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Advanced forum becoming worthless

Peter Chase
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 30, 2001
Posts: 1970
At the time of writing, ALL of the top ten posts on Java In General - Advanced forum have been locked as inappropriate. About half the other posts on the first page similarly. Most typically, very newbie questions have been posted there and transferred to Beginner or Intermediate.

The Advanced forum ought to be somewhere to look for tough and interesting questions to try to help with and to learn from. Instead, it's become almost worthless, with very few genuine Advanced posts, compared to the number of inappropriate posts.

I recognise that the people posting these questions probably think they're advanced, but couldn't something be done to improve things?

I'm not quite sure what to suggest, but I'm sure plenty of others must be getting fed up with it.

P.S. I tend to categorise most of my own posts under Intermediate, reserving Advanced for when I've talked to everyone at my workplace and got nowhere!


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Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24166
    
  30

Yes, it's unfortunate. I don't know what could be done either. There simply aren't that many people who have advanced language questions to ask.


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Peter Chase
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 30, 2001
Posts: 1970
Does this bulletin board software have a "you can't post in this forum until you've amassed N posts" feature?
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15286
    
    6

Originally posted by Peter Chase:
Does this bulletin board software have a "you can't post in this forum until you've amassed N posts" feature?


# of posts != expertise


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Peter Chase
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 30, 2001
Posts: 1970
No, but having posted a few questions, perhaps the person has got a feel for the site and might realise where to post.

Just an idea. Feel free to suggest something else, but something needs doing, I think.
Paul Sturrock
Bartender

Joined: Apr 14, 2004
Posts: 10336

I think the common misconception is: the advanced forum == where the real experts hang out, which is not necessarily the case. To my mind it exists to avoid having truly confusingly difficult questions in the beginner and intermediate forum, so it does have value, even if we spend most of our time moving stuff out of it. And occasionally we do get a genuinely advanced discussion in there

This is not too bad an issue, I think, so long as someone doesn't mind moving things. Perhaps we need a more obvious message that questions about the core API or basic language concepts don't really belong here? Also, it might be worth while to start deleting the closed topics in this forum after moving them? Just so you are not confronted with ten closed invalid topics before finding a valid one?
[ April 24, 2007: Message edited by: Paul Sturrock ]

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Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
[Peter]: Does this bulletin board software have a "you can't post in this forum until you've amassed N posts" feature?

No. We might conceivably set something like that up. Or we can restrict posting in that forum to only people we authorize to post there. But I think keeping out beginner questions is only half the problem - we don't have that many people posting advanced questions. Or maybe when they do, they put them in intermediate, or in a more specialized forum which is, after all, appropriate. Will it really help to make Advanced harder to post to?

We could try to move some of the harder Intermediate posts to Advanced , I suppose. Or advanced posters could make some effort to raise interesting discussion topics there.

If anyone has suggestions for ways we could rephrase the forum names or descriptions that would help encourage people (in a friendly way) to post in more appropriate places, feel free to suggest them.

On the plus side, I don't think the beginner posts in Advanced actually prevent us from seeing the rare advanced posts that appear there. And if those beginner posts weren't put incorrectly in Advanced, they'd probably have been put incorrectly in Intermediate or some other inappropriate forum. So the way things are now, Advanced functions mostly like an easily-skippable safety valve for misplaced posts. Which is unfortunate, but better than some alternatives, at least.
[ April 24, 2007: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

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Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
[Paul S]: Also, it might be worth while to start deleting the closed topics in this forum after moving them? Just so you are not confronted with ten closed invalid topics before finding a valid one?

Well, I wouldn't want to delete such things immediately, as that would make it harder for the newbie who posted incorrectly to find their post. I suppose it might be OK to delete such posts after a couple days though. That would make it easier for people to see examples of what we consider "advanced". Though many people have their default view set to show topics from the last 30 days only, so they'd probably just see a mostly-empty forum. Still, I think this idea may be worth trying out.
[ April 24, 2007: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
Rahul Bhattacharjee
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 29, 2005
Posts: 2308
If javaranch sets criteria like one can post in the advanced forum after posting more that 1K , then I am very much sure that people will post more and more (most of them will be just for increasing the count without much of real stuff.) to achieve this feather.

