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Asking Questions on the Forum

Advice for Beginners

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Neil Wyatt01/05/2017 13:06:48
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Moderator
16066 forum posts
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This website is a fantastic resource for getting answers to questions about almost any aspect of engineering, from the most delicate of model-making to full size restoration work.

No question is too simple or stupid to ask if you don't know the answer, so feel free to seek the advice of fellow forum members, but here are a few tips to get the best out of the forum:

  • Be clear about what you are asking, start with a straightforward question, then add details.
  • We know that it isn't always easy to find the answer on Google or Bing if you don't know how best to frame your search, but we always prefer to help people who try to help themselves with a bit of research first.
  • You can use the google site search box on the home page of this website to see if your question has already been asked.
  • Start a new thread for your question, unless you are sure it is 'on topic' for another discussion (e.g. asking for more detail).
  • Use a thread title that relates to the issue ('I have a question' doesn't really tell people what to expect!)
  • Let us know what equipment you have, if asking about milling cutters it makes a big difference if you have a benchtop machine or a ton of Bridgeport.
  • Read the replies you get carefully, nothing is more frustrating than someone who keeps asking questions but doesn't appear to be reading the answers they get, if you don't understand an answer, say so - don't just re-ask the question.
  • If you are asked for more details, try to provide them as this really does help people answer the more technical queries.
  • It can help if you put your location in your question or profile, if you are seeking practical help or a local supplier, club etc.
  • Students - don't ask us to do your homework or assignments for you, that said, if there's a concept or technique you don't understand, ask away.

Finally, if you ask a question, please have the grace to come back and check for answers. Also, check your inbox for private messages - an envelope icon will flash at top right.

And once you have solved your problem, come back again and tell us how you got on.

Thanks for reading this, we look forward to your questions, and look forward to you answering some as you build your skills and experience!

Neil

John Rudd01/05/2017 13:18:48
1365 forum posts
58 photos

Neil,

I commend you on your efforts to make this a better place for one and all....

This thread would be better placed where it is more prominent? Maybe a 'sticky'?

Tbh, dont think I've ever read the forum faq's

Thanks anyway....yes

ega01/05/2017 13:55:03
1176 forum posts
97 photos

Neil Wyatt:

Thank you for this timely and excellent advice.

It may be worth pointing out that Adblock users may not be able to see the search box.

richardandtracy01/05/2017 14:24:07
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938 forum posts
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I do agree with the 'And finally...' Quite some time & effort can go into a detailed reply, and having it acknowledged is usually enough incentive for people to continue putting in the effort, but to be talking into a deafening silence can be dispiriting for those who want to help.

Regards

Richard.

Andrew Johnston01/05/2017 14:45:16
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4689 forum posts
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Posted by richardandtracy on 01/05/2017 14:24:07:

I do agree with the 'And finally...' Quite some time & effort can go into a detailed reply, and having it acknowledged is usually enough incentive for people to continue putting in the effort, but to be talking into a deafening silence can be dispiriting for those who want to help.

Speaking of which I sometimes get a PM from a newbie asking about a specific piece of equipment. It takes time and effort to reply, although I always do so. However it is not unusual for the reply not be acknowledged, or in some cases never even read. The last request, a couple of months ago, was from someone asking about the Pultra lathe. In due course I replied, but the reply has never been read, and as far as I can see the originator has never made a post here, or logging in since.

May be there should be a minimum number of (sensible) posts before people are allowed to use the PM system? devil

Andrew

John Rudd01/05/2017 14:49:01
1365 forum posts
58 photos

I have found using the pm system good for one-to - one when trying to resolve a particular problem.....it avoids all the background chatter and ensures the correct information is passed back and forth, something that doesnt always happen in an open forum context.....

Ian S C01/05/2017 15:05:09
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7382 forum posts
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There are timed when I would prefer to answer the question put in a PM on the open forum, so that the information is passed on to more that just the one asking the question, but still I answer to the best of my ability.

Ian S C

Steve Withnell01/05/2017 18:04:33
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794 forum posts
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Posted by Andrew Johnston on 01/05/2017 14:45:16:
Posted by richardandtracy on 01/05/2017 14:24:07:

I do agree with the 'And finally...' Quite some time & effort can go into a detailed reply, and having it acknowledged is usually enough incentive for people to continue putting in the effort, but to be talking into a deafening silence can be dispiriting for those who want to help.

<SNIP>

May be there should be a minimum number of (sensible) posts before people are allowed to use the PM system? devil

Andrew

Some forums (fora?) don't allow the use of the PM system for responses to questions - this ensures that the maximum number of people benefit from the effort the responder has put in to responding to a question
The old ratio of 1 poster to 100 readers still seems to apply!

Steve

JasonB14/05/2017 09:09:40
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Moderator
15507 forum posts
1594 photos
1 articles

Bumping this one up so people can take note, especially the third point about searching before askingangry

J

Mike Poole14/05/2017 10:11:09
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1956 forum posts
46 photos

Sometimes people ask a question on the forum and I think why did they just not google it? Also sometimes people have tried google and not found what they are looking for. It is worth googling 'search tips Google' and reading some of the tips and tricks as you can refine the results that Google returns and get more relevant suggestions. Playing around with the refining techniques will soon show the difference between a loose search and a more targeted one. The useful Google search box on this website uses a standard Google technique to limit your search to this website but can be used for any website.

