Policy on Quasi-"Search Please" Responses

Discussion in 'Site and Forum Feedback' started by CalBoy, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    As I remember from a while back, responses that were comprised of only "search please" were considered a rule violation right?

    What if the poster doesn't contribute any of his own input, but merely lists search results from a search of the topic?

    On the one hand I can see how this requires more effort than a curt, "search please," but on the other hand, it really doesn't accomplish much if there is already a sizable thread on the topic.

    Would it be better if the search results were posted with clarifying information? Ie, "Thread X answers question Y and Thread A answers question B."

    Does the rule change if the question is one that is asked ad nauseam on the forums? If a post consists only of a simple list of threads which are the fruits of a basic search, isn't this nearly as curt as a "search please" post?

    It seems to me that with the reminders at the top of "new thread" windows, there isn't much value being added if a poster simply lists a few results from a basic search.
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Forum Rules:
    Please stop it with MRoogle...
  3. r.j.s Moderator emeritus


    Mar 7, 2007
    I see nothing wrong with a link to a thread that already exists on the topic. The OP can read it, and if it doesn't answer their question, they can continue to post in their thread.
  4. CalBoy thread starter macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    I think that makes sense for threads that are narrow in focus or that haven't been discussed too often, because often times there can be kernels of knowledge in those threads.

    My question was really more about those topics we know have been discussed a million times. As long time forum members we have that knowledge, and we know a very easy search will produce 1,000 nearly identical threads, but does posting a series of unremarkable threads in a list really make the OP any better off? They're probably posting about a frequented topic because they aren't too familiar with the forums. I think it would be more practical to explain to the new poster how to search.

    A list of threads feels almost uninviting and bureaucratic. I can appreciate how posting a link saves time for very common questions, but some supporting statements can encourage new members rather than discourage them.

    For a new member, I don't think there is much of a functional difference between "Search Please!" and "Thread 1, 2, 3, 4, 5." I think the rules on this were written to encourage a link with background, not itineraries.
  5. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    Really, disregarding whatever the rules say, it depends on how you view the role of a forum. If you see it mainly as an information-gathering exercise, then post links. If you see it as a community centred around discussion, take the time to engage with people.

    Personally, having seen the evolution of this kind of group behaviour over a six year period, and being once one of the worst at doing the same thing, I'm personally glad to see that it's relatively less common than it used to be.
  6. r.j.s Moderator emeritus


    Mar 7, 2007
    BV - I do see nothing wrong with a user posting a link to a different thread, but you are right, I do think it is better to just answer the question if it is easier or more friendly.
  7. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    Exactly. I don't think it's a case where precise policy can or should be made, much depends on how people see this forum and their role within it, as long-term members, as role models, as people just wanting to help out. Sometimes, I see a few regulars, with their eyes on Forum Spy, so keen to post first in a thread with some links, that perhaps they've lost sight of the forest rather than the trees.

    I'm coming from the perspective of someone who, years ago, used to be an evil, contemptuous link-farming irritant, far worse than many here now; I could dredge up a dozen links and post them within seconds without even using MRoogle, so I know the impulse all too well. But these days, it's occasionally tiring to see in others... besides, if you actually research the question or know the answers and post them, it makes you look like a guru, rather than a bureaucrat. Win win. ;)
  8. annk Administrator


    Staff Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    You bring something up that I think is interesting. Here's my personal take on the matter:


    On the one hand, that might be seen as a bit unfriendly, but if the answer is in the link, I don't see a problem.

    "Just search" posts with no value-added info are deleted when we see them, so please report them. :)

    If there already is a thread on the topic, a post directing the OP to the thread is not a bad thing. After doing so, though, I think I'd be inclined to report the thread so a mod can merge the two. It's useful to have all info in one place when possible. Makes it easier for the next person who comes along with that problem.

    As a member, I'd appreciate a post like that in answer to my own question.

    In that case, I'd say just report the thread so we can merge the ad nauseum threads (we're very happy if you include at least a few links to the other threads). Don't bother replying in the thread, because that just creates a post that has to be cleaned up when the merge is made. The OP will find his post in the right thread, and the information/discussion will be collected in the same place.

    It's not a matter of the rule changing, it's more a matter of degree and what's best to do in various situations.

    Personally I think it's a bit friendlier to add a sentence in those cases, though it's not really necessary. Something like "I think you might find this discussion useful".

    It's like the difference between customer service in Norway and the US, seen through the eyes of my teenage son, who grew up in Norway and spends summers in the US. Norwegians aren't impolite, but they have a very reserved way of helping you in stores compared to Americans. My son started out by deriding the friendliness of the Americans, saying it "wasn't necessary". He's right of course, it isn't - you still get what you're after, and the service is adequate. Last summer, however, he announced that life was better in general when the people who assist you do so with a smile and tell you to have a nice day. ;)
  9. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I guess we all Scandinavians are carved of the same tree :p It's the same thing in Finland, you get what you want but often without extra smile or friendly phrases. My cousin was in US last year and he felt that all those extras were artificial. If you're too polite or talkative in here, people think that you're weirdo or high/drunk :D

    But yeah, I don't think there is anything wrong with linking relevant threads. Think about "AppleCare from eBay" threads for example. I think it's more useful that someone links several huge threads about the topic than if two guys reply and the other one tells don't do it and the other one says do it. That will confuse OP even more as it's 1-1 situation. In other threads, there may thousands of replies with personal experiences and recommended sellers.

