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DCElliott
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The past few days I am beginning to wonder if anyone ever uses search engines. I mean, how many posts have we had in just a few days asking how to do CSS centering?? I don't mind helping, but dagnabbit, people should at least try doing tutorials and such before launching a series of "Fix my site" posts. Perhaps we need a sticky post on "troubleshooting your CSS" for beginners. I wouldn't mind contributing a few suggestions. If we get enough, they could be organized into a page as part of this site just like the useful links section.

Any thoughts from the elitest old-timer pro designers? Wink

DE

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Tony
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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Hi DCElliott,
Many people don't to know what to search for when they have a problem.

I started a post with a similar idea http://www.csscreator.com/css-forum/ftopic2471.html
Maybe we can use that as a starting point, refine it a little then mark it sticky.

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Not just the past few days , I seem to remember raising a point about the lack of attempted searches and a possible sticky quite a while ago which was prompted by the umpteenth post on float clearing or was it div height 100% or maybe centering :roll: at times these posts were so frequent that you didn't have to do a search as the answer would be staring you in the face.
It is sadly indicitive of younger peoples attitude that they wish things handed to them on a plate rather than have to actually struggle to search out an answer, I wonder if the ability to learn isn't being lost to them completely; though in some respects forums like this don't help by sometimes providing solutions all to readily when just occasionally some gentle admonishments would actually be in order lest the impression be given that everything will be handed to you on a plate, no effort required on your part!
I'm afraid that many people are too eager to demonstrate their skill and ability by re-writing someones entire html/css which I don't think is that helpful really; far better to point people in the right direction with links to articles or to put them on the right track with suggestions as to what they need to focus on.
Having said that I do think that this forum is a great resource and wouldn't want anyone to think I disapproved of people seeking and receiving help here as it is important for forums like this to exist I just wish people would treat them with a little more respect; which leads on to my absolute bugbear, that of the posters who after you have spent time providing help and solutions to, can't be bothered to end of with a basic acknowledgement that your efforts were worthwhile; a simple thankyou would be ok most of the time.
The number of posts I have that go unanswered amazes me; I can't stand rudeness and it makes you wonder why you bothered!

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roytheboy
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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

DC - how do you think these people get to this forum in the first place! I haven't seen the site stats but I'll wager that more than 90% of the members find the forum when searching for a solution to a problem (as did I).

As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm not a CSS guru, having only started CSS layouts in the past few months, but I'm an old-hand in the business generally and I know exactly what you're saying. There are a lot of posts from people who ought to be able to find their own answers, BUT I think back to when I started to learn php and I just didn't know what words to search on, or where to look in the manual. It's all so easy when you understand the core principles and structure to a subject, but when you're grasping at trying to put everything into perspective, the right keywords don't always come straight to mind.

So I understand your frustration, but I also remember what it's like when you're first learning a subject.

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

I don't mind, I'll even do the search for them sometimes! Laughing out loud

Some just want to start the dialogue, and those that don't reply, no bother... don't let a simple thing like a forum get you down. Laughing out loud

The next sentence is true. The previous sentence is false. Discuss...

DCElliott
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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Hugo wrote:
I'm afraid that many people are too eager to demonstrate their skill and ability by re-writing someones entire html/css...
:roll: Ha - sometimes I'm guilty as charged. I've seen a number of people trying to do CSS who actually have some good coding skills of the old-school html and javascript variety who are trying to make the transition. Sometimes you have to show them concretely what can be done with 1/2 the code. Or show how you don't have to use absolute positioning to get the exact layout you want.

The other thing I get form helping people, especially one's with interesting problems, is a chance to work on designs I wouldn't ordinarily do for myself. So I have learned all sorts of tricks that I wouldn't ordinarily have learned. But what started this rant is the sense that the quality of people's questions has gone down recently and that is a cause for concern. And perhaps Hugo's observation is a good one - might I/we be aiding and abbetting this drop in quality.

