The good, the bad, and the ugly (questions, that is) : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

In another thread, two people (Jules and Larry) asked me to clarify what was and was not a good topic to post on. This is a two-pronged post, where I'm going to touch on both questions.

Jules specifically asked:

My feeling is pretty simple on this -- we're not an actor fan site. The main site doesn't contain any information on what individual actors are doing outside of ER, and the reason for that is twofold. One is that I just don't care; the other is that to include external information, I'd have to do a lot of duplication with other sites, and I don't see why people would want to put up with my half-assed job of creating individual fan sites for actors when they can go to people who are using their whole ass and doing a much better job of it.

Conclusion: Actor personality posts are off-topic. There are better places for it on the net. I have in the past aggresively hunted down and killed posts, and I will continue to do so.

Good post vs. bad post: First step, look at the FAQ. This forum is supposed to be a collaboratively produced, dynamic version of that relatively static document. The FAQ deals with frequently asked questions that I can think of; this bboard is more designed for the questions I can't think of.

Good posts have long term pedagogical value. A reader visiting the site in six months probably isn't going to care what Julianna Marguiles was doing on stage last week (which isn't really appropriate for this bboard because it isn't about the show), but he might care about the interpretation of an ambiguous line in this week's rerun, or be interested in reading people's reactions to an episode (of course, he might be better served in that goal by going elsewhere).

Good questions also cover new ground. With new episodes, this is relatively easy; with re-runs, it's hard to say what's been covered before, which is why I encourage people to search the database before asking away. The lack of a full-text search engine for this bboard hampers that to a certain extent, which is also why I wish people would exercise a little care in titling their posts.

Bad questions focus on time-sensitive material -- what's happening this week, what happened last night, where can I get X (more on this in a second). People ask questions to learn, but bad questions don't teach to a wider audience, they teach to a single person. Bad questions also duplicate information that's either in the database already or is a part of the static content and will likely earn you a terse note telling you to look somewhere else for it.

Many people have been using this forum as a repository for "quickie" answers, stuff that is time-sensitive and really only requires a single answer. I would appreciate it if people would stop doing that, but if they insist on it, I would also appreciate it if they fed the system a valid e-mail address and turned "notify me of responses via e-mail" on so there's some kind of record of what's been asked. How long it takes me to nuke these kinds of questions depends heavily on my state of mind at the time; if I'm feeling charitable, I'll let it sit for a little while to accrete answers and then delete it; if I'm in a bad mood, I'll delete it outright. Either way, time sensitive stuff gets deleted; the only question is how long it takes for the information to go stale.

An example of a good question and answer pair might be:

Q: I read that some of Carter's colleagues might not be so supportive of him coming back. Who might that be, and why?
A: Possibly Kovac, because he has a history of being judgmental and seeing the world in moral black and whites. Maybe Malucci, because he's insensitive. Probably not Weaver, Greene, or Benton, since they all participated in the intervention; if they didn't care, they would have let him rot, or fired him outright.

It's much harder to come up with examples of bad questions beyond what I've already said, because I'm loathe to pick on anyone in particular, and because I don't have any handy right now. :)

Briefly, then, you should be asking yourself these questions before posting:

If you can answer "yes" to these questions, then post away. If you can't, re-visit your posting and try to figure out why not.

This seems more difficult than Usenet and other Web-based fora because none of them explicitly keep a permanent archive of all that has gone before, and most people are used to their post scrolling off after a while. After seven days, the posts get removed from the top-level discussion, but they continue to be archived -- so just because you don't see your post at the top level doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I suppose I should just set a default eight day expiration on all threads and reset the dates on the threads I want to keep, but that's even more work than I already do.

If you've read all the way to the bottom, I appreciate it. Hopefully, someone will find all of this useful.

-- Mike Sugimoto (, September 06, 2000


Thank you for the input Mike, I 've had doubts on many of the issues you covered in this thread.

-- jules (, September 06, 2000.

I should stress that I'm open to questions regarding clarification on anything I've said here, and I'll do my best to answer expediently.

-- Mike Sugimoto (, September 06, 2000.

Wow, that was quick and thorough. Thanks for putting that in and clarifying some of the questions I had, especially time-sensitive postings. I will keep all of these in mind, especially when the new season begins.

We've kept you busy today; thanks again.

-- Larry B. (, September 06, 2000.

Thanks for the clarification and reminders, Mike. Great timing with the new season being about one month away! It's been a long, hot summer.

-- Diana (, September 06, 2000.

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