How to encourage questions from readers

Skribit I got two suggestions in my Skribit widget.

Notepad++ ” by Anonymous. I had already posted on editor itself and extra on using FTP plugin . If you want more Notepad++ exploring from me please suggest specific sub-topic you are interested in. Done. :)

How do we encourage more people to use the skribit widget? ” by creative hedgehog . Now this one is really tricky because I am struggling with issue for a while. Skribit might be specific service but I start to draw some generalized thoughts on interaction with readers from it.

Nature of issue

Not sure I have it totally figured out but only tiny fraction of readers ask questions. So there are factors that must come together for that to occur.

Benefit

Asking question is an action that is supposed to benefit reader . But in what way asking question at some blog is better than using search engine or specialized service? It also takes blogger time to produce answer so there is no benefit of speed.

So readers ask questions:

  • when they can’t find answer elsewhere;
  • when they think blog will provide most complete and useful answer.

The more specific topics blog covers and the more thorough posts are – the higher is probability of visitors with questions.

Trust

Question without answer is wasted time. To make commitment of asking question and following blog until it produces answer certain level of trust is needed . Here lies the problem of increased interaction – readers with most trust (community) may consider their questions personal and aim them at blogger instead of blog.

Few times I had seen questions asked by my followers on Twitter … And if they are getting answers from me on Twitter why bother aiming those questions at my blog?

So best blogs for getting questions are probably those where aiming question to blog is either more obvious than (or equals to) aiming question at person behind it. Bright example AskTheAdmin.com – seeing URL alone is enough to get an idea that questions are welcomed there.

Method

Any method of submitting question is fine as long as it is method that reader likes . Skribit is service focused on getting suggestions but that doesn’t mean that communication should be limited to that.

Again those blogs that make communication look obvious and desired are probably more likely to get some questions together with that social interaction.

Overall

In my opinion if blog is far from being completely focused on working with questions from the start then it may be hard to add that element later . I am sure struggling with receiving suggestions. Not many of factors are under my control either.

My stance on this is making question option obvious and building trust and confidence that all of questions will receive answers .

Have something to add? Share your opinion in the comments.

To ask? Skribit widget in sidebar (or whatever method you find convenient) would be glad to accept it and pass on to me. :)

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10 Comments

  • @Brad

    You even had commented at that post. :) Well, happens.

  • I ran Skribit for quite a while and apart from a suggestion from yourself, I never got anything from it. I have noticed that I am getting more and more questions via EMail. Some of these questions have been so interesting that they ended up as posts on my blog. It does seem as if people are ‘shy’ to ask questions in ‘public’. Maybe we should encourage people with questions and/or suggestions to contact us in any way they prefer. Not quite sure on how this could be done though.

  • @Lyndi

    Yeah, that’s what I mentioned in post. After some time following blog people are more likely to simply send email personally than use Skribit or comments.

    It’s still a question and might be valid for a post no matter what method was used.

    I guess only way to encourage questions is to answer them as best as we can. :) Play on that “most complete and useful answer” motivation.

  • Hey Rarst,

    Thanks for the shout out and you hit it head on – if you answer the users questions (WELL!) and post them more people will ask questions. I get A LOT of my questions via email (Link at the top of http://www.askTheAdmin.com ) and about 20 a day from my digsby widget that hits me via IM.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions and I will do my best to answer them :)

    Karl aKa AskTheAdmin

  • @Karl

    Heh, you must have no trouble with topics for posts. My blog is relatively new so traffic and authority are not high enough to get tons of questions. I should try some IM widget, I briefly looked into Google Talk widget but it hadn’t worked too well.

    >Let me know if you have any specific questions

    I am pretty good at answering myself so I could use some questions. Maybe you could throw me few out of those “20 a day” some time. ;)

    By the way had you looked into Skribit widget? I wonder how effective it would be at questions-themed blog like yours.

  • @Brad

    I’ve briefly covered smileys issue
    https://www.rarst.net/web/blog-critique-results/

    I like text smileys, it’s hardcore. I think that if graphical smileys are used they should be custom designed to fit blog or it looks like crap.

    btw had you got my DM on twitter?

  • By the way, how do you get rid of those smilies in WordPress? Nevermind, it’s in Writing Settings. =]

    I also switched over to text smilies!

  • @Diego

    Yep, there are lost of nice settings in WordPress to choose. :)

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