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Suggestion for the Webmaster

A while back, an OP posted a brief “my car won’t start” question. VDCdriver posted an appropriate reply:


Model year?

Under warranty?

Engine type/size?

Transmission type?

Odometer mileage?

Is the Check Engine Light illuminated?

Repairs that have already been attempted?

A complete description of maintenance over the past 3 years?

Would it be possible to place such an instruction on the “Create A Discussion” page for OPs that are not familiar with the format here? Seems to me that this would reduce the agitation created by OPs posting these incomplete messages. There appears to be ample room for such an instruction on this page.

Not without redesigning the page. That task is NOT for the Webmaster…but the engineers who created this web application. A lot easier said then done.

Second! Great idea, Francizek.

We have asked for things in the past. Those requests appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

I have a contrary view as follows: The information stated is not always needed to answer a question. It should not be made manditory to make unnecessary hoops for a poster to jump through to use this site. Information needed to answer a question can vary from none to all that is stated. If sufficient information is not provided as a preamble to a question, then you are free to:

  1. Ask for what you need to answer the question.

  2. Ignore the question.

Perhaps these suggestions could be posted as tips to create a better post rather than required fields to post a discussion. If these tips were right there on the “create a new discussion” page, they are likely to be read by someone new to the site and easily ignored by a regular who just wants to post an interesting link or fun discussion.

I think it is great that someone at least notices that this is an area that needs improvement. Yes a responder can chose to simply ignore a post or ask for more information. I have something of a lofty goal of trying to educate the public in how not to get ripped off in regards to auto repair (people are willing to change how they behave when they speak with a mechanic, correct?). I feel if I can teach them what to include in a post to an internet forum they can do better when they speak with a mechanic or service writer.

That being said I have given up on trying to convince the general public that saying “my car won’t start” does not put anyone on a path to solving their issue. I could and do conclude from reading the accuracy,quality,clarity of some of the posts here that some people actualy deserve to get ripped off. What I mean is, if they go to a mechanic speaking the same way with this mechanic the same way they post here, they are going to get taken advantage of.

I think it’s a good idea to give the posters the ability to click a “tips for posting” link and get key items to consider including in their post, so they can get a more thorough and accurate answer. I’ll watch this thread, and share the cumulative ideas with Tom and Ray. It’ll be a month before they see it, though, due to various scheduling issues on our end. Right now, we’re focussed on a year-long upgrade project, which has pulled us off a lot of routine efforts, so it might be a month or two before we get this live. Best, Doug Mayer, Car Talk

When a user answers the puzzler, you should send an email attaboy when they get it right and, maybe, better luck next time when they get it wrong. The attaboy could explain the drawing process, in fact, you could put off collecting snail mail info until they had gotten one right.

As it is the user has to visit the puzzler to see how they did on the last puzzler. An attaboy would emotionally much stronger than checking the website.

I think that manufacturer, model, engine, transmission, and mileage are a great start for a Repair and Maintenance post. Posts in General Discussion typically don’t deal with repairs or maintenance, unless they end up in the wrong place. Maybe a quick reminder to new posters that there are 4 topics and what usually shows up in them would help the OP get their questions answered.

Although this is a good suggestion,the only problem with this is that many people who post “my car won’t start” wouldn’t know the answers to half these questions. Many people don’t even know what size engine they have. I’m also a member of a Ford Escort forum and recently someone there was asking a question about their Escort with a 2.3L engine. The only engines that were ever put in an Escort were 1.6L, 1.8L, 1.9L and 2.0L.

…and, of course, we do get periodic questions regarding cars with a “V-4” engine.
Since the cars in question are never older German-made Fords, or old Saabs which utilized those Ford engines, or any other car that actually had a V-4 engine, those car owners clearly have no clue regarding what sits beneath their hood.

That being said, it is still a good idea to at least attempt to collect data about the type of car being discussed, simply because answers have a high likelihood of being incorrect if we don’t know that information.

Its true that many people will lack basic knowledge about their own cars. I’m pretty sure that the extent of some people’s knowledge is about at the level that they own a “red 4 door sedan”

However, it is quite bonkers that the page for posting questions doesn’t say anything. Long ago while in correspondence with web lackeys I suggested a couple of very simple things that would probably reduce the number of hopelessly vague posts.

Somewhere at the top of the page for submitting a question all it has to say is something like:

1) This will submit your question to a general internet Discussion Board where other CarTalk enthusiasts might read it and provide discussion, suggestions, and help with your issues.

  1. If you are trying to get help with a question about your car you will get better help and suggestions if you provide as much information as possible about your car (e.g. year, make, model, mileage) and as much information as possible about your specific problem or concern.

Its a simple thing. Right now the page says this: " "

And that’s not very informative. Its very obvious that many people need some basic guidance.

After the migration to Vanilla, we worked pretty feverishly to work out the major dysfunctions to the boards. We’ve slowed down now that the pace settled and many of the bugs appear to have been resolved. We’re continuing to develop our to-do list of ways to improve the users’ experience, new folks and veterans alike. This is one of those items. We’re not able to do it right now with the resources we’ve got, but it is important and it will be attended to.