Engineering Communications Blog

Engineering Communications

Engineering Communications is the place for conversation and discussion about communicating effectively at work.

Previous in Blog: Things Dogs Have Taught Me About Communication   Next in Blog: Science Communication on the Rise?
Close
Close
Close
56 comments

Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

Posted September 17, 2012 12:54 PM by SavvyExacta

Does a bad (or badly worded) question automatically deserve a bad, vague, or sarcastic answer? Would no answer be a better alternative?

Does a quality question guarantee a quality response?

Is Google an adequate substitute for a person with hands-on experience?

CR4 is a community. People come here for various reasons - to chat with like-minded people, to bounce ideas around, or to ask questions. Some visitors may be "lurkers" that only read posts. Those who create and reply to discussions share their own knowledge and opinions.

It's a learning experience for everyone. I think that participating in discussions can be more thought-provoking than simply reading articles because of an increased level of involvement.

I'm interested to read your thoughts about this topic.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
11
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#1

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 1:33 PM

To some extent, the old saying, ask a stupid question and get a stupid answer.

If you come out swinging with a question like, "Explain to me the universe", how does anyone take such a question with any validity?

The same thing applies to questions that are obviously resolved with a quick search on Google.

People will garner a lot more respect if they follow a few simple rules:

1. Do your homework - Use Google (or another search engine) first. The search should help refine your question, if the first question is not completely answered. People that put forth effort get more respect.

2. When posting here, READ YOUR QUESTION before posting! Is your question complete or vague? Keep it simple, stupid, still applies, but many times the question is not complete and does not contain enough information to fully frame the question. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. They can't read minds.

3. Be concise. Stay to the point and organize your thoughts and question logically and clearly. I get bored reading unrelated trivia.

Oh, I know there are many people where English is their second language, so I try to allow for poor English. However, many times people get bashed for incorrect grammar. Well, this is an engineering forum and we are trained for peer review, so try to not take it personally.

4. Stay involved with the conversation. I hate it when someone posts a question and never returns to answer reader's questions or worse, thank people for their time.

5. Listen to learn.

6. Be honest. Don't post homework questions! However, we will help you understand your homework if you are honest about it.

Reply Good Answer (Score 11)
4
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Out of your mind! Not in sight!
Posts: 4425
Good Answers: 107
#9
In reply to #1

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 10:08 PM

I know the phrase a little bit different than you:

There is no bad questions only bad answers!

And that stands for itself. A bad question just shows what level of education is still needed for the one that asks.

In a sense if a kid asks us: Explain me the universe, we would not consider this a stupid question. We would still try to answer it with general words but also would try to direct the kid into more research or even tell them what other questions could be asked.

We are dealing with the whole public in this forum with all levels of education sometimes not much different from kids.

We do not exclude anyone for his questions or are we? The only thing that shows time and time again is that we exclude ourselves from being helpful and decent, which is also something an engineer should be.

But should not exclude us there. Somebody will ask a question and we answer them.

Now: It is not a bad answer to say: google it!

This is Teaching and it is the same thing we tell our kids. Answer a question with a question is reasonable when OP is vague and no answer is possible without further information.

We can and do already shape this by employing a set generic answers, by ways of teaching the OP how to ask a question.

Sometimes it comes over as rude, but politically it is correct to point out the known facts. I leave it to the person to pick a tone, but I am a believer that a kind response is the better response.

__________________
Common Sense Dictates
Reply Good Answer (Score 4)
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 10:23 PM

I think asking things like "Explain to me the universe" is a good example of a bad question. This paraphrases an actual CR4 question some months back. There have been others.

Then there are the trolls that know what they are doing.

Reply
4
Active Contributor

Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 15
Good Answers: 1
#44
In reply to #10

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 9:59 PM

Actually that also depends on who is asking the question...if my cute little 3-year old daughter is asking "Daddy, explain to me the universe", i will think it is a good question!..

Reply Good Answer (Score 4)
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 2191
Good Answers: 84
#23
In reply to #1

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 8:15 AM

There are a few questions asked here and elsewhere which, at first blush, might appear to fall into this category, but only on first blush.

