# Answering vague support questions (once)?

There are certain questions that don't fit our criteria very well, eg:

• Why is blender crashing?
• Why is blender's viewport so slow?
• Why is blender running slow?
• Why am I running out of memory?

The question that prompted me to ask: https://blender.stackexchange.com/questions/1330/blender-is-lagging-when-i-am-using-it

In every specific case the answer will be different, but it may be good if we have broad answers to these questions which list likely causes and things for the user to check.

At least in this case we can direct any further questions here (and mark them as duplicates).

Does this sound worthwhile?

The ideal way to handle endless variations of the same trouble-shooting questions is to create what we call "canonical answers" — comprehensive guides about what users should do when they hit these commonly-asked crashing and performance problems.

Users keep asking these same questions in various ways because it is difficult for the author to know exactly what they are asking about… much less how to find the solution on the site. So they become numerous (and somewhat annoying) because you find yourself asking and answering the same basic set of followup questions ("Did you try X,Y,Z; could it be L,M,N,O or P?").

When answering these canonical questions, do everything you can to really overkill it. Write a detailed, step-by-step, ultra-clear guide with screenshots and examples. Those questions will become ultra-popular, brining in lots of traffic from search engines as folks search for this stuff. And every question you close as a duplicate of the canonical answer, you create yet another entry point to the site covering all the variations of how these questions are asked. If you continue to have great answers like you've provided thus far, you stand a good chance of attracting some great new users who will add value for years to come.

• This rings quite true, we already have such one such question, albeit not 'once' and not really technical, it is our most popular question so far as it has many different variations. – iKlsR Jun 25 '13 at 21:50

This is a sensitive matter as we don't want to encourage too many of these questions as it isn't and shouldn't be in our scope. I also think we are already being very lenient by allowing .blend files. Eventually people will find ways to use these special cases to abuse the system and we are not a support group per se as opposed to how most forums operate.

However, there is a way that we can approach this for the time being. It would also be in the best interests of the site if we don't alienate new users. We can handle cases like these just as Gwenn dealt with Undo and Redo on Macbook not functioning.

Since we are very likely to get these questions again in the future, we can answer but lock it afterwards, doing this allows it to serve as both a useful part of our compilation of answers and also a firm example of what is and what is not on-topic here. This is only if the question is answerable and makes sense rather than some wild localized issue.

Additionally, SE will be rolling out new changes for handling questions soon, some of which might better assist us in making decisions and be more straightforward and obvious. An example is:

Questions will display as [on hold], rather than [closed] for the first five days after closure. (new)

• The goal is to better convey that questions can be improved and re-opened during the period where they have the best shot at that happening
• Questions put [on hold] will still not accept answers, and will behave identically to [closed] questions
• The language will change to [closed] if the question is not re-opened within five days, to continue to serve as a clear long-term signpost

See all of these here on meta at Closing changes: on hold, unclear, too broad, opinion-based, off-topic reasons, bye-bye to Too Localized

• As an alternative, We could add a Troubleshooting FAQ to blenders wiki and link users there. – ideasman42 Jun 24 '13 at 11:40
• That's a valid point about the alienation of new users, have a canned response that is clearly intended to inform and provide suggestions rather than 'this is not what B.SE is for'. The first few reviews of a new user post should pick up on that, and send them merely on their way. – zeffii Jun 24 '13 at 14:08
• I hope I'm just reading your answer wrong. How can technical support of Blender not be a part of this site? Unless I'm misreading your answer, you're envisioning a "how to use Blender" site... until you run into a problem; then you're outta here. I'm not sure that makes sense. You're going to be progressively alienating a larger and larger portion of your use base just as they need you the most. And I'm not sure putting questions [on hold] is designed to be the solution you are envisioning here. See my answer. I think it provides a better balance to handle all types of questions. – Robert Cartaino Jun 25 '13 at 19:53
• @RobertCartaino more of the former. Technical support is a very large part of the site but we have to take a firm stance on what we allow in our scope. I am aware of canonical answers, we have several of those and encourage them. Nearly all of the questions closed could not or rather still cannot be reasonably answered in their current form at all. Questions that pertained to graphics hardware and other sites that weren't even directly related to Blender or where the OP gave very vague or limited information on their problem. Those are what I am talking about in my answer. – iKlsR Jun 25 '13 at 20:29
• @RobertCartaino We have discussed these extensively on the site leading up to public beta and after, nearly every question we see in danger, we leave a comment asking for clarification or try to see if it can be edited or possibly answered. Some are just dead ends however and cluttering the site with extremely localized or poorly asked questions is rather bad. Questions like this and this to list a few. – iKlsR Jun 25 '13 at 20:30
• @iKlsR That sounds reasonable. Thanks for the clarification. I was reading this from what an outsider might read into this answer, and I wanted to make sure we weren't saying this site was only for "how to do things in Blender... unless you have problems." – Robert Cartaino Jun 25 '13 at 21:35

### The hold feature

After reading through the post on the blog.stackoverflow.com/.../the-war-of-the-closes I think this hold option provides us with a much friendlier tool to get better information out of a question.

The fact remains that some questions will be stated very poorly with inadequate details to give a straight answer. Generally if someone is able to describe their problem concisely then they have already reached a level of understanding about the problem. These can be interesting puzzles, and rewarding to answer.

As long as B.SE is alive we will get people who are inexperienced with most or some of Blender and 3D, and it is unrealistic for us to expect that they will posses the right words to explain the problem. In these cases they must be prompted until the problem is clear, and phrased in a way that the Questioner understands and accepts. Once we understand the question we can release the question to accept answers.

So while we might not like the repeated back and forth to get closer to a good problem description, if we do an OK job then this person is more capable of asking better questions lateron.

I urge people not to modify the phrasing of weak questions until they have engaged with the OP and arrived at a fair understanding of the question, otherwise this site will be a time sink.

• I wholly agree, closing seemed so final at times. Alot of our users aren't very good with English which also rings your last point very well. I often refrain from editing a badly worded or vague question as I fear it might lose its original intent or meaning, it's a very good point to note. Not everything can be saved but it at least gives people another chance. – iKlsR Jun 26 '13 at 13:41

All questions should be allowed only once (hence the duplicate feature). So the only question is are these topics, off topic? If they are users should be directed elsewhere.

At least in this case we can direct any further questions here (and mark them as duplicates).

You can mark questions as duplicates of closed questions, so there's really no need to make exceptions.