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Feedback Needed on New Search Function Tutorial and New Member Sticky
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Old 08-09-2006, 06:13 PM   #1
zwyatt
Feedback Needed on New Search Function Tutorial and New Member Sticky

After getting Rich's blessing, I've created a new tutorial for members to use that will hopefully show them how to effectively search the forums for information. I realize that many people, myself included, take for granted the ability to search the forums. I think some members just don't know how to get the best results from searching and many members just blatantly ignore doing a search before posting. Some others probably just don't think to search first.
Believe it or not, the whole, lengthy tutorial that I've written is really just meant to inspire members to search before creating threads. However, it will also serve as a resource for those who aren't as computer literate or search savvy.
Since the husbandry forum is where the majority of basic questions are asked, I was thinking that this tutorial might be stickied there, but I'm open to suggestions.


As I made the tutorial for searching, I realized that a collection of tips and guidelines for new members might also be beneficial. It might cut down on some of the nonsense, and will also hopefully reinforce the things that will help new members assimilate into the community while avoiding any negative reactions to the way they conduct themselves.
Naturally, this would be placed in the new member's forum.


I'm going to be putting up the rough drafts of both the search tutorial and the new member helper in this thread following this post. I'm looking for any and all suggestions, opinions, and criticisms that all contributing members have. If I left something out or you think something should be included let me know. Don't be afraid to tell me if you see something wrong with it. You won't hurt my feelings. You can either post your thoughts here or PM me. I appreciate your help!



NOTE: Since I'm copying these out of Word and straight into this thread, I will probably be editing them for the first couple of minutes, but then they should be finished and ready for critique.
 
Old 08-09-2006, 06:30 PM   #2
zwyatt
The Search Function: Getting Results - An Illustrated Tutorial

Search first, ask questions later!


A problem that I believe many newer members encounter is a lack of results from only doing a "basic search". This results in our receiving a large number of threads that are probably not very relevant to our subject. It can become very time consuming to go through all of these threads looking for answers to our questions.
In order to get good results when searching, the first thing we need to learn is how to do more than a basic search. There are thousands of threads on this forum. When we do a search, we want to find the threads that have the most specific information related to our subject of interest.

Let’s jump right into it:

NOTE: It will be best if you open up two windows in your web browser. One can be used to view the tutorial, and the other can be used to try out the search techniques for yourself.



THE ADVANCED SEARCH

Notice how there is an option for an advanced search when we click on the search link on the homepage?


This time click it and it will bring you to a new and wonderful page. Unless you only have seconds to locate information, this is the page you should be utilizing when searching for information. The page you see before you now will become a best friend to you, if you learn a few basic things. The following is a quick and easy to follow tutorial on how to use this search page. Hopefully, after reading this and doing a few searches on your own, you will become very comfortable and efficient with searching.


It’s important to realize that if we click on advanced search and right away type in a keyword and hit the “search now” button, we are still just doing a “Basic search” because we are searching for our keyword to appear anywhere within an entire post and for that post to be anywhere on the entire cornsnakes.com forum. We haven’t yet changed any settings.

Why do we bother with the advanced search?
Searching for information is all about weeding out all the junk that isn’t going to give us what we want. There are several different ways to do this. If we learn these ways of searching, we can find the information we need.


Note About Spelling: Obviously, spelling our keywords correctly is very important to success. If were are misspelling the word we are searching, we are not likely to get the results we want.


SEARCHING A SPECIFIC SUB-FORUM

The first thing we can do to limit our search is to select a specific forum to which we want to restrict our search. So we type in our keyword cohabitation and then turn our attention to the bottom right of our screen.
Now we consider our subject of interest. Cohabitation is a subject related to housing and care of snakes so it seems logical that a majority of the best information about cohabitation should be in the “Husbandry and Basic Care” sub-forum. So we click on that option (highlighting it) and then click “search now”.


Example Search of Specific Sub-Forum

We can already see that our search results are much different than if we did a basic search of the entire forum. All of our results are from the Husbandry sub-forum, so a lot of the riff-raff is gone.


What we notice at this point is that still very few, if any, of the threads in our results actually have our keyword in the thread title. This tells us that these threads are most likely not dedicated to the subject and are therefore less likely to be helpful to us in our search for info on cohabitation.

TIP: Although these results are often not as dedicated to our subject of interest don’t discredit them too much. Occasionally, if we can’t find the info we want when we do an even more restrictive search we will come back to these results and mill through the posts to see if we can’t find info that helps us out.