One such question was asked on another forum to which I belong that was almost impossible to decipher. I was about to dismiss trivially as being carelessly written when something about its phrasing drew me in. There was more there than met the eye, so to speak. I had a devil of time untangling the thing and I finally wrote the OP directly.

"Help!"

Turns out English was not only not the bloke's native tongue, but that his language was spoken by so few people that you can pretty much forget about anyone ever bothering to write an online translator for it. The bloke spoke Kashubian.

Never heard of it.

Kashubian, I learned, is a very old Polish-like dialect which is spoken by fewer than 200,000 people worldwide; most of whom live in and around the city of Gdansk, in the Baltics. He was right, try finding a translator for that one! And good bluddy luck because Kashubian is also a dying language.

One thing I learned from this experience: Before dismissing what might seem to me to be a carelessly-translated question as a Bad Question, I have to ask myself just how well I would fare answering the question on their terms, in their tongue. Not well, I'd wager.

For me this little exercise helps to keep things in perspective. It wasn't at all obvious at the time, but the bloke's question must have taken a monumental effort on his part to write in even broken, tangled English. Pretty admirable, I'd say. And what was his question?

A Good Question!

"Why does the scale on American garden ['outdoor'] thermometers only go up to 120F when some places in America are known to get hotter than this? This enigma has always intrigued me. To my very limited knowledge there is no reason why this must be so."

I could not answer his question. Try as I might, I could not and cannot find one single reference about it! "I do not know. I am sorry." was all I could say.

Reply
Anonymous Poster #1
#32
In reply to #23

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 12:04 PM

Wszëtczi lëdze rodzą sã wòlny ë równy w swòji czëstnoce ë swòjich prawach. Mają òni dostóne rozëm ë sëmienié ë nôlégô jima pòstãpòwac wobec drëdzich w dëchù bracënotë.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 2191
Good Answers: 84
#41
In reply to #32

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 6:59 PM
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 30963
Good Answers: 1727
#2

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 1:44 PM

Google is people too.....Discussion is good too....Eliminate all emotion and the thread will die from boredom....Find me an intelligent person with no attitude.....

__________________
Break a sweat everyday doing something you enjoy
Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 182
Good Answers: 9
#12
In reply to #2

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 10:47 PM

There seemed to be a few egos exposed in the Global Warming posts!!!

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
4
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancleave, Ms about 30 miles inland from Biloxi and the coast
Posts: 3198
Good Answers: 105
#3

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 2:03 PM

Yes and no. What AH says is true. I too am annoyed by stupid questions and many times the temptation to give a bad answeris great, but I refrain from doing so, as not to perpetuate an arguement where no one wins. I just pass on the question. I try to remember no one is perfect. I confess to asking stupid questions and I'm sure there is no one out there who hasn't, although they might not admit to it.

If CR4 is trying to educate the public so we are all on the same page, forget it. It will never or would it ever happen.

__________________
Mr.Ron from South Ms.
Reply Good Answer (Score 4)
9
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Posts: 1023
Good Answers: 69
#4

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 3:37 PM

Some times they do deserve a "corrective" kind of answer, in the case of people with even worse english than mine, who pretentiously try weird abreviations, replace whole words by single letters or use (agh..) "texting techniques", they make me sick !.

To all of them I say: Grab a dictionary ! that's what I do to be able to post here.

I guess I would go completely nuts if they were doing this to my own language.

__________________
No hay conocimiento ni herramienta que sustituya al sentido comun.
Reply Good Answer (Score 9)
6
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 4:20 PM

I can live with those whose second language is English butchering the post, but many times it is people with English as their primary (and only) language that are the offenders.

Communication is one of the pillars of engineering. You must have good communication skills if you want to be an engineer or a scientist.

English and grammar were my absolute worst subjects in high school. I would barely get a D in the course. However, all that had to change when I hit college and I sorely regretted having to play catchup on my own.

I applaud your effort!

Reply Good Answer (Score 6)
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Posts: 1023
Good Answers: 69
#6
In reply to #5

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 5:27 PM

Thank you sir, I always appreciate the comments from a highly respected member of this forum, and the benevolence of others, who only notice my wrong concepts sometimes, but leave alone my writing.