Mike

Ian S C14/05/2017 10:48:26
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7382 forum posts
230 photos

Wouldn't be the first time I'v spotted something on Google, then a day or so later, try as I might its gone, so I suppose asking on here might find someone else who has found what ever it is.

Ian S C

MW14/05/2017 12:33:48
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2050 forum posts
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I usually take the time to use the search tool on here for a problem before posting my own, it makes sense to me that it's quicker and therefore easier to do that. But I know others don't necessarily.

Quite often I find you can get very general and plain information upfront on any topic you like on this internet, and don't get me wrong, this is great, it allows new users to get to trying new things. It was much trickier to do that years ago and normally required someone to introduce you to it.

But if you want to scratch the surface of it, or relate it to your own instance, then that's where the information gathering gets much harder quite rapidly, and where books seem to come into their own if you can get hold of them.

I don't mind having to repeat the same information over and over again, because some articles and techniques get shelved to one side because we just assume everyone knows them, rather more likely this is how it gets forgotten.

I'm sure if we could go back far enough into M.E's long history we could probably find most topics have already been discussed, does this mean we should stop reading and thereby making M.E? of course not!

Michael W

clogs14/05/2017 13:52:53
474 forum posts
12 photos

Hi all,

this forum is an asset to all who use it.....I have thanked the moderators and the legion of knowledgeable people who reply to the questions asked on many occasions for the valuable time it take to help out and run this site......

but I do find that I have struggled with the search box......on a recent question ''Cad Start Up'' I think the first reply was you should have checked ''this'' subject out within the search box......no problem and happy with the comment but I always struggle with search box's on this and differing sites......I guess you need the right kind of English......

I did ask the search box in as many different way's as I thought poss....hence the question.....perhaps I'm not the only one......?

I suppose if one looks long and hard enough every question known to engineering man has been asked here before......

thanks for being patient and so very helpful......Clogs

Neil Wyatt14/05/2017 20:46:10
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Moderator
16066 forum posts
675 photos
73 articles

Funnily enough I spoke to a reader today who said he doesn't use forums because in the past he has posted and forgotten about it, and feels bad about wasting people's time...

Neil

Bandersnatch15/05/2017 01:42:42
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1175 forum posts
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Posted by clogs on 14/05/2017 13:52:53:

but I do find that I have struggled with the search box......on a recent question ''Cad Start Up'' I think the first reply was you should have checked ''this'' subject out within the search box......no problem and happy with the comment but I always struggle with search box's on this and differing sites......I guess you need the right kind of English......

 

Which search are you using? If you're using the "Search this site" in the green band at the top of any forum page you will probably get indifferent results.

What you should use is the Google search on the home page ( http://www.model-engineer.co.uk/ ) about 1/3 of the way down the page.

Edited By Bandersnatch on 15/05/2017 01:43:02

XD 35115/05/2017 02:57:40
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1263 forum posts
87 photos
Posted by Bandersnatch on 15/05/2017 01:42:42:
Posted by clogs on 14/05/2017 13:52:53:

but I do find that I have struggled with the search box......on a recent question ''Cad Start Up'' I think the first reply was you should have checked ''this'' subject out within the search box......no problem and happy with the comment but I always struggle with search box's on this and differing sites......I guess you need the right kind of English......

Which search are you using? If you're using the "Search this site" in the green band at the top of any forum page you will probably get indifferent results.

What you should use is the Google search on the home page ( http://www.model-engineer.co.uk/ ) about 1/3 of the way down the page.

Edited By Bandersnatch on 15/05/2017 01:43:02

That explains why i could never find what i was looking for on the forum !

Why do they even have the "search this site " panel for anyway ? I don't think it has found anything i was looking for ever !

Peter Krogh15/05/2017 03:06:15
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211 forum posts
20 photos

I agree! Why have the "search this site" panel if it isn't useful??? I don't think I've ever looked at the "Home" page until just now... it would be far more useful, and accessible, to have that on all the pages in the right column.

Pete

clogs15/05/2017 08:19:18
474 forum posts
12 photos

ooop's so sorry,

I usually look at this site in the middle of the night, can't sleep u see.......I'll take the blame for wasting peoples time.....

I have always found it diff to use web sites generally as all the electronic trickery came late in life and I find it diff to adapt...still don't know what all they keys do on the keyboard, I just do what I know, just scared of undoing something important and where I live there's nobody to dig me out of a hole.....

Promise to try harder next time.....hahaha.......

Clogs

Ady115/05/2017 09:23:56
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3463 forum posts
513 photos

Funnily enough I spoke to a reader today who said he doesn't use forums because in the past he has posted and forgotten about it, and feels bad about wasting people's time...

Neil

I don't mind an OP forgetting to get back to an answered query because I tend to write answers for anyone who may have that same sort of query

Then if someone else asks you can simply search/link for the old answer

ega15/05/2017 09:47:27
1176 forum posts
97 photos

There must be a reason why the "Search This Site" feature is virtually useless but, assuming this can't be remedied, I would agree with others that it would be best omitted or made to point to the Home page facility. I understand that we share the site structure with other interests who presumably suffer in the same way.

Google is not the only search engine, of course, and its results are skewed towards sales and popular interests. There is also at least one "search engine of search engines" which aggregates and processes the results of Google et al (Copernic).

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