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DaveCT2003

Call to Arms - Keeping a Valued Resource Valuable

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My friends,

 

Each day we see members generate a repetitive posts here at AVSIM because they did not bother to first search the AVSIM forums or take the time to first search a product manual.  Sometimes this leads to the original posters receiving a very negative response from members of the community, which at best embarrasses (or should) and at worst creates ill will or possibly alienates someone from our community.

 

Someone might wonder why this is important. After all, we're all aware that AVSIM has unlimited disk space and bandwidth (lol).

 

The answer is quite simple. The AVSIM forums are a valuable resource and wealth of information which allow the community to quickly search and receive a wealth of information on almost every topic or issue in flight simulation. The problem is that these repetitive posts eventually "sit" on top of original posts which usually contain the information needed to understand or address an issue, and can eventually obscure the the informative contained in the original posts.

 

If something isn't done, I'd argue that searching the forums will at some point become an exercise is sifting through countless, repetive (if not worthless) posts rather than leading one to the answer one is (or should be) searching for.

 

I know first hand how hard the moderators are working, and they're doing a great (but thankless) job. But something else has to happen.

 

I won't be so bold as to think that I have the answer here, but maybe two suggestions to start the ball rolling towards developing a solution.

 

1. Send a SHORT email out to all AVSIM users about this problem (anything more than three or four short sentences and I question if people will read it).

 

2. Create a short, two or three sentence notice that new users will have to read (and answer) informing them to search the forums before posting.

 

I realize these are not solutions, just something meant to get the ball rolling.

 

 

Thanks for your time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes this leads to the original posters receiving a very negative response from members of the community, which at best embarrasses (or should) and at worst creates ill will or possibly alienates someone from our community.

 

I understand what you are saying Dave but I would hope this does not happen in this community.  We have a lot of members who are not as computer literate as others and they want to find out how to do something.  Search engine?  What is that?  If I see negative responses like this, the individual will be warned for inciting as telling someone to conduct a search is not the proper response and, IMHO, totally obscene.  It's like going into a grocery store in an unfamiliar area and asking a "local" where the milk is located only to be told to look at the directory.  So, if someone asks a question that has been asked 100 times, members need to be polite and not respond, take a deep breath and move on to another topic or post.  Responding with "search Google" or other inciting and negative comments will only lead to a violation of our Terms of Service for inciting. It only gets the member who asked the question totally upset and that's not what we want to do with our fellow members in the AVSIM community.

 

One has to remember that not everyone is in their 20's here at AVSIM and computer literate.  We have a lot of elderly members, many in their 70's and 80's, who were not raised in the computer world like many of our younger members.  I find it disrespectful too when someone in their 20's or 30's tells someone much older what to do and how to do it (like do a Google search).  Members should think first and ask, "would I tell this to someone to their face?"

 

If you look in the CTD Forum here at AVSIM, you will see topic after topic of senior and junior members asking the same questions (like "my computer has run out of memory, how do I fix it"; "I just had an ntdll.dll crash. How do I fix it"; "My PMDG 777 crashed after a four hour flight"; and so on).  Some of the topics are right next to similar topics discussing the same question. Telling the frustrated member "search the forums or conduct a Google search?" is not very helpful and only leads to more frustrations for the member.  Is this like how you would want to be treated?  If you cannot respond with a polite and helpful response, then you should not respond at all.  Take a deep breath and move on.  I take a lot of "deep breaths" here at AVSIM as a Moderator....

 

I have seen trolls here at AVSIM who are frustrated with a product's support forum and come here and ask several negative questions about a product in several different topics (such as "I can't get the fmc to work in ABC product and the ABC developer will not respond to my questions or e-mails"; "I can't figure out how to turn the AP on for the ABC product and the developer will not respond to my questions or e-mails"; and so on.  They are frustrated and looking for revenge because the developer did not respond to them.  How dare this developer not respond to whatever I ask!  They think this is what will get the developer's attention and he/she will immediately respond to their problem or it will tell others in the flight simulator community that this developer is not very responsive and maybe members shouldn't purchase this product.  This is a form of trolling and also spamming which is not allowed here at AVSIM.  These members should instead be searching for a solution or asking fellow members here for a solution before trying to bash one of the FS developers who contribute so much to our community.  Some add-on developers are very busy updating their product(s) or have furnished FAQ on their websites that answer the questions or the information is in the manual. There is no reason to bash the developer here in our forums because you are dissatisfied with YOUR experiences.