Only thing that can be done is good moderation.


Rahul Bhattacharjee
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Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Well, do we really *need* the advanced forum? Perhaps there should just be two JiG forums - beginner and intermediate to advanced?


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Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
We probably don't *need* it - to some extent we don't *need* any particular forum as long as there are others close enough in content that they could absorb the existing forum. I kind of like Intermediate the way it is though. If we removed advanced we'd have to rename Intermediate, and I think it sounds cleaner to have an Intermediate forum and an Advanced forum rather than one Intermediate and Advanced forum. And if we closed Advanced, I think those lame beginner questions would just move to the new Intermediate/Advanced forum. I kind of like they way they're sort of quarantined off from Intermediate right now. Ultimately I think either solution would be acceptable but not ideal, and so far I have a preference for the current solution. But more discussion is welcome...
Pavan Kumar
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 23, 2004
Posts: 78
is it perhaps an option to provide a selection to show/hide locked posts?

If that is easier to code and integrate, it may serve the purpose of keeping the forum, and at the same time regular visitors of the site would know what to expect when the option is selected.

That's just an idea.

Best Regards,
Cnu.


formerly known as Cnu
David O'Meara
Rancher

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I believe we are looking at it from the wrong direction.

The Intermediate forum isn't for questions that don't belong in the Advanced forum, it is for questions that don't belong in the Beginner forum. Or rather, the beginner forum is for questions that don't belong in the Intermediate forum.

If you look at the description of the forums and the driving idea behind the Ranch, people should be able to ask completely clueless questions about Java without fear of being flamed. The Beginner forum is th primary place for these questions on the Ranch.

Intermediate is the next step up. Still possibly easy, but beyond first principles. Advanced then is anything requiring a deeper knowledge of the language. It is possible that more topics could be moved from the Intermediate to the Advanced forum, but it doesn't appear to be causing any real problems except for a quieter Advanced forum.
Rahul Bhattacharjee
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 29, 2005
Posts: 2308
One more suggestions , but the forum software might not have this feature.
No one should be able to post to the Advanced forum.Only ranchers can reply to posts.
Now how will posts come to the advanced forum ?
Initially one has to post it in some other relavent forum , and after some discussion if the moderator feels that it can be moved to advanced forum then he can do it and the discussion can be carried out there.
Jaikiran Pai
Marshal

Joined: Jul 20, 2005
Posts: 9315
    
109

Is it worth doing all this? There are some more such "silent" forums at JavaRanch. "Advanced Forum" being one of them should not cause any harm.


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Varun Khanna
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 30, 2002
Posts: 1400
I endorse the thought of 1 lesser forums or perhaps a better nomenclature.

When I see JBoss or any other forum I know what actually should go in their. The name itself is pretty much self explanatory. However, when it comes to Java in general beginner/ intermediate/ advance I don't think it's easy to comprehend the meaning so easily. Maybe for a person with few years of Java experience it's easy to understand what this categorization means but to expect a newbie to understand this is bit harsh.

When we are learning something new normally we tend to find things tough until we understand it and realise it was easy. This does explains the locked thread in advance forum.

I feel basic and advance categorization should serve the purpose.

Also curious to know whether we had this categorisation since inception or some "happening" gave way to these three forums. What problem were faced by having single forum for Java?


- Varun
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
[Jaikiran Pai]: Is it worth doing all this?

So far, I don't see a really compelling need to do anything. The current situation isn't much of a problem in my mind. But some of the proposals are pretty simple to implement, e.g. removing or renaming a forum, so I think they're worth considering if they seem like they might improve things.

[Varun Khanna]: I feel basic and advance categorization should serve the purpose.

Well, if we eliminate the word "Intermediate" I think this will have the result of splitting the current Intermediate into Beginner and Advanced. That may be good for Advanced but bad for Beginner, where we really want to protect beginners from too many advanced posts. And I think that the current Intermediate forum works pretty well, so I'm reluctant to get rid of it just to try to stimulate Advanced.

