Closing thread

By Bobbye · 28 replies
Jul 31, 2012
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  1. Do members usually acknowledge that the help you have given them has resolved their problem(s)?

    I have been spending time in the Windows OS and Software Apps forums and it seems like more post and run!

    Letting others know that help given "worked" will be of help to others, who, unlike the Virus and Malware Forum, CAN use the same help given to others.

    These threads are intentionally left open so that others can use or contribute.
  2. DjKraid

    DjKraid TS Guru Posts: 551   +26

    Personally I try to keep my threads up-to-date and post the solution...and if I see a really old thread without a solution I also often ask if the problem is solved and what the fix was :) -there should be a rule/recommendation or something that says that you have to post the solution if one is found.
    It's annoying when you google for something and then you find some other poor guy who had the same problem a few years ago...then you go to the end of the thread and there is no solution -___- the thing that makes it even more annoying for me is that my internet connection is slow so I actually have to wait for pages to load...
  3. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Oft time we post what we think may be the solution. But unfortunately many don't post back and let us know it worked for them. So the bottom line is that I'd like to have the members post back that it worked- or didn't.

    Sometimes when our solution doesn't work and the member tells us that, we may uncover an 'exception' that would allow us to modify the solution and advise others of that possibility.
  4. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    A worthwhile topic that could produce useful results, if effective proposals are made for getting feedback from members helped.

    I say this because by my experience, the question is not whether members usually acknowledge that the help you have given them has resolved their problem(s). Usually they don’t. They are more likely to come back if the solution didn’t work, but if it did, they usually lose interest in the matter and disappear. I even dare say that some advisors are demotivated by such behavior and eventually stop providing help.

    So, the real question is how members helped can be encouraged to provide accurate feedback. And it’s a tough one.

    But in fact, more sections than just Software Apps are affected by the situation, so probably, to get more universal participation, this topic could be placed in Site Feedback and Suggestions.
  5. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Perhaps closing resolved threads as Solved and closing threads where the member doesn't come back as Inactive if there has not been a reply in an optional number of days (5?) would encourage members to finish.

    This would also prevent tacking on a new post to a thread that is several years old. Some of the problems-and the help-are obsolete as of current date and it takes more time to redo the help to current status than it would on a current thread.

    I'll ask about doing this. We set the guidelines in the Virus & Malware Forum. Seems to me that we could do that for other forums.
  6. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    I'd like to see threads closed as Solved if it is and as Inactive if the member doesn't come back in a set time.

    I've only be in the Windows OS and Apps forums after leaving V&M, but threads in either of those that are several years old shouldn't be still open. Some of the software or Apps may now be obsolete- why leave a thread about it just dangling?

    And if a suggested fix resolved the members problem(s), can't it be marked Solved? Others will then have some idea of what's been suggested, what worked, what exceptions might have been seen-and overcome.

    Looking at the named subject of some of the other forums, I would guess threads could be closed in them as well.
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,733   +3,706

    5 days is quite short, I would suggest at least a month. I've seen times when a member did come back a week later. Sometimes a simple solution may need to be tested over a span of days before posting back.
    learninmypc likes this.
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    I think on the old board, threads were automatically locked after a certain period of time. I think it was at least 6 months (but not really sure), which I'm still comfortable with. So I think perhaps the main part of your argument had been addressed before, just isn't at this time since we switched boards. So unless there is a technical reason for not locking the really old threads then I'd support that.

    However, I saw your other thread on this issue in Software and I am not quite sold yet on the marking as solved or inactive. I certainly think your suggestion of locking the thread after 1 week is far too short, 1 month may be too short too. But I do understand the argument you made about help perhaps being outdated. Outdated help becomes outdated far faster in your malware world though than typical software. Sometimes, particularly with MS Office software, or really any pay for software, the advice may never become out of date because the advice would be version specific. I know some people that still use Office 2007 because 2010 wasn't worth the expenditure to them.

    I might be able to get onboard with 'inactive', but at this time I am not seeing the benefit to that.

    For an example where a thread almost a year old, but the advice hasn't changed: External ard drive not showing up on my Macbook Pro
    In fact, there is another thread where the same stuff is discussed from Jan 2012: External hard drive won't show up on my Macbook

    The second one (January) kind of drug on to more specific advice, but the first one has had 3 people bump it with the exact same problem. I've given them the same advice each time (or at least didn't change my advice since it was already given earlier in the thread), and all 3 that bumped it never replied back. If we made each inactive after some period of time I'm not sure that helps anything. And it makes search results return several threads all of which are worthless to someone with the same problem. At least now if someone replies it got fixed, all 3 (4 counting OP) 'problems' are fixed in 1 thread.
  9. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Okay, thanks for replying. I guess I'm just not over some of the practices in the Virus & Malware forum.

    Perhaps we could encourage members to search TechSpot more often, before presenting the same problem many others have had.

    I think what is behind wanting to finalizing threads is 1. the presentation of the problem or question "how to," 2. the fix(es) or instructions being given and lastly, 3. the acknowledgement that the fix or instruction 'worked.'

    To me, that seems a more 'tidy' and efficient way instead of having 8 open threads for the same thing. How about referring a member to the URL of a thread where these 3 steps have been accomplished instead of repeating?
  10. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    I understand your thoughts, I honestly do. What you want (as in your post above) is to fix the presentation of the problem #1. Then #2 to fix or how to fix. Then #3 to confirm. I think I got that right?

    #1 is totally covered in my signature. I know people very rarely pay attention to sigs, but I direct them to mine occationally, it IS a sticky somewhere, and others offer up that link in their sig. What I wrote in that link is a lot of expierence on how to post so we can better help you. I think that Malware is a different beast and should probably be handled differently. Which I think it has been.

    Now I do 100% realize that almost nobody reads the link in my sig, and even if it is linked to them, they don't care enough to read. But how can we fix people that don't want to help themselves?
    learninmypc likes this.
  11. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Yep, you got it right! I realize I am still somewhat in the "bad problem", fix right now, then close mode. I'll get better about that in time.

    Funny about the sigs- seems member do read the 'donate' in the sigs, but not how to post better! It takes our time to ask the questions for the information we need to help resolve the problem- I know!

    As for your last sentence, there is always a "we don't"!:(
    learninmypc likes this.
  12. Jay Pfoutz

    Jay Pfoutz Malware Helper Posts: 4,282   +49

    I didn't want to butt in, but I think that many of the same computer problems light up over the course of the operating system + service pack.

    Hardware and OEM software/Microsoft software rarely change.

    Whether I help with BSODs or general application errors, there are fixes from 2009-2010 for Windows 7 troubleshooting that still function well.

    Now, for malware removal, this is different. The computer/device security world is changing rapidly. Want to know how rapidly? For every new major malware, a new variant is released on average 3-4 times a week.

    So, how often does a Service Pack or new hardware get released that is required upgrade for user's computer? Once year, two years, or three years?

    Therefore, IF the problem looks like it has a legitimate solution and it doesn't hurt SEO (example, showing up as [Solved] BSOD in 0x10008E), then apply the Solved tag.

    However, if the problem doesn't have a capable solution, then the topic should stay open for at least minimum (6 months?) time. I think that seems logical on my end. ;)
  13. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    An inactive thread, whether closed (locked) or not, will soon disappear from the top page(s) but will still be found by a search and may cause confusion.

    Consequently, in addition to locking inactive threads, we could also consider actually deleting those having no value for future reference, so that they don’t clutter the search results. Such cluttering or useless findings is one of the reasons the search facility is little used, namely that pursuing old threads could be a waste of time. By no-value threads I mean of course those that attracted no responses, or the suggestions were tried but didn’t work, as stated by the thread originator.

    However, in my opinion, the main problem is that help seekers often don’t bother to provide feedback as to whether solutions proposed worked or not. But this is a tough problem to solve.
    Marnomancer likes this.
  14. Jay Pfoutz

    Jay Pfoutz Malware Helper Posts: 4,282   +49

    Very wise Bobcat! I agree.

    But, that'll be up to agreement of the staff. :p
  15. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Addressing the last 2 replies:
    Does anyone else understand that some users, by nature, will take as much as they can, but give little? And if we allow that, the process will be repeated again and again:
    1. Example: A use/some users may post the same problem in multiple forums. The user will then accept whichever 'fix' works best and ignore that he has asked other forums to help in the same problem.
    IF that happens> the user asks for help or a suggestion, suggestions are made, but there is no acknowledgement that the 'fix' or suggestion helped as the user never returned>>>delete these "No value" (bobcat) threads at whatever pre-set interval you decide.

    But on the other hand, there are basic, recurring problems that can happen:
    1. Example: "I can't update"
    2. Example: "My desktop is black", "My Start menu is messed up", "Images won't display", etc.
    Problems like this have fixes based on the cause. So while one of the 'fixes' may help the original OP, some of the other suggestions may help others. Leave these threads open.

    My own feeling about why many don't use a search feature before requesting help is because they have to wade through a lot of useless junk while hoping to find an answer. Streamline the content and directly increase the search value.
    Note please: The Virus and Malware forum has their own, specific guidelines which are controlled by the helpers. Any suggestions I am making are not meant to include that forum.
  16. Jay Pfoutz

    Jay Pfoutz Malware Helper Posts: 4,282   +49

    It's interesting the stuff that you guys share.

    I think there are ways to solve these problems quickly, per past experience as staff on other forums:

    • Change the topic title of the user's topic to something more helpful in SEO. Instead of "I can't update", change it to "Windows can't update - code 0x80070005".
    • Delete topics of no use after set inactivity, and make sure actually solved threads are marked as solved.
    • Kindly place a signature in that asks politely, "Please let us know how the fix worked, good or bad. It helps others." Or similar variation.
    • Have certain forums dedicated to common issues, so they can all be grouped in to one. Pinned topics can also be added, if an exclusive forum is created. For example, if a bunch of users swarm to this forum for update issues, then, it would probably be a good idea to have a special section dedicated to Windows Update Issues.

    Hope this helps. :)
  17. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Some of those sub-forums were in use previously. They were then consolidated. I agree- I'd rather see the most common issues (like "updates" for instance)

    While I agree with having more appropriate subject names, a few years ago changes were made, but one moderator got overactive in making changes/deleting/editing and it wasn't a good thing. We could do that in V&M because there were 2 of us doing so in just the one forum. But that moderator did it all over the site-all forums, all subjects.

    Most of what you suggested is the same, just different words. So maybe heads will get together and find a good way to accomplish this.
  18. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    Just a quick note, I did merge the two threads, so if some of you weren't aware of the other thread, check above for a few posts you might have missed.
  19. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Thank you.
  20. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,674   +990

    We have not implemented the automatic closing of topics on Xenforo since we moved to the new software, but I will have that done soon enough. As discussed here, it's better so old topics are not revived unnecessarily when a new topic referring to the older one is the better solution.

    I also wanted to clarify this -- as suggested by @DragonMasterJay:

    Topics should never be deleted for inactivity. They should only be deleted if they are spam, duplicate, etc.

    This is a VERY encouraged practice. I know @Matthew and myself do this all the time.
  21. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    All the time indeed.

    If technically feasible, I would recommend leaving threads in the off-topic/general discussion forum open regardless of age. They typically have nothing to do with tech support and they are sometimes successfully revived after being inactive for a lengthy period.
    learninmypc likes this.
  22. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Glad to hear that. There is someone with one post who put his name as the subject. He was referred to a link to use for better posting, but I don't think he came back.

    It's very helpful to be able to see the subject of a thread you're working on at the top of the browser. We got a lot of "I need help" which didn't say much!

    If I see a topic with vague subject, can I zap it to someone for a change? Perhas we could set up an ongoing thread like "Please move" but maybe call it "Please change subject" instead.
  23. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    This would be mostly pointless in my opinion. I spend many hours a week scanning and renaming threads. I allocate a block of time most evenings to look everything over from top to bottom (doing it now as a matter of fact). If you see a major issue that needs immediate attention, feel free to report the post or message me. Otherwise, it's safe to assume someone will get to it eventually.
  24. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,334   +36

    Forgive me Matthew- I didn't mean to criticize you. I know you do a tremendous job here and I guess you do it so smoothly, I'm not even aware of the 'before.'

    I surely didn't mean to raise so many fine points. But I have always thought threads should be closed. That was explored and overruled several years ago.

    But I try not to ever do this:
  25. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    No need to apologize. Agreed, certain types of threads should be closed after a certain period of inactivity. :) Hopefully Julio will have this in place soon enough.

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