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Where to Ask if not Ask Slashdot? 111

Posted by Cliff
from the time-for-some-feedback dept.
Rick the Red asks: "It seems that 3/4 of the Ask Slashdot articles are met with "Ask Google" answers. So, where do you go for answers (besides Google)? Advice (besides Dear Abby)? Opinions (besides ePinions)? If you want to know how to network one of those 4-in-1 printers, how do you find someone who's tried it? If you need help with some discontinued merchandise, who do you ask? If your pet project hits a snag, what do you do? Come on, all you "Ask Google" critics, fess up -- where do you think people should turn instead of Ask Slashdot?"
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Where to Ask if not Ask Slashdot?

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  • by CounterZer0 (199086) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:37AM (#4280848) Homepage
    This should be in the 'Meta Ask Slashdot' catagory ;)

    I personally ask stuff like that on mailing lists, usenet, and IRC (not in that order!). You can also try hooking up with a geeks / sysadmin group in your local area (I'm sure there's one most everywhere), and ask friends / associates there.

    (no other search engines give you real answers, but i guess you could Ask Jeeves []

    • Re:GOOGLE! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by 216pi (461752)
      did you ever try []? It may cost money, but it definitly WILL give you an answer. It's a nice mix between google and ask slashdot.
    • Google is great and I get most of my answers there. I like the discussion on Ask /. so I don't complain. There are a lot of suggestions and alternatives brought up that a search never would have come up with in a Google search for the issue.

      Editors just need to be a little more dicriminate of what they post.

      I work at a Fortune 500 company and am soley responsible to migrate our SAN to a cheaper solution. I'm taking my A+ exam in a couple weeks so I know what I'm doing. Yes, I am uber leet. Should I install AtheOS or Windows ME on the Sun SunFire boxen??

      I'm being sued by the RIAA, MPAA, Microsoft and my own grandmother. I don't have lawyer and thought I would ask some legal advice from a bunch of geeks instead of doing something smart like obtaining some legal counsel.
  • by ferratus (244145) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:38AM (#4280858) Homepage
    I'd suggest Ars technica []'s a great place to ask questions and the search gives you access to a bunch of older questions.

    Google is another good one of course.
    • I second that. ArsTechnica is the best Web forum out there. There are various forum (networking, multimedia, Linux, Windows, you name it) and there a lot of knowledgeable participants. The tone is quite civil since these forum are aggressively moderated. These are also very newbie-friendly.
  • Tom's (Score:5, Informative)

    by Apreche (239272) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:40AM (#4280876) Homepage Journal
    The forums at Tom's Hardware or anandtech are some of the best places to get answers to tech questions. Especially if its a question about which hardware to buy.
    Another good way to go is to find a slashdot user who will probably have your answer, and check their journal/e-mail.
    And of course usenet is great. And you can use google for that too!
    • They have both published blatently false information (ie. THG - 30fps is enough for everyone, movies are only 25fps, etc, etc), and never a retraction. I might skim by their pics of hardware(*cough* those have been faked also, look around for the huge flames), maybe even benchmarks, but that's it. Take it all with a nice 100lb boulder of salt. If you find yourself in a conversation about something that you "learned" at either of these sites, be prepared to be called a dumbass, or thought a fool.

      Maybe I sound like a giant troll, but my examples are true, and there are many others.

  • It probably counts as part of google, but I definitely consult
  • Damnit... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gphat (5647) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:41AM (#4280885) Homepage
    It's getting worse! I don't usually join the folks bitching about Ask /. questions, but this is getting old.

    The post said exactly what you do, ASK GOOGLE. As more people are getting into this stuff, fewer are learning the way most of us did years and years back -- We Looked It Up.

    I don't think /. is the forum for how to network your 4-in-fucking-1 printer, that's what 4-in-1 printer newsgroups and customer support are for.
    • Come on, all you "Ask Google" critics, fess up -- where do you think people should turn instead of Ask Slashdot?"

      Am I the only one who took this as an attack on slashdot readership? It's like he's goading us into a fight. Besides, the question is rediculous. What do you think an "Ask Google" critic is going to suggest? Sheesh.

      IMHO, the Ask Slashdot forum should be primarily for questions that do not have a straightfoward, logical, correct answer. This kind of information, such as how to network your 4-in-1 printer, can be obtained through numerous outlets (and, no, I'm not going to list those here -- read the other posts). The Ask Slashdot questions ought to be to stimulate discussion on issues that are not clear-cut and have no "right" answer. Slashdot has an intelligent readership that has a very diverse set of opinions. Asking a question here is likely to get you a wide range of interesting answers. That, my friends is one of the things that differentiates slashdot from a google search. Again, just MHO.


    • by sulli (195030)
      The whole point is that there are other places to ask beside Google and Ask Slashdot. I think it's actually a very legitimate (and amusing, given the stock replies to ask/.) question!
  • by Tom7 (102298) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:45AM (#4280908) Homepage Journal
    Jesus. Stop posting these obvious questions! Just type them into Google:

    where do I ask my questions other than slashdot []

    That results in this link: []

  • This is one of those articles where /. eats itself.

