Questions and Comments Option
Just another random idea. Give Poddies the ability to mark their posts as a question or a comment, that way people's questions can be found easier. Have a comment feed and a question one, and maybe just a general one. This has probably been suggested before.
RJAugust 21, 2012, 02:30 AM
I have suggested in the past that another tab be added between the discussion tab and the dialog tab. It would be called "questions for staff" or something to that effect. That way discussions of the lesson topic, related cultural issues, and the resulting tangential comments can be placed on the discussion tab, but serious language questions requiring staff attention, could be asked on the "questions" tab. Those not interested in related discussion would not have to read it, and questions would be easier for staff to find and answer. Perhaps its not so easy to add a tab to the software, or maybe there are other reasons why cpod doesn't like this idea, but it is an idea that deserves some consideration I think. Questions or discussion placed on the wrong tab could be moved by staff to the proper place in the beginning, and soon everybody would get the idea. If I were staff, I wold rather look through and answer 10 questions for a lesson, than search through a multitude of comments looking for those same 10 serious questions. Just adding to your thought, since you mentioned it.
yeah, adding one or two extra tabs is an interesting idea, especially since the same questions keep getting asked over and over again, like "how do I write Chinese Characters on my Windows Laptop?" or discussed regularly like "this problem with the website needs to be corrected".
Yeah that sounds like a good idea cause I am generally just interested in questions about the lesson. A problem that might come up with that is the questions that are somewhere in between, that's why I thought the option not to choose whether it's a comment or a question could be good. If not a tab, even if comments and questions could be marked differently like in different colours would be good, so scrolling through would be a lot quicker.
In terms of the questions being answered, I think it is important considering the fact they always talk about asking questions at the end of almost every podcast. And I guess if they don't get answered then you get discouraged to ask any.
But in conclusion, any way to sort the questions from the comments would be good.
' "questions for staff" tab'
It's a great idea but I don't expect it to happen, because it changes the (successful) business model. If questions pile up, as they may, it makes ChinesePod look bad. The tab would be an implied contract - we ask questions and you answer. Not only that; the tab would provide a measure of staff performance - hardly fair, but that is how it could be interpreted.
I've said elsewhere that I think the staff are on the board more than they used to be (when poddies were more vocal) - they have filled the void to some extent.
I also feel that the hit and miss process we have at present creates something of a problem for the business - some students may feel peeved that they don't get their questions answered.
But no harm in making suggestions ...
your concerns are legitimate, but the tab could be simply "questions" and need not carry any more of an inherent obligation for staff than exists now. Other poddies could also answer, as they do now. Unless the number of questions would suddenly burgeon, I don't see it being a greater burden on anybody. In fact, quite the opposite. There is nothing wrong with chit chat, (I am guilty as well) but this would separate it from serious language study. This way everybody is happy. Another option would be to preface all questions with "@question" or use red text, or both, but this would require cooperation of all involved. We could try it, it might catch on. It just might.
I was thinking more about actual language related questions. Frequently asked questions such as "how do I type Chinese" are answered here:
if you click on frequently asked questions.
'the tab could be simply "questions" and need not carry any more of an inherent obligation for staff than exists now.'
Okay, fair point. I still harbour a suspicion that it could grow into something that is used as a stick on the staff - but I would like to think that a clear explanation would remove that problem.
It wouldn't quite satisfy my 'ideal' where staff contributions are searchable .
podsterAugust 21, 2012, 03:28 AM
好主意。 I would love to be able to sort the comments to pull all the ones which the user (or staff) had tagged as language-related together. It has been noted that sometimes one has to read through a lot of comments to get to lesson-related questions, although I am not aware that anybody has yet considered the plight of the poor staff (although I had thought of it 呵呵.) I know you can use the search box to search through comments by selecting "community", but that may not get you where you want to go with this idea.
Yeah, I sometimes do find it frustrating going through lots of comments (sometimes unrelated to the lesson) in order to get to the parts that talk about the language or sometimes the culture. I'm not saying comments should be limited in any way, but rather make it easier for people who want to get straight to the point.
Doesn't the community search function only deal with titles of posts? But my point is that if someone has a language question, poddies and/or teachers can answer them for them without going through the recent posts and sometimes missing out of people's question completely (which I've seen in quite a few of the oldish lessons).
