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How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?

by Chicken (Initiate)
on Jun 17, 2002 at 20:43 UTC ( #175181=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Hello, perlmonks!

While is a beautiful site where many perl questions are answered in a really short time (personaly I got a fruitful help several times, and several times provided answers to questions that was I happen to know).

This is great, but I see a small problem that do a situation slightly worse that it could be.

Sometimes answers do not entirely cover a question, due to either replier mistakes, or may be some questions coul be better covered by more than one perlmonk, because first adviser solves only a part of a problem and allows others to answer other aspects of a question.

And, as I know from my own experience, if I see that a question is replied twice or more, then I really do not bother reading deeper than reading a title, and go for a next question that may be of interest.

Example of such node is How to embed other GUI into Tk application which I consider answered to about 20%, but it has two replies and also is old. When a person who knows an answer will be here, he'll hardly notice it. I tend to think of such partly-answered questions (and wrongfully answered...) as "zombie" questions :) . Thay have almost no chance to be answered.

Zombie questions usually will fit into FAQ or Q&A sections, because it may be too specific and rarely answered.

Asking it once again (to "refresh" it) is obviously not good.

I think of "zombie" questions as of a problem, and I see it could be resolved by two ways.

1. (seems to me easier) May be it's worth to have a page, in addition to "newest nodes" as "unanswered nodes" where authors of questions could place link to node ids of questions they wish to be covered in more details, (or just to wait to be answered somehow), may be with "percentage" of current coverage that answers covers at the moment.

2. (more global, and hard to implement) Each question have a number 0-100 that is initially 0, and 100 when question is completely answered. I can't invent sane way of how this number could be edited. (may be following: replyer suggests it's coverage, and author of a question have a right to confirm this coverage?)

I hope best wishes to everyone,

  • Comment on How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?

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Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by Beatnik (Parson) on Jun 17, 2002 at 20:53 UTC
    Well, you can't really tell if the question has been answered correctly until X monks have answered it and they all know something different about the problem (X being an unidentified number). The way the question is asked, influences the number of meaningfull replies (see How To Ask Questions The Smart Way). Asking questions that have been asked dozens of times before, will most likely end up in a downvoting session or a bunch of nodes refering to other nodes. Same for questions that are answered in FAQs. To get as much as possible fron the answer, make sure the person replying gets as much as possible from your question. Remember that this is a community and things may need time to grow... like node replies :)

    ...Perl is like sex: if you're doing it wrong, there's no fun to it.
      Thank you for your attention, you replied 30% of a question :)

      Even if question was asked correctly, (my original Q is opposite example - it has correction answer by myself), it has a real chance to be a "zombie" question if it was asked, for example, at Friday very late evening.

      If you're interested, I can try giving you an examples of other questions that I seem to answer correctly, but they're not answered because they became zombie questions.

      Yes, many questions are not answered because they were asked in a bad way. But if this is not the case, isn't this good to give a chance for a good asked question to live longer life before a "zombie" stage?

      To reply to your situation with "X monks answering a question" (which is quite common and good case) I answer that I'm not ready to invent a good system to calculate current level of coverage of a question.
      May be such system when author should confirm a percentage of a coverage of a question that was suggested by monk "J" and, when this contradicts to other monks opinion, his XP being decremented using a certain formulae?
      (when all know that Q is 100% covered (may be it belongs to FAQ) but that person still insists answer is 0% covered then he's certainly downvoted. Somewhat reasonable formulae could be invented here)

      Waiting for other 70% to be covered :)

        To cover about 10% of your node, the "Zombie" questions that get posted on a late friday evening, often do get answered for several reasons:
        1. We're GEEKS (like it or not), we'll check PM any time of day.. some of us arent bound to working hours
        2. Timezones differ
        3. Someone is always looking for an easy way to score XP (*oops*)
        4. There's always the CB if a node doesnt get enough attention
        5. randomnode
        I doubt any question can be answered 100% (or rather, will be answered 100%) because there is so much to know about Perl. Ofcourse it's silly to mention perlguts as part of a simple scalar question but somehow it's part of 100% of the answer :)

        Perl is like sex: if you're doing it wrong, there's no fun to it.
(jeffa) Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by jeffa (Bishop) on Jun 17, 2002 at 22:05 UTC
    I think that your example falls under the "Uncharted Territory" category - it is quite possible that what svad wanted to do is impossible, but no-one wanted to stick their neck out on the line and say it is. If svad was not satisfied, svad has every right to let us know.