TIP: We can also search two or three sub-forums at once if we desire. In the bottom right hand corner of our “advanced search” page click on one of the forums you want to search and then drag the mouse down or up to highlight one or more sub-forums. Alternatively, once you have clicked on one of the sub-forums and it is highlighted, press (and hold) the shift key and then use the up/down arrow key to select one or more sub-forums to search.




SEARCHING TITLES ONLY

Now it’s time to restrict our search even further. To do this we are going to specify that only threads that contain the word ‘cohabitation’ in the title be displayed in our search results. To select this option we click on the drop-down menu (below the box where we type in our search term) and simply click the “Search Titles Only” option. We also still want to limit our search to threads only in the Husbandry sub-forum.


Example of Searching Titles Only

Search results don’t get much more specific than one thread!

Since we only returned one result with this search, and therefore may not have gotten as much info as we need about our subject of interest, we can go back and select the option that allows us to search all forums. However, we still want to return only those threads that contain our keyword in the title so we don’t switch that setting.


Doing a search in this way tends to expand our search a bit, but still returns the threads that are the most closely related to our subject.




EXPAND YOUR SEARCH BY TRYING DIFFERENT KEYWORDS

Since we are searching for information about cohabitation, after exhausting our search efforts on the keyword ‘cohabitation’ we can see that we still don’t have much information unless we want to go back to using a “basic search” (Basic Search For Cohabitation ) and spend untold amounts of time sifting through all 100 threads for all the obscure, useless references to cohabitation.
This can be quite tedious and I try to avoid it. How do we avoid it and still get the info we need?

We change our keyword!

Think of all the different people who use this forum. Think of all the different terms and phrases they can use which either specifically mean or imply the term ‘cohabitation’. When a member starts a new thread they aren’t thinking about creating a useful title so that we can come along months or years later and easily locate their thread when we search for information. Now we just have to think up other keywords or phrases that will be useful for our search. This is something that you get better at with time. Once you’ve been a member for awhile you get the hang of what types of words and phrases people are likely to use.

Since we are interested in cohabitation we are going to try these new words/phrases:
Co-habitation (Yes, the only difference is that this one has a hyphen, but it can sometimes make the difference between no results and lots of info)
Housing together
Housing two snakes
Living together
Two snakes


Try to use more specific words/phrases first and then the ones that are more basic. It is important to still restrict these searches to the forums that our info is most likely to be found. If we have no luck, we can always back out and do a search of the entire forum rather than specific sub-forums.

Here are a few of the results we get when we do these searches in only the Husbandry sub-forum with the “search titles only” option selected.
Co-habitation: Example Search For Co-Habitation
Housing together: Example Search For Housing Together

Notice how we get threads directly related to our subject of interest:


You just have to play around with different keywords and different settings.

TIP: If we put parentheses around our phrase we get more specific results.
"Housing Together": Example Search For "Housing Together"
 
Old 08-09-2006, 06:31 PM   #3
zwyatt
Part 2 -- Too many images to make it all one post

SEARCHING BY USERNAME

This tool is very straightforward. You are simply looking for posts or threads made by a specific member of the forum. This is useful if you really respect a particular member’s opinions and advice and want to find other posts/threads by them. It is also helpful in pesky situations like when you can remember that a particular member had a really good thread a few months back, but you just can’t remember the title of it. You can search their username and find it much more easily.

For the sake of shameless self-promotion I’ll use my own username for this tutorial.

Let’s say that I think I have some really swell looking snakes. I can search for any thread that I have created in the photo gallery.


Example Search By Username


Or I can read all the comments I’ve given someone else’s snakes by selecting to search for all posts I’ve made in the photo gallery.


I can do this for any post or thread I have made in any one of the sub-forums by restricting my search to any particular sub-forum just as I showed you before.



SEARCHING BY KEYWORD AND USERNAME

We can also use a keyword and username at the same time.


Example Search By Keyword And Username




ADDITIONAL SEARCH OPTIONS (ADDITIONAL WAYS TO RESTRICT OUR SEARCH)

You’ve probably noticed by now that there are even more options to the bottom left of search page. These tools allow us to restrict our search even further than before in any number of ways. I won’t go into detail about what all you can do. If you’ve made it this far, it won’t take you long at all to look through those other options and figure them out all on your own.

TIP: You really don’t need to mess with all the extra options on the bottom left to get good results. Personally, I have never once used them and am very effectively able to locate information every time I do a search.

The one feature that is probably the most useful is the very first option. Obviously, in most instances, it would do us no good to do a search and find threads that have zero replies. Since the info and advice that we seek is usually in the replies and not the original post, it can’t hurt us to set this number to 1 when we do our searches.




That should pretty much cover the basics of advanced searching. It’s not a hard thing to grasp. Just give it shot and in no time you will feel very comfortable with searching.


