Site Talk forum: New Ask a Question feature: the Knowledgebase

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Aug 23, 2017 10:04 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

We launched the Ask a Question feature back in 2013 and since then we've had almost 8,000 questions asked through that area. It's been a very popular and helpful feature for gardening newbies who come here asking for help with their gardening problems.

Historically, NGA had a "Q&A" feature that was similar. People submitted questions and those were answered by various NGA staff members. There are many tens of thousands of Q&A items in that old system.

So, what we've done is made a brand new system for people to ask and answer questions. You can see it by clicking on the Community tab up top, then click on "Gardening Knowledgebase".

At the top of that page, you can click on "Add the Knowledgebase to your watched forums list". If you do, then it will appear in your forums just like any regular forum, and you'll get notified when new questions or answers are posted,, just like usual. But it's not a forum, it's a whole new interactive feature that can do much, much more than the forums.

People can ask questions like always, and then you can post answers. But better still, you can post other kinds of responses, as well. So, instead of an answer, you might want to simply comment on the question, or ask the person some questions of your own. So you can do that without providing an "official" answer.

Also, you can view other people's answers, and post your own comments to those answers, all without providing a new answer of your own.

Or, if you think the answer given wasn't sufficient, you can offer a brand new answer of your own.

Additionally, this system has a sophisticated voting system. If you see a very good question, you can upvote that question by giving it a thumbs up. In so doing, you will improve the score of that question. Or, if it's a bad question you can downvote it by clicking the thumbs down icon. In this way, the very best questions can be seen at the top of the Knowledgebase homepage.

Voting also works for answers. So if you see a great answer, give it a thumbs up! Or, if someone gives an unhelpful answer, downvote it. When people later come to view the question, they will see the answers sorted by votes. So the best answers will automatically float to the top.

All votes are anonymous.

Also, people can categorize their questions when they ask. So if it's a vegetable question, they click on the Vegetables category during the submission process. In this way, you can view knowledgebase questions based on the categories.

I consider this program to be in beta right now. Over time, we'll add numerous additions to this feature. Eventually I want to be able to give special microbadges to those people who give the most upvoted answers and stuff like that. I also want to give the option to lock a question and link it to a different question that was already asked. So that maybe in the future we'll only have one question for each kind of question, and all answers can go to that one place. Any future duplicates would be locked and linked to the original one.

Anyone who is currently watching the Ask a Question forum should go ahead and add the knowledgebase to their watched forums so they can start keeping an eye on it.

If you have any questions or ideas about this feature, please post away!
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
My dogs love me; some people don't.
Deer Bookworm Keeper of Poultry Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Georgia
Plant Identifier Rabbit Keeper Composter Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
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greene
Aug 23, 2017 10:42 AM CST
Looking forward to this new system. Thumbs up

I signed up then started reading the old questions and answers. That got me to wondering if the old questions and answers will be edited to bring some of the answers up to date. Shrug!

Here is one example:
I did a screen shot of one Q&A. This answer suggests that the poster take photos, add them to Flicker (or other photo site) then come back to ask a new question, posting a link so NGA can access the photos.
Thumb of 2017-08-23/greene/2debe2

I'm heading back to read some more; this is like viewing a time capsule. Thumbs up

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Aug 23, 2017 11:18 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

There are about 85,000 old answers and I don't really intend to go edit them. The point of the new system here is that you can add your own answer, or comment on any existing answers. Smiling
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America
Purslane Garden Art Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: North Carolina Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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vic
Aug 23, 2017 12:38 PM CST
This is really cool Dave - thank you - off to add it to my watch list. Thumbs up
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Aug 23, 2017 1:52 PM CST
*Blush* I just realized I wasn't replying correctly. LOL, I kept replying as in other threads ... I'm old and it takes me awhile to sometimes get things right but now I've got it! Green Grin!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Aug 23, 2017 2:08 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I noticed that, and am glad that you figured it out. Thumbs up
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America
Purslane Garden Art Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: North Carolina Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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vic
Aug 23, 2017 2:14 PM CST
me too Lin - the old thing Whistling I'm so thankful Dave has infinite patience with us old folks Green Grin! Thumbs up
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Aug 23, 2017 2:58 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I added a link at the top of the knowledgebase to view all unanswered questions. This way, if you want to see any questions that have never been answered, you can see them and find out if maybe you know the answer to any of them.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Aug 23, 2017 5:07 PM CST
I signed up. Looks interesting. Thank you Dave.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Aug 23, 2017 6:25 PM CST
I hate to sound negative, but I will miss the old one. I enjoyed seeing the whole list, and learned a lot from it. This new one with the categories reminds me of the automated questions when you try to reach a service on the phone...my question may not fit any of the above....and if you're lucky, you can press 0 to speak to a rep. I see frequent questions about how to use the site being answered for frustrated /new users. Yes, I know there is a forum for that, but us older/ non techies tend to go the easy route. This new Ask a Question is useable, but not as enjoyable IMHO.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Aug 23, 2017 7:05 PM CST
So, will "Ask a Question" be closed down? or will they both be functioning?
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Aug 23, 2017 7:14 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Ask a Question will be phased out.