GrambersAugust 21, 2012, 01:42 PM
I'd second the suggestion from darkstar94. Seems to me to be a great idea. The boards clearly serve two quite distinct functions: one, for members to discuss, debate, show-off and generally just prat around; two, for diligent students to ask specific language questions of those they hope know more than they do! Of my posts, 75% are in the former category, 25% in the latter. They are quite different kinds of posts, and I can well see how somebody only interested in studying would probably get a bit annoyed at having to wade through all the chatter to get to the important stuff.
nicksymondsonAugust 21, 2012, 08:07 PM
I would like to 3rd the suggestion. For me, often the discussion board on Intermediate lessons has become a general chat area often between a small group of subscribers. The majority of their comments have been nicely described by Grambers above so I don't need to repeat it. I am put off looking at the discussion board any more as I feel I am just intruding on their private space. I am really interested in reading about peoples feedback/questions on the lesson itself but nowadays I can't be bothered wading through the swamp of spurious posts. Lets keep the Discussion Board for feedback/comments on the lesson and put the general chit chat on one of the Community Boards where it belongs. CP just need put a note on top of the board telling subscribers what belongs on the Discussion Board and what doesn't. It would need a bit of policing to begin with to remove general chit chat but once the message had got across this policing would be minimal. Rant now over but seriously, it is a problem.
"as I feel I am just intruding on their private space"
...it's a real shame you feel this way and you are not alone..this has been expressed before. I was very surprised the first time this was raised a few years ago and so since then have been "on the lookout" to see if anyone is being made to feel unwelcome, because I for one [and I think others are of the same mindset] would very much like to see and encourage more to get involved [there have been numerous discussions around this..how to encourage lurkers to post both by CPod and by poddies...to date very little has made any difference]. There has been the occasional spat between poddies but I can honestly say I have never seen any of the regulars post anything that would make a newcomer feel unwelcome. Sometimes posts go unanswered...but we all have that...I've had countless unanswered. I have tried on occasions to help newcomers questions, but esp with the language related ones I'm not too confident and am wary of leading them astray and think they're best left for CPod. So having seen no evidence of why a newcomer would be made to feel unwelcome I can only scratch my head and wonder if this relates to some insecurity in the person who feels unwelcome. I can only reiterate that I'd personally love to see more involved. And further to this, I have seen many newcomers come and get involved and regularly interact.
So while I'd welcome yours and others contributions whatever they may be [regardless of whether they are of interest to me or not], it's not sounding too much like you welcome comments that are of no interest to yourself. This was the reason subthreading was introduced...so that you could easily skip big chunks that were of no interest.
'esp with the language related ones I'm not too confident and am wary of leading them astray and think they're best left for CPod.'
This is a good point, I do jump in (usually with someone new as you say) and try to help out, and I sometimes forget to say that I am at best an intermediate speaker myself.
I don't know if CP have a policy on this but I don't see a clear picture - some people that get a lot of help from staff are definitely not beginners, and some advanced users get attention. Help for the newbies is sporadic, like it is for other levels; but there are more newbies than higher levels, if you get my meaning. (And this is not meant as a criticism because, like you, I believe that they already do more than is reasonably 'in the contract'.)
It is because newbies and elementary learners don't get all their questions answered that I sometimes throw my two bits in. Then I become part of the problem!
This raises another matter - what we need is some kind of protocol for questions and answers - so that people are clear on the status of the answer. I say this because, even if I am wrong, I think that it is a legitimate learning device to throw your ideas around, hoping to be corrected myself, either by a more knowledgable poddie or the staff. It would be great if this could be flagged (easily). In fact some poddies have stiffly responded to fellow poddie's comments saying they really want a teacher to respond - usually these people are new to the site, not aware that there is no guarantee of an answer.
I would definitely like all the staff assistance in one place (or searchable that way); it is a valuable resource, but it is spread all over in both time and space.
bababardwanAugust 21, 2012, 10:30 PM
I also like this idea...the highlighting of questions/separate tab for questions...always have. As you guessed and as has been alluded to in response above this was loudly and clearly suggested a good couple of years ago around the time of major restructure to the site...there was a great deal of discussion at the time. My reaction to this now was the same as Bodawei's above...I like it but I'm not optimistic...for 2 reasons...firstly because it was asked for previously [but thanks for raising it again...it does raise the chance from next to nil] and secondly because I can't help but wonder whether the whole missed question thing is a bit of a furphy. Of course it's dissappointing when your questions are missed, but honestly, if you and I can see the questions..which ones are answered and which ones are missed, so can everyone else. As nick above has referred to the Intermediate lessons as being a particular problem in this regard, I just went and checked on the latest Intermediate lesson to time myself how long it would take to identify the questions....for the latest it took me 49 seconds. However this was a "meta lesson"...not a typical lesson, so I went back to the Intermediate before it...it took me 8 seconds [and half that time was going back to the stopwatch and stopping it].