For the time being this thread will be left open for replies. If you have any questions regarding searching or this tutorial, you may place them in this thread. You’re also always welcome to send me a PM, if you would rather go that route. As long as I’m around, I am happy to help out with anything I can.


Good luck!
 
Old 08-09-2006, 06:38 PM   #4
zwyatt
This is just a spacer before I post the New Member Tips.


I'm also interested in getting feedback on what to name this second one. I don't want it to sound strict or harsh, but I want it to sound important enough that members open it.
 
Old 08-09-2006, 06:45 PM   #5
zwyatt
Welcome, everyone, to the internetís foremost authority on cornsnakes. Rest assured that just about any help or info you could want about corns is either already here or that someone here can help you with your questions. This forum is composed of a wonderful group of members from many backgrounds and from all across the world. Whether youíre looking for information or advice or just looking to meet some folks with common interests to share stories and photos with, this is the place to do it. Here in this thread Iíve compiled a few basics for you to get acquainted with before you get started posting. Familiarizing yourself with these easy to follow guidelines will make your stay a very positive experience.

This forum has a very relaxed atmosphere. There are a few rules that have been implemented by the forumís administrator/moderator.

The basic rules:

1) SIGNATURE AREAS Ė PLEASE limit signature areas to no more than 4 lines total. BLANK lines embedded in your signature DO count as a line! Please no graphics or animations in signature areas. Graphics are allowed in avatars, but please no animations (i.e. .GIF).

2) ADVERTISEMENTS - Please DO NOT create threads advertising other websites (forums, businesses, blogs, etc). Attempting to draw members away from this site is an insult to the entire community and especially to its creator and administrator.

3) GENERAL CHIT-CHAT FORUM - This is a CORNSNAKE site. Please keep all the non-corn related threads in this sub-forum.

4) PHOTO GALLERY Ė Please only post pictures of CORNS! Hybrids and intergrades can be included in this group. All other snake species should go in the General Chit-Chat forum.

5) FOR-SALE FORUM USE Ė Only contributing members are allowed to start threads in this sub-forum. Trying to bypass this rule by posting for-sale ads in other sub-forums is not allowed and will result in a 3-day ban from the site.

6) MISC. CORNSNAKE DISCUSSION FORUM Ė Please keep things in here cornsnake related!

7) CROSSING THE LINE - Members who let disagreements get out of hand, post inflammatory responses (personal attacks), or use foul language will receive a 3-Day ban from the forum. This is a time to cool down, collect your thoughts, and come back and become a valuable contributor to the community. If it happens again, you will receive a permanent ban. It may seem harsh, but rules have to be in place to keep the forum a positive place free of animosity amongst its members.


Thatís it for the rules! There arenít many rules and they are easy to follow. Theyíre just in place to keep the site running smoothly. Please continue to read on through the rest of the info in this thread as it is perhaps some of the most important information you will read regarding how to use this forum.




ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR AN ENJOYABLE CS.com EXPERIENCE


This is a growing community with new members coming in all the time. The existing members on this forum are a great bunch and love to see all the new members joining the group. However, there are a few tips to help you navigate and a few common courtesies that you should consider extending to the rest of the community's members. These tips will help you assimilate much more easily and help you get the most out of your stay.


1) FAQ SECTION - An awesome FAQ section has been created by Joejr14, and contains all the basics of husbandry, health, genetics, and more. If youíre just starting out and donít know where to begin, this is what you need to check out. Click Here to get to the FAQ's

2) SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS Ė There is a wonderful search function that is extremely useful for finding answers to 99.9% of your questions! We encourage you to search for old threads and the FAQs to get answers. There is an excellent tutorial for learning how to effectively search these forums for information. Find it here: Click Here for the Search Tutorial
If, after youíve searched, you *still* canít find answers, feel free to create a new thread in the appropriate sub-forum looking for advice/opinions. The members of this forum are happy to give you any advice they can; that's what we're here for!

3) PROPER SPELLING AND GRAMMAR Ė This is a VERY important thing. If your posts and questions are filled with misspellings and poor grammar, you wonít be taken too seriously and no one will want to read your posts. This means you wonít receive nearly as much help. A little effort goes a long way. Chat speak in posts is typically not well received.
If youíre not a great speller, there is a spellcheck you can use before submitting your posts. If youíre not a grammar expert, just make sure you capitalize the right words and use periods/question marks.
Note for Non-Native English speakers: Donít worry if your English isnít perfect. We are all understanding of these situations. There are many members from countries where English is not the first language. Just do your best and no one will hold it against you.