    Of course it depends on the topic. "What to buy" threads are quite personal so other threads are irrelevant. Everyone's needs and usage is a bit different.

    I see no harm with linking threads, thus IMO it should not be banned. They don't suit to all threads but I rarely see them in threads where they aren't suitable (e.g. buying advice). It's better than nothing and in some cases it's very useful. Usually threads get more than one reply so even if one of them was link reply, there will be other people telling their opinion etc. If you don't like them, just ignore them.

    Banning it would cause more harm than benefit. I often backup my statements with several links from different sources. If I couldn't, people would more easily question my statements.

    BTW, this seems to be a hot topic now thread1 thread2
  10. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    I'm completely with you. Even if I'm not the OP in a thread it's horrible to open a thread where there's just a response of "Use mroogle" or a list of a few links to other topics that have discussed a similar thing with no other form of input. Even a little thing like you've mentioned such as saying "Thread X answers question Y and Thread A answers question B" goes a long way.

    It's a forum with loads of different users. Even if you're talking about something that's been spoken about before, if you post a new thread similar to something someone else discussed even just a month ago then a whole other group of forum members could see the thread and respond differently, rumours/software/hardware could have changed since the last time it was discussed. Not only that but often the OP is relatively new to the site and a reply telling the user to search or with just a list of unexplained links comes across like a middle finger or a screaming f. u..
  11. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    :D Eloquently put. Couldn't agree more. Sometimes, we don't realise how we come across to others in writing... until someone tells us.
  12. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    Personally, I think users prefer answers, not sources. In other words, it's more advantageous for the community to provide an answer to the original post, than to provide a link that may or may not be helpful (or in some cases, even relevant).

    However, I would say the MOST helpful responses provide an answer first, and then provide links to any appropriate threads. This has been the model used in academia for hundreds of years, and it seems to work quite well. :)
  13. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    My policy is to post links and how I found them.

    I found these using Mroogle:
    ..list links here..
    See these previous threads:
    ..list links here..
    I found these with the search terms:
    ..search terms here..
    ..mroogle url here..

    Often the search terms are simply significant words from the title of the post. Sometimes it's harder to determine an effective set of search terms, in which case I will also post what I tried that didn't work.

    In short, don't just answer with links; show how the answer was found.

    I usually answer programming questions, and learning how to get answers independently is an important part of learning how to program.
  14. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    Note: I write this as a member, not a mod.

    This is what I posted in the "please stop it with MRoogle links" thread less than a month ago.
    I do at times try to add some text along the lines of "I haven't had this problem, but I found these. They may be of help." It's really just fluff in my opinion that I add so as not to damage people's self-esteem, but I don't always have time for even that. Like I ended with my quote, would you prefer a link, or no response at all?
  15. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    That's what I view this place, MR is a community and blindly putting links detracts from dialogs and interaction. I mean why bother even having a MacRumors forum at this point. Clearly google can answer just about any question a user has.

    While there are occasions that directing an OP to a pre-existing thread, many times the use of mroogle people tend to ignore the OP's question, or the thread linked is so long, its unlikely someone will find the specific answer buried in the long thread, especially when a short concise answer will address the issue.
  16. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    I guess that people are right in the sense that people can ignore them if they wish, and honestly, it's not that big a deal; it's not like half the board is doing it and I really don't see the need for policy or process over and above weeding out the 'please search' comments and ****** trolling. Some people get what others are driving at, some don't... some don't care. That's fine.

    For elsewhere, I had some posts half-prepped about building weak ties, trust, membership and philanthropy models... but I don't feel particularly motivated about bringing anything more to the table right now. In some ways, MR has a very simple formula in its USP, executed well, and putting aside the hard work that many are doing right now, much of its success in terms of traffic goes hand in hand with Apple's and related news of interest in the fields it's pursuing. If Apple had tanked following the iPod, or had just stuck to a small range of Macs without rolling out the stores, we may not have been having this conversation right now...

    A few people in the forums telling people to use MRoogle and posting a bunch of links, in the scheme of things, isn't that important. Besides, there's an extremely fine and slightly shifting line to do with excessive moderation, rules and process and having a free for all, so really, as far as this topic goes, it comes down to intangibles such as basic courtesy and peer behaviour.

    There are so many ways that information is signposted on MR, yet many overlook them. Apart from the issues of engagement, my vague hunch is that solely posting a bunch of links in replies to someone, without some context or supporting information, is more often than not, almost pointless.

Share This Page