How to get the most out of CPF

Wurkkos

carrot

Flashaholic
Joined
Dec 6, 2005
Messages
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Location
New York City
I notice that a lot of people seem to struggle with getting accustomed to the forums here and getting the answers they need. I thought I could share a few tips on how to get the most satisfying answers out of CPF. I'd be delighted if others had pearls of wisdom to chime in with as well.


First, the obvious:
- Read the rules! - CPF moderators have a tough job keeping this place great and the rules are there for a reason.

- Post in the right forum! - CPF is divided into subforums, and each subforum is dedicated to a specific topic. Posting in the right forum ensures your target audience can answer your questions. Pick one, don't post the same question all over the boards.

- Express yourself! - Poor grammar, spelling, and internet speak are not appreciated here. We'll understand if English isn't your first language, but if it is, we expect you to write in a coherent and grammatically correct manner. Just think, what would your English teacher say? Also, be certain to appropriately use line breaks or paragraphs.

- Learn to search! - CPF has a real wealth of information and it is all searchable through the forum search and Google search provided at the top of each page. (thanks sigsour)


Secondly, the less obvious:
- Use a descriptive thread title - You don't need a catchphrase or a leading question, or worse a completely ambiguous title such as "Somebody help me please," "Newbie question here," or "Looking for a flashlight" -- instead, focus on the basics, and summarize in a short phrase what you are looking for. This helps you to target people who know what they are talking about. Good examples might be: "Small CR123A-based light, under $100?," "Please explain different LED types to me," "Need a serious headlamp for caving," or "Aspherics $200 and less."
-- Also, in your post, try to make the first line as descriptive as possible. (thanks Kestrel)

- Explain your needs - Too many people come to CPF thinking they know what they want and they just give a laundry list of specs. Sometimes you really do know what you want. Sometimes you don't. But in either case, explain what you plan to use your light for, such as: "I need a flashlight for backpacking in Peru; I'll use it on trails at night and sometimes in bed for reading" -- then we'll know to steer you clear of barnburners and recommend practical lights that have good runtime and several output levels. There are many experienced people here who DO go out and use their lights whether for work or leisure, and they know what works and what doesn't.


Thirdly, the positively obscure:
- Never ask for the best - If you ask "What's the best" without specifying a budget or a classification, you will get recommendations for lights that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. It never ceases to fail. The OP gets mad, starts lashing out at posters, posters respond in kind, the thread gets closed and people get banned. Not a happy thing. It's better to ask, "What can I get for $100, I need the best throw I can get."

- Don't ask about Surefire versus another brand - It will inevitably start a flame war.


For posters/thread replies:
- Qualify yourself and your recommendation - If you recommend something, explain how your experience with it makes it worth the OP's time and money. I know this is hard to do over and over, but the OP will stand to gain so much more from it.

- Outlandish answers aren't useful - If an OP asks for a $100 light, do not recommend a $1000 light, unless it really does fit all his criteria. It's only funny once or twice.
 
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get-lit

Flashlight Enthusiast
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Amherst, NY
..don't post something unless you really think others will want to read it. ++Be as precise with thread titles as possible.
 

Databyter

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Oct 12, 2005
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Location
San Diego
Good thoughts, nice writeup, but it will get lost down in the back pages soon.

This post would be very useful for alot of folks, but unless it's made into a sticky it just wasted your time somewhat.

Of course there is always timely bumps when you see alot of the mistakes you mentioned happening.

Maybe this is the intent here.

Cheers!
 

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
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Location
Willamette Valley, OR
Use a descriptive thread title - You don't need a catchphrase or a leading question, or worse a completely ambiguous title such as "Somebody help me please," "Newbie question here," or "Looking for a flashlight" -- instead, focus on the basics, and summarize in a short phrase what you are looking for.
Adding to this, it is very helpful to use the first sentences or two of your initial post to provide a concise summary. This way, we can use the 'hover-text' feature from the subforum thread listing to get additional information about the thread without necessarily having to open it.

Hypothetical example:
Thread title: SureFire beam question

Viewable via mouse-over 'hover-text' of two potential thread beginnings:
"I know this has probably come up before, but when I was walking outside the other night, I started thinking about ... "
(and that's it - that's all that might be displayed)
or:
"How different is the beam profile of the new LX2 compared to the floodier L2 beam? Has anybody used both models ..."
Being one who has drank deep of the SureFire Kool-Aid, I often jump into 'easy' SureFire question threads if I think I can be of help. Which of the two above examples lets me know that I can be of assistance? I may not 'enter' the first thread, but you can bet your last Z41 tailcap that I will open the second example and post, because in this case I know I will be able to contribute towards answering the OP's question.