 

Forum etiquette is important for any large community like AVSIM's.  I personally like the definition of proper forum etiquette at the following website - http://www.osnews.com/story/25540

 

Thanks for your kind comments regarding our Moderators.  It is sometimes a thankless job but we do receive a lot of thanks and do appreciate those nice comments.

 

Respectfully,

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We have a lot of elderly members, many in their 70's and 80's,

 

Jim..............just reached 70 this year and I do NOT consider myself "elderly"  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

 

This is an interesting topic and perhaps the OP is on the correct path by suggesting that you need to answer a question "did you search for your topic/question" before posting,,,,,,,,

 

PS: I did spend over 40 years in the IT area so some of us "elderly" are computer literate!!! I can't remember if I search this topic before posting or not.............

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Search is great when you are looking for something very specific - say 'why does this happen on a specific aircraft?'.  It's a waste for more general questions because the answer volume is like Google - you know, you got 100,000 pages in response.  Give the questioner a break and just answer the question.  Me, I'd like to do more complex queries (much like, again, Google using AND, NOT, OR instructions), search within result sets, and so on...

 

DJ

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im..............just reached 70 this year and I do NOT consider myself "elderly"

 

Yes, I just turned 70 in October too.  Still you must understand there are a lot of people not as computer literate as you and I and many others here in the AVSIM Community.  We were fortunate.  I deal with a lot of members in the CTD forum and, when I ask them questions, they act like I'm talking a foreign language.  I have to explain everything in detail, step by step (as well as others who contribute their time helping others in that forum).  I am still in total disagreement for having some kind of statement indicating that a person has to search before posting though. It doesn't happen often enough and, if there is a rule, who follows rules in the first place?  :o  You think everyone is going to follow the rule to conduct a search before posting?  And, if they don't do we ban them, restrict them from posting for a month? Make them totally unwelcomed here at AVSIM?  It is just not going to happen at least while I'm here.  It doesn't happen on other websites and it will not happen here.

 

Best regards,

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Don't you think that in many cases it's not a lack of PC knowledge but sheer idleness? Why trawl though stuff thrown up by Google when a question on AVSIM (or any forum) will cut to the chase. Let's face it, anyone who has managed to get FSX into any kind of shape is not PC illiterate.

I'll help anyone if I think they've put in a bit of groundwork first and not come up with what they're looking for. The ones I'll ignore start off "Hey guys, can't get this to work HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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I remember just getting out of high school the other day. Even if it was nearly 46 years ago. Other than that, I no longer have the patience to become computer literate. 

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Respectfully, I believe that anyone who can make an online purchase (for instance, PMDG software, or any  number of other addons) can easily search the forums or read a manual that comes with a product.  I have to question anyone who says others wise, but okay, let's allow for that unlikely case.  Simply infoming them that they can, and should try searching the forums may make all the difference.

 

Remember, please, I'm not "after" anyone.  I'm saying that a valuable resource is likely to become obscured so badly by all the repetitive posts that searching and wading through such emails will eventually result in it no longer being an effective tool. That's what this is about.

 

Show me one person who can find an online only Flight Sim addon, purchase it, download and install it, and then tell me they can't learn to search a forum?  I'm sorry, but I can't believe that, but if that's the case then we can teach such a person to search the forums and search a product manual.

 

By the way, anyone aware of the standard age of those who make these posts?  I am.  I've watched this happen for over 8 years here on AVSIM, and the vast majority easily seem to be under the age of 18.  I doubt they are computer illiterate, but okay, if they are and can find, purchase, download, install software, we can teach them to search the forum and search a product manual (sorry, but it bears repeating).