__________________
No hay conocimiento ni herramienta que sustituya al sentido comun.
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
2
Guru

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Wolfe Island, ON
Posts: 1358
Good Answers: 109
#13
In reply to #5

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 11:00 PM

Good Answer. Communication is a pillar of engineering and science. I am of the opinion that if someone cannot explain something in plain understandable language, their grasp of the issue would be in question. I will extend that to emails where there are more offenders than we all care to admit. The logic of the syntax of grammar is the same logic of engineering, science, or computer programming. We should all write in a manner that someone reading your article would enjoy the logic of writing.

For those who do not use English as a first language, I admire all your attempts. Bravo.

__________________
If they want holy water, tell them to boil the hell out of it.
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Safety - ESD - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 50.390866N, 8.884827E
Posts: 17996
Good Answers: 200
#24
In reply to #13

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 9:36 AM

GA

My thoughts as well, if they cannot halfway phrase a question, how will they understand the answer.

Also, safety is a concern. I remember years ago when I was learning German that occasionally I understood the reverse or what was actually intended.......

I am sure that it happens in other languages other than German and English......it could be even a life and death misunderstanding.....

__________________
"What others say about you reveals more about them, than it does you." Anon.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Placerville, CA (38° 45N, 120° 47'W)
Posts: 5989
Good Answers: 242
#27
In reply to #24

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 10:23 AM

Ditto!

In English, correct usage is that two negatives make a positive. I am not unsure of this! I don't want nothing correctly interpreted means I do want something.

In Spanish, correct usage commonly includes double negatives to indicate a negative. 'No quiero nada' does indeed mean that I have no wants; I don't want anything.

__________________
Teaching is a great experience, but there is no better teacher than experience.
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Safety - ESD - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 50.390866N, 8.884827E
Posts: 17996
Good Answers: 200
#33
In reply to #27

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 12:05 PM

Thats exactly the sort of problem I meant.

Germans who have good language skills in English, almost always fail to understand double negatives.

They simply as good as never use them themselves in their own language......in fact, I personally have never heard one being used...but I never say never....

__________________
"What others say about you reveals more about them, than it does you." Anon.
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - Been there, done that. Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Long Island NY
Posts: 15111
Good Answers: 936
#35
In reply to #33

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 1:05 PM

I was taught that in English a double negative is improper grammar syntax. The ambiguity of following Boolean logic rules (two NO=YES), repeating for emphasis (two NO=very NO), or obfuscating by questionable logic (NO≠YES, NO=MAYBE) makes a double negative wrong and confusing.

__________________
"Don't disturb my circles." translation of Archimedes last words
Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 250
Good Answers: 7
#37
In reply to #35

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 1:31 PM

what about "don't A or B" meaning in fact "don't A and don't B" or "don't [A or B]" (you might apply de Morgan's)?

This is commonly expressed as (literal translation): "don't A nor B" in other languages. A very common bad translation from English into those other languages would mean:

"either

1) don't A

or

2) do B".

brgds

Snel

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Safety - ESD - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 50.390866N, 8.884827E
Posts: 17996
Good Answers: 200
#38
In reply to #35

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 2:54 PM

I agree that its confusing, whether its bad grammar or not I couldn't say personally.

Its a great shame that you did not work for the same company as I did some years ago, all their test papers had dozens of double negative questions, floored all the non English speakers......I complained and complained but as usual, the NIH problem reigned supreme.....

__________________
"What others say about you reveals more about them, than it does you." Anon.
Reply
2
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Glen Mills, PA.
Posts: 2385
Good Answers: 114
#7

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 8:35 PM

There have been many questions involving structural design, many of those questions give a clear indication that the questioner doesn't have the knowledge to understand a substantial answer; in these cases the sharp slap of discouragement is the only reasonable answer.

Many people don't know enough to know that they don't know enough.

__________________
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Safety - ESD - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 50.390866N, 8.884827E
Posts: 17996
Good Answers: 200
#25
In reply to #7

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 9:37 AM

GA

Yup!!

__________________
"What others say about you reveals more about them, than it does you." Anon.
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Netherlands - Member - New Member Fans of Old Computers - Commodore 64 - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Japan
Posts: 2703
Good Answers: 38
#8

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 9:37 PM

Anonymous Hero is correct on all counts, but some questions are asking for a witty remark!

I couldn't help myself!