    There will no longer be "Ask Slashdot?" articles of any value (the last 10 or so have been of no value, other than the pure 'there-are-some-dumb-shits-around' laugh out loud factor), since the only possible *valid* response to Ask Slashdot is: 22 35235&mode=thread&tid=96

    • Re:Good lord. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Atzanteol (99067)
      It's people like *this*, ladies and gentlemen, who give the Linux/BSD/etc. crowd the ellitist snob look. Why can't people ask questions? What is wrong with asking even an 'obvious' question? Questions are how people learn. Sometimes people don't like crawling through tons of obscure pages written by people like this who assume you will look up *every* word you don't understand.

      If you don't like a question, just don't answer it! Why must we berate and insult it?

      "This is not an 'ask slashdot' question" Well, then I challenge you to tell me *what is* a "Slashdot question?"
      • It's people like *this*, ladies and gentlemen, who give the Slashdot crowd the elitist snob look. Why can't people ask good questions? What is wrong with asking even a 'non-obvious' question? Good questions help people think. Sometimes people don't like regurgitating here the same prose as they do ten times a day in real life for the rest of the hapless masses too lazy to search Google themselves.

        If you don't have a good question, just don't post it! Why must you insist that we help you change the batteries in your lawnmower to keep your green wife happy? Unless you're going to let a line form from the front sidewalk to the back bedroom of your house, while handing out condoms and alochol by the door, I'd like to suggest that we don't care what your wife thinks about your lawnmower.

        Such questions are not Slashdot material, but merely evidence that overpaid people are still largely inept at most matters of life.
        • *typical slashdot jerk response*
          All you questions are beneath me. Sorry. Come back when you have 'good' questions. Oh, and you're probably ugly and stupid for asking these questions.

          It seems to me that this 'ask slashdot' came from someone just as annoyed as I am at the 'this is not a good question, search google' crowd. Do you not know the answers? Does it take *less* time to flame than it does to answer the question? I've seen questions that can easily be found on google. I've chosen not to post, or post with personal experiences that may NOT be found on a google search. Not everyone posting questions has a mastery (or even knowledge) of usenet.

          BUT, to answer the questioner: Beyond a good google search of news and web content, and asking a few friends, there isn't much else I use for a resource. I would be interested in seeing what other people post as resources (web links, etc).
      • ... or ask stupid questions, does not make me an instant elitist.


        Stupid questions are simply defined as those questions for which answers are *easily* found without any degree of effort required, yet they are asked anyway out of pure laziness. Most stupid people are lazy, and vice verse.

        What defines whether or something is easy is easily is dependent on just exactly how much of a clueless dufus you are. Also, most lazy people find even the easiest things difficult, because they're too lazy.

        Insults - particularly in your case - are required as a means of indicating stupidity on the laziness scale, and are intended to goad the recipient into actually getting off their lazy asses, thinking about it, and then doing it themselves.

        That satisfy your craving for valuable information, Atzanteol, you big dufus?!!
  • by Neck_of_the_Woods (305788) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:52AM (#4280956) Journal

    Come on, do some research. Ask Slashdot is by far the quickest way to get a legion of smart people with nothing to do but read slashdot to find your answers. Got a problem you don't want to waste an hour or two looking for the answer. Just ask slashdot.

    Ask slashdot is just a smarter search engine.

  • Best places (Score:2, Informative)

    by travail_jgd (80602)
    I've had nothing but positive experiences asking questions at Anandtech Forums []. Even if you don't like the articles on the site, the forums (and FAQs!) are a great source of technical help. Posting requires free registration, but is relatively painless. The forums cover just about everything involving PC tech, plus "off-topic" and "hot deals" categories. They are fairly tolerant of newbies as well.

    Google is probably an overlooked resource too. Most of the time I can find answers to my Linux questions by searching for "linux howto topicname" (without the quotes). And I have bookmark folders full of sites devoted to one or two specific topics (networking, MP3's, beginner-level Linux, CD-RW's, etc).

  • Errr, Google?
  • Ask Google [].
  • Personally i'd not ask slashdot about anything until i've tried every other place that crosses my mind. And after hitting my head on the wall for two weeks straight.

    Lately (as everyone probably agrees) ask /. topics have been, well, dodgy.
  • I also like It honors quotes. So "slashdot whiners" (with the quotes) will only find pages where the two words are adjacent and in that order. Can be very handy.
  • by north.coaster (136450) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @10:30AM (#4281195) Homepage

    Usenet has for the last twenty or so years been a place to ask questions and get advice. Google Groups [] has a wonderful search feature where you can query past Usenet discussions, which includes almost all of the questions that others have already asked. Let's face it, it's very likely that someone else has already asked your question.

    I use this for all sorts of topics (computers, home remodeling, appliance repair, cars, etc.). I almost always find some useful information.