 

I'll say one more thing.  I've been a part of the community for 30 years, and I can remember a time when most of the users were older and many were truly not computer literate. But at the same time, they put in the time to learn to navigate a BBS, Forum, etc.  I was there, I was part of it.

 

Anyway, this thread is about saving a valuable resource, and I hope I've at least provoked some to start thinking about this.

 

 

Thanks for everyone's time and input.

 

 

Dave

 

 

.

 

..

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A good way to test the internal logic of an argument is to apply the same logic of the argument to a different set. You fear that constant repetitive posts will ultimately lead to the demise of AVSIM as a valuable source of information. So, let's apply that logic to the Internet itself. AVSIM is a subset of the Internet itself, and the Internet contains immeasurably more data, and by extension, more repetitions of similar subjects than AVSIM does. So, has that constant additions of repetitive data on the Internet resulted in the Internet being lost as a valuable source of information? I doubt you will get many people who support that point of view. Does it make it more difficult to find something useful on the Internet? Sure, there's a lot of rubbish on there, but that is one area where AVSIM has an advantage over the Internet. Even though the repetitive questions asked are asked by people who may not be particularly knowledgeable, the people who tend to answer the questions on here are not buffoons who don't know what they are talking about, so the answers provided are actually useful. And that is the key to this whole debate about whether people should be told to RTFM, search Bing, or go to their local libraries instead, the problem is not with the questions asked, the problem is with the answers provided. If for every question asked, repetitive or not, the answers to the questions are accurate, useful and actually related to the questions, then it doesn't matter how many questions are asked, because whenever someone searches for a topic that leads them to a particular thread, they will find information which is of use. If the information on each thread is of use, then AVSIM not only is not in danger of being lost as a source of helpful information, but it actually grows in the volume of useful information that it provides.

 

There is something else that is often missed in the emotionally laden discussions about whether people do in fact search for answers online before posting an already posed question. AVSIM has in excess of 100 000 members. I don't know what the exact number of people is who asked questions already posed, but I dare say, that they are in a vast, vast, vast MINORITY. The reason I say this is easy, imagine for a moment what the forums would have looked like if just 10% of AVSIM users every day each asked a question already posed. That would be in excess of 10 000 repeated topics every day. We'd all notice that. But let's be a bit more realistic, let's repeat that exercise with just 1% of AVSIM users, which would be, 1000 repeated topics every day. Maybe Jim can help us out here, how many new topics are made every day? Is it a 1000? Out of that 1000, how many of those are questions that have been asked before? And now suddenly, you have the perspective needed to accurately asses whether AVSIM is being lost to repetitive posts. It most certainly is NOT.

 

If you are truly concerned about topics being worthless, then the solution is not to slam the door on people posing questions already asked, it is to ensure that each question asked is actually answered in a way that provides a solution. That does not imply that each question should get addressed in the same way with a repeated lengthy answer, sometimes, a simple link provided to a thread where the question is answered is also useful and more than enough. And not only does that not render the thread useless, but if someone who searches online and clicks on that thread comes across the link, that helps those who do search online too. Also, I think posting a link takes up a lot less bandwidth than an essay length answer about the merits of searching. And I dare say that in the haste to condemn those who post previously asked questions, no consideration is given to the perspective of those who actually search online and come to those threads and whether that is useful to them. And in the end, that is what matters, not whether a minority of people pose questions already asked, or how some feel about that sort of thing, what matters is whether anyone who searches online and comes to AVSIM is able to find information that helps them. And becoming irate at people who pose questions posed before has never helped anyone solve an issue or find an answer.

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good way to test the internal logic of an argument

 

Sir,

 

My original post, nor my reply, is emotionally charged.  Sir, instead of evaluating your response by it's length and comments as being emotionally charged, I'll simply ask you - is this an emotional topic for you?  It is not for me. I do however feel that it is important.

