If you're asking the question you brought up in the middle there, how to get users to ask better questions and vote, then here's my opinion as a Drupal noob:
For the first part, a newcomer may not know Drupal (/PHP/database) terminology, and it can all seem a bit daunting. The FAQ is very general, and I feel leaves out some points. For example:
- Be descriptive but concise with your title - it is your "selling point". Don't be too vague, try to mention the particular area you're having a problem with (e.g. "I get an error message" is too vague, but "Error when using Date in CCK" is both concise and descriptive).
- List the version of Drupal you use, and the relevant modules (as a newbie, it's easy to forget to include this, and I'm sure it's frustrating for an expert if they have to ask - plus it slows the process).
Perhaps even something along the lines of - don't worry if you can't use correct terminology, be as descriptive as possible in your post.
As for the second part, I've noticed (and mentioned in meta before) that users replying do seem to assume that users have more knowledge than they actually do.
As an example (and I mean no disrespect to anyone - I greatly appreciate all help offered and respect the superior knowledge of users here!), I recently asked a question and the first reply stated that CCK comes with a module that I could switch on and would provide the required functionality. I could not find this module, and the reason for this (as pointed out by another user) was that I needed the alpha version of CCK to gain this functionality. I had mentioned in my post that I was using the latest stable release, so the reply wasn't really helpful. Furthermore, the module threw up errors. When I mentioned these in reply, the OP told me that this is an error with the module (yes, the one he suggested I use!) and was beyond the scope of this site, suggesting I go and post on drupal.org! Surely the point of this site is to help people with issues, not point them towards the Drupal site? My reason for being here is that I can't stand the layout of the Drupal forum and I find people rather unfriendly and unhelpful over there - if anyone bothers to reply at all! (The user did go on to tell me it's a known issue and link to the page, but I don't use Linux and don't know how to use a patch - again something that makes the Drupal site feel rather unfriendly to beginners - assuming you know how to!)
So my suggestions to the experts when posting:
- READ the original post thoroughly, and ensure you give a relevant reply (check what module version the user is using, for example)!
- Assess the user's abilities. If they're a newbie, remember what it was like when you started. Explain things clearly (e.g. "x module will do what you want" isn't as helpful as explaining HOW it will help).
- Remember that users are probably here because they want an alternative help system to drupal.org. Try to avoid just referring them to that site wherever possible.
I'm finding Drupal very daunting and frustrating. It would probably have been quicker to design a site in PHP from scratch than to learn how to use Drupal as I want! There are situations where I know there would be a simple solution in PHP, or that a simple SQL query can do what I want, but it seems to be hard or near impossible to accomplish in Drupal! What I'm looking for in a site like this as a newbie is clear explanations given in a friendly manner. Sadly, sometimes the answers I receive only add to the depression that Drupal causes!!
As for rating, I am of course happy to rate, but I don't want to annoy those who are giving answers by rating their answer as unhelpful, and get no answer! And if I don't get an acceptable answer, I can't mark it as solved. So I guess the answer to that question is that it's only possible to mark solved if acceptable answers are provided... which I appreciate isn't always possible. As for answering questions, they're all above my head, so I respect anyone who can!
I just tried to vote down an answer to one of my own questions, only to be told I need 125 reputation to do so. There's no hope in hell that I'll ever be able to answer someone else's question, so I don't see how I'll ever be able to get that sort of reputation (I'm on 28). This reputation system and the way the site requires certain reputation levels to be able to do basic tasks is very unfriendly, and is going to put off newbie users.
I now feel that there's no way I can participate here if I'm not even allowed to state that I was unhappy with an answer to my own question.