above top five topic areas use the policy of
>> posting answers as comments.
I can find no reference to this policy anywhere.  Where did you find it?
It appears that lots of people are violating that policy.
In the VB topic area

1st post locked the question (4 minutes after it was asked).
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=visualbasic&qid=20131870

2nd post locked the question in 20 minutes.  (its post was not meant to be an answer)
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=visualbasic&qid=20131620

1st post locked in 1 hour.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=visualbasic&qid=20131337

1st post locked in 9 minutes.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=visualbasic&qid=20130507

There are 100s more examples of locked questions currently there in the VB topic area alone.  It doesn't appear to be either an official or unofficial policy.

But what about the unlocked questions?
well the of the top 10 unlocked questions 2 have posts that might qualify as answers.


>>  think this will only work if the top experts can have a unanimous consensus
>> to use and enforce this policy.  
They are free to use it if they wish.  But not to enforce it.  CS enforces the rules of the site, and this is not one.

>>  if the other experts educate the individual promptly
>> it will keep this type of behavior to a minimum
Does it in the other topic areas?  It doesn't look like it.


>> Why did you abandon your principles, Axter?
From a quote from Axter

>> BTW, sorry for locking this question, but it's necessary due to the bad
>> policy from one of the top experts in this topic area.

In other words.  I (though he wouldn't mention my name) set an official policy (which I of course did not)  I'm considering junping off a bridge, maybe Axter will follow.  

Regardless of what I used to do, there was NEVER a policy official, or unoffical, to force any expert to answer a question.  That was your choice Axter.  Its cowardly to blame your actions on another.  If you feel that something is inappropriate don't do it.  If you do it, then its your responsibility.
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by:nietod
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>> it is common etiquette in some topics areas to always post comments and not answers. "
"some"

>> With the exception of yourself, all the other experts in the following
>> question, also disagreed with nietod.
ALL of them?  That is 3!  And 2 agreed.  

>>  Lets keep this constructive.
I can agree to that.  But you posts blaming the top expert--unnamed--are not constructive.  

>> f all the experts use this type of behavior, this
>> would be a less productive topic area.
The vast majority do and always have.  You are acting like soemthing has changed.  It hasn't.   In terms of quality C++ topic area is one of the best.  Compare the quality of its answers to those in the non-prpogramming topic areas.  We do a much better job.  Int terms of productivyt we find answers for the vast majority of questions asked and we tend to find them in under 2 hours.  Not locking quesitons won't improve that.

>> If everyone post this way,
What way?  locking questions when with incomplete answers?   Locking them when anothe expert posted a previous comment/answer that desrves the points.  Of course that is wrong.  I agree with that.  jkr agrees with that.  You've seem me point that out 100s of times.   That does not mean that posting a qualifing answer is wrong.

>> 'm more then willing and eager to go back to my old method
>> of posting answers as comments.
If that is what you feel is best, you should.  If not don't.  But you don't need to try to force your values onto others.  
And no matter what you decide, you should not lock questions that have qualifying answers.  You can't even claim that I do that.  I absolutely do not.
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by:moorrees
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So when is this question ended?
I think never ;-)
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by:Axter
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>>Does it in the other topic areas?  It doesn't look like it.
Yes, they do.  I use to participate in the Access topic area, and they do educate new Experts on the proper ediquete for their topic area.
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by:jkr
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>>If everyone post this way, I don't think you would like
>>the results, as you quickly pointed out to me.

As I pointed out also:

>>Axter criticised in particular nietod's almost immediate
>>locking of Qs (which I don't agree to, as nietod almost
>>always gave excellent, detailed answers and was willing
>>to help beyond the requirements).

There's a BIG difference between locking a Q because you want to _help_ these people and doing it for a purpose that isn't EE: 'in an attempt to make a point'. That's counterproductive, as your 'attempt to make a point' as far as it seems to me is getting to the border of fairness: http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=cplusprog&qid=20131861
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by:Axter
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>>But not to enforce it.  CS enforces the rules of the
>>site, and this is not one.
You're right, this is bad wording in my part.  They can not enfoce it, but they can tell the expert what is the proper edique for the topic area.

>>Regardless of what I used to do, there was NEVER a
>>policy official, or unoffical, to force any expert
Let's focus on the main topic of this question.  I did not bring your name into this discussion, nor did I want to.
JKR posted a comment, and I replied.

As I stated previously, this is not a you against me thing, so lets not make it.

I just want to get a consenses as too what the proper adique should be for this topic area.
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by:Axter
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jkr,
>>There's a BIG difference between locking a Q because you
>>want to _help_ these people
I agree, and I apoligize.

So lets get back to the main discussion.
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by:Axter
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nietod,
>>ALL of them?  That is 3!  And 2 agreed.  

Ha Ha!!
That's two agree if you count yourself.

>>Not locking quesitons won't improve that.
I prefer quality over quantity.  Just because you get more answers, does not mean they're quality answers.