__________________
From the Movie "The Big Lebowski" Don't pee on the carpet man!
Reply
7
Power-User

Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Atchison Village
Posts: 383
Good Answers: 39
#11

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 10:41 PM

As I read the ruder answers on this forum, I wonder if the "engineers" actually understand that communication with the public/employer is also taught, although not always successfully. It's actually part of the job to work at understanding the question. How many times are engineers fired for no apparent reason, when it's really inability to comprehend the language of the non-engineer. It's just as much a skill as knowing phase angles and stress diagrams.

__________________
Align culture with nature...
Reply Good Answer (Score 7)
3
Guru
Popular Science - Cosmology - Let's keep knowledge expanding Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors -

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: North America, Earth
Posts: 4358
Good Answers: 104
#14

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/17/2012 11:59 PM

Rudeness and calling names is never appropriate. Often people need to know that their question is vague. That can be done kindly. A really stupid question should not be answered at all. An exception would be when you think they might be in danger from electric shock, etc.

__________________
“I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” - Richard Feynman
Reply Good Answer (Score 3)
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: srilanka
Posts: 2725
Good Answers: 5
#15

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 2:10 AM

Some questions appear to be on fundamentals of engineering because the OP may not have facilities in his/her workplace to clarify. If one cannot give direct reply he/she should be directed to a website/book or give a link.

__________________
pnaban
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#16

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 5:09 AM

Ah!
This itself is a bad Q as it has been posed so many times on this site before and the answer is always the same.
Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Reply
3
Guru
United States - Member - Lifelong New Yorker Popular Science - Biology - Animal Science Technical Fields - Technical Writing - Technical Writer

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 2409
Good Answers: 59
#17
In reply to #16

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 7:10 AM

This topic has been discussed a few times over the years. This time around it seems to be generating some good feedback. I'll admit that I mostly posted it in frustration over the "watchdog" effect of some of the first responders. I feel like they are driving away some potentially good posters who are simply seeking information on unfamiliar topics.

Reply Good Answer (Score 3)
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: srilanka
Posts: 2725
Good Answers: 5
#18
In reply to #17

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 7:16 AM

The most frustating aspect is OP not giving full details of problem not only at the beginning but also after many reminders.

__________________
pnaban
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#20
In reply to #18

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 7:43 AM

+1

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Phnom Penh
Posts: 4019
Good Answers: 102
#21
In reply to #20

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 7:53 AM

you mean #1 rule 4......

...and then there's repeated opinions.....

__________________
Difficulty is not an obstacle it is merely an attribute.
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#22
In reply to #21

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 8:10 AM

Actually, that is shorthand for "I agree!"

:)

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Phnom Penh
Posts: 4019
Good Answers: 102
#29
In reply to #22

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 10:56 AM

Is that a texting technique?

__________________
Difficulty is not an obstacle it is merely an attribute.
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#30
In reply to #29

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 11:19 AM

Could be, but I do not text. Seen it in many of the forums I visit of many different venues.

Reply
5
Guru
Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - Been there, done that. Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Long Island NY
Posts: 15111
Good Answers: 936
#28
In reply to #18

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 10:42 AM

Yes, it is frustrating when an OP does not provide enough information for us to solve a problem. Remember, the OP doesn't know how to solve their problem. The OP does not know which parts of their system must be known to diagnose the failure or undesired result. The OP is not a teacher providing an exam question with all the information needed to solve a problem. We can entice the OP to provide us the pertinent information by showing some of our knowledge or drive them away with sarcasm and ridicule. Sometimes how the OP has phrased their question, they should not be attempting to work on their problem. In even these cases it is far better to get the OP to realize that they are not qualified to safely work on their problem than it is to just drive them away.

We also should learn to tolerate this frustration since this is a public forum. Nobody is obligated to return to us with any additional information, let alone any gratitude. Nobody must qualify to post here. So all levels of skills will arrive here.

__________________
"Don't disturb my circles." translation of Archimedes last words
Reply Good Answer (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Phnom Penh
Posts: 4019
Good Answers: 102
#19
In reply to #17

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 7:34 AM

"watchdog" effect of some of the first responders

I agree that there is some strange gatekeeping at times and it could be off putting as you say.

