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Question veiw count and waiting for answers.

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Scragmore on 16 Nov 2011
Commented: David Raveh on 24 Jan 2022
Question/suggestion. I would like to suggest, is it be possible to have a view count or some indication that our questions have been read.
I and I am sure many others are very grateful at the prompt and helpfulness of the many questions you answer on this forum. However on rare occasions a question goes unanswered. To those asking I am sure they are often important and urgent but it is not always clear why an answer is not forthcoming. Is it the wrong place to post, too trivial, is the expert in a different timezone or in bed.
I don't want to comment my own question, forcing it to the top of the forum as I feel that may be viewed as ungrateful and impatient. Is there a way to indicate a question has been read or a reason it may not be answered. What are your views on this.
Thanks for your time.

Answers (2)

Daniel Shub
Daniel Shub on 16 Nov 2011
but I am not sure a view count will really answer why it hasn't been answered. In general I think:
provides good hints as to why you might not be getting an answer.

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 17 Nov 2011
I don't think that a view count would help much, and it would probably make things worse.
True story: Somewhere around 1987, I was programming for a grad student; we were using another department's computer under the casual agreement that I would do some systems administration work on the system as time permitted. I was not being paid by the second department, so my highest priority was certainly the programming.
I was there late one night, head in the middle of complicated programs. Around 1:30 AM, one of the users dialed up and sent me an email message asking me to do something that was obviously not a high priority. If you've ever worked fixing and debugging quantum chemistry programs, you know that when you are in a grove, you keep going, because it might take hours to recover from a 5 minute distraction.
The user could see from the system activity list that I was logged in and working, and could tell from the email system that I had read the message. About 2:00 AM or so (yes, only about 1/2 hour later) the user sent me a huffy second message demanding to know why I hadn't already acted on his request: how dare I read his message and then ignore him !?!
So I interrupted myself, lost my train of thought, did the little task for the user and emailed the reply (the email composition taking longer than the task), then put my thoughts together and got back to work.
After the user's claims of dire urgency and upset that I had not acted immediately, the user did not log on again for more than 3 days. Some urgency, eh?
Now, no reasonable user would expected me to be online at that time of night, let alone expecting me to jump to make the small change for them. The trigger for the user reacting that way was that the user could tell that I had read the message -- and therefore my non-action "must" be due to having willfully ignored him. Lacking cues such as my sagging eyes and pale face and rumbling stomach and obvious preoccupation, his assumption was that I had nothing else to do of importance.
I learned my lesson well, that night, and since then on every email system I use, the first thing I do after creating the account is to turn off all the methods by which anyone might determine when I read any particular message.
I read every Question posted on this forum -- checking to see if it needs reformatting if nothing else. But reading a message is very different from having the time or inclination right then to think deeply about the question, research it, solve it, and write up the solution. If, for example, I wake up in the middle of the night with a stiff back, or because someone at home is doing something that is hard to sleep through, then I might only answer easy questions, perhaps being too foggy mentally to do anything more detailed.
Or when I am tired, I might choose to only answer questions with some but not a lot of challenge to them, knowing that other people will long on in due course and answer the easier questions. If the very experienced experts answer all the easier questions because they happen to see them early, then other people do not get to build up their skills and confidence and develop the habit of answering. And there is a limit on the number of times per week that I can show how to select a random row from a matrix before I burn out.
If no-one answers your question for a while... then you should just take it to mean that no-one has answered your question. There are numerous reasons why someone might have read your question but postponed answering or decided against answering.


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