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I think the libraries need to be more prominent

same questions being posted multiple times

     
6:57 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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When I have a technical question I usually find the answer in the libraries or with a Google "site:" search (which quite often leads me to a library), but it seems that most first-time posters are unaware that their questions have probably been answered before. Seeing 100's of pages of topics can be very daunting, especially if you aren't familiar with using a SE to do a site exclusive search.

I think it might be more intuitive if, at the top of each forum, there were direct links to common questions. For example, in the apache forum it would be helpful if there was a bolded mod_rewrite FAQ or How to rewrite URLs. When there are dozens of very similar mod_rewrite questions (all of which are answered in one or two of the very comprehensive resources in the library) it seems to make the gems harder to find. Once, I was searching for the answer to a rather complicated mod_rewrite problem. I did a site search and found tens of pages with very similar questions, but none that hit it dead on. I went on to post my question only to find out later that what I thought was a unique question had in fact been answered quite comprehensively in a previous post that was hard to find due to the sheer number of posts on the topic.

Another idea might be to scan the subject titles of new posts for common words like "mod_rewrite" or "rewrite URLs" or "booted from AdSense" and put up a "Have you checked here first?" screen with links to the appropriate resources. I know how annoying those screens can be at times, but when somebody asks "How do I rewrite URLs?" it seems like it would be worth it to at least make them aware there are many existing resources.

JMHO: the words "library" and "charter" aren't very intuitive to some people... "[forum topic] FAQ" and "Common [forum topic] problems" seem to me like they might be more understandable for those of us, myself included, who are less sophisticated ;)

Maybe a standard built-in 3rd party SE site search would be helpful for those who don't know how to use site-specific queries? When people register they could choose the SE they want to use, and could change it in forum preferences. I know it can be done by customizing the template, but the majority of the duplicate questions seem to be asked by 1st time posters who are probably not aware of this.

Just a few thoughts.

(I hope these ideas of mine haven't been posted and rejected already, in the forum library... better check)