__________________
Difficulty is not an obstacle it is merely an attribute.
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Netherlands - Member - New Member Fans of Old Computers - Commodore 64 - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Japan
Posts: 2703
Good Answers: 38
#43
In reply to #17

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 9:15 PM

Google it!

__________________
From the Movie "The Big Lebowski" Don't pee on the carpet man!
Reply Off Topic (Score 3)
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Phnom Penh
Posts: 4019
Good Answers: 102
#47
In reply to #43

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 5:18 AM

.....and this is off topic because....?

Seemed right on topic to me.

__________________
Difficulty is not an obstacle it is merely an attribute.
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Etherville
Posts: 12334
Good Answers: 115
#48
In reply to #17

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 6:38 AM

People do feel 'driven away' from some threads I've read. In fairness to people here, the people who feel driven away are often very short-fused. More than a few newcomers get extremely stroppy if a perfectly good reply does not meet their exact expectations. It's like going to a free picnic and flouncing off because you don't like one flavour of sandwhich on offer.

That doesn't invalidate any point about good manors, but people need to have more than one coating of skin if they post a question on the internet. Considering the volume of traffic, CR4 is one of the better (if not the best) internet forums when it comes to being nice to newcomers.

__________________
For sale - Signature space. Apply on self addressed postcard..
Reply Score 1 for Off Topic
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Etherville
Posts: 12334
Good Answers: 115
#50
In reply to #48

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 10:59 AM

Sometimes I love my own typo's ! The typo almost works <scurries off to update book of improbable excuses.....>.

__________________
For sale - Signature space. Apply on self addressed postcard..
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 2191
Good Answers: 84
#51
In reply to #50

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 12:00 PM

"When are we going to eat Grandma?"

"When are we going to eat, Grandma?"

---

"Are you sure you aren't Cathy Bates?" Sparky asked me once, a long time ago.

"Never met Cathy Bates, but I do know her father Master Bates."

Bloke wouldn't talk to me for whole month!

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Etherville
Posts: 12334
Good Answers: 115
#52
In reply to #51

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 12:50 PM

Have you been watching Captain Pugwash again ?

__________________
For sale - Signature space. Apply on self addressed postcard..
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 2191
Good Answers: 84
#54
In reply to #52

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 1:08 PM

The French version.

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Phnom Penh
Posts: 4019
Good Answers: 102
#53
In reply to #51

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 1:07 PM

Child...

"Mummy, mummy. I hate Daddy's guts"!

Mother....

"Just put them aside and eat the rest".

or this..

"Look. On the road.... A head"!!Benny Hill?

__________________
Difficulty is not an obstacle it is merely an attribute.
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Australia - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: NSW Australia
Posts: 1085
Good Answers: 23
#26

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 10:13 AM

Variety is the spice of life.

I find some of the bad questions quite humerus.But in most cases the OP could have found the answers in Google, the possible problem is knowing what is the right question to ask in the first place. Then some direction should be given without being small minded about it.

__________________
Dont get on to the roundabout if you dont know how to get off
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Kansas, USA
Posts: 748
Good Answers: 64
#31

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 11:30 AM

John Maxwell says, "if you want the right information you have to ask the right question".

Sometimes questions are brought to the Forum where the person seems to be unqualified to work in the field they are inquiring about, but, how do you learn? Some is in school, but most of the valuable education takes place in the field, hopefully learning under the tuteledge of people who already have a high level of skill in the field they are interested in.

Going off of someone with rudeness doesn't benefit anyone. It may be instrumental in shutting a door on someone's eagerness to learn. Once you learn skills and a proper way of thinking about problems it is great to be able to pass that along to the "up and comers".

Give the person the benefit of the doubt unless it is obvious the person is just lazy and wanting someone else to do their due diligence for them.

__________________
One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do. Ford, Henry
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Madison, WI.
Posts: 2093
Good Answers: 80
#34

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 12:58 PM

Often not getting all the info in the original question is the problem. We all tend to forget that we are the only ones totally absorbed by the problem so we assume everyone knows the details.

Sometime the poster is vague because they really don't know how to explain it. It doesn't mean they don't know what they are doing.

Sometimes the answer is vague because we assume you do know. Just trying to give the reader credit for understanding.

