• A message to forum cross posters

    Do you know why you're here?
    If you have been pointed to this page, it is not because someone is mad at you, but rather because we want to curb your posting habits before people start ignoring your posts.

    Online forums are great, plain and simple. They are full of people who both ask and answer questions, and it's answers that all new posters seem to be after. I certainly know that it was the motivating reason for me to join my first one. Even better, these forums are free. And therein lies our issue...

    Every individual who responds to your posts is a volunteer, and is trying to help you in their own free time. That is something that needs to be both recognized and respected. "Sure", you say, "I respect that", but you've been pointed here because you've cross posted somewhere, not told us, and been busted. Rest assured that you are not alone, and that there was enough instances that I built a page so that my friends and I do not need to keep re-typing why this is an issue. This is not intended as a lecture, and if you make it to the bottom, you'll even see that I am truly trying to help you.

    So What's the Big Deal?
    First, let me make it clear that neither I, nor the person who pointed you here, has an issue with cross posting, so long as it is done correctly. If you feel that you get more experts pointed to your posts, then fine. What we are asking for, however, is the courtesy of knowing about it. Why? Well it's kind of simple really. If you post on several boards, you have several groups of people working on the same issue, without necessarily knowing what the others are doing.

    Ask yourself this: How would you feel if you worked on an answer for an hour, only to find out that fifteen minutes after you started, someone already had a solution they accepted? I'd be willing to bet you'd be a little upset that you'd wasted your time.

    Yes, I know that you are only trying to get an answer, but seriously evaluate what you've done. Would you go and pay four different experts to generate solutions and then pick the best one? Well maybe you would, but if that is your approach, ask for their Paypal accounts up front and pay for it.

    Lest you choose to just flat out ignore my advice, YOU will be the one being ignored. News of chronic cross posters travels quickly, and you may find yourself with no replies at any forum. Remember that the online community is both larger and smaller than you think. Many people transcend boards, and are staunch about protecting their efforts and the efforts of their friends who don't.

    Trust me on this: post at a board, and people will see it. I know for certain that my online friends will even "call" an expert to another board if they need their expertise to help out. We will do our best to look after you, no matter what board we post on... providing that you are courteous to us in return.

    How to Post and When to Cross-Post
    Admittedly, some posts do go without answers, and this is where the cross post can be beneficial. Just do it in the right way! My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to follow this series of events:

    Find one forum and stick with it, preferably a very busy one so you reach a bigger audience. If you don't get a satisfactory answer in a reasonable amount of time (days, not hours), then:
    • Post in another applicable forum with your issue (1 or 2 other forums, not 20!).
    • Include a link to your original post (see below).
    • Make it very obvious that you have not got an answer to your question and are looking for more experts.
    • Ask people to post their replies in the original forum.
    • When it is solved, go back and mark it as such in all forums so that we're not chasing solved issues.
    How to post a link:
    On every forum I go to, the format to do this is the same, no matter which bulletin board software they use. I'm sure there will be some different, but for the majority, the steps to posting your link is as follows:
    • Copy the URL (address) from your web browser.
    • Enter it as text in your post as follows: [url]the url goes here[/url]
      • i.e.[url]http://www.excelguru.ca/forums/showthread.php?259[/url]
    • That's it!
    Basically, that's all. Follow the golden rule of treating us how you'd like to be treated, and you'll do just fine. Forums are incredible places with many awesome and giving people volunteering their time an expertise for free. Treat them with respect, and you'll get all the free help and training you need in return.

    Thanks for reading!

