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I'm a new user of this forum, and I'm really frustrated at what seems like excessive nit-picking about questions. There is a very cliquish feel here - like you have to know the cool kids and their code before you get to join in their sandbox.

I GET that using a more descriptive title would help. I GET THAT.

I get that asking about hardware choices is somewhat personal, and will not be an entirely long-lived discussion. That doesn't make it irrelevant to the now, nor irrelevant to other users in the future.

What irks me is that the way this is conveyed to posters is not clear. 99% of the time it is conveyed with a cut-n-paste comment that completely ignores specifics of the question. It is dismissive. (I have a question over in Electronics that was sidelined and I can't get any help on how to reword it to get it put back into the active queue. Same problem.)

All the cool kids know how to pay in this sandbox and us newbs feel like the rest of you think we are just annoying and you want us to all go away.

But why? Why do you want to push away people who might actually be great contributors? While I'm new here, I feel that the answers I've provided to a few questions over the past few days should show my worth in this forum. But given this endless nit-picking I'm not at all sure I want to join your sandbox. We are all judged by the company we keep, and at this time I'm not sure I want to be associated with this site much longer.

I hope this will give you some serious food for thought.

Reference:

Repeatedly posting the following:

"Questions seeking specific product or service recommendations, where the answer is likely to be either entirely personal or short-lived as a result of changing markets, are off topic here. Please rephrase your question to describe the problem you're trying to solve or what you do not understand that prevents you from determining the answer yourself."

where the user is asking a question that isn't "entirely personal" nor "short lived" but rather is a question about the differences between two product lines for a photography use. I've seen this several times over the past few days.

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    Please see here: Do We scare off new users – SailorCire Nov 5 '15 at 18:35
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    Well, coming at this from the other direction, please see Why is it important to provide apparently irrelevant details in a question? – Please Read My Profile Nov 5 '15 at 19:11
  • Mattdm - I don't argue that more information is good. My issue is with how we request the additional info. The approach is not welcoming. I feel like I'm in 7th grade and have approached a table in the cafeteria and would like to sit and eat, but nobody at the table wants to let me sit down for a wide variety of incredibly stupid reasons, because they are all a clique and I don't "fit in" with them. It doesn't have to be this way. – JC DILL Nov 5 '15 at 20:25
  • Honestly, I don't think it is that way. This is generally a friendly, helpful, and welcoming community. I'm having trouble, though, separating your general complaint from what seems to be a specific one over the wording of the template for closing these kind of questions. See this post for the discussion which resulted in this particular wording. – Please Read My Profile Nov 5 '15 at 21:55
  • Matt, that's a discussion from 2014. And it doesn't seem to have been resolved. Doesn't look like the community is in much of a hurry to improve the wording, which brings me back to what prompted me to start my discussion - it seems like the group is too nit-picky. It seems to be all about getting those darn newbs to go away, rather than honestly helping them. – JC DILL Nov 11 '15 at 15:35
  • Please provide links to those examples. – null Nov 11 '15 at 21:24
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    Those that can't or won't follow the site rules do need to be dismissed. We do want repeat offenders to go away. And no, people that do that sort of thing likely won't be great contributors. There are plenty of good questions and good answers here. Quality is more important that quantity. – Olin Lathrop Nov 28 '15 at 21:39
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First I'll say that I'm glad you've stuck around and answered some questions and also invited this meta discussion. It seems you have a good grasp on OCF which isn't something many of our members have so that is great and I hope you continue to join in the fun here.

The main point I think you are making is really focused on closure of questions that are shopping/equipment recommendation questions. If you stick around this Stack Exchange site for any amount of time, even a few hours, you will see how many shopping questions we truly get. Essentially every new photographer is looking for help in spending more money far before they are interested in basic tenants of classical photography. I think we have all been there at one point or another.

In addition, I think that the technical/developer personality that can typically be found at Stack Exchange sites likes the tech and gear aspect of photography vs the art in many cases(but not all!). For many, separating the gear aspect of photography and the art is not possible as they are seen as one in the same. For others, the gear aspect is irrelevant to the vision. We try to strike a fine balance here by providing the underlying understanding necessary for a user to make gear decisions on their own.

An example to illustrate a closed question vs an on topic question pertaining to the same underlying understanding:

If you have ideas around how we can invite these photographers in without turning them away, while at the same time keeping this site relevant and interesting for those of us that are far from interested in another "Which DSLR should I buy for my first DSLR with a budget of $400?" question - please explain. As AJ Henderson mentioned, we have tried to work on the specific wording of the message before, and we can continue to hone that as we have before.

Here in meta, we really have discussed the "shopping question" topic over and over many times. I'm not doing it justice with my short comments but I can link you to some of the existing coverage:

Exclusive Club

As you mentioned in your post:

There is a very cliquish feel here...

I don't necessarily disagree, but I would call it a community vs a clique. The guidelines on this site for asking a good question are adapted from Ask Metafilter and their own guidelines. For those that are familiar with the great site of the early 2000's, they know that the Ask Metafilter club was so exclusive, you had to pay $5 for the privilege of posting a question! It kept out the internet trolls and ensured that people were actually bought into the community vs just passing by. I think that a lot of the "rules" here are difficult for new members to grasp onto simply because they are used to the no-rule forums that are everywhere. Those that are familiar with more formal avenues such as Ask Metafilter, will likely adjust quickly and welcome the formality.

But wait, there's more!

As you mentioned in a comment:

The problem is both the wording of the message, and the dismissive way that people mark posts as duplicates.

