What to do about newbie noise

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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HB
Admin

#1: Post by HB »

Not long ago, I had an e-mail exchange with a new member, a self-proclaimed newbie. He had posted a request for information like dozens before him, asking for advice on his next step from Krups to espresso Nirvana after having visited Italy. No mention of budget, planned usage, or existing equipment, so in a friendly manner, I pointed him to several threads asking much the same question in hopes of eliciting more information and encouraging him to reflect a bit on his needs. This prompted the following e-mail exchange, shown in its entirety:
Newbie wrote:With all due respect, I don't have the time to read. That's why I made the post :)
Dan wrote:Then I don't have the time to reply.
Newbie wrote:Wow. Mature of you.
Dan wrote:Not sure what you expected. You're lazy. I don't help lazy people. No shame in that.
Newbie wrote:I'm not lazy. I'm just rich and busy. What research do I have to do? I said what I need it for. It's my first home machine. Going to use it for myself and my girl. You could've just given me answer by now. But instead, you'd rather teach me a lesson.
Dan wrote:You may be rich, but by refusing to read the previous postings of others, you abuse their willingness to offer their time and expertise. You'll only ask the next in a long series of newbie questions that have been answered many many times before. Boooooooorring.

Don't worry, you'll find someone else who will gladly offer you advice. My guess is you're too lazy for the sort of equipment they'll recommend, and in the end you'll get some overpriced PoC Saeco/Jura super-auto. If that works for you, go for the Nespresso. They're cheap, easy, and don't require you to read anything.

Perhaps you cannot see how naive your question was... it's like walking into a pro-car forum and asking "I love great cars, which should I buy?" Duh.
Newbie wrote:Bro. Don't care about boilers and milk frothers. Just a good machine. I still challenge you to just let your pride go an answer the question.
Dan wrote:OK, from top to bottom, with only 5 minutes thought given to the question:

Choice 1:
La Marzocco GS/3
Mazzer Robur

Choice 2:
La Spaziale Vivaldi II
Cimbali Max Hybrid

Choice 3:
Vibiemme Domobar Super (or Quickmill Vetrano if plumbed-in)
Mazzer Super Jolly

Choice 4:
Elektra Semiautomatica
Compak K10 WBC

Choice 5:
Ponte Vecchio Lusso
Le'Lit PL53 (small footprint) or Mazzer Mini
Newbie wrote:There we go -- thanks! Just curious, have u heard anything about the nespresso line?
Dan wrote:Yes, that it was I recommended to you in my earlier reply. It is ideal for those who want quick espresso, though it's only marginally better than a super-auto. If you search the site on 'nespresso', you will find plenty of discussions. I know, I know... that would take your time, which is far too precious.
Newbie wrote:Thanks!
This exchange has left me wondering about the "newbie noise" generated by members who find HB via search engines, read for 5 minutes, then post their question.

On one hand, new members are the lifeblood of a growing community. Statistically speaking, new members start the majority of discussions that ultimately end up in the FAQs and Favorites, so no matter how you cut it, they're not exclusively asking 'dumb' questions, they're often the catalyst behind innovative thinking, even if they're not the contributors of innovation. On the other hand, a constant barrage of repeat questions will drive regulars away. What to do?

At this point, we continue to do what we've been doing. Offering friendly advice, pointers to existing discussions, and hope that patience pays dividends later. That said, my concern about the degrading noise/data ratio continues, even thought we're still a ways off from an intolerable level. I think about the different site policies for membership. At one extreme, there is coffeed. At one time joining required an application, complete with a list of coffee credentials, though their policy has changed a few times over the years. Coffeegeek and HB have an open membership, though some new members complain this site's anti-spam captcha images are so challenging, they represent a barrier to entry (spammer-friendly free e-mail sites like hotmail are also banned, which keeps spam to an absolute minimum, but earns me a few hate mails a year).

Technological barriers aside, I think there is room for consideration of a hybrid membership model, e.g., you can join immediately, but cannot post for the first 24 hours. That would eliminate the hyperactive caffeine-filled cross-posting fool blanketing the espresso Internet thinking they're the only one who's heard of Google. It would also serve as a means of encouraging a few hours of perusal before launching into "help me" mode. Then again, it would irritate just about anyone who joins, in the same manner as asking your recently arrived guests to cool their heels outside while the people you really prefer to see have time to arrive.


PS: For those new to HB, this post is a continuation of my semi-retired blog Overextracted.
Dan Kehn

Endo

#2: Post by Endo »

HAHAHA....just too funny. :lol:

Give me the answer....give it to me now...or go away (I'm too rich to bother wasting any more time asking you).

Classic. What an arrogant fool.

I would have told him to buy a Clover and Breville Grinder. :lol:
"Disclaimer: All troll-like comments are my way of discussing"

Michal

#3: Post by Michal »

If he's so damn rich why doesn't he hire a barista :D . He'll be too lazy to clean out the drip tray than ask why his machine is flooding and catching fire, No problem i'll let the fire dept. handle it.... WIFE CALL 911!!!

mrmekmek

#4: Post by mrmekmek »

I agree with the suggested delayed posting rule for new members. I think I've seen something similar on other sites. As a relative newbie to HB and espresso I lurked and learned here for months before signing up as a member and thinking of making a post - not because I am shy, but out of respect.