I agree that sometimes searches take me to a forum - but I usually end up with a search that leads to an answer. I don't just show up at a forum and ask questions that have been asked 50 times before. But maybe asking questions is the answer - use the Socratic method.

I have one friend whom I started helping with CSS over a year and a half ago - she was a good graphic artist and Flash designer but that is how she coded sites - only the HTML wrapper for the Flash. Anyhow - as far as XHTML|CSS goes - green as grass. We worked through an entire website design - she learned to do CSS, I taught myself (and her) how to do complex layered headers, CSS buttons and rollovers. And it wasn't all showing how to do stuff, it was often asking strategic questions. Now, she is now running her own web design company and helps me out on stuff from time to time. So the wheel turns, I guess.

Anyhow - thanks for bearing with me - I'll be interested in what other persons' experiences have been.

DE

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Apologies that wasn't intended to be a pointed remark and probably could have been better expressed and you are right in suggesting that on occasion you need to demonstrate how something should be achieved esp when trying to explain the use or not of that dam position absolute .

Helping is a two way street, I agree that through helping you find yourself dealing with problems that you may well not have encountered or thought about and that it actually does increase my knowledge by attempting to tackle these questions but as you say my fear is unwittingly aiding the dumbing down of questions.

I feel that it is the responsibility in part of members of this forum to help keep the standards as high as possible, yet I would hate to think that people would be driven away by what they might perceive as an arrogant attitude; that would be counter productive , it's a difficult balance to find.

What worries me at this time is that from an early point in my quest I realised that the web offered many sites dedicated to guiding , explaining, tutoring in the arcane art of CSS/HTML and coding in general, these I used to gain an understanding of what I was attempting to master, if floats were not working for me I understood that I needed to study their use to learn where I was going wrong .
what we seem to be seeing a lot of at the moment are people diving into coding without first attempting to learn a little about what it is they are dealing with, and I find it very hard not to consider this symptomatic of the laziness and lack of discipline that is abound at this time.

Yes people should be asking questions but the Socratic method was based around the Teacher asking the Pupil the questions in an attempt to prompt the Pupil to seek the answers for themselves or at least to think for themselves, but then maybe my whole post is Socratic Irony Smile

co2 it's not a case of getting me down, it doesn't but it does worry me when people demonstrate bad manners. Manners are an important devise that allow us to co-exist and I can not except the attitude of shrugging ones shoulders to the matter as I'm afraid that is exactly how standards decline Smile and should you be doing the search for them? what does this achieve? an example being my young nephew who just loves people running round looking for something he can't find whilst he lies on the sofa, that doesn't happen any more if he can't be bothered to fetch his football from his bedroom then he doesn't get to play he's learnt the lesson that we weren't put on this earth to serve him.
but before I sound too harsh on the matter I too am guilty of having performed searches on behalf of people I just question the veracity of doing so sometimes.

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roytheboy
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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

For what it's worth, I reckon that a lot of your combined frustrations could be dealt with by re-thinking the 'information structure' of this forum. Take 'em or leave 'em, here are some suggestions for Tony to get the ball rolling:

(1) Create a FAQ section right at the top of the forums list. Title each topic carefully and post the definitive answer or possible options for each CSS issue. Lock these topics but allow the regulars to amend or add to them through use of limited moderator status. This alone should stop the largest proportion of repeat questions, but if it doesn't then it will only take us a moment to post a link to the relevant topic.

(2) Put the forum search tool full-width at the top of the page. Colour the div background pale red or yellow and generally make a big deal about the fact that visitors can do their own searching without even having to leave the forum. Next to the search tool, display in red, words to the effect of: "If you are new to CSS and have a problem, the chances are very high that the solution has already been posted here. Check out our FAQ section and if you still can't find what you're looking for, please take five minutes to search on relevant keywords. Only then should you post your question."