     

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    Comments 43 Comments
    1. Omagoodness's Avatar
      Omagoodness -
      I have been guilty of cross-posting on one occasion but I assumed (incorrectly, I guess) that when I didn't receive a response from the first posting, after more than a reasonable a period of time, that no one was able to help with my problem so I sought advise from another site. I apologize and will not be guilty of it in future. I will stick with the same forum for all questions and hope that I can get the help that I need. I have a couple of outstanding questions now that were not cross-posted - at least not in the true sense of the word. One question was asked on one site and the second question was asked on another site. The only reason I chose to do that was so that forum members did not think I was being a nuisance.
      Thanks for the tip.
    1. Ken Puls's Avatar
      Ken Puls -
      Quote Originally Posted by Omagoodness View Post
      ... I assumed (incorrectly, I guess) that when I didn't receive a response from the first posting, after more than a reasonable a period of time, that no one was able to help with my problem so I sought advise from another site...
      Hey, that's not an unfair assumption. Again, the article doesn't say "don't". It says "tell us".
    1. windseaker's Avatar
      windseaker -
      Guilty, I have done this and for all the reasons, mainly because I get no reply. I have gotten lame answers (insulting to say the least).
      But I respect your rules and will do my best to avoid any cone of shame (dog owner, totally get it).
      Please except my apology for the breech.
      Thank you
    1. cheoksoon's Avatar
      cheoksoon -
      Wow, I wasn't aware of the issue of "cross-posting" until I read this. Cross-posting is not new to me and it is usually my "default" position when I have a question to ask on the internet.

      This is indeed very enlightening topic and it raises some interesting questions about 'consumerism vs professionalism' and 'essential service vs non-essential services':

      For example:

      If was looking to buy a pot, I would go to several stores to look for the best available pot before making my purchase. I am therefore a consumer who retains the ultimate right to judge the quality of the product. My decision to browse different shops maintains the competitive edge for pot makers, that is, they have to keep making good quality pots in order to stay in business.

      When it comes to essential services like health care for example, I am more inclined to stick with one doctor, not because I don't want to have more medical opinions, but because there are regulatory bodies to ensure that patients do not "doctor shop" for the same issue since it causes havoc on the health care system. That is, either the government, or a professional body, would enforce a set rules which consumers shouldn't and couldn't breach.

      Because there are little to no regulatory bodies pertaining the internet, the internet is largely unregulated and therefore functions more like a free market where consumerism trumps.

      While on the internet, I consider myself a consumer of information, therefore my default position as I mentioned earlier, is to browse as much and many sources of information as possible before settling on what I think is best. This explains the "cross posting".

      And if excel volunteers want to regulate internet users by telling them not to cross post or else "they will be ignored", then may I ask, who is regulating you? Do you belong to a professional body?

      If we're not allowed to cross post, then should you be allowed to be registered on different excel forums?

      If a patient can't go to many doctors at once, should doctors enrol themselves in multiple practices?

      There are regulatory bodies for both patients and doctors, but in the case of the forum cross posting, there seems to be a pseudo-regulatory body for internet users but not the volunteers themselves.

      I can see why volunteers might get upset if they 'worked 3 hours on an answer only to find that it has been answered elsewhere', but this is consumerism. Pot makers might get upset when consumers don't buy their pots, but what they need to do is create better pots to maintain a competitive edge.

      Excel volunteers are indeed very helpful to the internet community, but they can't escape the nature of the internet, that is, it is NOT meant to be regulated. If this is too much for volunteers, either stay away from it, or create some boundaries for yourself.

      By the way, shouldn't volunteers be happy that people are getting their problems solved rather than feeling upset because "they have wasted their time"? That goes in odds with the spirit of volunteering! Who are you trying to please? Yourself? or the people needing help?

      Look, I don't get upset when I don't get a reply, I just go somewhere else. I don't see why volunteers should get upset when their solutions weren't taken up.

      Food for thought.
    1. AliGW's Avatar
      AliGW -
      You have misunderstood the rule about cross-posting. It is not that you are not allowed to do it, but if you do, you are asked simply to post a link to the other places where you have posted the same query so that members can cross-reference them. Not all members here are members of multiple fora, although a few of us are. What you are being asked to do when you choose to cross-post is not onerous and it is courteous to those giving of their free time to help you.

