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Thread: Help Wanted!

  1. #1
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    Mittineague's Avatar
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    Help Wanted!

    If you are reading this you are the SitePoint member we're looking for.

    The SitePoint forums are currently working on improving the sticky threads. Much work has already been done towards this goal within the "Program Your Site" team. And we are acutely aware of some of their problems. But so far what has been done has been limited to the ideas of team members. So here's how you can help:

    Do you find the stickies in this forum helpful?
    Do you consider any of the content erroneous or out-of-date?
    Does the content lack any information that you think would be helpful?
    Could they be organized better?
    .....

    In other words, we want your opinions and suggestions so we can improve the "Program Your Site ~ PHP" sticky threads.

    We can't guarantee that all suggestions will be followed, but I personally guarantee that all will be seriously considered.

    So don't be shy, please reply.

    Many Thanks from the SitePoint Programming Team

  2. #2
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    What I say here goes for any of the sticky threads associated with forums I post to. I've been here for nearly 8 years and I don't think I've ever looked at the sticky threads. It's not because I don't think they offer useful advice, but when I'm on the forums I'm looking for current discussions. If I wanted a tutorial, documentation or general resources for something like PHP I wouldn't be on the forums looking for it. I'd go right to Google or php.net.

    That said, the question is how you might be able to leverage the usefulness of the content within the sticky threads. Has the staff ever considered something like a SitePoint 101 for new forum members? Maybe the content within the sticky threads is available there. I know there are limitations to vBulletin but the folks around here seem to be pretty savvy. Maybe the sticky information is available to someone when creating a new thread? Sort of as a reminder that there is already basic information available.

    Furthermore, I believe there's a fundamental disconnect between where the sticky threads are and where someone who is looking for basic information (that may be in those threads) is gong to go. The threads on the first thing on the list of threads for that particular forum, but someone who is going to ask a question isn't interested in reading. They want to ask. I'd like to see this type of information be placed in an area that users who are posting are more likely to see, and hopefully utilize.

    Just my two cents.
    TAKE A WALK OUTSIDE YOUR MIND.

  3. #3
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    guido2004's Avatar
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    Right now, there are only three sticky's that are specific to the php forum.

    The one saying that asking for a cms script should be done in the right forum. A good one, but like Jeff says, I don't think many people will read it before hitting the create new post button. I like Jeff's idea to show this when people want to write a new post. Probably they still won't read it, but at least it'll increase the possibility

    Of the other two, one ('PHP and MySQL coding tips') has been closed because it is out of date. So the only one really 'active' is the 'installing PHP on Windows' sticky. Which I never read, because I didn't need to so far, but which seems done quite well.

    My opinion?
    1) Maintain the sticky content.
    2) Disable comments on the stickies (unless it's made on purpose to get comments, like this one). The number of comments on them tends to get huge in time, which means one has to loose a lot of time reading everything. And since 90% of the comments seem to be people who ask questions, and not contributions to the subject of the sticky, in the end it's a great waste of time. It would be much better (IMO) to have them make a new post for their question.
    3) Maybe a 'PHP resources' sticky? Like the Advanced PHP resources one. I'm sure it won't be read much, like the others but at least we'll have something to point to when 'where can I find...' question is asked.

  4. #4
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    Michael Morris's Avatar
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    vbulletin supports forum specific announcements. In my opinion THOSE should be used for short announcements regarding the use of a forum, not a sticky thread closed after the first post is made.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard spence_noodle's Avatar
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    I think a thread should be started on the subject of OOP (Object-Oriented Programming) with the basics, etc... Just for a quick reference for new & advanced users. Maybe some example code aswell might help. Just an idea off top of my head.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Evangelist stonedeft's Avatar
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    I just hate sticky threads it's kinda like a one sided argument...
    Don't Panic

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast dyer85's Avatar
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    TL;DR: The stickies' content seems fine, but some of it could be delivered more effectively outside the forums.

    For "Read before you post..." many of the items covered should be part of a more general programming sticky. However, I wouldn't recommend the
    Code:
    [php]...[/php]
    tags, since vBulletin borks PHP 5.3+ code using namespaces. Instead, recommend people use
    Code:
    [highlight=PHP]...[/highlight]
    which parses all PHP correctly.

    The "Installing PHP (5.3 current) on Windows" seems helpful, although the PHP documentation already has sufficient information for Windows installation. Not to mention, it covers installation on many systems. At least providing a link to PHP's installation documentation would be helpful. Also, logic_earth, toward the latter end of the first page, makes a far clearer post explaining which PHP binary to grab, but the initial post is never updated, so his helpful clarification is more likely to get overlooked. The thread would probably be better off without most of its replies. The "i can haz help!!?" question(s) devalue the thread. Stickies providing information and answers to common questions should contain only highly accurate information that has been refined by the community. Any suggestions made should be integrated into the existing tutorial written by logic_earth for consistency.

    The "PHP and MySQL coding tips" thread sounds useful in theory, but actually finding what one needs in that sticky seems unlikely. Even if you use vB's search, it won't be as effective as Google. Given how many replies the thread has, it is unlikely people will browse it for too long. It doesn't help that the thread lacks organization and discussion seems to be interspersed between useful information. The PHP forum should probably stick to PHP tips, while the MySQL forum should stick to MySQL tips. Combining the two, especially in this case, just makes it harder to find helpful information. As mentioned by other posters, moving something like this out of the forums is a far better approach. In fact, if SP has a Wiki, this sticky would be perfect there. However, if you'd prefer not to do that, vBulletin has the [aname] and [jumpto] tags, which can allow you to make a ToC, of sorts. However, migrating the thread still seems like a better alternative.

    The most appropriate sticky is probably "Where should I post my thread?" The reason is that the information provided is important for the forum itself, and helps ensure proper observation of the division in topicality. I would argue that posts like these are textbook examples for proper usage of stickies.
    "Structure padding is the use of extraneous materials to
    enhance the shape of a struct and make it more attractive
    to members of the opposite struct. (see also 'struct
    silicone.')" -- Eric Sosman


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