I have looked over the PAQ's, and if you compare the C++ PAQ's to the Access PAQ's the Access topic area wins by a long shot.
You have a much better chance of finding what you're looking for in looking at an Access topic area PAQ then you do in the C++ topic area.
I believe that to be so, because more expert participate per question in the Access topic area then in the C++ topic area.  And that's because they don't get a quick posted answer as an answer.  There post are posted as comments, and many multiple experts usually participate in each question.
I'm not saying that that doesn't happen in the C++ topic area, it just doesn't happen to the same degree.

The C++ topic area is good, but I now it can be better if we use the propose method.

Please keep this discussion on the topic of the question.
If you would like to bring up a different topic, then please post it on your own question.
Thank you
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by:Axter
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nietod,
>>But you don't need to try to force your values onto
>>others.  
As you already stated, I can't force anyone to do anything here.
I want all of us to come to some mutual understanding as to what the proper edique should be in this topic area.

Please participate in a constructive manner.
Thank you
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by:Axter
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jkr,
It seems to me that you agree with nietod, but you have not indicated why.

Since I don't want to put words in your mouth, could you please say what you feel should be the proper adiquete, and why?

You have posted a lot, but you haven't really said much on the main topic.
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by:Axter
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amp,
In another question, you state the following:
"It is no place to decide procedure"

I don't agree.  This is the best place to discuss this.  This is where most of the experts that this pertains to visit.

Why post this where they're not going to see it?
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by:amp072397
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Hi Axter. Haven't I seen you someplace else before?

Here's what I'd like you to do, please humor me. You've got a point about the experts being able to see it, so I've changed what I wanted you to do.

Post a new question, something like "All C++ Experts see this Q" and put a new Q at community support with a meaningful title. Or even in the lounge, but I personally would not choose the lounge just by virtue of the atmosphere--this is "business".

I don't want this Q to end up in the PAQs. I also think you ought to ask that only C++ experts respond in the CS Q. I don't want new people coming to EE and seeing a discussion like this. I'm also concerned about the potential volatility of some members in discussions like these.

It's not that I'm ashamed or that you should be, it's just "business" and not technical.

So, why don't you accept my comment as answer and then post the link to your new CS Q here and also create the new Q?

Did I make any sense just then? I'm confusing myself. But then, you C++ people MUST be smarter than me...

I'd appreciate it. It's the only way I can think of to get this out of the topic area. I'm open to other suggestions, tho.

amp
Community Support Moderator
Experts Exchange
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amp072397 earned 0 total points
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Hi Axter. Haven't I seen you someplace else before?

Here's what I'd like you to do, please humor me. You've got a point about the experts being able to see it, so I've changed what I wanted you to do.

Post a new question, something like "All C++ Experts see this Q" and put a new Q at community support with a meaningful title. Or even in the lounge, but I personally would not choose the lounge just by virtue of the atmosphere--this is "business".

I don't want this Q to end up in the PAQs. I also think you ought to ask that only C++ experts respond in the CS Q. I don't want new people coming to EE and seeing a discussion like this. I'm also concerned about the potential volatility of some members in discussions like these.

It's not that I'm ashamed or that you should be, it's just "business" and not technical.

So, why don't you accept my comment as answer and then post the link to your new CS Q here and also create the new Q?

Did I make any sense just then? I'm confusing myself. But then, you C++ people MUST be smarter than me...

I'd appreciate it. It's the only way I can think of to get this out of the topic area. I'm open to other suggestions, tho.

amp
Community Support Moderator
Experts Exchange
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by:Axter
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I agree with your proposal, and I was thinking of asking you something similar.

Thanks
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by:KangaRoo
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Right then, to start, I agree with nietod's point of view, as you might
have guessed from similar threads.

So lets see, what is this site about? Providing solutions to problems,
answers to questions.

How does it work?

 1) Customer has a problem, formulates a question and submits this on
    the TA of his choice.
 2) The question appears in the list of Questions Awaiting Answer (QAA)
 3) The customer sits back nervously waiting for the electronic postman
    delivering a (??) notification from qna@experts-exchange.com

Lets imagine two different comment / answer methods

A Using answers ----------------------------

 4) Expert1 opens the TA question list and scans the QAA-question titles
    and picks out our customers question
 5) He reads the question, thinks up a solution
 6) He formulates the solution and submits it as answer
 7) The question is moved to the list of Locked Question
 8) Expert2 opens the TA question list and scans the QAA-question titles,
    and picks out (another) one
 9) He reads the question, thinks up a solution
10) He formulates the solution and submits it as answer.
11) The question is moved to the list of Locked Question

B Using comments ---------------------------

 4) Expert1 opens the TA question list and scans the QAA-question titles
    and picks out our customers question
 5) He reads the question, thinks up a solution
 6) He formulates the solution and submits it as comment
 7) The question is /not/ moved to the list of Locked Question
 8) Expert2 opens the TA question list and scans the QAA-question titles,
    and picks out the same question.
 9) He reads the question, evaluates the already given solution and tries
    to thinks up a better solution
10) He formulates the solution and submits a comment.
11) The question is /still not/ moved to the list of Locked Question

---------------------------------------------

One major difference between the two methods is that in the second case many experts may be involved in the search for the Best Solution. They need time to do that. They could have used that time to think about solutions for problems that do not have a solution proposed. Questions that will just have to wait a bit longer now.

