Useful titles for threads

Discussion in 'Forum Announcements and Feedback' started by KarinL, May 10, 2006.

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  1. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I really enjoy the forums and am always happy to share whatever knowledge I have in addition to asking my own questions, but find my time is not well used when the titles of new threads are too generic. The whole purpose, I would think, of having the forums divided by topic and of having titles rather than, say, numbers for the threads is to facilitate connection of the questions with people who can actually provide the answer. With that intent, it is obviously desirable that a thread title be specific enough that it calls those who would be interested in it, and spares others the work of clicking to find out what it is about. I don't, for example, know a darn thing about indoor plants, and so if a thread is about an indoor plant it is a complete waste of my time to click on it.

    If I look at a list of threads titled "Help!" and "Hello!" and "About my plant" I find it unrewarding at best to have to click on each one to find what it is about, not to mention that it is hard to remember whether this posting titled "help!" is the same one as the "help" posting I looked at yesterday. Some days I just can't be bothered. The flag that comes up under the cursor is helpful, and I know that the behaviour of posters can't be controlled to such a large extent. I also know that more moderation (such as editing thread titles) is more expensive, and we probably don't want more, nor would it make us any smarter.

    Perhaps, then, this is just a suggestion to people posting questions that they do their best to convey in the thread title exactly what it is they want to ask about - in addition to getting it into the right forum.
     
  2. dmurchie

    dmurchie Member

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    KarenL, Sounds like good advice.

    The ability to move a message to a new thread (fork), or to a forked thread would be helpful. Sometimes the discussion in a thread naturally veers away from the original subject, and it would be nice if there was a way of forking the original thread in a way which preserves the continuity of a thread, while allowing more meaningful, and specific threads.
     
  3. inky binky

    inky binky Member

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    good thread titles invaluable for new users

    I could not agree more.

    whilst abstract thread titles are fun and "in the moment", if we really have to access advice then it's very frustrating!

    I know secondhand that there is a thread for my particular plant, but i have just joined and now have to search painstakingly wthin various badly titled threads. If I didnt already know it was there, of course, i would just jump ship.... my loss and possibly the site's loss. ???

    So....be intelligently and electively dull! title your thread methodically and leave creativity to your posts.

    and no, i'm not a dull poster with limited intelligence/humour! just impatient...;)

    bink x
     
  4. flytrap

    flytrap Active Member

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    Good on all of you. Like many of you, I sit on a number of boards...and at certain trying moments ... I'd make myself a disliked individual by stating:

    "just because we're all board members, does not mean we all have something intelligent to say. State your idea or point clearly, so we don't waste our time with verbal banter - as I'd rather be at home gardening or spending time with my family... make your point and move on."

    That always shuts up a few of the narcisstic type every board seems to attract, and allows all of us to focus on the issue.
     
  5. haul0348

    haul0348 Member

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    Well i think no matter how the thread is titled if you have the knowledge to help then you should consider it your duty and loyalty to your forum and fellow members. However i do agree with no nonsense as i am probably guilty as well. I am new and i consider higher posting members input as a learning tool that helps us all gain info and help each other learn something we did not know before. So no matter how frustrating it may be please dont lose sight of the common goal of gardening together.
     
  6. vizion

    vizion Member

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    Sounds like the OP is expecting people to have a certain level of knowledge before posting to the forum.

    In my case I know zilch about plants -- -

    If you cannot be bothered to click on a request for help because someone does not have enough knowledge to make the title attractive well - good luck - I only hope the OP does not get the same treatment if he has need to ask a question in some other venue where the OP's knowledge is as comparatively scanty in that venue.

    David
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The point is that you can't tell what the thread is about if it has a vague title. Another forum I go to actually states in the directions to not use non-descriptive titles.
     
  8. bonsai

    bonsai Member

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    Bravo! Hear! Hear ! My original point summed up, in its ultimate clarity. Thanx!Bonsai
     
  9. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I've changed the "thread title preview" rollover from 25 to 400 characters (which works in Internet Explorer but seemingly not in Firefox).

    You can therefore preview more of the original post in a thread simply by rolling your cursor over the thread title when browsing a forum as opposed to clicking through - perhaps a "best of both worlds" approach.
     
  10. vizion

    vizion Member

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    If one knowledge is vague then so will be the title.. come on be reasonable.. not everyone has your knowledge..and will be vague in the title - maybe an uploaded image provides the precision you seek. And you can tell whether there is an image from the thread title bar.

