Over-complicating the answers

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by #12, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. #12

    Thread Starter Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I've been having difficulty lately with how complicated some of the answers have been. I tried doing a few answers in the homework section, thinking, these are students, they should be satsified with simple answers. Then there is the belief (not mine) that students should be given the tiniest minutia and most esoteric exceptions because they might learn something wrong and carry that wrong knowlege throughout their academic experience.

    I am reminded of several jokes that start out with, "Where do babies come from". The parent goes through extensive emotional distress, paints their self into a corner with every grisley detail, and then the child reveals that she was asking about where Beenie Babies come from.

    I try to keep it simple. I try to address the question that was asked. I try to respond on the intellectual level of the OP. I'm thinking students in the Homework forum want Beenie Baby electronics. If they want to polish their knowlege of a fine point, they can ask in the next post. If they can't even phrase the question, they probably aren't ready for the answer.

    Then, other helpers chime in with exceptions that could happen if the conditions are not what the OP asked about, etc. etc. One person even stated that "electricity is not flow of electrons" when answering a question about how to determine the voltage of a stack of batteries if one of the cells is reversed. We have a student in the homework section asking about Kirkoffs Law and somebody starts telling him about ion movement and density gradients. I had to check my blood pressure!

    When I get this concerned, it is a sign that I need to take a break. How do you feel about this subject?
     
  2. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    #12 ...

    Some will get off on a tangent when the OP's inquiry lacks clarity. I tend to think some want to help so much they could cloud the issue when interpeting the unclear question from the op.

    Hang in there. Take deep breaths.

    I also think if the OP would "post their attempts at the solution" the problem would be clearer to those offering assistance and the express lane to the tangents would be closed.
     
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  3. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
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    I agree. I even saw one OP refer to the discussion between respondents, which had exceeded the scope of the OP's question and ability to comprehend, as "flexing their brains". :rolleyes:

    I think sometimes we may inadvertently cross the line from being helpful to showing off in an attempt to be comprehensive, but I've not noticed much outright puffery, just a little here and there.
     
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  4. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    How do you actually know what level is that?

    By the quality of the question? A would add a doubtful "maybe" here.

    One thing is true and I apply it to myself: when you know how to ask a question on a certain matter most probably you need no longer to ask it.

    (Sorry, my English fails here. Please, rephrase it for me, so I can edit this post).
     
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  5. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
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    When I used to stalk the Homework Help section (I don't answer lately anymore, unfortunately), when the answer wasn't straightforward but context related, I always asked for the OP about his course background and curriculum.

    If the answer was simple and needed no exceptions to be understood, I stopped there. Only after the OP confirmed that he understood I would state the exceptions to the rules.

    Personally, I prefer conventions to explain phenomena, when the inner cause isn't necessary or practical.

    You can always suggest to another poster that too much information doesn't help the OP. If the argument gets heated, I might be able to do something about it ;).
     
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  6. monster_catfish

    Active Member

    Mar 17, 2011
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    Taped to the door of a professor's office back in my university days was this reminder :

    "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit"
     
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  7. t_n_k

    AAC Fanatic!

    Mar 6, 2009
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    I guess as a regular contributor to the homework forum I should thank you for the 'vote of confidence'. No more bullshit from me hopefully. It's great to feel truly valued.
     
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  8. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    In my day "doing your homework" meant actually studying up on the work and doing it yourself. These days that study is even easier with things like Wikipedia and all the online PDFs and datasheets etc!

    But kids these days think that "doing their homework" means posting a short lazy question on a forum (or a few forums) and a heap of smart, nice people will go to a heap of effort providing all the answers for free. :(
     
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  9. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
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    Wikipedia has provided me with tons of information when I needed it. But I don't see why it shouldn't be treated as a good old encyclopedia. You have to know what you are searching about and what you are reading.

    Forums on the other side, are a different fruit. Ironically, the few times I had to make a question here in AAC, the community couldn't help me. For the tons of other students that come here, it is our duty, to ourselves primarily, to provide well thought, not pre-cooked and ready-made information.
    Who knows who will design the battery of your next cell phone...
     
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  10. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    And when it will burst into flames!
     
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  11. Georacer

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    My point exactly!
     
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  12. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    I don't help in homework, only because as time between my last theory/math session and today adds up, it becomes harder. I do believe however that a well presented question can generate an answer, anything else can only generate more questions. I agree with the original OP in that we are often fullfilling our own needs by spewing out answers without actually understanding the context of the questions.
     
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  13. Sparky49

    Active Member

    Jul 16, 2011
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    Clear proof that light travels faster than sound.

