10 Replies Latest reply: Nov 16, 2005 5:49 PM by A A P L
Terrell Smith Level 4 (3,020 points)
This topic is not for what we like or don't like about the new discussions format, nor about what works and doesn't work. It's about philosophy.

Why do people come to the Apple Discussions? Why are the Apple Discussions so popular? What will the new format change?

TiBook 400, 1GB RAM / Dual 1.8 G5, 2 GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.4.3)
  • Terrell Smith Level 4 (3,020 points)
    Why do people come to the Apple Discussions? Why are
    the Apple Discussions so popular? What will the new
    format change?

    I believe there are at least three reasons:
    - To ask a question / get an answer
    - For discussion
    - For community

    The new format focuses on the question/answer format only. It discourages discussion and destroys community.

    Community is what makes Apple great. When someone becomes an Apple user they join a community.

    The old Apple Discussions was a place for discussions, as well as for question/answer. The community joined together to help, to answer questions. It was a team effort.

    The new format makes Apple Discussions like many other discussions, not a discussion, but a question/answer depot. Two people can be helpful, one can give the answer. End of discussion. End of community.

    The old format encouraged partnership, the building of a helpful community.
    The new format is individualistic: Question - answer - who's next?

    Think about other help forums you have posted in. They are question/answer based. Once you have the answer to your question, do you go back? Rarely.

    Why do the "experts," the ones with answers, come to the Apple Discussions? To help people, and also for community. The new format discourages discussion. With community gone, people will leave and look for community elsewhere. Then who will answer the questions?

    The new format focuses on the question/answer format only. It discourages discussion and destroys community.

    Do you agree? Disagree?
  • Terrell Smith Level 4 (3,020 points)
    Think of it this way: You have a question, you need an answer. There are options:
    1) You go to the Apple genius bar and ask. You get your answer from the genius and go home.
    2) You go to the Apple Discussions and ask. You get your answer from the community and hang around, read and learn more, discuss, see questions in the side bar you can answer, enjoy the discussions, the community. Stay up too late. Make your spouse mad.

    Apple Discussions, not just Apple question/answer builds Apple community.
  • dwb Level 7 (22,615 points)
    I tend to agree with your thesis. The new point system clearly encourages a one question one answer model. After all, what incentive does Apple now give me to answer a question that has been answered? Any thread that now has an answer is, for all intents and purposes, dead. (assuming you and I are here to earn points and move up the ladder)

    But this is indeed a flawed model. Consider a question asked by an iPod owner a few years back. Like many newbs today, he wanted to know how to deal with owning a 10 gig iPod and a 40 gig iTunes collection. There were already numerous answers by the time I arrived but I weighed in because I was using a variation on a theme already mentioned. As the discussion moved on for another week or so l picked up several new ideas. We all did.

    Think how this could evolve today:
    Q: how do I handle an iTunes collection that is much larger than my iPod?
    A: a thoughtful paragraph about playlists or a URL to an Apple help page
    Q: thanks for the help, here's 10 pts

    The thread is now marked answered, the discussion ends, we are all a little poorer.

    How can this be resolved?
    Keep the 10/5 pt awards for the questioner. To encourage the questioner to actually award the points, give a point or two for thus responding.

    Return the ability to award points to everyone - perhaps hold it back until one reaches level 2.
  • Austin Kinsella1 Level 6 (11,510 points)
    I agree. It seems like an attempt to turn the enthusiastic volunteers into unpaid helpdesk employees - q,a,q,a, bang bang next please.

    As a matter of interest, Terrell, can you now award yourself points for your brilliant informative helpful answers to your question?
  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (56,590 points)
    2) You go to the Apple Discussions and ask. You get
    your answer from the community ...

    It is wrong.

    You mark the question solved. No one bothers to check the answer, as the problem is solved.

    You go off cursing Apple and its forums. Community erodes. Level 4's (who are already internally well motivated to offer their advice) are off chasing the points, rather than being genuinely helpful for its own sake. Quality deteriorates. No one seems to know why.

    If you ask Consumer reports, the previous Apple forums are part of the best support package in this industry. Look carefully at what motivates your current best posters, and do not change to a different motivator without thoroughly researching its impact. Gratuitous changes to fundamentals without proper research is a recipe for a disaster like "New Coke".
  • RTP Level 5 (4,875 points)
    Hi Terrell,

    One thing was really bugging me about this new format. Well, you put the finger right on it: community.

    I simply do not know if we will be able to (re)build the community we had in the old format. I hope so. But achieving this will ask for major changes in this "better" way of doing things.

    Roger the Photographer
  • Tom Graves Level 7 (20,615 points)
    Just for context. The reasons you state about what is wrong with the new format are exactly some of the same reasons people gave for not liking the old format when it was new two years ago.
  • Geoffrey Lo Level 4 (2,115 points)
    I completely agree. The new format destroys having a community. I thought what made Apple Discussions stand out from Genius Bars etc,. is that there are dozens of people willing to share their opinions / how to get things done. Right now, all incentives for taking part in a group conversation have disappeared. There are no pluses for being higher up on the level chart, no way to + or - someone else's post, and heck, there's no way to see how many points I have anymore.
  • RTP Level 5 (4,875 points)
    Good to know, Tom. But I think his point about community is well taken. And even in this case, what we have as a community should be preserved as much as possible, IMHO.

    Not an easy transition, as any transition, of course.

    Roger the Photographer
  • A A P L Level 7 (21,730 points)
    If one's only motivation to help is to get points or "move up" then yes, you're right.
    I hardly think that's the case, and I'm a gen-u-wine pessimist.

    I don't really dig the new format, but for totally different reasons - it feels clunky and inefficient, space-wise.

    I'm going to give it a chance before flaming, but I don't see the point-system as too bad, unless one only wants a virtual "attaboy"