      It's always a good idea to read the forum rules before you post in order to avoid making these faux pas.
    1. cheoksoon's Avatar
      cheoksoon -
      Quote Originally Posted by AliGW View Post
      You have misunderstood the rule about cross-posting. It is not that you are not allowed to do it, but if you do, you are asked simply to post a link to the other places where you have posted the same query so that members can cross-reference them. Not all members here are members of multiple fora, although a few of us are. What you are being asked to do when you choose to cross-post is not onerous and it is courteous to those giving of their free time to help you.

      It's always a good idea to read the forum rules before you post in order to avoid making these faux pas.
      And I have done so (posting cross post link) AliGW, because I am indeed courteous.

      However, as Kenpuls puts it, "Lest you choose to just flat out ignore my advice, YOU will be the one being ignored.", that doesn't sound courteous at all.

      I think he/she meant well... but that sounded like a threat to me (i.e. "do this... or else...")

      I am aware of the good intention of this forum and the volunteers, but unfortunately, it is nigh impossible to stop cross posting. If one username is ignored, people would just create a separate account. If an IP address is blocked, they'll just use some kinda VPN. What is more important is a sense of common decency I suppose.

      Anyways, I rest my case. This is just food for thought.
    1. AliGW's Avatar
      AliGW -
      I totally get where you are coming from, and I am glad that you see the good reasons for asking for cross-posting to be flagged by the member doing it. I think what is disappointing, however, is the number of people who fail to read and follow simple forum rules that are there to make the whole experience better for everybody.
    1. Ken Puls's Avatar
      Ken Puls -
      Quote Originally Posted by cheoksoon View Post
      However, as Kenpuls puts it, "Lest you choose to just flat out ignore my advice, YOU will be the one being ignored.", that doesn't sound courteous at all.

      I think he/she meant well... but that sounded like a threat to me (i.e. "do this... or else...")
      Maybe you're right here, but let me just point out that this was targeted at people who habitually and blatantly ignore posting their links. We've dealt with some of those in the past who, despite being repeatedly asked just keep posting in each forum.

      In my experience, we will always err on the side of helping, not blocking.
    1. Kalua1231's Avatar
      Kalua1231 -
      Main reason I got to cross posting is because I wanted to observe all the sites that I have post at the same time, just to sum up which one is very fast in replying in this case my concern. How wrong was I for not considering other factors. Sorry about that Excelguru community and others, I have truly learned from this mistake.
    1. kepler19's Avatar
      kepler19 -
      Thanks and regards.
    1. 4world's Avatar
      4world -
      Dear Ken,

      I will post some of the below on the thread that brought me here (treat this is a cross link warning so I don't waste readers' time):

      1. In reality, cross-linking (providing a URL to the other site) is a good idea since it helps develop a collective community of users and experts.

      2. However, the cross-linking rule is quite unusual for several reasons:
      a) Numerous websites, on the contrary, prohibit external links to competing websites. So, not only is it unobvious but cross-linking without knowledge can be dangerous.

      b) I used to click and read the "Terms & Conditions" of forum websites at subscribe-time long ago but it used to be the same yadi yadi yada (no profanity, no this ..., ... which I didn't engage in any ways) so now I ignore these. This is an unusual rule so you should try to show this on the sign up page (without a link) in a succinct readable message. Else, people who ignore the linked T&C as they do the safety briefing at the start of airlines flights, will not know.

      c) It needs to be made public on both (or all) the websites that such and such websites are 'partner' websites so cross-linking is desirable on all such websites. Otherwise, how would I -- an ordinary first-time user -- know whether your request for cross-linking is actually some tactics to promote your own website at the cost of others.

      For example, your website post that brought me here is saying I should have put a link to your website on mrexcel.com where I did my other posting. Short of the declaration I suggest above, what guarantees that you are not trying to publicize your own website on mrexcel.com?