 

Now, I've worked with high level statistics professionally for many, many years, and though on the surface what you assert by testing the question on a border scale might appear to seem relevant, it really doesn't work.  I just can't take the time to cover why, but I will tell you that the same issue I wrote about has been present in other Internet communities.  I've seen it many times over.  In fact, the "Let Me Google That For You" presents the best case and answer to that question.

 

Sir, I think you completely misread my post, and if you'll check the number of answers I've provided to people over many years here you'll see that I've never hammered anyone.  Others have however, which is why I included that information in the original post.  It was germane, and I've spoken to people who, sadly, have been driven away by just this type of action. I wrote about it because I care that it sometimes happens... and I'm confident that the moderators will back me up here.

 

Sir, I have no problem asking Jim or some of the other mods, because they themselves spend time every day pointing people to resources that are on every screen of AVSIM.

 

Wrapping this up, I'll say that if you wish to test this as it stands now, simply search for one technical FSX issue, and see how many posts are made about it (the type of posts I've referred to) and drive down to the first real answer. I've done this myself, and did it again before I posted this topic.  It cries for something to be done.

 

All I'm proposing is that we tell people about the resources, which includes searching for answers that many of us have spent countless hours researching and providing to the community.

 

.

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Sometimes this leads to the original posters receiving a very negative response from members of the community, which at best embarrasses (or should) and at worst creates ill will or possibly alienates someone from our community.

You have spent the time to write several long posts essentially telling such individuals that they are stupid or lazy or both. If this was not your intent, I challenge you to demonstrate this. Your posts in this thread constitute a clear example of the negative or ill-willed responses that you claim to be seeking to end.

 

The answer is quite simple. The AVSIM forums are a valuable resource and wealth of information which allow the community to quickly search and receive a wealth of information on almost every topic or issue in flight simulation. The problem is that these repetitive posts eventually "sit" on top of original posts which usually contain the information needed to understand or address an issue, and can eventually obscure the the informative contained in the original posts.

Kindly define "informative" in a way that addresses your perceived issue. What is informative for you is not necessarily what is needed by another... Which is precisely why people post the questions that seem to annoy you so much. I submit that your wish carries an underlying sentiment that you are a flight simulator god, knowing all that there is to know about FS at that time and that those of lesser knowledge are not worthy to post here, there, or anywhere.

 

If you have your way, avsim will become a place with draconian moderation and a utility similar to Wikipedia. I would not belong to such a forum.

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Dave, I haven't misread your post. I pointed out something that is vitally missing from this debate. What you are referring to is the number of people who post questions already posed. What you are missing is a vital bit of information about the number of people who do not, that is, the number of people who actually DO search online and find answers to their questions WITHOUT resorting to posting a thread about a subject already addressed. Without that second bit of information, you cannot accurately assess whether repeated questions are of as little value as you say they are. Hence my reference to the small percentage of users who actually do pose repeated questions. The clue is in that small percentage. You focus your attention on the small percentage of people who actually post repeat topics and infer from that that there is a problem with people who do no search. But that has no logical validity, because the data that you use is incomplete. By making use of the simple mathematics of number of repeated threads/overall number of new threads, you get an understanding of the scale of the issue, and the scale of the issue is not of such a nature that you can say there is a problem with people who do not search. Let's make up some numbers here, 1% of new threads are repeat threads, 99% of new threads is not. This is not an unreasonable assumption based on the number of AVSIM users and new threads daily posted. Or, let's be generous, 5% of new threads are repeat threads, 95% is not. You can say that 5% of people not searching is quite astonishing, but what you can't say is that there is a problem because people do not search.

 

Now, with respect to your friends who were driven away by this, I would say that they misread the situation (Btw, what percentage do they form in relation to people who were not driven away by repeat threads?). I imagine that you are probably referring to the PMDG forums, where I would be prepared to say that probably 20% of threads are repeat posts, but again, all that you can infer from that is that it is astonishing that 20% of people do not search either online or the manuals. But again, with 4 in 5 people not posting repeat threads, you cannot say that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Again, with reference to your friends and their reasons for leaving, given that there are more people today who sim, there is almost certainly an increase in the number of repeat posts, but as a percentage of overall posts, it's still in the minority. Given the complexity of PMDG's products as well as their popularity, it should also be expected that there will be more people who ask repeat questions. Will telling people to use the resources available make any difference? Given that you tell that to people after they have already posted a thread, I doubt it would serve any purpose in reducing the number of new threads, it's still a reactive recommendation.