Often over explaining comes off as condescending when it is not intended that way. The person is just being clear and does not know your level of understanding.

So after it all is said and done it still comes down to people and feelings. I know I know that is why you all went into engineering to get away from us crybabies right.

Intent and perception. The intent of the writer and the perception of the reader.

That being said......

http://www.despair.com/cluelessness.html

__________________
Knowing is the end result of learning, not believing.
Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - If there is a way to screw someting up, there is someone to do so! Safety - Hazmat - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Iqaluit, NU. Canada
Posts: 1852
Good Answers: 140
#36

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 1:06 PM

Much good input from many members of the forum. My two cents follow...

I find that allot of the questions that garner a rude or generally nasty reply fall into essentially two classes. 1) "Dumb... but will not kill anyone", and 2) "Real Dumb... and may kill someone".

Perhaps it would be appropriate to point out that... the nature of this forum is inherently "discussion".

If OPs were to pose type 1 questions in the nature of a discussion and actively partake in that discussion, I guarantee there are many here who would jump right in and a lively discourse would take place no matter how inane or simple the nature of the question asked.

Questions of the first type that appear to be for no other purpose other than to gather information for free with the absolute minimum of effort and interaction with the folk here often get the kind or reaction that you speak of.

IMHO... that is how it should be. You want answers without contributing to the knowledge exchange process? If so... then go to Google and leave us alone to discuss things in peace.

But... if you have an interest in learning and contributing to the process of knowledge exchange... come on down we would love to gab about the issues you have!

As to question type 2... the only way to handle them is to clearly point the person asking the question to a higher authority inside his particular organization. Perhaps, for the betterment of the forum, we should all consider limiting the nastier comments on these type of questions to as little as possible.

I cringe... when I see members offer complicated answers to people who obviously do not have the skills needed to evaluate the validity of the answers provided. Such members do a real disservice to CR4 and to the members here and very likely put Innocent lives in danger.

If an OP is plainly way out of his or her depth on a posed question, as engineering professionals, we really need to back off and point the OP to other resources inside their organization.

__________________
Joe Contractor to Electrical Inspector, "What do you mean you are going to make me follow the code?".
Reply
2
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Ottawa Canada
Posts: 1975
Good Answers: 117
#39

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 3:12 PM

This question has been asked regularly every month for the last couple of years. Things ain't a gonna change! My answer...read the response to the OP again, grow a thicker skin, and remember that there is no emotions in email. (or in forum email)

I'll say this again...there are NO emotions in email. All emotions are developed in the mind of the reader. This means that some people find some of the responders to be insufferably rude. Others (like me) have a hard time finding anybody here who is rude. CR4 has GOT to be the politest forum I am on bar none!

The usual problem comes up when we get some guy posting a question like "determine the length of the long side of an isocoles triangle with a hypotenuse of 14 meters and the length of the short side is 2 meters, show your work", then we can safely assume that this is a homework question. Such questions (always from people with less than three posts to their name) are answered variously. Answer 1 would be..."do your own homework". Answer 2 would be "here are the tables to figure out how to do it yourself" and answer 3 would be "here are the tables, and this is how to figure it out for yourself", and answer 4 would be, well, the answer.

Answer 1 is perceived by some to be rude. It is NOT! It is the answer his own teacher has given him. Grow a thicker skin. This is the expected answer, it is good enough for his teacher, it is certainly good enough for me. Rude? Really? Would any other answer support his teacher? We DO want to support the guy's teacher don't we?

Answer 2...go to google and find out how to use the tables. This is also often considered rude. It is NOT! It is the response of a teacher to the "spoiled generation" who really cannot be bothered to learn how to do basic research. It is the answer I would give to one of my students because lets face it, I don't give a hoot about the answer, but I really care that this student has to learn how to research. Again, grow a thicker skin, nobody here on CR4 is paid to look up answers. Anybody who does so deserves a long and humble thank you.

Answer 3... the answer the teacher gave him in class which he skipped, missed, or texted during the explanation. If CR4 were mandated to be an educational institution (just what IS our mandate anyway?) then if you have the time or inclination to do it, then do it. (I did that once, and got it wrong!!! Showed ME! ha!) Do we think we can really do a better job than the professional teacher tried to do?