(3) Restructure the rest of the forum as the existing structure does not get used anything like correctly, with the possible exception of the Site Check forum. As I found on other forums that I administer, you should look at the number of topics in each forum and then restructure your sections in order to achieve a more balanced distribution of posts. Perhaps you should split everything into two new sections: CSS Beginners (not 'newbies'); and CSS Regulars (not 'gurus').

Within the Beginners' section you could have (1) CSS Styling - text, colours, images etc.; (2) CSS Layouts - changing from tables to divs; and (3) Off Topic - issues indirectly related to CSS.

Within the Regulars' section you could have three similar sub-sections to the above, but the section header should make it clear that these forums are for experienced and/or professional designers and developers to discuss the finer points of CSS and XHTML.

Finally, you should consider having a Miscellaneous section containing Geek News and Web Humour. The last forum is important to me because life on the internet can get too serious and 'heavy' sometimes. Everybody needs a little light relief and a similar section on another forum that I administer runs very well, albeit that you need a clear notice about what is acceptable humour, and a few moderators ready to pounce on those with no sense of 'acceptability'.

I'm not knocking your forum Tony - it's a truly great resource. It's just that information design and structuring is something close to my heart so I thought I'd chip in with my two pennies worth.

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Wow, I seem to have hit a common chord with this thread. I am heartened by the thoughtful posts coming out of the woodwork. The ones posting are the main teachers here and I think we collectively (and in no way trying to usurp Tony's excellent leadership) can make the deliberate choice of elevating the standard here - not of the coding advice - the experts are exactly that - but of teaching. That is where we are falling down, I think. We have to elevate our expectations of what people should do and try to understand on their own.

I think that creating forum specific directions may be helpful (for motivated users who actually read before posting) but it is a lot of work. The idea of adding to threads may be useful, but really we would be recreating something that is done so well with the CSS-Discuss Wiki.

On a different note, on the forum I administer I made a link to this humorous Flash intro to posting on forums: http://www.mindlessforum.org/posting1/ I think it is very well done and Tony may consider linking to it as well.

Keep it coming folks - get all that angst off your chest. :?

DE

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Indeed the crux of the matter is as you say one of maintaining and elevating a standard through teaching and yes to elevate our expectations of what people attempt themselves rather than just to throw everything on a plate for them.
In this way we shall actually help people rather than just become fixers of malformed CSS and hopefully elevate the forum even further.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile exploring some of Roytheboy's suggestions; I realise it would be a lot of work but point 3 may well be worthy of consideration? but if nothing else I do think that the search function should be a little more prominent with requests for it to be used first, it's a great shame when a repository of knowledge appears to go unused.

I think that's most of my angst of my chest although I'll probably find a little more lurking in there somewhere Smile

Great flash intro! (if a little long downloading)

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Thanks for all the suggestions and ideas.
Remember this is a community forum not "Tony's CSS help line".
Suggestions from the forum community are always appreciated.

Some of the ideas that have been suggested will be implemented shortly others may have to tye in with the redesign I am working on when time is available.

Restructuring the forum is something I have wanted to do for a long time but honestly I didn't know which way to turn. roytheboy your suggestions have helped a lot and something along those lines will be implemented.

This is what I am thinking of so far:
FAQ
- CSS HowTo
- ??? something else possibly

CSS Beginners

- CSS Styling ( text, color, images)
- CSS Layouts (moving away from tables)
- Off topic ( problems with HTML, XHTML, JavaScript, PHP...)

CSS Regulars
- Site Checks
- Advanced Layouts
- ???

Community
- Geek News and Humor
- Welcome and Testing Forum
- Site Discussion ( Help us improve the community)

I don't really want to repeat topics and I am not sure of the topics under CSS Regulars, so please give some feedback.
I'm also going to have a lot of moving or archiving of old posts, nearly 25000, so was thinking of having an archived section that contains most of the old posts so they are still available to searches etc.

