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Why are "Answers" separate from "Forums" ?

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Domitan Redenblack wrote:

see title.




Forums are designed for lengthy discussions on a topic.  They are a good place for opinions, collaborations and friendly debate.  Second Life Answers is designed for asking the community Second Life related questions and receiving possible solutions that resolve an issue.  Answers is essentially a quick Q&A format.   Hope that helps!

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Answers are separate from Forums because the Answers Section is designed for Questions that can have Specific Answers, such as, "How many fingers are on the SecondLife Logo?" The Forums Section is for discussion or questions without specific answers, such as, "What is your favorite color?" The Answers Section is a tool that can be used to find solutions to your problems; just by typing in a few key words, solutions are displayed. So, the Answers are for solutions and the Forums are for discussions.

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These answers don't do justice to the question.  It's like asking why you need both an upright and a canister vacuum cleaner.  Sure, they have different design priorities, but nobody buys both.  You just pick the one that seems best. 

There's no technical reason the Answers section can't have an extended discussion - it certainly allows multiple responses to a question.  There's no technical reason the Forums can't have a quick question and answer thread, or benefit from the same keyword search.  There are some performance trade-offs, but it's not clear that it's worth the cost or confusion of both.  The design differences are comparable to the differences between police cars and taxi cabs - cosmetic and bells and whistles.

The real difference is in the way the content gets managed, which has nothing to do with the technology.  The older versions of the forums didn't do a good job of meeting the quick beginner Q&A needs, largely because they were never well managed.  They did perfectly well for the building and scripting forums.  By creating a separate Answers section (either in the current or immediate predecessor versions), LL used the technological paint job to make it easier to manage the new section the way they should have managed the earlier forums to begin with.



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I think there are elements of truth in both Lexie's and Kidd's statements, and not to knock either, I don't think eiter draws an entirely accurate picture...

were the old forums heavily given to long (and frequently wandering) discussions? yup

was the separation of "answers" a move that made it easier to narrow the focus of threads? uh huh


but neither addresses the history behind the moves... the old forums were poorly layed out, and only accessible to payment info on file members as a legacy of when there were no free accounts. there had been multiple attacks of the software, and extremely poor integration as well as poor managment and patchwork fixes...

Answers was being touted as the new way to do things, sleek modern and in theory, cutting out the "noise" of the original forums, with better integration, increased participation, and management by a third party company....

unfortunately it was deficient in several ways, and some very vocal and even well paying clients made a point to LL that the "noise" was actually "community", and the "modern" methods weren't allowing for support in extended matters. they demanded a place for those things to continue... LL decided that it worth their while to consider those demands and recreated most of the original forums as separate to to answers, (IMO) to allow them to exmplify one aspect to corporate backers, while downplaying the other, while taking advantage of the ability to move extended conversations off the main radar.

the software, however, was never intended for the formats or environments it was being put to use for (as a publice solution it was immature, and it was painfully obvious how much it was lacking, and that only increased over the course of the contract year.... because of the abrupt manner and poor performance of that platform, many productive members moved off to other places where the featureset was more useable.

enter lithium, which, while still not as mature as some solutions, is a far cry and improvement from the previous jive software. but rather than completely dump the forums as they had tried before, and had received major outcry over, instead they ported over both sections as before, and you saw a quiet effort to eliminate some of the "noise" again.... and since at the heart of that "noise" is a strong sense of vocal community, there was outcry again, although more limited because the entire forums weren't being abandoned at once....



while I agree with parts of what Lexie and Kidd said, IMO it boils down to, LL is managerially attached to the "answers" methodology, but can't seem to get rid of the forum methodology no matter how hard they try, and they desperately want to divorce one from the other for reasons of marketing and publicity.

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Then , at least, put the Answers summary into the Forums section and vice versa so I don't have to scan two different places to see what is going on. This would mean a change in the code though, so it won't happen. Another planning triumph!


1. All those "Answers" now are in competition with the Forum. In looking at them, I see no credible substantial differences between the two areas, other than a different set of sections in Answers from the sections in Forums. *shakes head*

2. Who knows if your "Answer" is going to be short or long or have different solutions or non-solutions?

3. Splitting these up into NON-LINKED areas means I won't buy an upright vacuum cleaner and will miss out those features.

4. "Answers" is not a substitute for the now-missing "General Questions" section of the forums. "Off Topic" is not a good name for such a section in the new forums, and assigning No Points to "Off Topic" does not then drive people to the Answers" area outside of the forums; it merely irritates them.

5. The comments here show that even "seasoned" residents are conflicted about what Forums-versus-Answers really means, especially to those who may need help, which I am sure was not LL's wishes behind this.

6. What a mess, sure to cause headaches and confusion forever.


7. Proposed Solution:

Keep all questions, discussions and answers in the forums. ONLY when a "solution" is accepted, do you post those in the "Answers Area" (with a link back to the forum posting) and which are not open for further comments in the Answers area. This would then collect together all Questions and Answers in one place, separate from the general too-and-fro discussions.

This would be fantastic for Newbie and Seasoned residents alike... No more scanning a thread, wondering if there is a solution in it. WOW!



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This is mostly in reply to Domitan, but addressed generally:

I looked at 'Answers' a lot on the Jive blogs and I think the idea of separating the two areas makes sense.  They are less separate here than there, after all - just a tab-click away.

  1. The big difference is that people who don't know what they're talking about look/post in Answers and want a simple, or step-by-step solution.  People who are more comfortable with SL know that Answers suck and that all the cool people ignore it in favour of the forums so they ask there and want a range of options and opinions.  I'm not going to start asking scripting questions in Answers, for instance.
  2. Linden Lab doesn't recognise the existence of long answers, different solutions and non-solutions.  This was pointed out to them on the former blogs and they became more relaxed about (short and to the point) discussions.  This is just one more thing they've screwed-up in the new Answers.
  3. Don't worry - you wouldn't even want to LOOK at Answers at the moment, it's a mess.
  4. Who cares about points?  Most comments I've read are more irritated about points, ranks, kudos, et al and want to get rid of these silly things.  As to whether it's called 'General Discussion' (NB: it wasn't "questions" anyway) or 'Off Topic' I have no preference.
  5. I don't think there's really any conflict of opinion between residents.  LL want to crowd-source their user-documentation in Answers.  Residents want to discuss how to do things in SL, and some off-topic nonsense too.  The only conflict is that LL seems to want to make it as hard as possible for us to do their work for them while we're at it.
  6. Well yeah, but it's a lot neater than it was under Jive.  The format and organisation has improved noticably I think.  Apart from within Answers itself, of course.

7. I really like that idea.  Gives residents all the freedom of proper opinion and discussion, gives Answers the single-solution LL want.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The "answers" section is for questions.

To find answers, look elsewhere.



Seriously, I don't see much use for the "answers" section.  For one thing, it's not possible to read the whole question, or even enough of it to see whether I can answer it, with the current (awful) layout where subjects are truncated so short.  Furthermore, it's not divided into general areas of expertise.  As a result, it's rather tedious to wade through looking for posts where I can help.

It may be easy for those asking questions, but it doesn't support people who are interested in providing answers in specific areas -- or more to the point, *not* interested in questions in a number of different specific areas.

Hopefully, I'm wrong, and the Answers section turns out to be useful for general questions where the asker can't find more specific forums on which to ask.

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