    And if all else fails, I can submit my question to an appropriate newsgroup (again using Google Groups).


  • Ask your question here, and just read comments at a threshold of +2 or greater. In other words, just ignore the immature "ask google" responses. If an intelligent person has a good answer or advice he will post it; if not, he will keep his mouth shut. The "ask google" people just have WAY too much time on their hands.

    • Re:Ask here (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrResistor (120588)
      I prefer to respond to the immature "ask google" answers with details about how they completely failed to answer the question, since that is generally the case. It always brightens my day to knock some uppity bitch down a peg or two. My only regret is that I don't have time to get them all!

  • by haplo21112 (184264) < minus berry> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @10:33AM (#4281214) Homepage
    Yeah yeah go ahead mod me down before you read the full reply, for having an unpopular opinion...
    but here it is anyway....

    The reason for asking a question at ask slashdot is to get the help of people how have done it before. This is a plain stright forward simple truth. Yes in many cases you can go "ask google" might get a page or two with in formation on the howto' will not get the life expirence information on how everyone did do it(as opposed to the one or two ways that google might give you)...the information that ask slashdot response will give you are the gotcha's the alternative approches, and so forth...

    Its a community folks, personally I would rather ask the people who have done it and have the expirence that I can ask questions of during my implimentation...than trust it to some googled web page that may or my not even be currently maintained. Asking slashdot can also cut through alot of the bullshit that you might otherwise run into because the slashdoters who have bene there before will more often than not point you to the resources that did work for them...
    • Yes in many cases you can go "ask google" might get a page or two with in formation on the howto' will not get the life expirence information on how everyone did do it
      As a person who's had several "HOW-TO" pages on Google myself, I'm rather offended by that remark. Why is my web page's anecdotal evidence any less valid than a ten line comment from a /.er?

      You can find a plethora of valuable information on the WWW, including archived mailing lists and other discussion forums (Yes, they do exist outside of /.!). Were a person crafty enough, they might even dig a little deeper into these forums and perhaps, upon finding a relatively fresh topic, post some of their own input and experience to the thread in order that they may help the NEXT person to come along asking the same question.

      If same person has a webpage, perhaps they could post a detailed explanation of their experiences, as have so many other people done in the past, in order that "Ask Google!" will only become more valid as time goes on, rather than less so.

      Its a community folks, personally I would rather ask the people who have done it and have the expirence that I can ask questions of during my implimentation...
      You mean to tell me that you could submit an Ask Slashdot article, have it posted to the front page, and have people responding with valid tips/tricks in time for you to implement a solution to your problem, and still have time to iron out the kinks before the article scrolls off the page and everybody loses interest?

      What are you doing, setting up a Samba server for a LAN? Installing a 4-in-1 printer device for a network? It's these very mundane tasks that "Ask Google" excells at, because so many others have come before and done the exact same thing (not to mention support from the copman[y/ies] in whatever form is available).

      Slashdot is supposed to be (and if not, pardon my ignorance, I'm just going by the title of the page here) a NEWS site - is it not? Why is it news to me to find out where to get/how to make a portable hub (something that Google, BTW, excelled at determining the answer to)? What about finding graphics editing software? Don't we have Freshmeat for finding *NIX software? What about balancing Career and College? Haven't people been doing that for DECADES now? Don't most schols have guidance counsellors for that? What about career counselling services? Hell, one's own employer and/or co-workers? Safely cleaning LCD displays? My laptop came with instructions that were quite clear on this procedure, as have most devices I've ever purchased with LCD / TFT displays. Is Ask Slashdot really quicker than flipping to the Index in a manual? Online marketing for an indie band? People have been doing this for years - ask other bands, not nerds. If you're having trouble finding bands, look in the (sorry to alarm you) "Yellow Pages". You know, sources of information pointing to local businesses (read: people who make their living in each of these technical areas). Musty Music [] is a great source for people in the Durham / GTA and surrounding area. ("Not By Choice" rehearsed there, and was played first on the online radio station in which they are a partner!).

      Whoa.. This one just took the cake - "Learning x86 for Non-x86 Assembler Programmers?"?!? I'm fairly certain that I could fill my shiny new 80GB hard drive with information in this area from, you guessed it, search engines!

      Ask Slashdot was interesting a few years ago, but now it's just become a source of answers for people too lazy to do any legwork of their own. I agree with a previous post - one to two weeks of legwork required before an A.S. article makes it to the site. Perhaps documented proof of research should be a requirement to have an article posted to the front page.


    • YES! Also, sometimes a person who reads slashdot might know more then the howto or whatever says. Google is good, but sometimes the answer isn't always in Google, be it the simple how do I hook up my Linksys router to 3 computers and a PDA and configure it properly and securly or the somewhat harder how do I install Linux and boot off of X filesystem(one not in the installer, but one the kernel will run). I mean yeah I know how to do it but some don't and sometimes the answers aren't all there. My point: Stop being so damn LEET by say ASK GOOGLE! :) Help someone for a change and be nice!
    • Yes in many cases you can go "ask google" might get a page or two with in formation on the howto' will not get the life expirence information on how everyone did do it

      Yes, you will. Ever heard of Google Groups?
      • Last I looked, Usenet had mainly devolved into a vast collection of spamers, people utterly dedicated to a topic, and frothing nutters. That's a shame; circa 1991 it was actually pretty swell.