 

What you are proposing is to provide people with guidelines on how to use the resources available, but if those people are already inclined to post first and read later, your recommendations are almost certain to make no difference. Given that it is a minority of cases in any event, would it not be better to adopt a strategy of treating it as a minor inconvenience rather than an overbearing problem? And you will struggle to prove that it is an overbearing problem, given the numbers we have at our disposal.

 

It's not an emotional issue for me, I don't get angry at people who post repeat questions, nor do I get angry at people who get upset about it, but I do try to see things from more than one perspective without assuming that my perspective is right, that is an assumption too far for my comfort. It would be worthwhile to take into consideration the perspectives of others, especially those you disagree with, before attempting to formulate a strategy for dealing with them. That is the whole point of my argument around determining whether this issue is as much as a problem as you say it is.

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You have spent the time to write several long posts essentially telling such individuals that they are stupid or lazy or both. If this was not your intent, I challenge you to demonstrate this. Your posts in this thread constitute a clear example of the negative or ill-willed responses that you claim to be seeking to end.

 

 

My friend, you're way off base, and are attempting to turn this into something it is not, and never was meant to be.

 

It is supposed to thought provoking towards solving what one day will be a serious problem, not emotional.

 

If you have something positive (on either side) or reflective to contribute, then I'd love to hear what you have to say. But I'll ask that you refrain from name calling and assertive narrative.

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My friend, you're way off base, and are attempting to turn this into something it is not, and never was meant to be.

 

It is supposed to thought provoking towards solving what one day will be a serious problem, not emotional.

 

If you have something positive (on either side) or reflective to contribute, then I'd love to hear what you have to say. But I'll ask that you refrain from name calling and assertive narrative.

Please see posts by clearedtoland. He has said essentially what I would say. If you read what he has posted, I suspect you will find a subtext saying what I have said as well... Just perhaps a little more diplomatically.

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Please allow me the latitude to state some of my observations.

 

First of all, it's all fine and dandy to suggest "searching" as a first step in anyone's quest for answers. However, that presupposes two conditions, (1) that one knows how to frame their question(s) precisely, and (2) that they know how to generate the "keywords" required to even begin their "search."

 

The ability to state the question(s) cogently and precisely is often reflected in the "Topic Title." How often do we see topic titles such as "Help!!!!!" That is not particularly informative, and frankly provides little to no incentive for me to even read the post, much less attempt to answer.

 

Generating the requisite "keywords" for any search is likewise an acquired skill, one which I learned while working in the library during my college years. After my first year as a library assistant, I began conducting a week long seminar at the library for all incoming students, teaching effective techniques for conducting research.

 

It is my practice when responding to questions is to begin by illustrating how one can generate the "keywords" for a search so that they will hopefully gain some ideas for future questions, then provide the answer(s) they need. This actually serves several purposes, as in the course of doing this I often have to do some actual research myself, so I learn something new at the same time. :Idea:

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How often do we see topic titles such as "Help!!!!!"

 

Especially when the  effective content is  "My xxxxx doesn't work."  - that's when I can't be bothered to respond.

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I have never been a big fan of search engines on forums where specific questions are concerned. Quite often the results of such a search just lead to more confusion. Personally, I prefer to cut to the chase, and simply ask the question. I must have answered what amounts to the same question on various topics multiple times, but do you know what? I never get fed up of it. That's because I get a sense of satisfaction from helping someone when I know the answer to their problem.

 

I understand that some people get fed up with what seems to be the same questions asked over and over again, but there is one easy solution to that if it annoys you. Ignore it, and move on to something that does interest you.