Any way keep the ideas rolling
Laughing out loud

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

The reason I suggested repeating the three main forums was to make a clear distinction between beginners and regulars. Personally, I would love to sit and read through posts concerned with the finer points of CSS; or posts where pros are discussing the whys and wherefores of different techniques; even flame wars can be interesting and productive sometimes. But I'm never going to do that if every good post is embedded amongst two-dozen repeated beginners-type posts. I would like to see the quick-fix 'beginners' questions separated from the more serious posts. It therefore follows that if you like the Styling, Layouts, Off-topic structure for one section, it should also be used for the other in order to be consistent with the logic of the information structure.

However; if you don't want to separate posts out in this way then there's no need to use the terms Beginners and Regulars at all. Whatever you do, reduce the number of forums as much as possible so that people are not confused by too long a list. Do you really need a Test Forum? ...probably not. Do you really need a Knowledge Base when the entire forum is a knowledge base and you have a condensed version called FAQ? ...probably not. Do you need a Welcome forum when you can display a few helpful words at the top of the page (along the lines of my suggested 'red text')? You have to put this stuff right in front of people's faces if you want them to read it, and you must be short and sharp or people still won't read it.

Get those choices down to the least number possible whist still maintaining a logical structure. Title the sections and forums in plain, meaningful English that even novices can understand (I think the word Geek is just about okay). Get rid of (or move) the moderator links - who cares who the moderators are when home-page screen real estate is at stake! Condense that page - hack that template Wink

For example, here's another structure for you to consider:

Start Here...
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a problem with CSS then look here for a solution first.

Ask About or Discuss...
CSS Layouts
For posts about structuring pages and moving away from tables.
CSS Styling
For posts about text, colouring, images etc.
Other Issues
For posts about indirectly related issues with (X)HTML, PHP, JavaScript etc.
Site Check
Ask others what they think of your site, or ask for specific browser/platform checks (don't take others' time for granted).

Miscellaneous...
Geek News and Humour
Interesting or funny things found on the web (please keep it clean and decent).
Room for Expansion
...whatever!

With regards to 25,000 articles: if they are not useful, bin them or archive them. Sort out a really good FAQ section between yourselves and then get pruning. God knows I know this isn't easy (I'm an administrator myself), but you asked for opinions so here's mine.

With regards to the FAQ section being similar to other existing resources: I can understand not wanting to compete with something that already does a good job, but life would be very boring with monopolies, and who's to say that the prime mover in any field is still going to around this time next year? If we take the attitude of not repeating other resources then let's close the forum down today!

No; I think the web is big enough for another CSS FAQ resource, and I think we should try to make this one as user-friendly as possible (which is what I try to achieve with everything I do on the net).

As for all the other so eloquently-put thoughts about the quality of teaching that started to drift into almost esoteric realms Wink, I say we should help others to help themselves. Don't put everything on a plate - steer people in the right direction. Help them with concepts, patterns and methods but let them sort their own details out or they'll never learn anything and then they'll come unstuck through not realising that they need to know the basics before they can run (I'm generalising here because of course I'm only just getting to grips with the basics of CSS layouts myself Laughing out loud - 'Ark at me :roll: ).

Anyway; there's some more food for thought. Cut me down if you want - I can take it Crying. I'm just mixing things up a bit to see what floats to the surface Wink

I really must get on now as I've spent three hours on this forum and I've got urgent work coming out of my ears!!! ...it's addictive isn't it. Laughing out loud

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Roytheboy sums things up quite neatly methinks,
it's about steering, guiding, methodology and best practices and I guess occasionally "it's too difficult to explain, I'll put it on a plate for you"
It is vital that they attempt a few basic tutorials or they will never really benefit from the help and guidance they might receive here, they have to be speaking the same language even if only at a basic level.

As for the sub forums Roy's views seem to make sense although I still feel that a further forum under 'start Here' would help, along the lines of 'beginning layouts' 'beginners CSS' somewhere that people can request help on the most basic types of problem but I admit to not being too sure myself about the title or merit thereof, I maybe just rambling on now :?