        The thing I like about Ask Slashdot is that it gets a broad audience. The point isn't so much to extract particular information; it's to have a bunch of smart people talk something over. And the moderation mechanism means that I can easily see the relatively useful bits without having to wade through a lotta garbage.

        So Google Groups, like Google, is often a good way to get answers to particular questions, but I hardly see it as a replacement for Ask Slashdot.
        • I gave up on usenet a few years ago for the exact same reasons, but I've recently returned and been pleasently suprised. If you are simply a little picky about your groups, I think you'll find they really are as good as they were back in the day. For example, the comp.* groups don't seem to suffer any of the problems you list. I've found little else than intelligent answers from reasonable people in those groups.

          The alt.* groups certainly have spam issues, though, but I've always found them to be much less "serious" anyway.

        • The point of google groups is that a bunch of smart people have already discussed nearly anything you ask (and nearly anything that's been asked here). In many cases, it includes smarter, more informed people than post here. It may not have moderation, but you also don't need to depend on the moderators being unbiased and informed enough to accurately judge things.
      • While there is sometimes a high noise to signal ratio on ask slashdot, it is at least better than most other places...and the self moderation tends to clear the wheat from the chaffe...

        Usenet on the other hand is reaching(actually for me several years ago reached) a nearly unusable state...getting useful results from amoung the spam(some groups a used to monitor are now 90% spam) is nearly impossible...

    • No offense, but if google cannot give you a link to a website of someone that's gone through the process and given you an explination: you can't search, or it doesn't exist.

      And seriously, how are you going to gain the life experience by just asking other people and not trudging through the little failures yourself?
      • I see ask slashdot as a community just like asking my co-workers...

        In solving a problem step one is to stand up from my cube(or get on the phone for my one remote co-worker on the other coast), and make a general shout I am trying to do X has anyone ever tryed to do that before? Anyone know of any resources?
        Then consult the approprite web sites for the product I am using...then google, then search the usenet groups that might have a connection...then if I think its a good question ask slashdot...
        I've had two accepted even and they both got alot of traffic...
    • Is it so much to ask that people do even a cursory search of the available resources before asking simple questions? If someone wants help recompiling their kernel, should Slashdot readers give them a step by step walkthrough even though there are literally hundreds of pages of information about the topic available from various resources? Nobody would mind people asking Slashdot if the answer to the asker's question wasn't the first response in a Google search, as is frequently the case.

      I don't have any problem with someone asking slashdot, even if it's a dumb question; but if the answer to their question is 2 seconds away, why waste everyone's time with it?
  • Two suggestions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @10:42AM (#4281266) Journal
    Come on, all you "Ask Google" critics, fess up -- where do you think people should turn instead of Ask Slashdot?"

    To try a somewhat different tack -- here are two things questioners can do to avoid stirring up us critics:

    1) Mention where you've already looked (Google, Usenet, whatever), what you've found and what additional information you want. Half the time, the karma whores who do a quick search [] haven't found a useful answer. Telling what you've already done boosts your credibility and makes it easier for readers to complement other sources.

    2) Maybe this is just me and a few others but -- enough with the "What is the best ____ for geeks?" [] questions! If you're trying to purchase an identity, why not go to Abercrombie and Fitch and buy a good one?

    • 2) Maybe this is just me and a few others but -- enough with the "What is the best ____ for geeks?" [] questions! If you're trying to purchase an identity, why not go to Abercrombie and Fitch and buy a good one?

      You never have mod points when you need them. Bravo, at once insightful and funny.

  • IRC (Score:3, Informative)

    by dalutong (260603) <> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @10:42AM (#4281270)
    I rely heavily on IRC. particularly

    sometimes my questions are OT, but the people in #debian are very nice. #wireless helps me with my wireless problems. #gnu helps me with my political questions. etc.

  • by ctr2sprt (574731) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @11:14AM (#4281504)
    Seriously. It makes me sound like a jerk, but it's true. With a little knowledge and good skills, you can troubleshoot and solve most problems in less time than it takes to explain them to someone else.

    Effective troubleshooting is largely a process of elimination, and as such it works best if you are extremely orderly about it. For example, let's say a lamp "just stopped working," "for no reason." Well, first eliminate the bulb as the possible culprit: put in a new one, or test the old one in a lamp that's known to work. At the end, you should be able to say with certainty that the bulb works fine.

    So now look at the lamp. Is the bulb socket corroded? Is the bulb making contact where it needs to? Is the lamp actually plugged in? Is the switch working? Again, at the end of the process, you should be able to say with certainty that the lmap is not the problem.