    So there you go -- click- clickety- click

    David
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    >If I look at a list of threads titled "Help!" and "Hello!" and "About my plant" I find it unrewarding at best to have to click on each one to find what it is about, not to mention that it is hard to remember whether this posting titled "help!" is the same one as the "help" posting I looked at yesterday.<

    Completely non-specific titles like examples listed in original post (quote, above) are the problem being addressed. You don't have to know much about your topic to come up with something more informative. I, too, have wasted rather much time clicking on old threads to see what they were about, because their titles were forgettable/non-specific. That's why the other site proscribed posting with under-informing titles, of course, it was an obvious source of difficulty.
     
  12. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    One forum I won't name - not in UBC - has many posts like:

    "Guess what !!!"

    "Wooo hoooo"

    "Bought One !! ""

    "Need Help"

    Personally, I like to know what's in there.
     
  13. haul0348

    haul0348 Member

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    I dont even log on to the forum anymore because there are some long time members that are very rude. They think you should have botanical degree and that is not me. There for example is a problem when a thread has 1100 plus views but no replies because members think it is a waste of their time. Anyway to get to the point i need to stop subscriptions from coming to my e-mail because i no longer wish to be a forum member. I have never seen a forum were members dont want to know and dont care what other members have to say. And they are bothered by a question because it does not have a proper title. If i knew half as much as some of the members do i would be eager and more than happy to hope i could help in any way i could to answer their question. ???
     
  14. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I do monitor for rudeness, and I try to make those people feel unwelcome.

    Nor is it thousands of other people on here. There are no requirements to participate on these forums, other than to be friendly, be courteous, no spam, be considerate of others. Nothing about a degree in botany.

    No replies usually means no one knows. No one likes to proclaim their ignorance. I do it sometimes to push some things along, but even then that means swallowing a bit of pride.

    My Settings -> Edit Subscriptions -> and then I'm not sure.

    Neither have I. Communities such as these break down when people aren't willing to share or give of themselves. I haven't noted that happening.

    It's a fair thing to be concerned about. If you participate on many forums (like some people do here), you want to be helped as much as possible as quickly as possible, so you can help others.

    It sounds like you're pretty frustrated, and for that I apologize that this forum hasn't met your needs. We do provide a list of other forums that you might find more suitable. Of course, you're always welcome back here if you change your mind.
     
  15. vizion

    vizion Member

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    In my view the forum moderators are very helpful and thoughtful and so are most of the members. I have been following the forums for some time without joining. To be honest I was put off from joining earlier by the antics of a few contributors who occasionally seemed to get a bit prima-donna-like in their approach to postings that come from people, like me, whose contributions (and titles)only demonstrate the fact that they do not know very much about the botanical world . That means they do not know how to frame titles or questions in ways that will help other contributors provide solutions.
    So I would appreciate if those who are so incliined (mentioning no names) would tone down the expectations which might be interpreted (however unjustly) as proscriptive.

    Thanks
     
  16. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Talking about no particular gardening forum the most chronic thing I see comes from the fact that when we are new to a subject we often don't realize what is involved with it. The result is queries that don't give enough information to make it possible to provide succinct answers. Participation in what often amounts, frankly to a free help line can eat up a lot of time and if enough information to provide a useful answer has to be pried out of someone it can be more trouble than it is worth. There is also the potential for someone not familiar with what is required to help them becoming irritated when it starts to appear they are being interrogated.

    It's not peculiar to gardening forums, that's why there are articles etc. with titles like 'How to Talk to Your Mechanic'. When we take our cars in the repair people aren't trying to be superior or exclusive, either, they are trying to be precise - same as when asking an experienced gardener for help there is a frame of reference and a lingo involved that we have to meet at least half way if a productive result is to occur.
     
  17. Dixie

    Dixie Active Member

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    it seems pretty simple. instead of a title reading "Help!" that could pertain to anything, put something like "brown spots on indoor plant". it still isn't as specific as you could be but it still gets some point across as to what the thread is about. it is a very simple and easy statement and you don't have to be an expert to come up with a little bit more specific title, just what you have oberserved and your reason for asking the question. it is similar to what Ron B said about mechanic talk, when you make an appointment at your doctor, you don't call and say "Help" you let them know your symtoms. I'm not a doctor, but I know what hurts or when something isn't right enough to give them a hint as to the problem. i am still fairly new as compared to many members, and i am grateful for their knowledge. I think the start of this thread is good for new members and people looking for advice. I would want to know how to ask my question so I can get the most out of the knowledge base this site has to offer.
     
  18. vizion

    vizion Member

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    So here is my suggestion.

    Lead by the positive.

    When a title is insufficient why not reply by giving an example of a more helpful title in an encouraging way? That means others will get to understand what a "good" title might be. Is it not more beneficial to give an illustrative response instead of a complaint that might discourage?

    If there is an image attached then would not "Help - can someone identify this?" be quite sufficient (if the image is good enough)? One can, after all, see there is an image without opening the posting!