You don't have to choose any categories when you submit a question. It's optional.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Plant Database Moderator Region: California Cottage Gardener Roses Irises Clematis
Garden Photography Keeper of Poultry Hummingbirder Bee Lover Butterflies Houseplants
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Calif_Sue
Aug 23, 2017 10:18 PM CST

Plants Admin

So will admin. be able to move any posts that may be more appropriate in different forums? Like Plant ID ones? Or the recent post offering bulbs that would be better in the Trade forum? And spam posts, how will they be handled?
My gardening Blog!
Hand sewn wares and vintage finds in my Etsy store. Summer Song Cottage
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Aug 24, 2017 12:20 AM CST
How are these questions sorted, or are they? (Oh, wait. You did answer that. Never mind.) I answered several that happened to be at the top of the screen and they had current dates. Then, as I was about to take a look at another question, I saw that it had been asked in 2012. Not sure if there's a point to providing a specific answer to a specific question that had been asked 5 years ago.

Just went back thru this thread and saw that a few people said they didn't reply correctly. Makes me wonder if I did.

I understand that it can be annoying, to say the least, to see the same question asked multiple times in the Ask a Question forum. But at least we know that the original poster is wanting an answer now. (Yes, there are a few exceptions where the OP seems to have disappeared.)

At the moment, I don't have any useful ideas / suggestions. Maybe I just need a mental adjustment.

IMHO, I don't care for the voting trip. Guess I'll have to mentally adjust to it as well.

I do know that you work hard to make this the best site ever and I thank you for that. You deserve some acorns for all that you do.
[Last edited by tx_flower_child - Aug 24, 2017 12:26 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1534525 (14)
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 24, 2017 12:32 AM CST
If this is a new thing, how come it has 4300 pages going back to 1997? Do you have to choose a heading to see the questions? I am REALLY confused. Confused
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Aug 24, 2017 12:47 AM CST
Just curious. In the 'early days', did this website sell products? I'm seeing a lot of questions that are in the form of 'do you sell?' rather than 'where can I buy?'.
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
Charter ATP Member Bookworm Amaryllis Houseplants Annuals Garden Photography
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Foliage Fan Bulbs Bee Lover Frogs and Toads Container Gardener
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kniphofia
Aug 24, 2017 5:32 AM CST
I just answered a question then realised that apart from the first half dozen or so they go back to 2012..
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Aug 24, 2017 6:12 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

The old questions are the old Q&A system from NGA. There are many tens of thousands of Q&A items in that old system that I imported into this one. But it's still very much a good idea to give better answers to old items; that's the idea of the knowledgebase! People read these old questions and find them by searching. We want the best answers given and oftentimes the answer given by NGA may not have been the best (or most up to date).

@Calif_Sue - yes, there will be lots of moderator options for the admins, in the near future.
[Last edited by dave - Aug 24, 2017 6:12 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1534572 (18)
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Image
dave
Aug 24, 2017 6:13 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

tx_flower_child said:Just curious. In the 'early days', did this website sell products? I'm seeing a lot of questions that are in the form of 'do you sell?' rather than 'where can I buy?'.


Yes over time NGA has sold various gardening things.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Image
dave
Aug 24, 2017 6:14 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

DaisyI said:If this is a new thing, how come it has 4300 pages going back to 1997? Do you have to choose a heading to see the questions? I am REALLY confused. Confused


I'm going to make a video today showing all the ways to use this system, and that will probably answer all your questions about the headings and stuff.

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