    The you'd look at the wiring and whatever else might be involved. 99.9% of the time, you will find the problem well before you run out of places to look. It's exactly the same with computers. NIC isn't working? First swap in a NIC that's known to work. Then test cables that are known to work. Then you would probably do the same from the other end of the connection. Monitor isn't working? Try it on a different computer, or try a different monitor on your computer. Try a different video card. Different cable. And so on.

    The other useful part here is that narrowing your questions like that greatly improves your chances of success with a search engine. Putting "my NIC doesn't work" into Google isn't going to help; but putting "my NIC transmits, but won't receive" probably is. Putting "permission denied" into Google is going to get you thousands of pages back, but putting "linux ifconfig permission denied" is probably going to put your answer at the very top. And so on. And, if you still are stumped and have to ask someone for help, at least you can provide a detailed explanation of what you have tried, which improves your odds of getting a qualified (and correct) answer back.

    Because of this, I very seldom have to ask any questions. When I do, I usually ask either knowledgeable people I already know, or I post my question on USENET. This is primarily a question of competence, unfortunately; most web boards, IRC groups, and so on are full primarily of ignorant people who think they are really smart, and misleading or inaccurate replies can waste hours of my time if I don't correctly identify them as such. (Plus, they cause the knowledgeable people to get lost in the noise.)

    Also, this was really long.

    • Mod the parent up, please!

      I have disliked most of the Ask Slashdot questions for ages now, as they really are very elementary.

      What people need to know is HOW to solve a problem, not necessarily the solution to the problem at hand.
    • In other words, learn how to spin your wheels for several hours, days if need be, so you don't annoy some poor hapless slashdot reader you insensitive clod!

      I don't know about you, but at my work if I'm looking into something for an hour and still haven't figured it out I ask somebody else who may know. This is called 'time management'. If somebody else happens to have knowledge in the area of code I'm looking at and can answer my question in 5mins, then why not ask? This is how I tend to think of ask slashdot, as another coworker who has some experience in an area I don't.
      • In other words, learn how to spin your wheels for several hours, days if need be, so you don't annoy some poor hapless slashdot reader you insensitive clod!

        that's right. In all likelihood, spending those few hours will help you understand the answer the third party will give you, when you have to ask anyway. And it will help you the next time.

      • There's nothing wrong with asking for help if you need it, so long as you don't become totally reliant upon others. My message here is that, wherever possible, you should do things yourself instead of making others do them for you. In the workplace, that may not always be the right solution (you can't do everything yourself). But Ask /. isn't your workplace. The people here volunteer their time because they want to, and frivolous or wasteful questions distract from those which are interesting, engaging, and thought-provoking. You're welcome to tell us to buzz off and don't answer if we don't want to, and that's exactly what we're doing when we irritably post "Use Google" or "RTFM."
    • have the right idea, but you may want to think about prioritizing your methods. You really need to weigh the probability of success of your troubleshooting steps vs. the amount of time and effort to perform that step to be a good troubleshooter. Also, keep in mind that your steps aren't ONLY to try and solve the problem, but also to get clues to the problem. If your checking a printing problem, then try printing from a different program and to a different printer to see which is causing the problem.

      In your first example (lamp not working), it would have been much quicker to check that the lamp was plugged in FIRST (unless it's a plug hidden behind a large desk or something). THEN replace the bulb, as it is quite likely that that is the problem. A quick cursory examination of the power cord and lamp socket should be tried after that (unless you have rats or leaking roofs in your house, in which case you may want to check those items before the bulb), and then verifying that the outlet/switch works.

      In your second example (NIC not working) why would you go thru all the trouble to shut down a PC, pull it out of its hiding place, dust it off, open it up, replace the NIC, and load new drivers as a first step? It's much more logical to check the patch cord, the link light, TCP/IP and the hub/switch port (usually in that order) first. That should take a total of 2-5 minutes to eliminate all of those possibilities before having to replace the NIC (which rarely fails compared to the other items).

      Also, you should ALWAYS be thinking 2 or 3 steps ahead of yourself. If you're checking TCP/IP, you should already know what your next 2 checks are going to be based on the results of that test. If you succeed at fixing the problem at that step, the next time you encounter a similar issue you'll already have a flowchart in your head of the steps to follow. Very rarely (though it does happen occasionally) do I get to the end of the flowchart in my head or need to stop and think about what my next step will be.

      • A good idea is also to keep a log of what you do. At least if it's a complicated procedure. (Ie not changing light bulbs.) It's really the scientific procedure applied to problem solving. At first make some hypothesis about what it can be. (Or several.) Try to figure out a way to test it and then do so.

        It's the same thing as what was originally suggested, but if you actually write things down you "automatically" think them through more than if you'd just try them right away. (And you might think of a way to test your hypothesis which is a lot faster than your original way.)

        And having some notes on what you have tried is also helpful if you don't find the problem. You then know what you have tried and thought of before.