Answer 4...the answer handed to the OP on a platter. Yeah, that'll be useful down the road. I think this is the worst and rudest answer of them all because you have now negated any learning curve this poor student will have, and now the poor schmuck will have to figure it later, on his own, without any help.

So what are we if not an "answer place"? I think CR4 is a place to come to for options. A think tank. Not just answers but different answers, ones not in the book. When I go to do something, I can't help but feel that there may be a better way. Inside the box solutions, outside the box solutions, solutions which use different approaches, or different materials. Results of experiments that were done in house, in YOUR house, and not published. When somebody posts a problem, they don't want the standard book answer, the way we have always done it, they want to talk to somebody who has done the blessed thing before. With an explanation of why one would be better than the other, and the thought processes involved in the eventual decision.

And I always make allowances for English difficulties. This might result in a re-phrasing of the question, and some pointed questions.

The second big "problem" is how the gurus here deal with people who want to show off their over unity devices. Once every couple of months this happens. I admit that some of them seem to be very plausible, and the exercise of just WHY this pile of parts won't work can sometimes be an excellent brain exercise. Some CR4 members just shut 'em down, the faster and terser the better. Whatever. Grow a thick skin if you think you have an over unity device and want to post it on any engineering forum because Dude, you gonna get yer ass handed to ya. Personally, I skip them, or try to be positive and occasionally try to point out the flaw in the plan rather than just shutting them down. But lets face it...how many ways can you say "it won't work". And if you are upset about getting told that your pet idea "won't work" (whether it is over-unity or sea-can housing or the benefits of purchasing a Chevy Calvalier, or naturopathy) don't get upset at negative answers.

So bottom line....I don't see any rude commentary here. I don't see a problem. I do see the moderators jumping all over people who break the "rules", mostly the "don't post comments on religion or politics", but they hit me for "don't post email addresses" just as quickly. I don't have a problem with that, though admittedly some folks are so tied to their religion that they regard scientific commenary as an attack on it, and get personally upset. Lets face it, a year or so ago, the reverse was true for me (my science was being attacked by religion!)...and I was no cheek turning saint in my responses. But I didn't get all upset about it. In such cases, I refer you to my first statement above....there are no emotions in email, all emotion is generated by the reader.

Again, if your feelings are hurt by a terse reply, remember, there are no emotions in email. Get over it. (This last statement is a case in point.)

__________________
If it was easy anybody could do it.
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
3
Power-User

Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 103
Good Answers: 2
#40

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 5:41 PM

A badly worded question reveals the need for our sympathy and concern not sarcasm and/or ridicule. Those who have had the benefit of a good education along with a home full of shelves of good books for all ages instead of People and other gossip magazines, a home environment of animated and enjoyable conversation as opposed to a diet of mind numbing TV shows have a solid advantage over those who grew up without those advantages.

Let's encourage the desire they have to expand their knowledge in their chosen field of work through asking questions where they feel they will receive friendly and knowledgeable responses.

Lou Bindner

Reply Good Answer (Score 3)
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#42
In reply to #40

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 7:26 PM

I am not sure that many come here asking questions to expand their knowledge base as much as they are looking for someone to take a problem off their backs.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Placerville, CA (38° 45N, 120° 47'W)
Posts: 5989
Good Answers: 242
#49
In reply to #42

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 10:48 AM

At my age, I hope to provide more answers than questions, but when I do ask the occasional question, I certainly appreciate different points of view, and ALWAYS hope to expand my knowledge base as well as find the best possible solution to the immediate problem at hand.

I also, when time allows, like to browse through the Daily Digest of questions, where the MAIN intention is to broaden my knowledge base. I have picked up lots of interesting tidbits by doing so...

__________________
Teaching is a great experience, but there is no better teacher than experience.
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Power-User

Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 196
Good Answers: 6
#45

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/18/2012 10:24 PM

In my opinion "no answer" would be the better alternative.

In many cases the language translation barrier and inexperience is the "culprit" not the OP's question.

Insulting and/or embarassing the OP defeats the idealogy and purpose of the site.

"There is no such thing as a stupid or bad question." Right?

And; We all had to start the learning process somewhere and from someone.

