How long do you wait before posting?

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Posts: 370
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Post: #1
Looking back over the "Developer Article: 'What have you tried?'" post, an interesting question came to me: how long do you work on a problem before you post and ask for help from others? (I'm talking specifically about the idevgames forums, although if you want to comment on other forums and the reasons it's different or the same, that's cool too)

Looks like the last topic I started was a topic asking about the this pointer in C++, and before that was a topic asking about do...while loops. Neither were really questions as in the "I'm programming and I'm stuck on x piece of code" category, so I kept looking and found a topic where I was having problems with quaternions.

So, what, two posts in the last eight months dealing with general questions, and a little over a year since I posted code and asked help with it. I figure we have about twenty active veteran programmers around these boards, so assuming that each follow a similar pattern to me, that's......about one new topic a week, right? (and yes, I know that everyone's not like me, but I think I'm a *fairly* average example)

To me, that seems really low. I guess what I'm getting at here is that there may be a better way to boost the signal-to-noise ratio: we not only try to reduce the noise, but we also produce more signal! Smile

Revolutionary, I know Rasp

Anyways, back to the topic. Personally, I figured I probably spent twenty to forty hours on a problem piece of code before posting here, but after doing a search and digging up my last coding-problem topic, it's looks like that's not the case. I know that there's pieces of code I've worked on for ages, yet it looks like I never post and ask for help, even though I'm sure someone probably has the answer I'm looking for.

Browsing the front page of each forum, I see a total of three to four topics by veteran programmers asking about their coding problems, so it looks like this isn't something that's limited to just me. For that matter, for some members, I don't think I can remember their *ever* having asked a question here, although they can certainly answer lots of them Smile

Surely there's a happy medium between flooding the boards with unresearched questions and spending tens of hours working on code that someone else might be able to help you out with in a couple of minutes.

I'd love to hear some feedback on this Smile
-wyrmmage

Worlds at War (Current Project) - http://www.awkward-games.com/forum/
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Member
Posts: 46
Joined: 2008.10
Post: #2
Heh, I have the exact same feeling. I've posted a handful of questions, half of which are more of the survey type in that they ask for an opinion or general advice and not coding problems. After all, we all know how well most programming questions can be answered by Google. My personal problem solving strategy, in this order, is:
- Google it
- Sleep on it
- Try it again from scratch
- Sleep on it some more
- Post it on a forum

The downside, of course, is that a decent forum reply can be several days in coming. What I love about IDevGames, though, is exactly what you mentioned: there's a very high signal-to-noise ratio, even with a relatively low amount of signal. Much better than a place like GameDev.net, where you have to spent actual effort just trying to find a post worth reading, much less replying to. You also get a much better quality of response - there's a lot of pros here who I really respect - for their experience, positive attitude, realistic outlooks, and patience.

I guess one solution to your query, to increase signal-to-noise ratio, is for people like myself to post problems on forums before we reach the "sleep on it" or "restart from scratch" stage. I'm always a little hesitant to do that, though, because at that stage I frequently haven't understood the problem well enough to ask the right questions. That makes it all too easy to turn a request for help into a "here's my code, what's wrong with it?" thread, or (even worse) a "show me the code to do [x]" request. I always find these kinds of threads amusing, but I'm super-paranoid about starting them myself. That, I think, is what it comes down to: we've all been annoyed and frustrated by the bad threads, and are cautious not to become those kinds of forum denizens (perhaps a bit too much).

"Who's John Galt?"
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Post: #3
I hardly ever have to start new threads for my questions here because most of them are already answered by googling site:idevgames.com. It's amazing how many topics have already been covered. I always try to work a problem pretty hard before I post an actual question, but I don't have a rule of thumb time limit. Some rare questions don't require being worked, just googled, and if no results pop up, just ask. I think I average one or two thread starts for questions in a year (well, looking at it, I had five last year and none this year so far). Several other "mini" questions get asked by way of piggy-backing onto someone else's topic.