        Another good problem solving trick is to just stop trying to solve the problem. Sleeping for instance, or getting a bite to eat. That really works wonders for morale as well.
        • A good idea is also to keep a log of what you do. At least if it's a complicated procedure. (Ie not changing light bulbs.) It's really the scientific procedure applied to problem solving. At first make some hypothesis about what it can be. (Or several.) Try to figure out a way to test it and then do so. It's the same thing as what was originally suggested, but if you actually write things down you "automatically" think them through more than if you'd just try them right away. (And you might think of a way to test your hypothesis which is a lot faster than your original way.)

          Good point for the more complicated problems, for the reasons you mentioned and also because you tend to lose track of the things you changed that should be changed back. Also useful with smaller problems until you get the hang of it, at which point it's second nature. If somebody tells me a problem with a computer, I've immediately got the first 3 things I'd check on in my head...even if I know the problem is already fixed!

          Another good problem solving trick is to just stop trying to solve the problem. Sleeping for instance, or getting a bite to eat. That really works wonders for morale as well.

          Wonders for my morale, yes...But, for some reason, clients evidently aren't that concerned with my morale. =)

          • Reagarding morale. Well I was more thinking about stuff you solve for yourself. Then you'd be interested in it. And otherwise just doing something else (most people tend to have work stacked up ;-) can help you out if you're stuck with a problem. If nothing else you get something done instead of pushing buttons at random. (Which is what I tend to degrade into doing when I'm really out of ideas.)
  • Peronal opinion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pauldy (100083) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @11:17AM (#4281523) Homepage
    My take on it is this the real geeks in here have been put upon and forced to do the dirty work of others for years with little to no recognition of our true talents. Then we come to our community as others have put it to relax and find reasons to be excited again. Then when we get here some lamer (for lack of a better word) has come up with the question of what geek options are our there for x. It's like someone asking me to do his or her dirty work in my time of leisure. This is especially irritating when I search up the exact question on google and it is in the top ten results with discussion groups tied directly to it already.

    Now I'm all for being an open community but people really need to think before they ask what nerds might consider stupid questions. Especially when they don't check the resources that are out there before posting to ask slashdot. It is even worse when someone is looking for complicated answers to problems were it is obvious they don't even understand their own question.

    The next one is the obvious company posting to ask slashdot for competitive analysis information. Their are people out there who study sociology for a reason. So they can perform the work of gathering information for group studies. Not so you can post a question asking us to tell you who all your competitors are and how we feel they rank to your product.

    Now as for what resources obviously they are specific to the application so there is no single solution to this question. The rule of thumb is to start off small. Local user groups, specific interest groups, then as you encounter more and more "I don't knows", it might be an appropriate question for a larger community like slashdot.

    The point being here is that if the only resource you know is ask slashdot then you really need to spend a bit more time with your favorite search engine and find others before you even think about posting to ask slashdot.

    If this ever becomes the minority view then I will have to see if I can find myself a new news site. And slashdot can their tagline to "The Newbies Site for News and Information From Around the Web" instead of "News For Nerds Stuff That Matters".
    • if the only resource you know is ask slashdot then you really need to spend a bit more time with your favorite search engine

      In practice, How many different queries should a fellow reasonably run, searching through the first 50 results and not finding anything relevant, before giving up and trying the next option?

      and find others

      What others?

      • In practice, How many different queries should a fellow reasonably run, searching through the first 50 results and not finding anything relevant, before giving up and trying the next option?

        Don't bust my cods because you haven't any common sense man. Obviously there is no mathematical formula for this but a rule of thumb would be as many as it takes not to ask stupid questions.

        How is this for things that don't belong on ask slashdot. My wife and I are scanning in a family photo album how do we make things go faster is there a hardware/software solution. But look cliff just posted that.

        I personally think there should be a bit more stringent rules on what makes it onto ask slashdot just due to the increase volume of crap that shows up there were people don't even respond to it because they are so disgusted it is there to begin with.

        Now were does all this come from check the tagline. "News for Nerds Stuff that Matters". Some of us still believe this is what slashdot is about us nerds who find lcd more exciting than ice cream, those of us who look at fractals and ponder our very existence. Not about helping people who don't know how to use google. Not about helping people learn how to use scanners. Not about teaching the lame to walk. It's about bleeding edge tech, about current tech events, and about LINUX. This site is not about you asking me how to get a multiscan printer to work under linux on your laptop, there are thousands of lugs will mailing lists to answer that for you. It isn't about telling you were the best price is on memory for an old Toshiba laptop with proprietary sockets. Quick google searches or pricewatch will handle this. But sure ask why we think php has an edge over perl for web based application programming. Ask will I ever use calculus in real life. These kinds of questions which pole the group for personal growth are one thing. Asking slashdot to fix you life because your to lazy or just plain don't know how to use a search engine are another.