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

As you may have noticed the restructure has happened.
I deleted many older posts and moved lots around.

Still need to add the search across the top and build up the FAQ.

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Wow - you don't muck about do you Tony! What can I say - I've changed my mind and don't like it now ( just kiddin' Wink ). It looks much better to me and although it might now look a little bare to us that are used to more sections, the new visitor should be able to get a much better feel for what to find where, and what to put where. A couple of points if I may:

"If your new to CSS" should be "If you're new to CSS".

Personally I don't like the Beginners CSS Questions because you are now doubling up on a part of the info structure. Does somebody that thinks they know what they're doing post in the beginners' section or the Ask section? (sorry Hugo; and I know that I suggested two complete sections but that was with a much clearer distinction between the two). If for no other reason than to make searching a more focused affair, I think the Beginners' section should go, unless you are going to have two complete and distinct sections.

The wording of Site Checks suggests that some sort of automated site-checker is within that forum.

The design of the start page could be improved (yes Tony; I know it's on the cards), specifically to reduce the visual weight of the 'Forum Topics Posts Last Post' header, and to increase the visual weight of the three section headers. Also, I personally like the use of the ellipsis in a section header e.g. 'Ask About or Discuss...'

As before, these are just my initial thoughts; it's your forum. Well done Tony Smile

PS: this thread needs moving now Wink (you just can't get the staff :roll: Laughing out loud )

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Hi roytheboy,
Thanks again for the comments, most of which I will act on straight away.

I don't really like the idea of having sections for beginners and advanced users as it may put some people off helping advanced questions due to lack of confidence.

How about another forum "CSS Positioning" for positioning and floating.
That way we should have most of the problems separated into three sections
CSS Layouts, CSS Styles and CSS Positions.

We can then remove the Beginners CSS Questions and it should be clear where to post your questions.
There will be a little overlap between layouts and position but that shouldn't cause any problems.

Quote:
PS: this thread needs moving now Wink (you just can't get the staff )
Nearly everyone I have put on as a moderator stopped coming soon after, It must be a stressful job :?

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Tony wrote:
Hi roytheboy, Thanks again for the comments, most of which I will act on straight away.

I'm pleased that you like my ideas, and only too glad to help someone who is doing so much to help others.

Tony wrote:
I don't really like the idea of having sections for beginners and advanced users as it may put some people off helping advanced questions due to lack of confidence.

That's fine - fair enough. My point is: one or the other, no half-measures that get in the way of clarity.

Tony wrote:
How about another forum "CSS Positioning" for positioning and floating. That way we should have most of the problems separated into three sections CSS Layouts, CSS Styles and CSS Positions.

I think 'positioning' and 'layouts' are too similar. Some would say they mean the same thing! How about:
(1) CSS Page Layout and Positioning
(2) CSS Text Styling and Nav Menus
(3) CSS Images and Colours
Over to you (or anyone else) Smile

Tony wrote:
We can then remove the Beginners CSS Questions and it should be clear where to post your questions. There will be a little overlap between layouts and position but that shouldn't cause any problems.

As you suggest, we will never achieve a perfect structure because many posts cross boundaries, and many posters don't know what they need to know, but there's no harm trying to do the best we can.

Tony wrote:
Nearly everyone I have put on as a moderator stopped coming soon after, It must be a stressful job :?

...funny you should say that; see my PM Smile

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

I've added a google search bar to the top of the site which allows you to search here or the web.

There are a couple of reasons why I used the google search bar,
1. it allows you to search here or the web.
2. it uses google servers to do the hard work.
3. I might get lucky and occasionally have someone click on an add after a search.

The other search box will remain on the side.

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Has anyone ever heard of Google?

Tony wrote:
I've added a google search bar to the top of the site which allows you to search here or the web.The other search box will remain on the side.

That's a very good idea Tony - it's very fast Tongue

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