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Old August 31 2009, 12:02 PM   #12
Shaw's Avatar
Location: Twin Cities
Re: Improving your Sci-Tech Forum

I'd point out that there are times (far too often) where someone asks a question, someone with experience in that area answers and because it runs counter to people's experiences (or their comfort level) they respond in a negative manner.

It leaves me asking what's the point?

Similarly, when someone asks a question I would think that giving them the best accepted answer first should be a priority over everything else. I'm not saying that fringe ideas and beliefs shouldn't be discussed too, but the foundations of the responses should be to help educate rather than confuse. I have tons of personal beliefs and theories which run counter to the best accepted answers in a number of areas, but I have not shared any of those and have done my best to present the current best accepted answers to the best of my abilities.

What I see a lot is that people see a question asked and view it as an invitation to push their pet theories (in the hopes that others will start repeating them I would guess).

Alternative ideas usually come from having a solid enough understanding of the current thinking on a subject to see where the weaknesses are and see alternatives in the data they are based on. What I see quite often is people not understanding the generally accepted point of view, not wanting to invest in understanding and putting forth something that is easy to understand (but has little to do with the evidence we have on the subject).

Maybe this is how SciFi writing is done, and that is why it is so prevalent here... but I would hope that this section would be a place to get foundational answers to science questions.

It hasn't been in my experience and I don't expect that it will change any time in the future.

The third type of responses I see which are worse than either of the first two scenarios is someone just posting a link to the Wikipedia article on the subject. Granted, I personally think Wikipedia is a flawed source of information (as people often use it as the final answer to a given question rather than a starting point), but beyond that is the fact that anyone can do a search and end up there and the person who asked the question most likely has already been there. Being able to provide an answer in your own words based on your own understanding should be a minimum for responding.

When giving an answer, I attempt to bring my understanding to bare. And it is an important exercise to do this in that you may find a deeper understanding of a subject which you thought you already knew while attempting to answer someone else's questions.
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