A similar recent example, someone posted a WTS thread in CPF/M with a thread title which didn't identify what items were being sold at all. Worse, when I placed my mouse pointer over the title, two sentences of boiler plate language came up (Paypal, CONUS, etc etc), with no additional information as to what items were actually for sale. I'm not going to spend my time opening a WTS thread that I can't even use the 'hover-text' for to find out anything about it.


Edit: and I'm surprised that this needs to be said, but please read the previous posts in the thread before posting a reply - quite often there is comparable information earlier in the thread.
 
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saabgoblin

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Nov 2, 2007
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Far side of crazy.
Good thoughts, nice writeup, but it will get lost down in the back pages soon.

This post would be very useful for alot of folks, but unless it's made into a sticky it just wasted your time somewhat.

Of course there is always timely bumps when you see alot of the mistakes you mentioned happening.

Maybe this is the intent here.

Cheers!
While the thread may eventually get lost, I have found that many of Carrot's posts have fueled some good food for thought and if that hits a few others, then I would say that the post is successful and hopefully it helps keep some traffic down for the Moderators.
 

scout24

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This, and several others, could perhaps be made into required reading as part of the registration process... :twothumbs I wonder if that is possible? Excellent points, Carrot. Thank you for putting them out there in your usual constructive, thoughtful style.
 

bansuri

Enlightened
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
885
Adding to this, it is very helpful to use the first sentences or two of your initial post to provide a concise summary. This way, we can use the 'hover-text' feature from the subforum thread listing to get additional information about the thread without necessarily having to open it.

Fantastic addition to a fantastic thread! The hover-over is either super-helpful or useless if the post starts with apologies or caveats.

Also, I wonder if people just feel that the thread title should be short or just a single line?
 

Mange

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Dec 3, 2009
Messages
7
Get familiar with the search function and use it. Lots of info has been asked many times over.


After finding this place I joined because of questions I had, but found every one of them in Search. This forum has a very good search function if you use it......:candle:
 

get-lit

Flashlight Enthusiast
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Jan 22, 2007
Messages
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Location
Amherst, NY
For thorough well-tought posts, you may want to type your response into Notepad or whatever text editor you prefer, spell check it, and then paste it and submit it when you are done composing it. That way, if there is some connection problem during the post, all is not lost. You can go back and paste it again.
 

Th232

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Dec 25, 2008
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Location
Sydney, Australia
Good advice here for newcomers, and a refresher for some others.

Out of curiosity, why was this moved from General Flashlight Discussion to here? It's been my observation that this area isn't frequented so much by those who'd benefit from the above advice.
 

kaichu dento

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Apr 5, 2008
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現在の世界
Carrot this is great! Could you add a section II in the first post about how responses can help the OP and not hinder their search.

A couple of extremely bad examples here are shown when it's obvious that even though a thread might be opened with a clear request only to have posters respond with their own personal preferences or to call the OP ignorant for wanting what he has asked for.

A classic example would be someone asking for a nice small one cell light for under $100, only to have posts suggesting they need an LS27, Stinger or 007 because they are the lights that will serve best.

Hope this becomes a sticky.
 

cordlessmart

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Joined
Apr 1, 2010
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i cant get rid of errors like.

cordlessmart, you do not have permission to access this page. This could be due to one of several reasons:

  1. Your user account may not have sufficient privileges to access this page. Are you trying to edit someone else's post, access administrative features or some other privileged system?
  2. If you are trying to post, the administrator may have disabled your account, or it may be awaiting activation.
 

jag-engr

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Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
292
Location
Arkansas, USA, Earth
i dont no if this is the right place to post this but i want the best ever 500+ lumen light that is very small takes one normal AA battery costs less than $15 and has at least a 5yr warranty which light should i get

...Just kidding! :grin2:

Carrot,

This is a great thread. Maybe the mods can make it required reading before someone is allowed to post, though I don't know how that would be implemented.

I'm going to link it in my sig line. Please let me know if you have any objection to this.

JAG
 
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