        I guess when I used the term "and find others" I assumed it was being read by people who understand that the reason it is called the web is because pages on one site link to another which link to another and another etc. Some sites might even link back to the site from which you started on and move on to different sites from there. Using this concept when I say "if the only resource you know is ask slashdot" "spend a bit more time with your favorite search engine" "and find others" I was referring to resources again the whole concept of a web going there. Using search engines find resources other than ask slashdot I guess is the way everyone will understand it.
  • The best help... (Score:5, Informative)

    by singularity (2031) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `tramlawon'> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @11:19AM (#4281542) Homepage Journal
    I follow about 30 Usenet groups daily, and see some great help (with a client capable of doing some filtering, the signal to noise ratio is better than almost anywhere else on the net).

    As a result, anytime I have a question, the first place I will hit is Google Groups [].

    With the right search terms and narrowing it down to the correct groups, the help can be fantastic. Chances are that if you are having a problem or question, someone else has had the same problem.

    When I seach for Mac problem, for example, hitting comp.sys.mac.* with a search will give me quality results about 99 out of 100 times.

    The other nice thing is that there are questions and answers for almost any subject you can imagine, from networking a four-in-one device [] to turning left on red. []

    [Yes, so maybe it is part of Google. But I am guessing that a lot of people submitting "Ask Slashdot" questions are not hitting that before they submit.]
  • ... I was taught that whenever I get lost, I should ask a policeman for help.
  • Another for everyone b*tching that ask /. for the recent questions. What questions are suitable for ask /. then, if not the ones that are answered ask google?
    • Another for everyone b*tching that ask /. for the recent questions. What questions are suitable for ask /. then, if not the ones that are answered ask google?

      A few weeks ago, I submitted an Ask Slashdot looking for advice on routers for the home. What supports cable/DSL/whatever out of the box, features, usability, etc. It was rejected.

      A couple days later, the wireless hub article shows up. I hit Google and got the answer in just a few moments.

      The first is next to impossible to find on the web - that srt of thing just usuallly isn't covered. THe second is pretty well-covered and doesn't need to be out.

  • You just have to learn how to use a search engine. Most "Ask Slashdot" questions are so simple that just typing in 1-2 keywords gets what you need - if your query is more complicated, chances are Ask Google still works, you just need a more complicated query to extract the right data.

    And for those that have said Google isn't good enough because you want personal opinion and not a howto.... you're likely to find what you're looking for on Google if you would just look. Check out that guy's website with his grueling story of how he did it, it took him a week and a lot of duct tape. Read the damn howto as well, I'm sure it's based on someone's personal experience.

    Come to Ask Slashdot when you question actually borders on technical opinion instead. But even then, don't ask people to do you damn job for you. So many of the non "Ask Google" questions are obviously just that - usually what tips these off is that they're too specific to a special situation the asker is dealing with. Ask the broad general question instead.
    • Most "Ask Slashdot" questions are so simple that just typing in 1-2 keywords gets what you need - if your query is more complicated, chances are Ask Google still works, you just need a more complicated query to extract the right data.

      How does a fellow learn to formulate such more complicated queries that produce relevant results?

      Read the damn howto as well

      What if a fellow has trouble understanding the text of the recognized howto?

  • You do have a sense of humour!

    (Moderators, see here [] instead of modding down. Thank you)
  • Try TechRepublic [] out.

    It is a pretty good site and they have a lot of people on that site that do the question answer stuff. And some really good articles written by the staff on all sorts of things techie.


  • I think there could be a special category on Slashdot for the easier, but still difficult and well-researched, questions. If someone did not like that category, they could block it in preferences. An alternative is that there could be an site. Formula for success: Give people what they want. There are numerous computer-related problems that don't immediately concern me, but that I would like to understand better. There are numerous problems that I have already solved; I can easily give help on those.

    I submitted an Ask Slashdot question. I want to know how to do low-cost web host load balancing/failure protection. Asking Google doesn't work in cases like this where there are many methods, and you need to know which is best to pursue. The Ask Slashdot question was rejected.

    At present, Slashdot is too focused on games and science and TV programs, I think. Changing preferences doesn't work to block science stories, because some are concerned with computer issues and some aren't.

    Some games stories on Slashdot are interesting because they raise issues about advances in computing. Most, however, are just fan stories.

    There are other web sites that are good for games. The games stories attract teenagers with a huge amount of time on their hands. Those with too much time available create havoc for the editors and the rest of us by posting junk.
  • I find [] quite informative, occasionally.

    Seriously, if it's ever come across usenet, you can find it here. It's come in handy for some extremely arcane error messages and the like.
  • I found Ann Landers to be OK, but the Washington Post (my local paper) replaced her with Dear Abby (Iguess they had to), whom I've found to be vapid and flat. Thank heavens for a local (but also syndicated and more power to her!) alternative. Carolyn Hax writes the Tell Me About It [] advice column. It's advice with a hip, edgy attitude, along with some kewl comics to go with it.
  • Goto half-empty (Score:3, Informative)

    by tkrabec (84267) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:19PM (#4282480) Homepage might not have as much technical depth as /. but we do asnwer questions to the best of our ability.

    -- Tim
  • Ask your librarian (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:41PM (#4282659) Journal

    So, where do you go for answers (besides Google)?

