Suggestions for new members seeking help

twelvegauge(8)May 30, 2009

If you stumbled across this site from a Google search, and are planning to ask for help with your lawn tractor, here are a few suggestions from a long-time member (10 years, under various names):

1. Bookmark (add to Favorites) this site; it appears that some new members post a question and get responses asking for more info about the problem, but can't find their way back to the site.) It's discouraging to try to help somebody who never checks back in.

2. When you sign up, check mark the box that allows emails to you through Garden Web; I've never had a probem with getting spammed as a result of this. Sometimes responders prefer to contact you directly.

3. Keep in mind that saying an engine problem with a John Deere (or whatever) doesn't tell forum members what brand of engine you have. If your Craftsman won't start, the problem is likely to be Briggs & Stratton or Kohler or Tecumseh related. Lawn tractor manufacturers don't manufacture the engines they install Same goes for transmissions.

4. FULLY describe the problem. Saying "My Craftsman engine won't start" doesn't give potential responders as much as a HINT as to what the problem might be. If you will say "The 13-HP Kohler Command engine on my Craftsman will crank and fire sometimes, but will not start" then we've got something to go on.

5. Tell us what repairs you've attempted (and, by the way, don't start turning the adjustment screws on the carburetor as the first item.)

6. If the engine suddenly died and won't restart, describe the conditions under which it died ("It was running fine, mower blades engaged, and suddenly died clean - no rough-running or engine stuttering first." Or "The engine was running smoothly, but when I engaged the blades, it died and won't restart.)

7. If you don't know a socket wrench from an Ohmmeter, just take your machine to the repair shop.

I recently contacted a long-time member who always gave clear and concise advice, and asked him why he quit posting. He said that he was tired of answering questions that had answered many times before (and can be found with a site search), posters not describing the problem, and posters not following up when given advice or asked for an explanation of the problem Too bad - he was a guy who could get you back in the tractor seat again.

I don't mean to sound cranky here, but I've tried to get further information from folks who posted a question on the same day they signed up with the forum, only to never get a response ... this has happened repeatedly.

There are any number of knowledgeable members here who are willing to help out ... but we've got to understand the problem, YOU need to provide further information when requested, and you should have at least some mechanical skills and tools to go with; otherwise, your local tech is your best bet.

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amen and amen.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 7:48PM
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and amen from my corner too. These "one hit wonders" certainly don't understand about showing a little courtesy to the forum members at large for trying to help with problems. Do they think they are getting answers from a "paid staff" somewhere or what. If not for the dedication of longtime members who enjoy helping other folks, this forum could not exist. Or has the "custom" of extending thanks died out in the "modern world" where people have come to expect "instant gratification" without showing any gratitude?? To be fair, a large percentage of people seeking help here DO ACKNOWLEDGE the help offered. BUT, the others are so blatant or nonchalant about updating the forum members of "success", or "failure", or "I burned the dang thing up after pouring gas on it and striking a match to it". The main purpose of this forum (or other forums) is to attract readers so they can be exposed to pitches and advertising of sponsors who pay for this advertising. Just as the management (owners) of the forum want to attract a lot of readers to see these ads, the long time members and contributors also have a few "wants". Mainly, I believe we want people to come here and be prepared to interact with other members in a courteous fashion. We also expect people to graciously accept questions that members that members/contributors ask in reference to finding a solution to the problem they post about. We also expect people to understand that they need to post a follow up to any questions or suggestions offered to them. If people would do some of these simple, courteous things more often, not just this forum, but the world, might be a better place. (I just dreamed I wrote a speech of "Presidential magnitude") Harrr! :^)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 8:26PM
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larso1(So. CO Zone 5)

^^ +1 on all of the above. Not only is it courteous to give a followup post on the outcome, but it's an opportunity for all of us to learn from others' experiences, problems, and how they were addressed. That includes failure trends in certain engines and transmissions that might steer a prospective buyer in a different direction. Heck, I'll bet even Walt learns a thing or two sometimes,......OK, not much tho..LOL! I'll also say that most long time members of this forum will offer help on a problem even if it has been addressed before and could be found in multiple threads if the poster would only do a search. I visit a car marque forum that has long time members who have little patience for those who obviously have not attempted to do a search, and they let you know it in no uncertain terms and rough language. I don't like that behavior. I much prefer the tone of the members on this forum.:

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:31PM
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Yeah, I love those My xxxxx won't start. To answer those, you almost have to start with Is there gasoline in it? And go from there. Retired friend of mine does appliance repair, and he says that it's not uncommon to find a washer not plugged in or a circuit breaker tripped.

How many of you remember guys like Fish, KBeitz, TechDave, and Later, Butch? You could take their advice to the bank, but they've slowly dropped out.

At least twice recently I've thought I might be able to help a new member out, but they never came back to give the requested explanation of their problem. I think some of 'em simply forget where the site is ... or a neighbor comes over and reconnects the spark plug wire, and once everythings okay, they're gone.

I really appreciate the guys who come back and say "Here's what fixed the problem." That can be a big help to the next guy that has the same problem.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 1:20AM
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It always surprises me that this has to be said at all. I've never posted here, but am pretty active on other forums, but this happens all over. While the active members of any forum are usually very happy to help, most do expect the person asking the question to do a little homework first. Otherwise it just says that the asker's time is more valuable than the answer's time.