    Personally, i don't think that all questions should be fully answered. I think that the seeker should have to do a little work to find the answer. They certainly will learn more that way. Sometimes a better answer is one that shows another way instead of merely fixing the symptom. I see nothing wrong with the system we have here - what i do have a problem with is users who only read the first couple of replies ... *ahem*

    As for your suggestions, i recommend you go download and install the Everything Engine and find out just how difficult implementing such requests can be. Maybe you should get an account at and offer this service yourself. You would gain some brownie points for sure. ;)


    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
      recently I explained in my other posting here, that I make distinction (or try to make a distinction) beteween posts that asks "how should I make my job done" and "why following code does not work, tried everything."

      I suggested to differentiate those questions and name them as "zombie" questions, "qood" and "dead" questions.

      I think that "unanswered page" could be implemeted in such a way that "bad" questions that appear in "unanswered page" could be punished, and "good" questions just be leaved for others and waiting, and in this way they will not became "zombie" questions?

Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by tjh (Curate) on Jun 18, 2002 at 03:34 UTC
    Unfortunately, even questions like yours here are often unanswerable to your 100% standard. Take heart, I think it's an interesting Monday night question, regardless of some of the tone in my comments below.

    It's a mushy issue composed of mushy parts (which Larry understands very well in designing Perl itself):

    • Beatnik's right. We're geeks and we often work schedules and hours others cringe at. Answers come when they come.

    • Also, we're _human_ geeks. We make mistakes. We misread questions, misinterpret the poster's importances, sometimes we spin off into subthreads only barely related to the question. Sometimes we also answer, instead, the question we think the poster should have asked to start with.

    • And, we're all volunteers, so it's probably a miracle that so many volunteer human geeks care enough to answer at all - but somehow, PM has become a terrific culture of helping.

      And since we're volunteers, it's probably unlikely that PM could "legislate" (read "enforce by coding changes") answerer behavior.

    • And yet, I wouldn't mind seeing a system maybe allowing the original poster to toggle something (after so many days or so) that causes his 'unanswered' node to refresh to Newest Nodes, with an automatic expiration that Newest Nodes enforces anyway. Maybe the refreshing toggle would have to be Considered by senior monks. Or maybe the solution of the poster simply re-posting a new node accomplishes the same thing.

    • There is unfortunate redundancy when questions come up repeatedly, regardless of the reason. However, I've been re-educated several times when someone's new post of an old question drew different answers that were more relevent, or addressed a new CPAN module, or somesuch, so I'm not near as sensitive on this issue as others may be.

    • As to a SOPW question being 100% answered? Who's to judge? I know that many of us don't know whether we've asked the right question, so, would we recognize that it was 100%? I dunno, this point seems very mushy to me.

    I'm confident that I've not 100% addressed, much less 100% answered 100% of your questions/comments in your post and this is likely to either annoy you, or simply serve as an example of the issue you've brought up.

    I've not even touched the implementation suggestions (others will or have). In my case, since I'll concede I didn't answer you 100%, the question of whether to do anything is a senior issue to how to do it.

    Do ut des

Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by shotgunefx (Parson) on Jun 17, 2002 at 21:56 UTC
    A similiar node can be found here Reposting Questions?

    I think if more than a few days have passed, the user should make a new node addressing the still open parts of the problem and refer back to the original. There's probably a good chance that the know smaller problem will get more attention from time depraved monks and possible entice other monks who weren't interested by the first post.


    "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
      yes, your suggested node Reposting Questions? was really good reading to my question, but there's still some drawbacks -- users still must count on calculating a probability of an answer (not holidays, not weekends, just bad current carma on perlmonks due to a person that irritated anyone, like me now).
      I think this should be improved somehow, but have no 100% solution.

      reposting questions, even with pointing to a past questions with many politeness, could not work forever, you'll make readers angry after 3rd post.

      And no, I'm not complaining about questions that could not be easily answered. I think there's distionction between "zombie" questions and "dead" questions, which should not be answered due to some reasons.

        I think that after several unanswered tries, you probably won't get an answer. Either because it's out of most monks' problem domains, it's not interesting to most monks, or they don't feel the question worthy in the first place.

        That's been my experience the few times I've run into it. Any system would require more action from posters too. I don't think most will do it so it becomes a useless metric.

        Just my 2 cents.


        "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by buckaduck (Chaplain) on Jun 17, 2002 at 22:09 UTC
    I personally feel that in many cases a question really has been answered properly, but people simply doesn't like the answers they get. But there are certainly cases such as you describe. And in those cases, the appropriate remedies already exist.

    If a poster feels that his question has gone unanswered, he can always post a response which asks for more detailed information. Since most users are notified when there are responses to their messages, this is a good way to get someone's attention.

    Unfulfilled users can even post a new question, hopefully being more specific about the part of the question that hasn't (in their opinion) been addressed. While re-posting the exact same question might not be considered acceptable behavior, it should be okay to put a new perspective on an old question. Within reason.


      but there are many cases when they were not replied correctly and author of a question still waits for an answer and in vain, because it has many replies and old enough to notice.

