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Old 04-26-2008, 09:02 PM
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Default Guidlines for answering newbie questions

I just thought I might add some guidelines for how to answer the newbie questions that occur everyday here on DIY electric car. Obviously these new members can sometimes be unrealistic (eg. free energy, cheap 400 mile ranges etc) and need to know what is possible, but i think we can do that in a constructive way, without turning people off the idea of the electric car (or these forums) for good. Here are my suggestions (which i am trying to follow) :
  • Offer a solution not a problem: this is focusing around being constructive rather than destructive. For example if someone is convinced that free energy is the way of the future then maybe suggest that efficiency is a much better thing to focus on (and explain why) or if they aren't persuaded by conservation of energy then encourage them build it and prove us wrong, that we would love to see that happen but don't want to see them waste their time. If they do build it and it fails we have some anecdotal but experimental evidence to show others that it doesn't work, and if they do find a way to do it then 'woohoo free energy!' .
  • Don't assume a budget unless they tell you, even then it might have some 'wiggle room': We are going to have people on this website that can only afford to do a simple lead acid conversion with a fairly limited range (a lot of us fall into that category) but we should not assume that every newbie will have such limitations. There are going to be some people that come onto this site with fairly high budgets wanting to make an ultimate EV and might not say so at first. If someone asks 'what would it take to get a 100 mile range, don't just say its impossible with lead acid and too expensive for lithiums. Give them their options; a heavily modded streamlined pickup with a tonne of lead might make it that far if driven very conservatively, Lithiums will get you that far and probably cost '$xxxx for that vehicle and the price is coming down etc. Presenting them with the options allows them to decide what is too expensive.
  • Don't assume a performance goal is non-negotiable: I think generally people will come to this site with over-optimistic goals for their conversion but that doesn't mean they aren't willing to alter them for a cheaper cost or easier construction, where there needs to be a balance between for example cost versus range it is usually better to make the choice obvious and let them decide. I remember talking to someone who overstated their range requirements to make sure we were considering all the factors, people generally negotiate down their high range goals when they see the cost of batteries.
  • Don't say anything as if they should know it: There shouldn't be any required knowledge for people on this site, we should allow the newbiest of noobs to get a start here and let them judge whether or not they are capable of doing their conversion. If people didn't pay attention in high school physics it doesn't mean they can't do a conversion... they just need more help.
  • If you don't have something constructive to say then don't say anything: Pretty self explanatory, if you can't see the person on the other end describing what you are saying as helpful then its probably better not to say it. We have a lot of people on the site who are capable of answering questions, so it doesn't have to be you if you can't do it positively. There are some types of questions that I sometimes avoid answering because I they come up so much I can't do it without being rude. When that's the case I try and write a wiki topic on it instead so I can be less frustrated in the future.
I think that's a pretty good start, do you think those are reasonable? Does anyone else have any suggestions? As I said these are just guidelines, they won't be enforced or anything but will make new people feel welcomed and helped no matter their experience levels.
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Last edited by mattW; 04-28-2008 at 06:37 AM.
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2008, 11:00 PM
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Default Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

How about making this a sticky?
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Old 04-29-2008, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

Does this mean my signature is too mean?
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

Excellent guidelines, Matt! Most everyone here has been very helpful and inviting to ideas and information so far. I'm extremely happy with how things are going and I think that if most people would follow these guidelines that we would have a very positive outcome.
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Old 05-09-2008, 01:26 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

I'm new here but not to automotive forums. I am impressed with your thread because too often a "newbie" is run off by know it alls. As you said, assuming someone knows something you know is downright stupid. So there, I've said it and I can't wait to learn from your experiences. I plan on converting a 95 geo tracker to a 144 volt (24, 6v) commuter. I can do anything to an "ICE" but know squat about EV's except what I have been reading about and listening. See ya'll around!
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:52 PM
bobby bobby is offline
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Cool Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

as a newby i appreciate you putting down some guidlines but unfortunatly for you thats what brought me to ask some questions i have a old motor cycle that i have turned into a chopper and would love to convert it the problem i guess is that it is a shaft drive and i have know idea of the type of motor to use and were to get them cheep i do all my own welding and fabing parts is not a problem for me the problems start with getting the power from the batteries to the motor i thought of using a 2 cycle engine scavenged from a old weed waker and a alternater i have to build the bike into a sorta hybrid to improve range i wanna build this bike for show not really go but its gotta work or its not worth doing im very convadent i can build just about any thing and rairly need any tech sapport but i will need some here and any would be great
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:14 PM
ga2500ev ga2500ev is offline
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Default Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

Well I have to come along with some counterbalance. The above list puts all of the onus on us as knowledgeable volunteers and absolves the inquirer of any and all responsibility to the conversation.

While I'm the first to admit that it's a bit harsh, I think that newcomers should follow the general guidelines outlined in this document: How to ask questions the smart way.

http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

When I came to this forum, the first thing I did was take a week to read every thread going back 6 months and every page of the Wiki before I ever posted a thing. You pay respect to the efforts that have gone before you in order to contribute to a community you wish to participate.

So in closing, while I'm somewhat amenable to some head patting for new users who come in with the same questions that we've answered over and over, I think we also need to take some time to have a sticky FAQ with the most common questions and answers and point new users to that document when one of those types of questions come up.

Thoughts?

ga2500ev
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Old 02-04-2009, 01:53 AM
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mattW mattW is offline
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Default Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

Our intro thread for Newbies is I want to build an EV! Where do I start?

It would be great for new people to read up on what is already here and available like you did ga2500ev, it shows respect for the time and energy of the great members of this forum so that it isn't wasted.

Most FAQ usually end up as wiki topics, so I think the wiki serves the same purpose as the sticky FAQ would.

Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:54 PM
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Default Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

The guidelines are greatly appreciated and well written! I've been on other websites only for a short time due to the "free for all" comments that allowed "bashing" of any new members.

I can appreciate all the efforts invested to maintain and monitor this website so that it is a place for anyone to visit, ask questions and obtain answers without fear of hostile criticism or humilation.

Thank you for the support!

Ernie
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Old 11-03-2009, 11:13 PM
joeb joeb is offline
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Default Re: Guidlines for answering newbie questions

i feel like such a newbie after reading that...
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