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Redirect repetitive posts based on title/content?

We get a lot of repetitive questions regarding certain issues. Depending on the mood I'm in, I can get a little snippy at times responding to them. As noted in a thread this morning, when I see myself doing that, I take a brief, self-imposed break from even opening those threads. That helps. But I know there's a better way! :)

Let's say that John Q Public starts creating a thread. Either in its title or body, a certain word/phrase/name appears. Let's say it's "unknown icon" or "can you identify" or "what is this alert," etc. [I see my fellow regulars rolling their eyes.] Yes, it's yet another "i don't know what this is can you tell me what app this is from my phone doesn't tell me anything it just appeared one day i don't use anything like it someone said it could be a dating app PLEASE HELP ME!!!" :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

When I'm cranky, but not cranky enough yet to absent myself from that thread, I'll write a brief, 'if you're interested in my explanation of why this is virtually impossible, please see this post,' and leave it at that.

And then there are the endless 'how do I [fill in the blank] on my JP5 tablet' posts. These are prison-issued, locked-down, kiosk mode-only tablets. If the now-released prisoner wants full use of their tablet, they must send it to, and pay, JPay to unlock it. Officially, that is. We see the folks who want to bypass paying and/or those who claim to know how--for a price.

Why not trap, based on content, and redirect these while they're being posted? Send them to an appropriate sticky that sums everything up for them. The 'unknown icon' sticky would explain the logistics of it all, the JP5 sticky would give its rundown AND explain that asking for, or offering, help to illegally bypass its protection is not allowed. Then, *if* they still think they have a legitimate, different question, let them post it.

As always, @Rob, just my 2¢'s worth; feel free to do whatever you please with it! :D
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i think part of that would be determined by how the software runs this forum. it might not be as simple as you suggest. i completely understand where you are going with this. i do feel the same way as does i think most of us who hangs out often. it will depend if it can be coded that way or not. but i guess lets see what mods or @Rob suggests
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it will depend if it can be coded that way or not.
Yes, of course, but I know other forums do it, so I'm hoping AF can, too.

On other forums, they'll show a list of potential threads, based on content, that may solve/answer your question. Then, after reviewing them, if you still think you need to post, you can. It's basically the same logic.
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I definitely understand your frustration there. I've got a few thoughts.

The Best Solution: Articles & Resources

The #1 best possible thing we could do is write an authoritative article on the topic that is organized with headings, nicely formatted, addresses all the points, answers all the questions, gives suggestions, etc... a complete resource to the "What icon is this?" style question that covers the topic in full. The benefits are many:
  • We've built a fantastic and useful resource
  • We can link new questions directly to this resource without saying much more. Just "Please see this resource and let us know if you have any further questions: LINK"
  • With any luck the resource will be good enough for OTHERS to link to as well and people will find us on Google by searching related topics (hooking us up with traffic and also preventing the question from ever being asked)
I'd love to do this not ONLY for this topic but for as many Android-related topics as we can. It will really help the site as a whole.

The "Stop Right There" Suggestions

I've tried some of the intermediary "stop gap" suggestions that ask the user check a list of posts to make sure they aren't posting a duplicate but the content matching isn't great and it becomes more of an irritation to users than it does a benefit to mods which decreases posting. We need to do whatever we can to increase activity at this point and hate to say it but the people asking these types of duplicate questions are typically the ones that will power through suggestions and post whatever they want to post anyways.

Better Titles & Tags

Another way we can help people find these answers better is through better titles and tagging. We get people typing things like, "Hello" as a thread title and then the question is about the Galaxy S9 alarm settings. The content matching clearly won't be helpful and it sends the wrong signals to the search engines.
  • I'm going to give Staff the power to rename any threads they want so that they can make more descriptive titles if they choose.
  • I'm going to make "Tags" a public feature and give staff the power to update/edit these as well. Tags now appear at the very top of all threads if you haven't already seen those changes.
Have to applaud you for your patience! We can all get a bit snippy sometimes- it happens in life. Even the most patient people can be tested and being asked "What is this icon" 7 billion times will eventually boil over.

Rather than spending 2 minutes responding to those 100 times over the course of a year, I would love love love to see some people writing a NEW THREAD that addresses these questions categorically and authoritatively which we can then use as the defacto response on behalf of staff. If we need to coordinate this effort as staff, I'm open to ideas and suggestions!

It wouldn't need to be that much different from what I've started on the Galaxy S20 Ultra "How To" stuff but we'd need to find a better way to categorize and manage.
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Thanks, @Rob, I really appreciate your input.

I think we're pretty much on the same page. I knew going in that this would take some effort, but once done, it should be worth it.

Since tagging first became available, I've been trying to do my part. I use words/phrases that are relevant to what I'm posting, and with an eye to SEO. As I occasionally revisit an old thread, like when there's new activity in it, I use that opportunity to add tags to it, too.

I hear you on thread titles like 'Help!' or 'problem,' with zero indication of what they're about. :rolleyes: Requiring a minimum of X characters for the subject could help, but it could also piss people off. Perhaps a gentle 'please be descriptive'-type message when they arrive in the subject field would help.

I'm not surprised by your results testing the 'stop gap' measures. Again, we don't want to make people mad, just nudge them gently to a better option.

Assuming you're able [on Xenforo, right?] to write the logic needed, tackling one topic at a time should make it tolerable. Once one is done, with the bugs, kinks, tweaks worked out, and having learned from it, the others should be a lot easier.

Let's take this thread's topic. Certain words/phrases appear regularly in the 'what is this icon?' threads:

- help me identify
- unknown app
- unknown icon
- [does anyone know] what this icon is
- help with notification
- can anyone identify
- unknown alert

Using those strings would be a good starting point!

I took a quick look at what you're doing with the S20 Ultra, and it's good!, but would look very different for the unknown icon thing. The latter doesn't lend itself so easily to black and white sections. Think of those bazillions of icons I'm always referring to for an idea why! But it's doable. Definitely doable.
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A thought popped up last night and I thought I'd run it by you.

Regarding the 'help!' subjects/titles: how about breaking that up into multiple fields? These are just examples, meant to illustrate the concept. All fields are mandatory. Joe Blow presses the 'new post' button:

- field 1: a drop-down menu with many more choices than we currently, optionally have--hardware problem, app problem, sound problem, Android question, rooting question, texting issues, security issues... Whatever they choose becomes text [for SEO] at the beginning of the finished subject.

- field 2: is this specific to your device?--yes/no/don't know

-- field 2a: your device

- field 3: briefly describe your problem/question

End results:

Hardware problem - Moto Z² Force - my display has lines

Android question - how do I upgrade to version X?

That's the basic idea. It needn't be cumbersome for the poster--we don't want them to abort and leave in a huff. So no 'difficult' questions, like 'who's the manufacturer of your processor?' or 'how much does your battery weigh?' :) Just simple stuff that even a complete newbie can answer, and an 'out' if they don't know.

Fields could conditionally trigger other fields, as in my device example above.

Again, everything would end up as text for search engines to find.

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