Sure if you are deliberately looking for the questions then it's not really a problem, especially through the recent of lessons where people don't comment as much. For me when I go through the community tab, I don't usually go past the first page, and usually there is just a lot of writing and stuff in which I kind of zone out to. But my point is is that it would be good if I was in a generous mood, I could just directly go to a questions tab and then just answer the odd question if I knew the answer. I know it sounds lazy, but I tend to skim and then if I see a short question that is simple to answer (especially for Newbie or Elementary learners), then I go just find it without having to go out of my way searching through different lessons.
I just firstly want to repeat that I fully support your idea. I would also like to see it happen. In fact, while yours is a better solution, because I have seen that raised several times in the past and not come to fruition, I was only a month or two ago on the verge of creating a less good solution, in lieu of it. I was going to create a Group [which of course anyone can join] and call it "I still have a question". I was going to suggest that if one's question wasn't answered in a timeframe of say a week [or a day after a teachers sweep of the boards] then this could be highlighted in such a group via copy and paste [and maybe a link back to the original site of the question]. I realise this is far from ideal and yours is a much better solution, but I was tempted to see how it went. I was still contemplating it when your post here popped up. I could be wrong but I'm really under the impression that it's not that questions are missed though, but rather they just have a finite amount of time to answer them as they are busy doing the fantastic job they do of creating the lessons etc so they just do the best the can to answer them in the limited time they have [and they do a great job with the questions they do answer]. If anyone's serious language questions are truly missed it might be mine as they might just see my name and move on , hehe. In the interim, one suggestion is to make sure that questions aren't buried in a subthread.
Actually you making the group would be a pretty good idea, I mean for the regular question askers like me anyway.
I am caught in between thinking that it is unfair to ask this much of them (the staff) and between thinking that I have paid money so I shouldn't feel bad for asking. In the end, I don't really mind where the answers come from as long as they are correct. I DO have the means to find out the answers some way, but I just prefer ChinesePod staff because they are professionals. I like trying to help people anyway, so it's not necessarily about me wanting help but also for the more experienced learners to help the less experienced ones in a more convenient fashion i.e. through some of sorting system.
JFK apparently borrowed this expression from his old headmaster George St John so it could be 100 years old plus - which prompts me to ask: what memorable lines did you learn from your headmaster?
Mine was fond of saying 'Do NOT use the word 'ratbag' boys! (We were rather fond of throwing this word around.) A ratbag is the lowest form of human being - they are lower that a rat. They are no better than the bag you put a rat into.'
Ah, beware of those who claim to be 'professional'. All professionals are just chancers who got a break. For some, the mantle of professionalism hangs heavy, prompting a lifetime of earnest knowledge-acquisition and somber reflection. For others, the mantle hangs as light a birthday suit, and prompts the holder of the appellation to parade around his environs, dishing out business cards and basking in his or her own brilliance to have been recognised, institutionally-speaking, as a 'worthy'.
All of which is what the point is not (and, just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that this semi-rant on abstract concepts of 'professionalism' reflects my opinion on the worthiness, or otherwise, of Chinesepod staff, who seem jolly decent, on the whole).
I think you're within rights to shrug of the angel of conscience on your shoulder, who recognises the sterling work done by the Cpod to write, record and deliver daily lessons, and to indulge the nasty capitalist devil who whispers that he has paid his money and deserves his due. What I mean is that I think its up to Chinesepod to consider this issue closely, as it's clearly a problem for a good number of users. For my money, podcast teachers would do well not to end lessons by asking listening to get online and 'leave US a message, comment or question' if they know, or suspect, that nobody at Shanghai HQ is actually reading. At the very least they might consider tweaking the message to better reflect the nature of that online interaction.
I've benefited from getting a good deal of personalised feedback over the years, and for this I am grateful. However, would it be overly cynical of me to suggest that 'Team' feedback has declined since the roll-out of the Skype lesson service? Um.....probably (but not necessarily). Regardless, I think there perhaps needs to be a little more clarity in the relationship between users and staff. As always in life, expectations are all!
There's my two pennies worth, anyhow.