Using comments may appear to give customers better answers, but it will also take more time and effort from the experts, and it will take longer before a solution is proposed.
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by:KangaRoo
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Can't you edit in the database a bit? Something like

UPDATE TblQuestions
SET      topic_area = "commspt"
WHERE   qid = 20132087
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by:Axter
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KangaRoo,
I'm sorry, but as per amp, request I'm moving this to a different topic area.

As soon as I post the new question, I'll post the link here.
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by:nietod
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>> I use to participate in the Access topic area, and they do
>> educate new Experts on the proper ediquete for their topic area.

Top 5 loked questions in Access:

locked on 1st post
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20131764

Locked after a while, possibly this is the 1st qualifying answer.  I can't tell.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20131698

Locked on 1st qualifying answer (probably)
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20130366

Locked on 1st (probably) qualifying answer.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20123755

Not one of these locked questions has any mention of the fact that it is not proper etiquette.

Top 5 unlocked ones:

No qualifying answer
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20132238

Possible qualiofyig answer (brief)
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20132204

No posts
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20132200

2 answers.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20132192

1 post, probably not an answer.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=msaccess&qid=20132176


I see a trend, but its not the one you are saying exists.  The 5 locked questions appear to have been locked the first time there was an answer (appears that way to me).  There was never any mention of breach of etiquette.  If the 5 unloked questions, there might be only two that have posts that could qualify as answers and that were not locked.  Admitidly its a small sample and not the right way to do the analysis, but its the best way available.


>> I just want to get a consenses as too what the proper
>> adique should be for this topic area.
You won't get it this way.  You can't poll 1/2 dozen people and find out what the consensus of 3,000 are.  You especially can't do it without random selection of subjects.  And you can't assume that individulas have well-defined ideas of etiquette or that these values are stable.  Most indivuals values will shift when confronted with different situations.  This is because we define them much more loosely than we'd probably like to beleive and tend to rely much on feelings than on facts.

>>hahat's two agree if you count yourself.
Why shouldn't my vote count?  Yours was counted?  Since I'm


>>  prefer quality over quantity.  Just because you get more
>> answers, does not mean they're quality answers.
Exactly.  Your point is that not locking causes more answers.  it does.  Many of them are poor ones.  If there is an undeniably good answer, that should be all that is needed.

>> You have a much better chance of finding what you're looking for
>> in looking at an Access topic area
>> PAQ then you do in the C++ topic area.
That is almost unbelievalbe.  There are almost never unsolved questions in the C++ area.  

Plus most of those unsolved questions aren't locked.    If we started posting comments to them instead of nothing do you think it woudl help?  What woudl we post?

>> more expert participate per question in the Access topic area then
>> in the C++ topic area
It only takes one expert with a right answer.  More experts don't help unless all the other experts are wrong.  Take a look at the question that started this.  Did 3 posts that said the same thing help the client more than one?  Now a locked question with a wrong answer is a different matter.  But its not really any worse than a wrong comment.  Virutally every question gets reviewed by dozens of experts and posts from many of them even if it is locked and especially if it is a wrong answer.

But lets look at the numbers.

Posts by 3 experts.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=cplusprog&qid=20131404

Posts by 2 experts
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=cplusprog&qid=20131210

Posts by 3 experts
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=cplusprog&qid=20131179

Posts by 4 experts
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=cplusprog&qid=20130990

Posts by 5 experts
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qShow.jsp?ta=cplusprog&qid=20130756

And that is not the number of experts that reviewed the questions, only the number that posted.
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by:Axter
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by:jkr
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Axter, you stated here (that's why I think it belongs here)

>>It seems to me that you agree with nietod, but you have
>>not indicated why.

Well, I do not nercessarily agree with nietod in general, but I agree with him on the 'technical' point - the way he handles things is *definitely* within what EE allows. I have to admit that I'm also p****ed when poting a comment and seeing that nietod has proposed an answer in th emean time, but I've always seen dissolve that issues in two ways:

- the comment that was posted was what I call 'equal in functionality' and he withdrew his answer (I wish that'd be possible again)

- the comment was vague and he really outperformed it.

That's just the way I've noticed it recently. Even if I thought that he locks Qs a little bit too easy (which is in fact the way for the now infamous 'array' Q - these are the ones I think somebody cannot 'answer', it just depends on your capability of 'explaining' something) he left an excellent contribution (a bit scattered, one might add)

If it is about points: Yes, that might be frustrating (NOTE the absence of the 'withdraw answer' button before you mention the difference between locked and unlocked again). But I've certainly 'lost' more points by newbies doing that what nietod does along with an in general high quality answer.
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