      Let me give an example.

      Question How to do things with WinCE device was quite good, but it probably did not found a right answer at that moment. One person suggested a well-known web resource (well-known because it is in README.wince from 5.8.0pre distribution) second answer cleanly states that someone do not tries to answer but just wants to get a help from on-topic discussion.

      That question is still an open question, and it's gone away unanswered but IMHO have right to wait its answer!

        That's an excellent example. A question was asked and never really completely answered. Possibly because people didn't understand the real question -- after all, the title isn't very specific, is it? Or possibly it wasn't answered because very few of us use Perl on a WinCE system. Anyway, it hasn't really been answered.

        So what?

        There's no law preventing the same person for asking a similar question again. Maybe this time it will be asked with a better subject title and a more clear indication of what information is being requested. Maybe a different group of people will see it this time.

        And if some questions inadvertently go unanswered, then so be it. This is a community discussion site where we volunteer our assistance. It's not a support contract, and nobody has a "right" to receive an answer that satisfies them.


Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by cybear (Monk) on Jun 18, 2002 at 18:46 UTC

    When was the last time that you paid for advice from the PerlMonks?
    You should not whine quite so loudly when the fact of the matter is
    that you are getting answers for FREE! People are GIVING you THEIR
    time and expertise to help you out. JUST BECAUSE.

    If you post something that is not interesting, or not well written
    or so verbose that few Monks get to the end of it, don't complain
    when you get a partial answer.

    You should be thanking the Monks for the help that you have been getting
    not complaining because you are not getting the answers that you want.

      ++ cybear,
      I'm also curious about Chicken's comment:
      (personaly I got a fruitful help several times, and several times provided answers to questions that was I happen to know)

      According to his writeup list this is not quite so, however he/she may/may not have been a Lurker/Anony Monk for some time.

      It seems all his/her writups are in Perl Monks Discussion, all I can say to that is that if you hang out at the Monastary long enough you will see that it is a very good system, it may have it's flaws as all systems do, but it is one of the best sites of it's type on the internet today.

      Enjoy it, Use it, Like it, or don't bother with it, all those choices are open to you :) I prefer the first 3.

      It's not you right to have the answer you prefer, this place works on knowlege share, and vollenteering of information. If you don't recieve what you are looking for, the brain trust may not have it, or may not want to/have the time/have the energy to part with it.

      "Nothing is sure but death and taxes" I say combine the two and its death to all taxes!
      A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by mattr (Curate) on Jun 22, 2002 at 10:29 UTC
    Hi Chicken,

      Too bad most of your question and the responses have focussed on what I think is the least important 90% of your post.

      There are lots of reasons why posts don't get answered. But there are also some weak spots in the Monastery which you hit right on.

      One is that there are some Perl technical subjects which many people are interested in hearing guru-like answers about, but there just aren't any gurus in existence. For example Perl and GUIs is a big one. It seems that Perl/Tk is a big one, Activestate has seen it to be important and released some tools, and then there is the GTK stuff, and then people who want something that may work/look better probably end up moving away to either wxwindows or maybe (ever?) perl embedded in C. So as for "zombie" questions, forget 'em. Maybe keep a list of them and do research on your own for the next time it comes up. But all the answers come from somebody putting in a significant amount of time finding them.

      And yes, another big weak spot for PM is that PM tends to rely on the memory of its individual members; the system has only a limited ability to maintain a self-organizing knowledge base. I agree that it would be valuable to have even a minimal persistent, user-updateable knowledge store on PM and I'm working on some ideas along those lines myself. For now, Super Search is your friend.

Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by chaoticset (Chaplain) on Jun 19, 2002 at 05:30 UTC
    IF and only if one is willing to say "As the number of highly-rated reply nodes to a question increases, the question can be considered increasingly answered," then you could build an 'answeredness' value accordingly.

    Measure the "goodness" of each direct reply by how high it is ranked when compared with the highest and lowest ranked nodes, average "goodness"es, and that is the answeredness.

    This is only if you're willing to be very patient and wait for the answers to filter in. Perhaps that's the whole goal of the "zombie questions" idea, but I find it a little distasteful, if only because it would encourage waiting. ("Let's see if someone else answers it!") It would also provide no way to be sure that subsequent replies didn't answer the question (although you could factor them in at a reduced rate, I suppose).

    Lots of work, seemingly little payoff, IMHO.

    You are what you think.

Re: How to know whether question in SOPW is entirely answered or not?
by Chicken (Initiate) on Jun 17, 2002 at 20:48 UTC
    Zombie questions usually will fit into FAQ or Q&A sections, ...
    should read
    Zombie questions usually will not fit into FAQ or Q&A sections, ...

    and s/Thay/They/

    PS. Is there a reason why correctional replies are disliked here (I can't edit original question in place)?

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