Beginners

I received an email from a member asking that I create a topic (I imagine the person meant a channel) dedicated to beginners.

I am aware that the discussion level on the forum is often at the expert level and somewhat difficult for novices to follow. I have struggled to find a way to make the beginners feel they are welcomed here.

We know that anyone at any level can post in the ER and Lounge. It remains that it could be intimidating to ask basic questions for beginners.

One of the leading ideas behind the structure I created was to only have 2 main channels, one for questions (ER) and one for in-depth discussions (Lounge).

The other service channels each fulfill a need: community metacommunication (feedback), Essentials Developers need to know (head-up), Resources for FileMaker, Convenient reviews/suggestions about connex technologies useful to our members (reviews), info related to Claris, some members own curated channels and a venting spot (HVAC).

What bugs me about having a beginners dedicated channel is that it will be a duplication of the ER channel but for beginners. I am very reluctant to segregate. We've seen what too many categories can do to a community. We also probably do not have enough novice members to fuel it. And what will make people decide whether a question should go in the ER or the beginners channel?

Please share your thoughts and comment below. You can also vote:

  • Yes, we should have a dedicated channel for beginners
  • No, we should not have a dedicated channel for beginners
  • We should have a pinned topic in the ER that welcomes beginners' questions
  • We should have a sub-channel in the ER for beginners

0 voters

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Personally, I believe beginners are the most important people and should be treated exactly the same, albeit with much patience, as all other members.

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Cecile

The appeal of simple ER and Lounge channels for me, is the opportunity to run across a question that I find easy to answer today, but I would have wasted the weekend some years ago. It is lovley to be able to save a newer user a weekend of often fruitless toil.

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Welcome wonfuji. I hear you. I remember my hours of research on Community... I always try to find my answer before asking. At the same time, how one would know what to post where?
Another issue with beginners is that we do not know how to name what we are trying to do or understand.

I find the greatest service we can do to beginners is to TAG our threads. I sometimes take some time and tag a bunch of threads but this is something that posters should do. Tags with synonyms or related concepts and NO KISS DRY PSOS ERD ....
Although I have started an acronym wiki, its difficult to search for everything at first, just to figure out if the thread is what you are looking for.

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I would not separate them. There's a chance that a "Beginners" channel would be less visited by experts.
Maybe a Banner on top of the site to encourage questions at all. Kind of:

  • most of us are self-taught developers
  • we all started somewhere
  • no question too stupid to ask
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A question like ‘how do relations work?’ can easily be identified as a beginner’s question. But most times, I am unable to put a ‘beginner’ or ‘expert’ tag on a post. The subjects ‘FM’ and ‘programming’ are both broad and deep. Because of that, everyone will now and then work on aspects new to him/her. Therefore, most times it is impossible to earmark a topic as ‘beginner’ or ‘advanced’. The search function does the job for everyone just as needed.

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Given that many of us are not true beginners and haven't been for a while, my input might not be super helpful. It helps me to think about the extreme approaches. On one end of inviting beginners, content that is helpful for are tutorials, examples, and guides. I know when I was initially learning (and as I continue to learn how to use new features), it was most helpful when I could follow something step by step, or have someone explain something to me. On the other end would be websites like Stack Overflow which isn't necessarily guides and tutorials, but it is a place where people who know a lot about something spend time writing helpful content to answer questions. When I use it to help me solve programming problems, I usually search several related problems, learning something each time I read one.

To me, what @Torsten and @EfficientBizz describe is closer to the Stack Overflow approach where having a great search function means everyone has the ability to search for the answers they are looking for. Reality is always a mix of the extremes, but I like that approach too.

Of course, to cultivate a community that includes beginners and helps answer questions takes a lot of intention and specific actions to build a culture in which...

  • members taking the time to write answers to questions in detail,
  • members help rephrase questions when new folks don't quite have the right words
  • members point to other helpful resources and maybe even explain how they would use them
  • members are ok with those explanations happening either throughout all/most conversations or in particular sections
  • active moderation to avoid duplicates
  • active moderation to set expectations of inclusiveness/helpfulness and remind those who forget

A few other thoughts:

I think I had gotten the impression that my questions probably weren't big enough or important enough to ask on an E.R. channel (maybe I thought it was for emergencies? I'm not sure). One way to mitigate that might be to intentionally seed that channel with questions and content. Perhaps ask some beginners, look at beginner questions on other forums, etc. Then have members write those questions and other members write some very helpful answers.