    David
     
  19. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Would you tell your car mechanic, who you are paying 75 dollars an hour to "Lead by the positive" etc.? Experienced people on web forums are giving their time and knowledge for free, often to others who then disappear afterward, rather than becoming contributors themselves.
     
  20. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Daniel, this is definitely a good step. I appreciate it, and hope it doesn't offend anyone!

    Dixie, you perfectly explained the thought I was trying to capture in my Original Post, and Vizion, I hope that allays your fears that a certain amount of knowledge is expected in order to post here. That's not at all the case; many people who come here mostly to provide answers have spent hours if not days (cumulatively) or weeks explaining the basics to novices. And if the question is politely asked, usually no one resents doing it. You wouldn't just yell "Hellllp" over at a neighbour when you wanted some advice about your roses - it's no more appropriate on a forum.

    Having said that, there are posts that cause rude responses. I don't think I've seen many inherently rude people on any garden forums, but when treated rudely, most of us will be rude back, me included. Besides the issue of considerately descriptive thread titles, there are three other things that really get my goat on forums, and all of them are related to the asker having a fundamental failure to appreciate that there is a real live person on the information-giving end who could be doing something much more self-interested with their time. My pet peeves all revolve around a failure to respect someone else's time, basically. They are:

    - people asking a question without making any effort at all to solve their own problem first (sometimes, a google search or a brief look at the offerings at any garden centre would bring up the answer immediately, but the asker prefers to log onto a forum and see if they can get someone else to save them the trouble).
    - people asking for a full crash course in the topic at hand (I have seen this described as if asking "I've never used tools of any sort before but want to build my own house, please help!")
    - a failure to say thank you! It is a total turnoff when people post quite complex questions, get lots of great answers, and never reappear on the forum to maybe clarify their question, but above all never to say thank you.

    People asking questions often seem to subscribe to this very mistaken view expressed above (sorry, I don't know how to put this second quote into a quote format):

    "Well i think no matter how the thread is titled if you have the knowledge to help then you should consider it your duty and loyalty to your forum and fellow members. ...So no matter how frustrating it may be please dont lose sight of the common goal of gardening together."

    No one who answers questions here has any duty at all to the forum or to fellow members; we are completely free as to how we spend our time. And, there is no "common goal of gardening together." There is my gardening, and there is your gardening. We don't even have in common the goal of having a good forum. The answerers may have that goal, but the asker just wants an answer to his or her question. Treating the answerers as slaves to the askers accomplishes neither goal. For the forum to be a good one, ALL of us need to feel welcomed, respected and appreciated. My OP was a request to askers to treat answerers with respect. That's all.

    In response to your last posting, Vizion, (a) it's been tried, trust me, and it is always taken amiss when directed at an individual, and (b) you're assigning me a permanent nanny role; not interested, thanks.

    As for your example, how much work is it, really, to add the word "shrub" or "mushroom" to your sample question, given that you could save perhaps hundreds of people from fruitless clicking if they have no hope of being able to answer the question depending on what the final word is?
     
  21. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    There is a learning curve expected in this forum
    and to be honest I applaud it. Some people will
    get turned off when they ask what they feel is a
    pertinent question and lo and behold none of us
    try to answer it. I am guilty of doing it myself.
    I have also given time to people that I felt were
    new to the plant but seemed genuine in wanting
    some help they were asking about away from the
    Maple forum for the most part.

    Even some of us that have been around plants
    for a number of years, for me involved in
    production Citrus, even before I was in third
    grade, have some rough edges to get over.
    For some people it is an ego factor, some
    of it well deserved and for most of us no,
    it is not right for us to be that way to others.
    I know for me that what I may write may be
    taken in a negative manner yet if I were to
    tell someone in person in those same exact
    words they would not be offended at all.
    We might even get a laugh out of it. Forum
    formats and what we write is too impersonal
    but even when people later claim they are
    challenging us later on, then why do they have
    to insult us long before we read of what they
    really had intended or is it all just a game to
    them? None of us should be put down for what
    we write as long as what we wrote is how we do
    feel. If others do not like it - tough, it becomes
    their problem and much of the time for some
    people it is due to jealousy. Our credentials
    in plants and our scholastic achievements mean
    nothing if we do not know how to convey what
    we know about some of these plants to others.
    It is just that there are some people that feel
    they are expert that certainly are not if they
    would only step back from what they think they
    know and take a good hard look at themselves.

    Some people may seem brazen in what they write,
    much of it was not done on purpose but most people
    in this forum certainly are not ever trying to be crass.
    We do not give enough credit to people like Ron B,
    Millet in Citrus and Michael F. for their time they
    have devoted to help people, even when our questions
    may not seem genuine to them but they will help out
    anyway as it is the next person that they really are
    trying to help out the most. We cannot expect help
    when we cannot relate to the people that want to help
    us and cannot expect much in return due to insufficient
    information or from a desire to be overly impatient for
    the answers from people.