Whenever asking for assistance on ANY forum, please try searching first.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 9:58AM
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****"Otherwise it just says that the asker's time is more valuable than the answer's time."****
fritz monroe, that is the best "in a nutshell" summation of the facts I have seen. OUCH! and thanks for lending it to the forum.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 11:45AM
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Another good tip is to not label the thread "This piece of cr@p John Deere mulches terribly and is the worst mower in history" before you know that it is the mower's fault and not the operator.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 11:27AM
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I agree with most of the suggestions, although I think some posters are being too thin skinned about not getting a thanks or acknowlegement. It's nice by not that important.

Important, but overlooked, is the suggestion by "twelvegauge" to enable email on Garden Web. Garden Web uses an anonymizer so you won't be spammed.

I constantly see posts asked for an IPL or Manual for such-and-such. I have accumulated a collection over time on PDF, but I refuse to respond if someone doesn't have an email enabled. If they have email, I'll send what I have via PDF.

Just as an example, of the seven posters ahead of me to this post, only three have email enabled.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 11:58AM
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larso1(So. CO Zone 5)

"Important, but overlooked, is the suggestion by "twelvegauge" to enable email on Garden Web."

Yes, and a little background info in the (your) personal profile wouldn't kill a person either, LOL!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 12:26PM
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Yeah, look at what i wrote when i joined up here! And, ya know what?? I have never gotten any bad stuff through that, nor any scammers, or email problems, either!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 8:50PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Just a note from the other side of the room: thanks to all you guys that do try to help us old farts.

I, for one, am not an engine mech nor do I want to be one at my age, so these tips and help aids you guys provide for our little tractor problems that pop up from time to time are very much appreciated. At least from this old poster! Thank you guys, again.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 5:46AM
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I would like to add one more thing:

If you post to a forum wait a few days to see if you get and answer before posting it on another forum.

I have to wonder if the problem is folks that post to 5 different places, get an answer (and maybe even post a thank you on that forum)and forget all the other places they asked.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 10:53AM
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Did Snapper publish a "Consumer Products History" like the one John Deere has? I.E. a timeline of model numbers, features, and changes.
I'm trying to identify a "Snapper 928"?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 7:07AM
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As illustrated by the post above: Create YOUR OWN thread when you have a problem that you want to ask about. DO NOT "hijack" an existing thread!. If you want to make a remark or comment in an existing thread, that's fine. But DO NOT "hijack" an old thread by asking YOUR QUESTION in the thread simply because you see the brand of engine or tractor in the thread title. Please Do Read as many old threads as you like when you are researching a subject or problem. Then, if you need to "POP THE QUESTIONS", create YOUR OWN thread. Resurrecting a long dead, old thread (with 100 or more previous posts) by posting "brand new problem" will not get as good a response as creating your own new thread to ask the questions.
Follow-up posts by members who posed the opening questions, or new posts by members who wish to add to the thread by making comments are welcome, no matter how old the thread may be. Coming into an old thread as a new member, with unrelated questions or problems, is not going to garner a lot of interest. A brand new thread, however, usually gets the right attention.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 10:05PM
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bersh(NE PA)

One of the responders to this thread indicated that doing a site search before posting a thread is time saving. I agree, but was unable to find a way to do that search. How does one do a search of this site? Does one have to go to Google and pose the question or?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 2:20PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

There is a 'search' box at the top of the page to the right of the tool bar.
This is a good primer for new members and us old curmudgeons with short memories.As has been said, please do some homework before starting a new thread with something that has already been covered at length, as in 'how do I disconnect the the RIO switch?'or some inane question like 'which one is best?'How do we know which one you will like and fer cryin out loud don't start arguing if you get an opinion you don't like. Take what you want and leave the rest.
If you are not mechanically inclined, don't know the difference between a socket and a screwdriver (and have neither) why waste time coming here asking how to change a spark plug or air filter? Take it to a shop. OTOH if you are a noob or an old faht with a real dome scratcher and are genuinely interested, welcome aboard but do some research first. If you don't find what you are looking for, ask away. Somebody will have an answer or at least know where to look.
A recent poster on the lawnmower forum has been wasting everyone's time with multiple threads on basically the same subject. Most people are now ignoring him hoping he will get bored and go away.
Just my rant.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 3:03PM
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I can't say how everybody else's screen appears to them, but on my browser (IE), there are two search options available on the Tractor Forum home page. The first option is at the top of the page that I see.
The second option is at the bottom of the Tractor Forum home page below the list of threads. I also don't know if everybody uses the same portal to get to the Tractors Forum as I, so what I am saying, along with the two "screen shots" of what I see.......may be different.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 5:55PM
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Dang, Mownie - that was SLICK!

Bersh, don't let us run you away. By the question you've posed, you've demonstrated that you want to go about getting help in the right way. This whole thread was NOT intended to scare anybody off ... its aim is to help folks get the best and most complete answer. Getting the best answer STARTS with identifying the equipment and fully explaining the problem, and that's the point I was trying to make.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 11:30PM
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That's right! We don't want to run anybody off at all, we just want to let prospective members and posters know that there are a few "self help" features and tricks to using the forum (and heaven knows I'm not the expert on that, but I've learned a thing or two.....maybe). We really enjoy helping folks their stuff. We just don't jump in the car and head over to their house with a bunch of hand tools and fix it for them :^)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 12:21AM
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