Related to the other thread where SEO was mentioned, I think building a base of content will also help bring in new folks (assuming the content is visible to search engines).

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Padwans can become Jedis.

Please thread them well.

In the past when I was more padwan then I am now, my biggest fear was to ask “irrelevant” questions that you “should” know.

What Jedis should take in consideration is that the fact that Padwans ask such questions probably means that

  • He/she really does not know the answer and did a search on the web.

  • the Jedi must reply in a matter that the Padwan can understand. Sometimes that takes a little more effort.

Asking a question is one thing. Asking a question about the answer because the that answer was in another ballpark than you can handle is another thing.

I am still grateful to all Jedis who took the time to educate me in a manner that made me smarter and more independent.

Putting stuff in a separate forum could lead to Jedis not reading the Padwan questions. That is not what you want. (In my opinion).

A “filtering” option would be better. If a Jedi has no time/energy/whatsoever to deal with the Padwans, and that could be for any reason and should not be questioned, he could filter those topics out. Less clutter and annoyance for him/her.

Off course this can only work when the OP rates a topic. This rating can be reviewed (and adapted) by a moderator.

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@EfficientBizz I like this. Both are great points! Maybe we could have a "Newbie" flag for 101-level questions?

@Torsten your point is well-taken, but I think that we might want to have this anyway. However @Padje's point about getting an answer that is indecipherable due to inexperience is important too. If I'm going to answer a question for someone, do I assume they understand the Selector-Connector technique, or are they still using company name as a join field (hopefully not for long!)?

Do we have an indicator on our profiles that says what our proficiency is? I think we have certifications, but might also be useful to get general programming experience (# years) to gauge the level of abstraction we can use/avoid.

Yes, but so they can place the questions in a channel without «fear» of being treated «stupid» and some of us will go regularly and respond to the questions in a understandable way – would be a good way to help ...

Louis

Absolutely. There are no stupid questions.

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Yes!
Louis

I don't see the need for such a separation. So far, nobody here showed any kind of elitist attitude and mentoring a newby should cuddle our egos :wink:

Never underestimate the value of a fresh perspective of a beginner. Just because 'we always did it that way' doesn't mean it's ultimate best practice. Sometimes, some established methodology needs to get shaken up!

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I would say that i´m a "beginner" in terms of Filemaker, and i did not feel like i needed an special channel for beginners. I just wonder always what channel to post in, because ER feels like i need emergeny help which in most cases i dont, and the tags we can use are also not really meaningful to me. But all in all i´m really happy with this forum and felt welcome from my very first post.

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You’re not the first person who hesitates to ask questions in the er... maybe that name was not such a good idea...

With respect to tags, you can put any tag you wish. I was wondering why I was seeing community in stuff where it didn’t make sense. Despite being very intuitive for the most part, certain functionalities of the Discourse platform need some explanation to be used.

I’ll post a quick tutorial about tags later today.

Just a word on the definition of ‘beginner’. We have clients who have been using one of our insurance systems for 8-years plus and it recently had a significant rewrite that was demonstrated to them.

Despite being there since day one, they had never seen a list view of their various layouts, always using form view as it served their purpose and they’d never seen the need to find out more. If they’d posted ‘what’s a list view’ they would appear to be a complete beginner, but we all have our particular strengths and weaknesses.

Equally, most experienced users, rather than developers, have no clue about how powerful FileMaker’s ‘Find’ is. Those that are shown are usually gobsmacked by it.

Also, there is a bunch of knowledgeable people who do not post as they do not want to appear ‘stupid’. This is a group we should actively encourage, mostly by being kind and not jump on anyone who may not phrase something the way the regulars would.

I love listening to some of the podcasts by FileMaker developers and love it when one of them has the confidence to say ‘I never knew that’ and to me as a listener I thought ‘how could you not?’, but then they go into something after that leaves me totally befuddled.

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I happened several times to ask questions bordering on idiocy or the obvious on forums.
First, we cannot know everything, we cannot imagine everything and we cannot experience everything. I am not ashamed on forums of "pros" to ask such questions. Having answers there allows me to discover what I hadn't thought of and to enrich myself.
There is no shame in appearing beginner and ignorant.

As I am not ashamed to use Google translation to translate my texts from French to English, its AI begins to be effective over time, it even corrects my French mistakes in translation. Google goes faster than me and allows me to rough the tradiction which I revise often.

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There should be channels for each major segment of users?
Beginners, Experienced, Developers

hmm...
I was voting for a beginners section - but if we differ even more, I would not love that so much... Better to have no separation in this case

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