Yes, I agree, one really valuable thing about iDG is that there are a few industry experts that hang around here and offer up dead-on information from time to time. The veteran developers are equally valuable. And believe it or not, even the newbie's seemingly mundane questions sometimes turn into valuable discussions about topics I may have forgotten or misinterpreted myself back in the day, so brush-ups on topics aren't hard to find either. Plus signal to noise ratio is indeed higher than what I find at other joints like gamedev.net, although I pick up lots of info there too, even though I'm not a member.
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Post: #4
I can't really remember the last time I posted a question, but it had to have been a few years ago. When starting off, doing some stuff on my own, I would be more likely to ask a question on the forums sooner rather than later since I didn't have as good of an idea where to find what I needed, or wouldn't quite understand everything. Now that I have more experience I'll generally look at the documentation for the code, then google and think about a problem for a while before I'll ask anything. I'll almost always find the answer I'm looking for, or at least enough information to figure out the rest myself. However, I'm lucky in that since programming is my day job, and since I'm at work most the time I'm programming, I can also ask somebody at work.
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Post: #5
My proccess:
-Try my idea
-Google
-Hypothesize
-Try again
-IRC (Added recently)
-Repeat for a week
-Create thread or post
-Try again
-IRC
-Repeat until fixed

IRC has really helped me on this cycle (And eliminated the number of threads I create).
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Post: #6
Is there an archive of the IRC so the rest of us can search for the answers to those questions?
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DoG
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Post: #7
AnotherJake Wrote:Is there an archive of the IRC so the rest of us can search for the answers to those questions?
The IRC channel isn't logged, and that's a feature.
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Post: #8
DoG Wrote:The IRC channel isn't logged, and that's a feature.

That kinda sucks, because the answers aren't available to the community at large.
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Post: #9
I expected a poll for this topic, and the option "spam IRC immediately".
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Post: #10
AnotherJake Wrote:Is there an archive of the IRC so the rest of us can search for the answers to those questions?

Ha ha ha... ohhh, if you spend any time in there, you'd know that the solving problem-talking about random stuff ratio is not in the favor of logging the channel. Smile
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Post: #11
longjumper Wrote:Ha ha ha... ohhh, if you spend any time in there, you'd know that the solving problem-talking about random stuff ratio is not in the favor of logging the channel. Smile

Yeah, I know. That's one of the reasons I don't do IRC anymore -- stopped doing that like ten years ago. I'm deliberately making an underhanded attempt at encouraging problem-solving to be done in the forums so it's useful outside of one temporal point/conversation/bs/etc. Sneaky .. not that I expect much success, but I figure it's worth a mention since we're on that topic. I am well of aware of other (valid) reasons folks choose IRC communication over the forums here, and I know many enjoy that kind of thing for the fun of it, but I personally think IRC sucks donkey balls for this kind of thing where we're trying to share and *save* knowledge (yes, even though it's saved in one basket right now, I know, I know...).
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Post: #12
Couldn't you see about having somethinv like an IRC dump, where when we get an answer to an issue we copy-paste-(and edit for those who use profanity) it in. So it becomes useful for later on? Of course this requires willingness to do so.
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Post: #13
It depends for me, usually if I have no idea how to solve a problem, I'll look around on google/here/wherever for a few days doing research and then post if I'm still struggling. Usually I just need a pointer in the right direction and then I can figure most things out myself.
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Post: #14
IRC allows for a conversation about a topic and a Q/A session. I learned much more when I started hanging out in the IRC chat room then I did on the forums. Answers are typically quicker to get to.

We do joke around in there an awful lot, but that is because, at this point, it is a tight knit community.
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Post: #15
Glad to see this generated some interesting discussion Smile

I tend to hang around MSN Messenger (and lately Steam and Google Chat) a bit, but I never really got into IRC. I guess I like being able to pick who I'm going to have a discussion with instead of just hanging out online with a bunch of people. Of course, I do that too every once in awhile, but it's usually through the context of a dying text MMO, or something similar.

Worlds at War (Current Project) - http://www.awkward-games.com/forum/
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