If we were to get rid of a forum, I'd rather call the remaining forums "Beginner" and "Intermediate & Advanced", as Ilja suggested. The latter name may sound a bit more cumbersome, but I think it better reflects how we want to group the postings.

[Varun Khanna]: Also curious to know whether we had this categorisation since inception or some "happening" gave way to these three forums. What problem were faced by having single forum for Java?

In the beginning there were far fewer forums (and much less traffic), and one of them was "Java in General". As traffic increased, new forums specialized were created. In Java in General, the biggest problem was beginners interacting with more advanced posters. The beginners would be easily confused, especially if the advanced posters didn't realize at first that they were responding to a beginner. So separating the Beginner forum out from the others seemed good, and calling the other forums Intermediate and Advanced seemed logical too.

[Rahul Bhattacharjee]: One more suggestions , but the forum software might not have this feature. No one should be able to post to the Advanced forum.Only ranchers can reply to posts.

That's an interesting idea. It's technically possible, not problem. It would certainly solve the problem of beginner posts in Advanced (though they'd probably just appear in Intermediate instead). The biggest objection I see is that making it harder to post in Advanced doesn't seem like a good way to get more good posts in Advanced. However I suppose it's possible that we might end out with a situation where posters actively try to post topics that are interesting enough to be "promoted" to Advanced. Though we might just get people trying to post complex homework problems there. I'm skeptical that this would work very well, but it's at least interesting to think about.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 10908
    
  12

is the goal to get MORE traffic into advanced, or less? i mean, i see two issues:

1) There are posts in JiG - Advanced that don't belong there. How do we keep these out?

2) There are not enough "good" posts in the forum. Could that be because of all the other specialized forums? or that Java is so easy that there are no advanced questions (ha ha)?

I think we're lumping two separate issues together, that (perhaps) should be addressed separatly.


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Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
They are two different issues, but I think most solutions for one problem also impact the other, so the discussion naturally keeps crossing from one problem to the other.
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20270
    ∞

I think the advanced forum is an excellent place to talk about fiddling with the bytecode. Or what bytecode actually pops out under what conditions. Or tail recursion tricks with java. Or precompilers - or postcompilers. Maybe certain analysis tools. Or developing JVM's. Or picking apart the java compiler(s).

I think the forum has a great value - it just might be underutilized.

Perhaps we should think about a book that might be a good fit to promote in that forum?


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Anand Hariharan
Rancher

Joined: Aug 22, 2006
Posts: 257

Originally posted by Paul Wheaton:
Perhaps we should think about a book that might be a good fit to promote in that forum?


Touche.
Christophe Verré
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 24, 2005
Posts: 14687
    
  16

What I can think of an advanced topic would be, as Paul said, things about the compiler, or optimizations, like garbage collection optimization.
I feel that RMI is an advanced topic, but there's already the 'Distributed Java' forum, which is also pretty dusty.

Perhaps we should think about a book that might be a good fit to promote in that forum?

Head First Bytecompiler


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Varun Khanna
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 30, 2002
Posts: 1400
Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

[Varun Khanna]: Also curious to know whether we had this categorisation since inception or some "happening" gave way to these three forums. What problem were faced by having single forum for Java?

In the beginning there were far fewer forums (and much less traffic), and one of them was "Java in General". As traffic increased, new forums specialized were created. In Java in General, the biggest problem was beginners interacting with more advanced posters. The beginners would be easily confused, especially if the advanced posters didn't realize at first that they were responding to a beginner. So separating the Beginner forum out from the others seemed good, and calling the other forums Intermediate and Advanced seemed logical too.


Thanks Jim, that explains.
I think beginners deserves seperate space, however not sure whether further categorization serves much purpose. A possible mis-match between advance and junior poster shouldn't be limited to this particular forum only. It can happen elsewhere as well e.g. in JSF, XML forums etc too. Also, presence of senior member sometimes serves purpose as well.

Anyways, having 2 or 3 forums surely not a big deal. You guys are doing good job of helping. Keep it up!!!
 
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subject: Advanced forum becoming worthless
 
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