Our own Jay Hanlon (VP of Community Growth) here at SE, has a post that really gets into the details of your question, and addresses quite a few points you have I believe:

The War of the Closes

Some of the dismissive ways you suggest, have in particular been honed already by the community as shown in Jay's blog post above. I'm not saying we couldn't continue to do that, but I'm saying it's a work in progress and obviously an area we could continue to grow. But what I think is most important to take away from the linked to blog post, is right in the first paragraph:

...our highest priority has always been the quality of content on our sites

There are plenty of other websites where a user can ask to compare camera X to camera Y(Snapsort). But there aren't as many sites where you will find masters thesis level answers provided freely by community members. Stack Exchange prefers to lean towards the latter and I think that is why many of us stick around here.

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    +5,000,000. Well explained! – Please Read My Profile Nov 12 '15 at 5:08
  • @mattdm Thanks for reading. I wasn't sure if the hour I spent writing this would result in any actual reads lol. – dpollitt Nov 12 '15 at 14:42
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    Yes, +1. And to your last point, these experts wouldn't be here if the site were flooded with drivel about what camera to buy for $400 to make me a expert photographer. – Olin Lathrop Nov 28 '15 at 21:47
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I completely understand your point and I'll try my best to present what I think the moderator sides of things are.

  • I get that asking about hardware choices is somewhat personal, and will not be an entirely long-lived discussion. That doesn't make it irrelevant to the now, nor irrelevant to other users in the future.

I think your concern is about questions regarding what camera should I get. These are closed, because they are very short lived (Canon Rebel lines get refreshed about every year). So today's T6i will have almost irrelevant specs compared to tomorrow's T8s. So when the next person is looking and they can't decide between a Nikon D3XXX or a Canon Rebel the old camera quality isn't an indicator of what the new camera quality will be like.

Also, you don't want to see a pissing contest like a Canon-Nikon-Sony discussion on who has better hardware. They get bloody. Fast. (Not to mention I just upset the Olympus users and people who still aren't mentioned).

The question that should be asked is: What should I look for when shopping for my first DSLR



  • What irks me is that the way this is conveyed to posters is not clear. 99% of the time it is conveyed with a cut-n-paste comment that completely ignores specifics of the question. It is dismissive.

Cut and paste, yes. Dismissive, slightly. We get these questions every day and several times a day. A lot of people ask their question and leave, so why should we invest the time when they don't take the time to read our rules, or follow any of the auto suggested questions?



  • But why? Why do you want to push away people who might actually be great contributors? While I'm new here, I feel that the answers I've provided to a few questions over the past few days should show my worth in this forum. But given this endless nit-picking I'm not at all sure I want to join your sandbox. We are all judged by the company we keep, and at this time I'm not sure I want to be associated with this site much longer.

Take a look at these:

  1. Fighting With Poison Atmosphere
  2. Should We Value Rules Over Content and Members (really upsets me).

To me, this site does feel a bit more coarse; however, I'm terrified to ask a question on SE as they are way more caustic. U&L.SE on the other hand is pretty easy going. So each one has its own culture. Are we "snobs"? I don't think so, but I do think we could be more inviting.

  • There are 2 equipment questions right now. One is about what Mac is better for photos - laptop or imac, with or without external display. It's not a question easily answered with "what should I look for when shopping for" (DSLR or mac or whathaveyou). Any links to older articles on that topic would miss the specifics of THIS question and be useless to THIS person. – JC DILL Nov 5 '15 at 20:12
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    So it's OK to be dismissive to everyone because some people ask their question and leave? Treating everyone as if they are "that person" doesn't foster a sense of community that encourages people to stay and participate! – JC DILL Nov 5 '15 at 20:14
  • @JCDILL I'm not saying I agree with it, but I think that is the thought process with some community members. – SailorCire Nov 6 '15 at 16:13
  • @JCDILL: Yes. The noise of diapering and burping the many who don't bother to read the rules far outweighs the occasional newcomer that starts out badly but might eventually turn into someone useful. It's just not worth it. – Olin Lathrop Nov 28 '15 at 22:01
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Just so you know, the repeatedly posted bit you mention is actually the close reason for a custom close reason and is automatically posted as a comment when the question is voted to be closed. Nobody is manually copying and pasting that. It is the system acting as intended. We could perhaps improve the message, but that's another issue.

That said, if the close reason is being used for a product comparison question rather than a product recommendation question, then it is being used incorrectly. Unfortunately, the system posts the comment on the first vote, not on successful closure. That isn't something we can change the behavior of.

  • The issue I have IS with the way the message is presented. So that's not "another issue" - it IS the issue. – JC DILL Nov 5 '15 at 20:26
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    @JCDILL In that case, I think, actually, we should close this as a duplicate of the earlier discussion on the wording of that message, and reopen discussion there. – Please Read My Profile Nov 5 '15 at 21:57
  • The problem is both the wording of the message, and the dismissive way that people mark posts as duplicates. Often over half of new questions are flagged as duplicates or poor subject lines or similar. This means that over half of new posters to the forum are being scolded that they aren't using the forum the right way. This is not a welcoming experience. – JC DILL Nov 11 '15 at 15:27
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    The duplicates very, very often have the answer the new user is looking for — and really, what can be better than having your question answered immediately with an already upvoted-and-confirmed and answer, rather than waiting for someone to type out a new one? – Please Read My Profile Nov 12 '15 at 13:54
  • On the "dismissive" or "scolding" tone... well, see Please change automatic duplicate comment to be more polite. – Please Read My Profile Nov 12 '15 at 13:56

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