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I have been around this forum for a few years. My first post was made shortly after getting my first box. I see some questions in the area of my interest that I think I know the answer to. I am not quite sure though. In your opinion, should I go out on a limb, and try to give advice, or should I leave it to others.

I have found that finding answers to others questions, whether I post my answer or not, is helping me. My problem is that I do not want to misguide others if I am wrong.

What do you think?

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Last Post by diafol
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If you give a wrong answer, someone will likely correct you, which leads to you learning more on top of the original question being answered. I don't see a downside to this process.

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Thank you Narue. I have learned quite a bit here so far. It seems everything I learn leads to two more questions.

So it seems the more I know, the more I need to learn. Sounds crazy, but it is true so far.
I will continue reading, and will put in my two cents when I think I can help.

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Looking forward to your input.
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Life is not meant to be lived on the sidelines. What is the worst that could happen? We are all adults and regardless if you feel you can help then the universe will bless you for your intentions. Never shy away charge forward! Carpe Diem.

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If you're not sure of your answer, by all means suggest it but I have two requests:
Try to check yourself - someone the other day asserted on the Java forum that you can't call a class's main() method, which is patently untrue and would have been easy to check. If you don't know whether your answer is true, try to figure it out first.
Second, if you're not able to verify your idea, let it be known that you're not sure. "I haven't tried this, but I think that X might work. Here's how I would try to do it..."

Those are easy enough to do, and you should certainly join in the fun of answering some of these questions, if you think you have an answer. One thing that you have to realize is that even if you're not an expert your take on the answer might be just the right explanation that another beginner needs. Often the same answer has to be seen a few times until it takes, yours might be the one that takes. Being closer to the beginner's level yourself, it's possible your answer will be closer to what the beginner needs - assuming it's correct. :)

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I generally answer two kinds of questions:
1. Questions where I know the answer or I can determine it /confirm it fairly quickly.
2. Questions where I don't know the answer but I have a reasonable chance of finding it out with a little bit of research.

If you have some interest in the topic and you will potentially learn (or refresh) something that may be useful, then it makes it worth investing a little bit of time. It is surprising how many questions can be answered through a search on the topic. A lot of people who post questions are too lazy or just not competent enough to find the answer to their own question. That leaves lots of opportunity to fill that gap.

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I agree with you, Chris - I find that answering questions on this site is an excellent way to solidify what I know. Often a question will be something that I can figure out without a lot of trouble based on what I know, but something I hadn't thought of in that context. Then, explaining it, I have to think it through in some detail, which sometimes makes me understand it more and sometimes just shows me how wrong I was when I started. Either way, I know more, in one sense or another, than when I started.
This probably explains why my answers tend more towards the thorough than to the concise. (I'm allowed to be charitable, aren't I, about my own writing? :) )

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If you give a wrong answer, someone will likely correct you, which leads to you learning more on top of the original question being answered. I don't see a downside to this process.

My view exactly. If we all knew all of the answers, Daniweb would not have existed.;)

Go ahead and answer away.:)

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I disagree. Questioners need accurate answers, particularly beginners. This forum and all the others are flooded with inaccurate answers that often never get corrected with the proper advice. Hence when you do a google search on a topic you don't know, you often have to wade through several pages of nonsense before getting to a good answer. The problem is twofold. One, people tend to ignore threads that already have several responses, as well as threads where the OP is not the last poster. Answering a thread may cause the person who DOES know the answer to ignore the thread assuming it's already been handled. Two, the OP has no idea what's a nonsense answer and what isn't. The questioner and the world at large are better served by people who don't know something simply remaining silent. We'd have a lot less "void main" if that was the case.

That said, the damage is indeed mitigated and perhaps even completely nullified if you put in the disclaimers mentioned as far as not being 100% sure. If you are careful to do that, as mentioned, you can be a positive addition to the thread even if you make a few mistakes, plus it adds to your own knowledge. Win-win.

The problem I see is that so many people simply do not put in any disclaimers at all and post not only bad, but counterproductive advice. Those people simply should not post at all.

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@VD - I understand your stance, but the point of an 'open' forum is that everybody can contribute, regardless of experience. If you wish to discourage active participation, you end up with a paid-up forum, with professional contributors.

I've participated in a number of threads where the answer to a question isn't immediately evident, with a number of contributors offering their 2p worth. Some are obvious blind alleys, some so complicated and high level, that they leave no room for a beginner to modify, but others, although not of a 'professional standard', allow the OP to grasp the fundamentals of the problem.

The problem for the OP is 'how do I know if this is a GOOD answer'? I thought the whole point of the Solved Threads/Reputation Points was to give the OP some guidance. Should I change my signature to "Don't trust my suggestions - I'm not a real programmer". Perhaps I will.

//EDIT

Just did. :)

Edited by diafol: n/a

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