Softly, Softly

Sometimes when confronted by a setback, people lose their cool.

It happens. You have spent hours, perhaps days going over something in your head. You do research, can’t quite get to the answer you want to you post on a QA site, thinking “these guys really know what they’re talking about, I’ll get an answer real quick”.

But the process goes wrong. Instead of seeing your post and congratulating your for your witty and well-chosen phrasing, they take issue with terminology, ask questions that seem obvious, or irrelevant, or both! Then the question is put on hold until such time as your can ‘improve’ it.

Being told to improve isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a definite poke in the ego. The tribe has circled, they won’t let you in. As a result, some choose to express their frustrations in a non-constructive manner. This is unfortunate, because it evokes less consideration and feelings of altruism, not more.

In the example above, I’ve tried to pull things back from that brink:

Hi Raven, welcome to Super User. It seems you are a bit frustrated by the QA process here. Questions are sometimes put “on hold” so that they can be more easily answered- this has the benefit of making it more likely for you to get an answer. While it may be clear what you mean and intend, some of our experienced members find the specifics of what you are asking unclear.

However, I’m afraid you cannot ‘require’ that we take a post from being “on hold”, the best option for this to happen is to clarify or add detail as requested. Furthermore, your comments come across as quite aggressive; that’s hopefully not what you intended (since that would not be okay); you should consider removing those before a moderator does.

Futhermore, as your edit does not contain information pertinent to answering your question, I am going to ‘rollback’ to your original version. You are welcome to make further edits to add information to make answering the question easier.

(typos mine)

There’s two things that need to be done, as I see it: 1) let the person know what their approach won’t work and is not acceptable; 2) try to get things back on track.

The first, if done right, is doable; in fact it’s very satisfying when it happens. You can go from someone insulting you and being aggressive, to having a laugh with them (in the best case!). That said, in this case getting the tone back to being civil would be enough. Being nice when someone expects hostility can be incredibly disarming. It has to be sincere though; phoney friendliness backfires.

The second is important form a QA point of view. Interactions are hazardous and sometimes go wrong and the wrong things are said sometimes but those are all a distraction. Ideally, a question would be improved so that it can be answered (some cannot). A reasonable response from the community side is more likely to engender a helpful clarification or vital detail. It’s not easy to keep that up though, especially seeing the same thing day after day.

Post-scriptum: in this case the user characterised the on-hold review process and comments as ‘nefarious’ and declared that what they had written was ‘ALREADY 100% CLARIFIED’, amongst other things. It doesn’t always work.

On Cheap Hardware and Misbehaving Monitors

tl;dr: Cheap stuff can malfunction in unusual ways

I have a history of buying cheap hardware out of necessity. This has not changed in more than ten years. I wish it was different; but scrimping and saving and buying cheaper, off-brand is the only way I can afford to do things. That said, I am lucky be able to afford what I can afford, it is definitely more than some who are less fortunate.

I have a triple monitor setup, which some might call an unnecessary luxury; but with my eyesight being what it is more real estate means being better able to both fit a reasonable amount of things on the screens at a reasonable visibility.

Each of the three displays is 27″ and capable of a resolution of 2560×1440 at 60Hz. They are all also ‘cheap’ (relatively speaking) Korean knock-off imports- brands such as PCBANK, Crossover and DGM- the last of which I have at least come across before, in the form of the cheap TFT monitors referred to in the post linked at the start. At least they have a track record!

The third thing that these monitors three have in common is a tendency to malfunction; each in different ways. Taking them in the order of purchase, which dates from about five or six years ago to less than six months ago:

  1. PCBANK – The only one I bought new. Makes an audible noise when displaying white or mostly white (eg a a mostly text web page, such as Wikipedia). Also occasionally displays a distorted image for half a second before coming to its senses.
  2. DGM – intermittently blanked itself under Windows
  3. Crossover – If turned off or doing into standby, won’t turn back on for 5-20 minutes. Possibly a backlight issue. As a bonus, it was bought second hand and came with its integrated plastic monitor stand removed; the only way I could see to reattach it would be to separate the plastic casing, which I got halfway to doing before I figured I would purchase the monitor mount[s] I had been intending to for years

In addition, the transformer for the PCBANK or DGM monitor developed a fault which made my speakers screech like a banshee requiring me to take the highly-technical step of moving the transformer further away. Then it started buzzing itself, and needed replaced.

Those transformers are beasts, incidentally- 24V 5A or 120W.

These faults range from irritating to intolerable, but I reckon that if I had three monitors from reputable manufacturers at a commensurate price, I wouldn’t have the same issue with malfunctions.