      Or why can't your request be seen as a subtle assertion of your copyright on the original question? (Btw, my question on the other site was completely re-written and nothing was copied from your site.)

      d) I believe most people do a reasonable job of searching the net when they have an Excel problem. It's only when the problem is severe enough (and urgent) that they post on a forum for help. I posted my question on your site yesterday (I.S.T.) and posted on mrexcel.com today after the thread on your site seemed to have died out (as only one useless reply came).

      In such cases, I think your admonishing message can be misunderstood. I.e., your message would be much more appropriate had I posted on these two sites almost instantaneously. People can't stop work for days waiting for an answer; even hours is quite long but I had waited over 12-14 hours.

      e) Forums see numerous posts per hour so a post can quickly get buried and lost forever (in a matter of one hour). So it is reasonable to expect that a post will get no further responses if none is received in a matter of 4-6 hours (like Amazon says that no answers can be expected to a customer's question on their site if none is received in a couple of days).

      Despite the above, I will put a link on the original post on your website in the future BUT NOT on the competing website without their consent or rules (like you suggest).

      Thanks for reading this far. Replies welcome.

      Ashim Jain,
      India
    1. Pecoflyer's Avatar
      Pecoflyer -
      Short of the declaration I suggest above, what guarantees that you are not trying to publicize your own website on mrexcel.com?
      Kindly observe that in my cross-posting post I added a link to MrE. Does it mean that I am publicizing MrE on this forum?


      Forums see numerous posts per hour so a post can quickly get buried and lost forever (in a matter of one hour). So it is reasonable to expect that a post will get no further responses if none is received in a matter of 4-6 hours (like Amazon says that no answers can be expected to a customer's question on their site if none is received in a couple of days).
      I don't know how familiar you are with this kind of forums, but to assume that a post that has not been answered within 4-6 hours will never be, is completely wrong. Members here come from all over the world , try to help YOU for FREE on their SPARE time. So the probability is very low that someone is waiting behind his computer to answer your question almost instantaneously. If you take some time to read forum rules, be it this one or others, it is advised to "bump" a question after about a day has passed since it was posted.
      That is the difference between PAID advice, which you can expect to be fast, and FREE advice which can take some time.

      This being said, I will not waste more time on this kind of discussion that pops up once a year on every forum I am active on, ( about 10 and they all have the cross posting rule...), and that is often initiated by people wanting a FAST and FREE answer to a problem they then will deliver to their customer and get paid for .

      If you are not happy with the way things are on this forum, that is your privilege, (you will have observed that MrExcel also has that rule...) and you can stay away from it
    1. Ken Puls's Avatar
      Ken Puls -
      I've already posted my reply to this (line by line) in your original thread: http://www.excelguru.ca/forums/showt...xcel-bug/page2
    1. asample57's Avatar
      asample57 -
      I had no idea these forums were linked. I am just desperate to get going on this project. Very sorry.
    1. Pecoflyer's Avatar
      Pecoflyer -
      @ asample

      Take some time to read the link Ken provided. Forums are not linked
    1. CYLiyu's Avatar
      CYLiyu -
      Thanks and noted.
    1. Umabeny's Avatar
      Umabeny -
      Thank you for this. How do I edit a Post to include a link to a Cross Post?
    1. Islandeeya's Avatar
      Islandeeya -
      Wow! so much to learn! I'm an-ex cross post offender and once was enough! The explanation above makes sense, gosh I appreciate any help and the last thing I want to do is waste anyone's time. I can't express enough here how much I appreciate anyone who works on these questions!!! You guys ROCK!!!!!
    1. drybsmt's Avatar
      drybsmt -
      I just happened upon this post as a new member and want to thank you for so clearly explaining this. I have seen people say something was cross posted but have never really thought more about it. Thank you for making this issue understandable.
    1. gyan123's Avatar
      gyan123 -
      Thank you for letting me know.