    Duh, the library. Google has news as old as what, 1985 for the most part? The library has newspapers, magazines, and books from the 1800s. You cannot come anywhere near the breadth of information contained in a good library by doing a search on google.

  • If I need an answer, I dont ask slashdot -- I search and if I do not find the answer, I go ask in the relevant newsgroup.
    • I search and if I do not find the answer, I go ask in the relevant newsgroup.

      Most users, after searching Google Web and Google Groups, ask Slashdot because it's easier to have lurked on Slashdot for two weeks than to have lurked on a particular newsgroup for two weeks. If you don't lurk for two weeks, you may inadvertently ask a question that isn't answered in the group's official FAQ page but is still considered a "dumb question".

  • Usenet has kinda degenerated into a big poo-poo platter over the last few years. But sometimes you can find great groups there. Almost every Ask Slashdot could have been answered a whole lot better in the right newsgroup.

    I've subscribed to a whole bunch of mailing lists []. The sourceforge mailing lists in particular are great. I'm currently a member of the gdalgorithms list. I learn new things every day.

  • Search Usenet (Score:3, Informative)

    by wdr1 (31310) < minus punct> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @03:52PM (#4283812) Homepage Journal
    A *great* place to start (even better than Ask Slashdot, IMHO) is Deja^H^H^H^H, er I mean, Google's Group, which is basically a search on Usenet.

  • USENET has been around for 20+ years, and covers topics far more vast than whats covered at Ask Slashdot. A good USENET search engine: []

  • I've been volunteering answers at [] for a couple of years now. For a lot of questions where Ask Slashdot is not the right place, AskMe has a suitable place to ask or answer questions.

    In any case, it's divided up into suitable subject-based channels so you don't bother everyone with questions about your love life or Windows-only device -- your question is mainly looked at by people who specialize in answering questions in that particular subject area.

    Now, as a company, has more or less left the retail question answering site on autopilot while it markets its software to companies to create knowledge sharing intranets. I do not know how people ordinarily discover AskMe any more -- must be by word-of-mouth (like this). The community of active question answerers is still fairly large despite many months of neglect. There are at least 500 people more active than I am (a few have answered 10,000 questions!) and probably another 1000 or so who are less active.

  • If you do find an answer to your question
    only after a number of searches/asking
    around and some effort, put some more effort
    into writing it up on a web page (and telling
    about it to those you've asked who were interested in the problem but did not quite solve

  • If you think about it. What do the POLLs ask? Reader Opinion Right? That's what Ask Slashdot does... it asks reader opinion. So an editor, moderator, or reader should treat an "Ask Slashdot" question as if it were a poll question with totally open options.

    Ask questions here like: Which is cooler Star Wars or Star Trek? ... Where is the best place for a Tech Worker to live? ... Who is more tech savvy Jay Leno or David Letterman? ... Which senator is the most tech friendly? ... Has your Career been best helped by being a specialist (really good at one skill) or being a good generalist (okay at a whole bunch of skills)?

    These are actual questions I'd love to see at Ask Slashdot. I'm not going to change my life by the answers that I get... 'cuz it's just a friggin' poll man. But I'd love to read the comments that people would post in answer to some of these. I'd even love the funny trolls that folks would post in some cases.

    Ask slashdot should be as much of a free-for-all as the poll section is... and it should have roughly the same types of topics... only with more depth.

    Experts-exchange is the largest technical expertise community online. Active for several years, you receive question points when you sign up for an account, and on a daily basis. You can then use these question points to ask technical questions about hardware, software and Internet related technologies. Experts compete for "expert points" based on the number of question points you allot to your question. The level of knowledge is high, and you can usually get an answer to your question within days, if not hours. is a more general question and answer community. Ranging from "Dear Abby" advice to legal advice to home improvements. There was a big stink a couple of years ago where one of the "lawyers" turned out to be a teenager who learned everything he knew from TV, so take the credentials of the advisors with a grain of salt. Actually, that goes for all these kinds of sites. is a consultant community. If you have a particular technical requirement, you can post this requirement to and receive bids from professional consultants. The bids range from no charge to normal consulting rates. One advantage to using this service is that you can get a whole range of quotes all in one place, giving you a good sense of how much you should be charged for a particular service. Experts in the community are generally rated once they have completed a few contracts, so you can also get a sense of what other clients think of that particular contractor. is another question and answer type site, with a bit more emphasis on general article writing. It's fairly comprehensive, and maintained by other small business owners from all over the place (although it does have a US-centric focus). Another good small business resource center is your local entrepreneurship center (For example, mine is

    I also like Google (obligatory comment) - but I tend to use it to find resource sites, which I in turn use to find out more information.

    For instance, two more specific sites that I use a great deal are (tons of how to Javascripts that usually give me a pointer in the right direction) and, a SQL related advice site.

    Someone else suggested the library. That's a good idea! Your local librarian will generally have a list of resources (not just books anymore either) and places to go to find out more!

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson