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  1. Certification Invigilator Forum Admin JDMurray's Avatar
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    #1

    Post How to ask for technical help? Evidence-based guidelines for writing questions ...

    My eye was caught today by a recent paper (2017) release by Cornell on the participation of people in online Q&A communities for creating useful, crowdsourced information.

    From the paper's abstract:
    The success of Stack Overflow and other community-based question-and-answer (Q&A) sites depends mainly on the will of their members to answer others’ questions. In fact, when formulating requests on Q&A sites, we are not simply seeking for information. Instead, we are also asking for other people's help and feedback. Understanding the dynamics of the participation in Q&A communities is essential to improve the value of crowdsourced knowledge.

    How to Ask for Technical Help? Evidence-based Guidelines for Writing Questions on Stack Overflow (PDF)
    The use of crowdsourcing is also what TechExams.Net has depended on to be a leading source of IT certification information and advice since 2002. I completely agree with the paper's assessment that the presentation quality of both question and and answers is "among the driving factors of the success of requests in Q&A sites." As a contributor myself to TE since 2003, I am very gratified that TE has attracted the highest quality of continuing contributions from the people of the online IT certification community.

    You might think this paper to be tl;dr, but if you spend a lot of time in online discussion forums then you should find its findings interesting.
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  3. Senior Member McxRisley's Avatar
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    #2
    I will say that this forum has helped me make some pretty crucial decisions during my career and helped me figure out exactly what I needed to do to reach my goals. I always tell everyone who is looking to study for certs or advance their career to checkout this site.
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    #3
    Interesting article, but I don't necessarily accept his premise.

    This is not a phenomenon driven by social media or social networks, as we understand those phrases today. Those same factors are critical in forums like TE, that predate the advent of social networks and social media. I would argue that the same factors also hold true for systems like IRC, Usenet and old BBSes. It also likely holds true for real life.

    It boils down to a community. If a community exists, it may be open to outsiders and new members. However, failing to recognize the importance of the community, ignoring its social norms and customs, and generally behaving like an ass, are all likely to generate a less than helpful response, if not outright hostility.

    Communities like this are composed of incredibly talented people who share similar passions. Disrespecting the members, the passion or the talent will never provoke a good response.
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  5. Certification Invigilator Forum Admin JDMurray's Avatar
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by jibtech View Post
    ... that predate the advent of social networks and social media.
    This is an interesting observation. I'm not sure many people think of the difference between (online) social networks and (online) social media.

    Online social networks have existed for as long as there has been computer communications networks. I started using BITNET lists, USENET newsgroups, BBSes, and even email as social networks back in the early 1980's. BITNET and USENET were the first, true, crowdsource-based, Q&A resources on the Internet. They were an information phenomena that showed users how big (and small) the Internet really was people-wise.

    Online social media networks, as defined by the Wikipedia, have only been around since 2004, being interaction-enabled by Web 2.0 technology. Apparently, text-and-graphic-presentation-only information systems--including the original WWW--do not qualify as "media."

    Crowdsourcing requires only humans and not computers--although computers do facilitate the speed and amount of crowd-sourced information that can be collected and managed. It makes me wonder what the next revolution in crowdsourcing will be. Thought-miners surreptitiously installed in our cerebral implants?
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by JDMurray View Post
    Online social networks have existed for as long as there has been computer communications networks. I started using BITNET lists, USENET newsgroups, BBSes, and even email as social networks back in the early 1980's. BITNET and USENET were the first, true, crowdsource-based, Q&A resources on the Internet. They were an information phenomena that showed users how big (and small) the Internet really was people-wise.

    Online social media networks, as defined by the Wikipedia, have only been around since 2004, being interaction-enabled by Web 2.0 technology. Apparently, text-and-graphic-presentation-only information systems--including the original WWW--do not qualify as "media."
    I was hesitant to specify social networks and social media, because the understanding of them has changed over time. I agree 100% with BITNET and USENET being the first real online knowledge crowdsourcing. A good deal of my initial learning in IT came from those sources. (My favorite was a BBS out of Fairfax, VA...)

    But, the generally understood meaning today of "social media" and social network" points directly to the "Web 2.0" phenomena that occurred around 2003, with MySpace being the first to become well known to the general public.

    By targeting the 2003 and later definitions, the author implies that there was a functional change in how these questions needed to be asked, and how communities responded to them. That simply wasn't so. The need for coherent, logical, relevant and respectful questions has always been present.

    Like I said: good article with good points. I just have concerns about the premise upon which he based his argument. He missed the larger picture.
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  7. Certification Invigilator Forum Admin JDMurray's Avatar
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    #6
    I do agree that the term "social media" was used many places in the text where "online social networking" is much more apropos. As a programmer since 1983, I can definitely say that software developers were socially interacting on networks to help solve their software development problems decades before helpful Web 2.0 features (like up/down voting) were available.
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  8. Scruffy-looking nerfherdr tedjames's Avatar
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JDMurray View Post
    I do agree that the term "social media" was used many places in the text where "online social networking" is much more apropos. As a programmer since 1983, I can definitely say that software developers were socially interacting on networks to help solve their software development problems decades before helpful Web 2.0 features (like up/down voting) were available.
    I logged into my first bulletin board around 1986 with my Commode 64 and 300 baud modem. Learned a lot. Then I got onto the Usenet in 1990 and learned a lot more. Those were the days! It was a great time for information exchange.
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