How about a computer problems forum?

I’ve been seeing a huge increase in the number of people using the SDMB (usually in General Questions) to ask for Technical Assistance in solving their computer problems.

I’m wondering if it might be a good idea to add another forum to the SDMB, the way Cafe Society was added to handle questions about artistic subjects. I (and clearly other dopers as well) would hardly begrudge helping out someone in need, but it seems to me that General Questions used to be about people in search of general knowledge rather than personalized, specific pieces of knowledge.

Of course, this would make sense only if there’s anyone on the “moderators-in-waiting” list - if lack of volunteers is a problem, then I definitely understand not creating a new forum. (Disclaimer: this suggestion of a new forum should not be construed as an offer to moderate it)

What do you folks think?

The idea has been suggested before but at the time The Powers That Be decided against it. I can ask again but I don’t know if there is any substantial change in the meantime to warrant reconsidering the idea.

P.S. cmkeller I notice that your signature is a little longer than the 4 lines we have adopted as the SDMB guidelines. Could you see your way to shortening it? Thank you.

If SDMB created a computer forum, I would ask these questions:

Why do I get email that has these things, < in the margins? I hope my messages are not going out like that. I have played around with “encoding” and “rich html text”. Am I on the right track?

My laptop has suddenly had screen issues. Sometimes the screen goes almost totally dark. I can still see the images on the screen but barely. If I tilt the sreen back a little, it lights up again…sometimes. If I squeeze the screen, it comes back…sometimes. It acts like a short. I know you can adjust the brightness of the screen. I do not think this is the problem since it changes based on the position of the screen.

P.S. What happened to the board today?

jacksen9 - for hardware questions, I would try a PC hardware forum like Hardware Central
For e-mail questions, I would contact the vendor for your e-mail software.

What happened to the board today? Technical difficulties.

I don’t think a computer forum here is a good idea.

All technical computer questions should be addressed elsewhere, such as Hardware Central, or the like. As someone who wrote tech support documents for years, I note that on many, many issues, there is a diversity of opinion, and that only after careful research and investigation, and often several versions, are the “experts” generally satisfied.

So what you get listening to the “computer whiz” down the block, or somebody who had the “same” problem, is usually just a part of the answer, or is actually wrong.

However, people like to chat, and often times you can do something sub-optimal with a computer, and not notice the difference. A chatty answer’s often as good as any.

jacksen9, your example is a good case in point. The question about “<” in the margins? The answer’s probably simple, for example people are sending them on purpose to quote the message they’re responding to. But it could be complicated, and doing something like changing the encoding (without remembering what it was, originally) could actually make your problem worse.

The problem is that everyone has a different system with a different configuration. What works for one might not work for anyone else. This might lead to posts following posts following…

In addition to Hardware Central, I’d sayVirtual Dr is also a good choice.

Well I disagree, and apparently for no other reason than that I disagree.

So there!

That means the body of the email was copy and pasted from somewhere.

Quite frankly, I agree with some of the other posters here that there are better places to get computer tech help than the SDMB.

However, we do seem to be getting many such questions, and people appear to be offering answers. That being the case, I thought segregating them might be better than wading through them in General Questions.

Arnold, I can definitely look into changing my sig…but I should point out that I make a point of not posting it on every message, just once a thread maximum. Does that mitigate things a little? I’ve had this sig since I was a little boy (or at least since joining the board), and I hate to give it up… :frowning:

Chaim Mattis Keller

If we want to discourage computer questions, a forum for them would be a bad idea. When Cafe Society was introduced, it encouraged people to post arts-related threads, even though they were out of GQ.

If we want to discourage this kind of question, that is.

Not to guess there are other possible issues/motives, but I imagine that it would be like what happened with IMHO and Cafe Society - like gas expanding to fill a void, Board traffic would go nowhere but up. Tired of waiting 30 minutes for a post to go through? How about waiting a day? Or two days? It could happen.

My Board has 9 Forums that can be posted to. When I added two new Forums to the original 7 on my Board, reads increased by about 33%, and posts by about 33%. Using that sample size of 1 as a guide, the SDMB might expect a 10% increase in posts if they added 1 new Forum to the existing 9.

Here’s a technical question for the admins here and for Anthracite: If a new forum is created and generally the only users who open it and download the threads are the ones who have computer issues or who can solve them, does that slow down the server for those who aren’t going in there at all? In other words, since many people who are now posting their questions to GQ would then ostensibly be going to the new forum, I understand how the new forum would get more posts than just the computer-related posts that GQ had had previously, but would this slow down the board for those who never go into the new forum?

Well, if you mean to ask if a higher demand in GQ slows down the boards as a whole, then the answer is definitely yes. It’s the server that’s the bottle neck here.

I guess what I meant was that if a higher demand in GQ slows down the board, and if a new forum removed some of that demand and took it on for itself, would that be beneficial?

Seems the answer is no - if the board as a whole is slowed, then it’s slowed down for everyone, no matter which fora they’re entering and no matter how the messages themselves are dispersed. So never mind. And as noted, a new forum wouldn’t lessen the number of posts overall, it would increase them.

What if computer-type questions were simply disallowed?

I know, that sort of goes against the general feeling of a message board, but that really isn’t anywhere near the central mission of the Straight Dope. It doesn’t have to be unfriendly, either; there’s a standard “it’s customary to add a link” paragraph that gets copied-and-pasted into messages in the “Respond to Cecil’s Columns” forum, so why not a standard “Sorry, but we’ve decided to ask users to go to <linked site> for those issues” response when somebody posts “How do I sort by multiple columns in a SQL query” in GQ? Seems like it would cut down the traffic considerably.

cmkeller - posting the sig only once per thread does mitigate things a little. But I am still asking you to shorten it.

So, uh, how does MPSIMS fit into the ‘mission’ of the Straight Dope Message Board?

For me, I’d be interested in a separate forum for those questions simply to relieve the congestion that currently besieges the GQ forum. It’s disheartening to see so many good questions get bumped off page one simply because the volume of new and different questions is so large.

Reducing that volume, by splintering off some of the more popular topics, would only seem to be an improvement to the board as a whole.

Obviously this is only my two cents.

That’s kinda what I meant, CnoteChris. But it seems that merely shifting the volume from GQ to a new forum doesn’t solve the problem. [Reminds me of what my mom always said when I had ‘cleaned’ my room - moving the piles around the room did not constitute ‘cleaning’.] In fact, the volume might be increased, as more people post to the new forum.

Agreed Dantheman.

My only point was addressing the volume of threads in GQ, not necessarily the volume of the board as a whole. Would it go up? Beats me, it might. And it might be the reason the powers that be don’t want that kind of forum here. Who knows, they’re certainly not sharing.

I guess my feeling on the overall speed and volume of the board is that until a new server is found (And more importantly, a way to finance said server) the issue of slowness isn’t going to be resolved any time soon (Hell, at two in the morning this thing creeps), and it isn’t going to go away.

I guess I was simply looking at an easy, and for me, fun, way to alleviate some of the glut in GQ.

Again, my two cents.

Yeah, it’s the same ol story - need faster server, have people willing to donate money or a server, but CR doesn’t want to go that route, etc.

I’m just thinking that if you have x number of messages on the server, then even if you move some to a new forum - whether that forum gains any more other traffic than had been in the previous forum or not - you still have x messages on the server.