Thanks for the great site and the excellent support,

Jim

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: srilanka
Posts: 2725
Good Answers: 5
#46
In reply to #45

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 12:02 AM

Why the OP refuses to give answers to some relevant questions asked which will facilitate solving the problem?.

__________________
pnaban
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 2191
Good Answers: 84
#56
In reply to #46

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 2:07 PM

Possibly the OP does not understand the question - the OP's original question was itself poorly-framed, after all - or the OP cannot answer the poster's question and so elects not to reply rather than look like a complete fool.

Whether the OP "refuses" to the answer the question is something only the OP knows. From our vantage point, all we know is simply that the OP has not answered the question, and that is all.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 574
Good Answers: 5
#55

Re: Do Bad Questions Deserve Bad Answers?

09/19/2012 1:15 PM

I'm so often late on these things. A couple of cents (not sense, mind you)...

When I think of types of questions I think of these categories:

1) The poster needs a solution to a problem, which is usually due to a lack of knowledge. The question is posed in a way that it is clear some effort to find a solution has been made. Usually, members try to help.

2) The poster poses a question which he has researched enough to know it may have no clear answer, but likes discussion of the topic, as opposed to one-way reading articles, etc. (as listed by SavvyExacta). Again, members don't mind that type of discussion and will indulge in it right along with the questioner.

3) Questions which imply no real effort was made to look for an answer before posting on CR4. (After all, if you are on a computer and found CR4 and can post here, you're likely computer savvy enough (looking for exacta?) to also use search engines. There is no dearth of "information" on the web.) Homework questions fall in this category. This is the type that can raise hackles.

4) Questions that make no real sense. There may be a number of reasons for this, language being one. There are usually members with enough patience to try to ferret out a clear question.

5) Discussions of non-scientific, human issues (politics, religious types, etc.). Depending on what the issue is and how it strikes a member on any particular day, the responses will be indulgent or not -- usually both.

and

6) Questions deemed "pseudo-scientific" such as the oft mentioned over-unity energy devices. Many members get tired of shooting these down but still feel an obligation to not let them stand, so their time does get wasted. I think so many of these have been discussed multiple times on CR4 and a simple reference to search CR4 might be all that is required, saving time and energy (??) and putting some responsibility on the questioner.

There are also hybrid combinations of these types.

I would say only the third kind (close encounters of) might "deserve" a corrective reply. And from my thread-viewing here, it often gets one.

We've all become somewhat conditioned by an "instant solution" mentality, encouraged by technology's ability to make that seem expected and available. That mentality has manifested in the increased (at least my gut tells me so) occurrence of cheating in schools, lying on resumes, etc. Learning has become secondary for a lot of people. Finding a solution (as AH points out) for the current "thorn" in one's side becomes primary, with little premium placed on individual effort. We all do like efficiency.

I seriously doubt that "corrective" answers to questions of type 3 have any real impact on the questioner. That mentality is pretty well rooted in adult individuals who ask them. Those who, in early education (~grades 1-6) have trouble learning, may resort to short-cuts to achieve what society deems successful. We've placed so much emphasis on grade point average that it becomes "the goal" to be reached by any means. It is seen as key to success. And it then gets multiplied as one proceeds in their educational career. School can be a very stressful experience for that reason. Fall behind, even a little, and the tendency is to panic. The "system" is often to blame, not the student.

I agree with others. There are no dumb questions from the point of view that few questions lack some level of sincerity. Sincerity is almost implicit in questioning. I would say sincerity is a good criteria to start from -- in framing a question as well as a response.

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 56 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Andy Germany (4); Anonymous Hero (7); Anonymous Poster (1); Del the cat (1); dkwarner (2); Epke (2); europium (5); evaluator (1); facilitiesmgr (1); garth (1); IdeaSmith (1); kevinm (1); Kris (3); Lou Bindner (1); North of 60 (1); ormondotvos (1); Passerby (1); passingtongreen (1); pnaban (3); rashavarek (1); redfred (2); ronseto (1); SavvyExacta (1); SHOCKISCAN (1); Snel (1); SolarEagle (1); StandardsGuy (1); thong (1); Wal (5); Yahlasit (2); Yusef1 (1)

Previous in Blog: Things Dogs Have Taught Me About Communication   Next in Blog: Science Communication on the Rise?

Advertisement