I am reminded of the thread Living in the shadow:
another_jim wrote:We live in the age of "the right gear." It's called consumer society, but it's really the age where you prove you have taste and know what the eff you're doing by having the very same stuff that people in the know use.
As a computer tech I am often asked "what computer should I buy?" by people who don't want to understand the decision. So I just ask them how much money they want to spend and give them an overly simplistic answer. I've learned most people don't really care about the functional difference between a 5400rpm and a 7200rpm drive, so I don't worry anymore about what they choose - they are happy that an expert gave them what they think is the optimal recommendation. So I help, but at my convenience, not theirs.

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#5: Post by RapidCoffee »

HB wrote:Not long ago, I had an e-mail exchange with a new member, a self-proclaimed newbie.
Ouch. Arrogant, lazy, clueless, and rich - what a great combination.
HB wrote:This exchange has left me wondering about the "newbie noise" generated by members who find HB via search engines, read for 5 minutes, then post their question.
I don't see H-B as the ideal place for "help me choose an espresso machine" newbies. How about directing them to Mark Prince's How To Buy An Espresso Machine, and calling it good? Eventually the real geeks will find their way back here. :)
HB wrote:Technological barriers aside, I think there is room for consideration of a hybrid membership model, e.g., you can join immediately, but cannot post for the first 24 hours.
Reasonable idea, perhaps not a long enough delay. I'd make it at least three days.
John

Michal

#6: Post by Michal »

My solution would be:

Only lurk for the first 48 hours
Only one new topic the first week
Have some sort of voting system for topics which then allows X amount of new topics a week.

I know I still fall in this category :oops:

Solution part 2:
Better search
Better navigation (once you go into Espresso Machines you can further refine this like price range and have areas for the popular machines)

Michal

#7: Post by Michal »

mrmekmek wrote:As a computer tech I am often asked "what computer should I buy?" by people who don't want to understand the decision. So I just ask them how much money they want to spend and give them an overly simplistic answer. I've learned most people don't really care about the functional difference between a 5400rpm and a 7200rpm drive, so I don't worry anymore about what they choose - they are happy that an expert gave them what they think is the optimal recommendation. So I help, but at my convenience, not theirs.
This ALWAYS makes me mad, I'm no computer tech but I built my PC (running OS X but that's another story) and people always say WHY??? Just buy a dell you can get more RAM for less...Yes but the dell has lower quality ram...WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!!! 4GB is 4GB!!! DDR3 NO THAT'S A GAME DUMMY!

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another_jim
Team HB

#8: Post by another_jim »

On alt.coffee, newbies were invariably treated with the "read the archive" response. Nobody even bothered answering their questions until they gave evidence of having done their homework. Newsreaders had "plonk" buckets that would automatically delete post by people one didn't want to see. Newbies who didn't read the archive got plonked, and that was it. I lurked the group for about six months before I made my first post. So did most others.

In CGs, early days, I answered all newbie posts with only the mildest suggestion that they read up. This built up membership more rapidly, but may have led to the current high inanity level.

However, I no longer think stupid newbie questions are a major hazard. Newbies either learn enough to participate, or they get ignored and leave. Here's my personal list of noise sources:

-- Stupid newbie answers. If somebody has a problem and asks a question, it's not to start a game of twenty questions. People who are just guessing should say so or not answer at all. However, everyone is allowed one completely surreal answer per year.
-- Fanboy threads. "The Silvia isn't just the best machine on the planet, its the most stupendous thing in the galaxy" Enough said.
-- Infallible espresso wisdom based on one case. "Espresso tastes best if pulled at 19 grams doses 203F." "No, 14 gram doses at 200F" Enough said.
--Gearhead discussions entirely detached from either taste or practice. This is more difficult to judge, since as one goes into finer detail, the original point of the discussion can get obscured. But many times, these discussions cut entirely loose from the act of actually drinking a shot of espresso, and at that point, they weaken the community.

I know these are the source of a lot more noise -- I asked maybe ten stupid newbie questions, but posted hundreds of stupid answers, fanboy posts, pieces of very fallible wisdom, and arcane gearhead disquisitions; and I think every other regular has too.
Jim Schulman

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shadowfax

#9: Post by shadowfax »

I partially agree with Jim: I think clueless, lazy newbie threads account for only a small portion of the noise on this forum. Still, Dan's idea to prevent posting for 24 hours is a good idea, and I'd say John's probably right that the duration isn't long enough. On the other hand, preventing posting for 3 days or more seems excessively harsh.

What about a 24 hour wait on posting, and a 1-week wait on starting new threads? Maybe 5 days. This would require a poster to at least find the right thread to post their question in. Hopefully if they get that far, they might actually read a post or two. Of course there's a way around this plan, but it seems like heavy encouragement at least.
Nicholas Lundgaard

Michal

#10: Post by Michal »

I wonder if there is any policy on unused accounts? I like shadowfax's idea the most so far, seems to be a good compromise. Also maybe some more articles for beginners would help?