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I'm having a computer issue and joined SuperUser looking for help after your site popped up in a search for tech help forums. I asked a question as a guest and received a couple of comments, so I'm thinking the place looks helpful, I sign up for an account.

Not that I'm complaining, but from observations so far...

First, I signed up using my Guest account, it creates a second account.
I also discovered I can't reply to the comments, so I post a reply as an answer, which was promptly frowned on and I got some rep detracted there.

Second, rather than focusing on my question, everyone starts focusing on my account mixup instead of my question.

Third, I fix the account issue and my question, which I tried to ask as clearly as possible, gets downvoted.

Fourth, I do a bit of research and find out

  1. I need 15 reputation to chat,
  2. downvoting removes reputation and it seems my effort spent trying to explain the complex issue as clearly as possible isn't worth anything because nobody pays serious attention unless you have something to offer,
  3. if I want a question answered I need Bounty which I obviously can't put up being I just arrived here and
  4. It doesn't look like I'm going to get any answers unless I have A,B or C.

I might just be one of those unlucky ones having a rare bad time, but all this while I'm still tackling an intricate tech issue with little useful help so far.

For newbies like myself, can you explain how we can get help when we don't have A, B, C or weeks to spend waiting for assistance? Here's the link to my question, if I'm doing something wrong, feel free to point out suggestions.

Recovering files when Windows 7 MBR has been corrupted

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    You should be able to respond to comments provided you're commenting with the same account as the account used to ask the question. That's why the comment suggestions to merge accounts were made. It does seem like you've been given some useful suggestions in comments and it didn't take weeks to get them. At the moment it looks like nobody's quite sure enough what's wrong or what you want to post an actual answer (just like I'm doing). If you can clear up their concerns maybe they will. Use @username to respond to commenters individually so they get notified. – Robert Longson Oct 2 '15 at 4:12
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    I understand the account issues and did strive to get it fixed asap. It did not let me comment at first, telling me I need 50 rep to do that, now it seems that restriction is lifted. Perhaps not the downvoting, but the deleting of the answer which I added to the OP as an edit did subtract 2 points. And getting an upvote apparently isn't as easy as it looks, with the dynamics here working against the new guys as I observe above. It's a big If that mostly seems to depend on how much time one has to spend browsing for stuff to answer or questions to ask. Do I ask questions just to get rep points? – xCare Oct 2 '15 at 4:19
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    I wouldn't try to ask questions just to get rep, that generally seems to backfire as it's hard to come up with a good question if you haven't a real itch to scratch. Answering the commenters e.g the one that said You haven't stated where data to be backed up is residing. is your best bet to get both answers and upvotes. Edit the question and indicate to the commenter via an @ comment that you have done so. – Robert Longson Oct 2 '15 at 4:23
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  • @Robert Longson, thanks for the input. That's why I'm asking ahead of time to familiarize myself and reduce these negative surprises. I did leave a @ comment to one of the commenters, no reply so far but I'll wait and see. I've noticed some knowledgeable tech guys when browsing questions, is there a way of contacting them directly? Also, is it allowed to post a specific @ handle in the body of a question and will it notify that person the same as a comment will? – xCare Oct 2 '15 at 15:21
  • You can only contact/respond to people who've already commented on your question. – Robert Longson Oct 2 '15 at 15:23
  • @DavidPostill, thank you for the question link, I gave it and the answer an upvote as it was very helpful and answered quite a few outstanding things I wanted to know. – xCare Oct 2 '15 at 15:24
  • @Robert Longson, ok, that answers my questions. Thank you. – xCare Oct 2 '15 at 15:27
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A) I need 15 reputation to chat

Indeed. But I don't think you need chat right now. You need the ability to comment and you need 50 reputation to comment. You will gain that privilege without the need of the 50 reputation on your own questions, from your own account. (By creating an account, you noticed that you need the reputation on other person's questions)

B) downvoting removes reputation and it seems my effort spent trying to explain the complex issue as clearly as possible isn't worth anything because nobody pays serious attention unless you have something to offer

If you have a decent question, it usually will get judged on its merits. If you use the site in a way that isn't allowed (by commenting using an answer for example), some people may downvote a valid question. I don't agree with it, but since voting is anonymous and to be judged by the voter, there is nothing you or me can do about that (besides upvoting it as I did)

C) if I want a question answered I need Bounty which I obviously can't put up being I just arrived here

No. Questions that can be answered usually will get an answer without a bounty. In some cases the answer is hard to give or there are not that many experts. A bounty might give you some advertisement time you need to get an answer.

D) It doesn't look like I'm going to get any answers unless I have A,B or C.

That would be a pitty but possible. Not every question can be answered or will be answered. If you try to make your question as clear as possible you might get an answer eventually.

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    Wrt what you said about A, I'm fairly certain that users can always comment on their own posts. – Shokhet Oct 2 '15 at 10:56
  • Yes, but the user accidentally created a new account. Clarified. – Patrick Hofman Oct 2 '15 at 10:57
  • Ah, I had forgotten that point. – Shokhet Oct 2 '15 at 11:05
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I started my obsession interest/participation in Stack Exchange nearly four years ago - November, of 2011.

I may have had a deleted question before then, as I know it was a painful learning process for me.

For newbies like myself, can you explain how we can get help when we don't have A, B, C or weeks to spend waiting for assistance?

The biggest thing to realize is that writing a good question is really, really hard. I found (too late to really help me) this blog post from an Stack Overflow legend quite helpful.

Once you learn to write a good question the biggest problem might come from - no one knows how to answer it! I have several VBA questions on Stack Overflow without answers. But... I am close to an expert in VBA myself, and it's a lower volume tag. Which means: not very many people who are similarly experts post there.

Focusing on one question instead of a shotgun "plz help me!" is another thing which is hard to realize. A Q/A site is not a "we can discuss back/forth until I get an answer!" thing. Your original question had five (!!) specific questions in it. All of which were distinct questions.

It's hard to get a good answer to a problem that has that many different actual questions.

Another thing to realize is everyone here is a volunteer. Too many new people come with an, "I posted a question, I deserve an answer!" attitude. Reality check: you don't, it's a bunch of volunteers.

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While I'm sure it's meant to be setup to prohibit spam and trolls, the system here at stack exchange invariably also is very much like a capitalist venture. You need Rep to make Rep.

If you want the privileges you're going to have to make this place your 'go to' when picking up your phone. Try to be fast and correct. Do research on people's questions and put in work work work to help others.

Asking clear and concise questions with screen shot and examples will get your question answered if possible.

Keep the subject as narrow as possible.

  • -1 for the first paragraph - you don't need rep to make rep. +1 for the rest. Overall - no vote :) – angussidney Oct 4 '15 at 9:36

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