 

No disrespect to the OP intended. I appreciate you taking the time to start this thread, and post your thoughts B)

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I agree with you Christopher, forum search engines are very seldom helpful. I do a general Google search. More often than not I find the answer to my question. Mostly, in fact always, the answer comes from a forum where the 'dumb' question has been asked before...But it did save me from asking it. :P

 

Thread titles? Don't get me started! Titles like 'FSX' and 'P3D' and, and...

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I'm more put off by "asked a thousand times, why don't you try a search" and "RTFM" type kneejerk responses, almost always put forth with an air of condescension, than I am by seeing a simply answered question asked again and again. In terms of finding information via a search, I find the more times a question has been asked and answered, the easier it is for me to find an applicable solution, not the opposite.

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So where have we got to? Answer questions that have been asked a thousand times or encourage people to think for themselves a bit? :unsure:

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. I must have answered what amounts to the same question on various topics multiple times, but do you know what? I never get fed up of it. That's because I get a sense of satisfaction from helping someone when I know the answer to their problem.

 Yes you did Christopher and thank you,  you have answered many a question for me  :rolleyes:

 

 

Im only here 5 months now,  I know it probably feels like much longer:)  but when I joined I knew nothing about files, adding scenery, settings Etc Etc and yes I asked all the usual questions thinking at the time I was the first to ask them,  5 months on and yes of course I see all the same questions being asked over and over again but I was there only a short while ago and know exactly what it was like.  Looking back now I could have done more home work and research but I didn't really know how and I thought "My Problem" was an original one and wanted to ask it in my "Own Way" 
 
5 months on and thanks to Avsim and its Members I have a good grasp on things now and hope some day I will know as much as some of the folks here to give a little back by contributing my knowledge on our hobby   :rolleyes:

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I personally see this as a "idealism vs. reality" situation (and debate).

Although there's probably no right or wrong answer, I personally just like where Jim Young is going with it - maintaining friendliness and helpfulness and not allowing AVSIM's standard's to drop and for new members to be 'blasted' for asking "the wrong question".

Is it realistic to expect there to be only a handful of posts on each subject, and for everyone else to search and find those, rather than asking similar questions themselves?      People aren't robots and what is annoying to one person is really no big deal to someone else.

Jim's analogy about the grocery store is fantastic; ...... someone asking where the milk is, being told "uggh, didn't you look on the directory when you came in??", (or perhaps more aptly, "ugggh, can't you search for it??"  :lol: ).

 

The OP talks of protecting AVSIM as a resource and that's of course a valuable concern - but protecting it as a resource could just as easily amount to keeping it as a professional-level, courteous, welcoming FS forum rather than a grumpy old men's club,  as it could to reducing duplicate questions.

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I get a sense of satisfaction from helping someone when I know the answer to their problem.

 

True Scholar!

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Forum etiquette is important for any large community like AVSIM's.  I personally like the definition of proper forum etiquette at the following website -

 

Thanks for your kind comments regarding our Moderators.  It is sometimes a thankless job but we do receive a lot of thanks and do appreciate those nice comments.

 

Excellent response to an excellent opening post. I am in complete agreement that the attitude of some individuals on the forums, requires a bit of adjustment. Nobody likes to less informed after resding a response than they did before asking the question.

 

The opening poster makes some good points. I notice on several support sites that when you start a topic, a list of suggested similar topics pops up. Would that be practical here?

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I notice on several support sites that when you start a topic, a list of suggested similar topics pops up. Would that be practical here?

 

Thanks!  The OP has a point and we always enjoy getting suggestions for improving our website.  I've seen that too on various websites but do not recall seeing them on any in the flight sim community.  Our membership, old and new, have a lot of questions.  We survive with our members feeling free to come here and post the comments or questions without interference from a virtual machine.  Heck, a lot of our members are really becoming professional responders to questions asked over and over (like where is the fsx.cfg?).  They feel like they are helping someone as they, at one time, were in the same position.  We make look at gadgets like this in the future should we upgrade our system.  Thanks for your suggestion!

 

Best regards,

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