    Some people seem bright until they talk. :D
     
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  14. #12

    Thread Starter Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    @atferrari

    I try to answer at the level of the op, but it's sometimes impossible to tell. The questions range from hopelessly vague to obviously competent. I was hoping that, in the Homework section, I could assume a lack of experience.

    Here are 2 examples:

    Aoa guys...hope you are all well...my problem here is that my ups is not charging the battery at all...so what do i do to fix the problem?


    Its a fractional-N PLL for a FM tranmitter which has a transmission range of 88MHz to 108 MHz with a channel spacing of 100 kHz. MAX2606 is using as the VCO. Center frequency is set as 100 MHz. Divided by N counter is a programmable one to achieve the desired frequency at the VCO output. Vtune of the VCO ranging from 0.4 V to 2.4 V. I already mentioned about the phase comparator and the reference freq. in the previous post.

    There is an obvious difference in skill level.

    Then there is a Zen style that I came up with 20 years ago: When you ask the right question, the answer will be apparent. (This isn't true in electronics.)

    On the other hand, one of my rules on this site is: If you can't define the question in less than 500 words, you don't know what you want.

    @Georacer

    I have asked questions here. Sometimes I get valuable answers, sometimes I get nothing. There are so many specialities in electronics that I am not surprised when I find that I'm exploring a section that nobody here has been to. Still, it is much better to ask here than among people I see in person. There are so few that know anything about electricity that they simply think I am strange.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
  15. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Many people don't know how to ask the right question because they don't know the answer. But if you do know the answer there is no need to ask the question. Catch 22.

    It is not the beginner's fault. They cannot formulate the question properly because they are missing the relevant knowledge or background.

    Just as an example, "Is a shift right operation faster than division?" if they don't even know that a shift operator exists,

    or

    "What value pull-up resistor should I use on the output of a comparator?" if they have never heard of open-collector outputs.
     
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  16. BMorse

    Senior Member

    Sep 26, 2009
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    This is why I do not answer as many questions as I used to, since some forum members like to give more complicated answers than anything..... they have to use this forum to somehow make sense of their existence :) ... Some members just really need to keep it as simple as possible and have an answer that matches the question..... for example, if an op asks how to toggle an LED from a serial port, does not mean they need to delve into the world of microcontrollers to do so which just overly complicates the situation a lot more....
     
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  17. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
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    Maybe the reason some members give complicated answers is that is what it takes to understand the problem in a general sense and not just the specialized area of the OPs question. Maybe there is a desire to have them dig a little deeper than just answering the immediate problem at hand.

    Or maybe they are just surfing the internet while intoxicated.
     
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  18. BMorse

    Senior Member

    Sep 26, 2009
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    thats most likely the issue :D
     
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  19. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    I guess you have to approach it like the electronic repair person gathering information from the customer, which can be difficult at best.

    You need to see their product ... whether it's a schematic, their work, or a picture of the page in the book. That adds to the clarity of their inquiry. I know few follow the rules in the homework section, and some point them out to the OPs, but they were written to help. I'm sure if they need amending, someone would tell the moderators.

    The moderators do a fine job of not pulling the "rule" trigger too fast, with the obvious exceptions of known areas (politics, overunity, et al). The contributors here make this forum what it is. You could go to xmarks.com or alexa to see how the various sites are ranked.

    Sometimes the OP doesn't know how to help you help them. Those that say "I just want the answer" can get that at alot of the sites on the web. Yes, some have said they just wanted the answer in the past. Yes, some who were over zealous to help have provided just "the answer". The owner of the site had choosen to be helpful and not provide "just the answer". I tend to think that is why this site is the best.

    We will always have the "panic" of "I need the answer by tomorrow" OPs. We had some OPs who must have thought we were "staffed" 24-7 and posted their concerned that no one replied in a hour or so.
     
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  20. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    JoeJester hits on some of the right answers.

    Some ops want us to to their homework.
    Some ops want the short answer ASAP.
    Some ops fail to do a simple google search first before asking.
    Some ops think we can read their minds over the internet.
    Some ops want a simple answer to a small part of their problem when they don't realize the problem is in the big picture and don't let us in on it until 20 posts later.
    Some ops don't know what is the problem and therefore don't know how to ask.
    Some ops when given a hammer, everything from then on looks like a nail so you have to show them when it is not a nail.
    Some ops are so far out in left field that you feel compelled to explain it all in gory details.
    Some ops get help on one problem and that's the last we see of them.

    But hey, we still make this the best electronics forum on the web!
     
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