    The Sunset Western Garden Book will serve for the
    most part as the only book a home gardener needs to
    have for much of their gardening and plant questions
    such as: I just recently saw the plant and want to grow
    it but can I grow it in Seattle, or Los Angeles or perhaps
    in Sydney, Australia. I've always felt that the person in
    that area that has some knowledge of how that plant
    grows there is the right person to answer the question.
    No one in Georgia is going to know what we have to
    go through to grow variegated Japanese Maples here
    in the central part of the San Joaquin Valley but they
    can relate to the heat factors but not the low humidity,
    hot winds and soil/plant relationships we have here.
    We have people in California that are clueless also
    (another term that will be taken out of context but
    not when told to someone face to face).

    I've had some clashes with people that really have no
    idea what it takes to grow some of these plants in my
    area and to that extent I do have the right to tell them
    they are wrong when they seem to have never grown
    the plant themselves and because of that seem to think
    that what should happen in their area, even when they
    do not know for sure, will happen in other areas as well.
    Things do not work that way but I've seen a trend in
    this forum of being more open minded about plants
    and I feel that is far more important to helping someone
    with a growing issue much more than the blasted name
    of the plant will be to a lot of people. We have plants
    now that are named one thing in Europe and another
    in Japan and perhaps a third name in the US, so the
    people that want to defer to the names may be better
    served to know what that one plant is called in each
    location. We've seen evidence of what trouble this
    can bring in a few forums. The important thing is
    are we talking about the same plant and not enough
    people openly ask that inherent question. As we saw
    with the Citrus Sweetie thread we have a dilemma with
    dual names being used but as long as we know which
    forms of Citrus have those names then we can at least
    be talking about the Mandarin or the Navel Orange but
    if someone says Sweetie, I want to know which one
    such as the form that came out of Israel, the one from
    California or the one being worked on right now in
    Florida. The concern is that they are all pretty much
    the same plant but they have come about from using
    different rootstocks to achieve them. With that in mind,
    no, they are not the same plant if we go back and learn
    how they were developed. I never have agreed to the
    Oroblanco being marketed and sold by the trade name
    California Sweetie but to others if the plant was theirs
    that they are growing they would be telling me how
    wrong I am and that my opinion does not merit any
    consideration whatsoever.

    I took a quick peek and saw that both people that have
    freely spoken out cannot have been adversely affected
    by me as I was not posting in this forum when they
    were. I suppose a few Maple forum posts that I made
    might have ruffled a few feathers (so be it), unlike
    posts I made in the Dogwood, Fruit Tree and the
    Citrus forums that are still pretty safe to all and
    that is what I had hoped for, all things considered.

    Jim
     
  22. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    He lives! Your often interesting musings have been well received here in the past, hopefully you will again feel like pitching in frequently.

    A friend that had a career in public service pointed out to me along the way that free advice was not responded to in the same way as that which was paid for. This will be an important factor with discussions on non-subscription web sites.
     
  23. bonsai

    bonsai Member

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    I'm not sure, as it was so long ago, but I believe I may have ignited this whole thread. I was new to this forum and only wanted advice on pruning the UBC cultivar "Blue Ravine" Clematis. I got clippings out of the newspaper, searched the internet, Googled, but couldn't pin it down to one technique or another. That is why I came here to this forum, but being inexperienced, I may have made my first post incorrectly. I seem to have touched a sore point somehow and lit this controversy. I agree & apologize to whomever I may have inadvertently offended with my, admittedly amateur post. I have since taken a Pruning workshop @ 'Dig This' Broadmead and heard the expert, Maureen, master gardener, explain the particulars of an acknowledged weak cultivar from UBC botanicals and how to properly prune it. Unfortunately, I received much free, conflicting advice, which was actually no help to myself. bonsai
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2007
  24. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Bonsai, if you're referring to why I started this thread, it was not the fault of any individual poster, and I don't even remember seeing your clematis query.

    I made the opening post after a frustrating visit to the forum. Faced with a seemingly unending list of titles that told me nothing about the content, I clicked on thread after thread only to realize that I either (a) wasn't interested in the type of plant or problem involved or (b) had already clicked on the thread three or four times and previously determined that I wasn't interested in the type of plant or problem involved.

    Because I visit more than one forum, too, my posting was a response to cumulative observed behaviour, not that of one person.
     
  25. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Regarding the conflicting advice, it's the same as any other subject area: you gather and compare some opinions and then use your own perspective to decide which one you will use. There's a quip that goes something like

    'You know you have real experts on hand when all of them have the true facts and none of them agree with one another'.
     
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