4) GIVE YOUR THREADS DESCRIPTIVE TITLES - When starting a new thread, it is best to be as descriptive as possible in the title. This not only helps those of us who are skimming the forum for threads that are worth our time, but also makes it much easier for other members to search the forum and find information.
If you title your thread "Help, I need help!" that doesn't give anyone any clues as to what your problem is. Some members won't even open threads with such titles.
Instead, be descriptive. If your snake is exhibiting certain symptoms, try to include them in your title. Something like "Help, brown spot on nose and sneezing" would be much more helpful than the example I gave in the previous paragraph.

5) FOUL LANGUAGE Ė Cursing is not only ill-received by forum members it will also earn you a 3-day banning from the forum. If it continues you will receive a permanent ban period.

6) DONíT BE AFRAID TO SPEAK YOUR MIND Ė This forum is made up of a diverse group of people with very different viewpoints. We all disagree at times, but that doesnít stop us from saying what we believe. If someone says something that you donít care for, donít let it get under your skin. Try to keep a cool head and donít let things bother you too much.
Also, keep an eye out for smilies (emoticons like these --> , etc...) and sarcasm. It can be easy to misinterpret someone's words online. Occasionally, members like to give one another a good-natured ribbing. Try to keep and open mind and not take it as a personal attack. More often than not, things are said in jest and not in a derogatory manner.

7) INTRODUCE YOURSELF - There is a sub-forum for new members to introducve themselves to the rest of the community. Feel free to give whatever details you like about your pets, family, occupation, etc. We all love to read about the new members and get a feel for who you are!


Thatís really all there is for the rules and the netiquette. Hopefully, youíll be posting on the forum in no time. I think I speak for all the forumís members when I say that Iím looking forward to talking with you and canít wait to see your pictures!


Thanks to all the contributing members who helped me revise this to make it what you see today. Also, thanks to Cegninedorf for giving me some new member perspective/feedback on this thread.
 
Old 08-09-2006, 06:45 PM   #6
ghosthousecorns
Great to see somebody do something other than complain. I think reading that info on how to search just now I learned a thing or two!
As for the other section how about C.S.com user's guide or posting manual?
 
Old 08-09-2006, 06:56 PM   #7
Roy Munson
Quote:
Originally Posted by zwyatt
This is just a spacer before I post the New Member Tips.


I'm also interested in getting feedback on what to name this second one. I don't want it to sound strict or harsh, but I want it to sound important enough that members open it.
Excellent work, Zach! I really like it. Of course, I'm a "glass half-empty" kind of guy, so I'm hesitant to predict the success of this. Seems like the people who are serious about their research figure this stuff out on their own. However, if it can cut down on even 10% of the B.S., or help out a few honest answer-seekers, then it will have been worthwhile.

For the second section, New Member Tips, how about the sticky title:

Welcome to Cornsnakes.com: Tips for New Members

Or something like that. I'm sure you're including FAQ reminders. Maybe Lenny's list of URLs would be helpful too (renamed for convenient reference, if necessary).
 
Old 08-09-2006, 06:57 PM   #8
Joejr14
While I commend you for taking the time to do this....

Based on the tons of people who ignore the FAQ's, I personally think this will be a colossal waste of time. That's no dig on you, that stuff looks awesome. Most newbs find it easier to post a question than to actually work and search for information.

Here's hoping that I'm wrong!
 
Old 08-09-2006, 07:13 PM   #9
zwyatt
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy Munson
Of course, I'm a "glass half-empty" kind of guy, so I'm hesitant to predict the success of this. Seems like the people who are serious about their research figure this stuff out on their own.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joejr14
Based on the tons of people who ignore the FAQ's, I personally think this will be a colossal waste of time.
No worries, and I considered this. If just one or two people stop and do a search or learn anything it will have been worthwhile.
As far as wasting my time, the time has pretty much already been wasted. It only took about 2 hours tops to put this together. The only time I have to put into it now is just to make corrections and then do the final posting so that Rich can sticky 'em.
 
Old 08-09-2006, 11:14 PM   #10
Arcanefate
Thumbs up

Congratulations! The tutorials are very well written.

I would have to agree that most newbies would not bother to read something as lengthy, yet informative, as your descriptive "Search" essay. Though, I believe the larger demographic that newdies pertain to are the younger, perhaps less mature, age group. Impatience runs rampant throughout most adolescence. I believe this is why many do not bother to attempt the search in the first place. The second reason would be that they enjoy the attention that their "Hey, how do I...?" post creates.

Otherwise kudos to you for making such a valiant attempt.

I do have one small suggestion... perhaps you should mention in the "Search" tutorial that spelling is an important function in your search. And that if you are not capable of spelling a word correctly no amount of search criteria will produce a result.
 

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