Why are people asking the same questions over and over again? (Or the Regulars' Chatroom) 🤷

I’m just wondering, over the last weeks i noticed people asking for help with their motion sensor controlling lights?

i am just getting a bit tired of answering the same question over and over again…

Why don’t people hit the search button??
I know this:
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…but it is getting a bit ridiculous…

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All of the ‘Best Hits’ rolled into one post:

Hi I am new so please go easy on me. I am very angry because I have spent hours searching everywhere but can’t find an answer. I have many years of IT experience and it shouldn’t be this hard. What’s wrong with the developers?

How do I <insert commonly asked question here>?

BTW, this isn’t a rant.
Thx


@aceindy
I can empathize with how you feel but I don’t know if there’s a simple solution. My impression is that some users learn about Home Assistant exclusively from what they see in the UI, not what they can read in the official documentation (let alone the community forum).

For example, I think the Numeric State Trigger’s behavior is properly explained, in the official documentation and in the UI, yet it’s a regularly reported problem due to a commonly held misunderstanding of its operation.

Another common misconception is that an automation waits for a condition to become true. How one arrives at that conclusion puzzles me because I can’t find anything in the documentation that even hints that it works like that.

That’s why I sometimes ask the user what led them to their conclusion about how something works. Sometimes it’s simply due to making assumptions and not the fault of documentation or examples (which they never tried to referenced). Not sure how to fix that.

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I also don’t know ‘how to fix it’…i guess it is un-solvable (as the picture shows).

But i do know that new users come in waves, and as they evolve, they end up at the same point where the experienced are now, They just stop responding (at least a lot less, as it becomes a never ending story). At least that goes for me, as i grow tired of it….what i often do is post a link to a previous post which has a solution, and leave it at that…

To me, i looks like all questions have been asked and answered, just need to search…

And that brings me on another topic, hardly anyone knows how to search :thinking:

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The search is not always easy. I hear your frustration here and get it. But when I’m searching, that it hits hundreds of topics, that you click and it doesn’t land on that particular message you were looking for, some give up (I’m trying my best to not be one of them) and create their topic, adding to the hundreds of results.

But worst (in my opinion) are the ones who are coming on a old and/or closed topic with a new question or disproving the post marked as solution.

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the earliest sighting of “rtfm” was approx 1983… and it’s still here today :slight_smile:

at some level it’s an unsolvable problem because of the nature of humans. docs have this tough balance between simplicity and depth. good docs is really hard. and “you don’t know what you don’t know” is a challenge for all of us.

homeassistant is getting easier and easier. it’s amazing how far it’s come. but configuring it it’s still best suited for someone who’s technically apt. lots of non-technical folks attempt, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the natural technical level that is optimial is higher than a meaningful percentage of folks who are actually configuring home assistant right now…

still, homeassistant will get better… i have faith!

Another common misconception is that an automation waits for a condition to become true. How one arrives at that conclusion puzzles me because I can’t find anything in the documentation that even hints that it works like that.

didn’t we already establish that people don’t read the documentation? so it matters not a whit if the documentation is clear about this or it isn’t. this is a matter of UI design. i believe calling it a “condition” is not the best choice. it falls in the real of “it’s clear enough to be understood, but not clear enough not to be misunderstood”… which is the tripping point of a lot of ui… that it CAN be understood, but that it doesn’t prevent misunderstanding… i believe in many people’s minds when they think about their automation, they don’t think “i want to do this when this trigger happens” i think they think “i want to do this on these conditions”… so the human language leads them to think about conditions as the trigger.

in this case, for example, if it were called “requirements”, i’d guess we’d have less of this issue… and in fact, if it were me, i would probably put it under a collapsable arrow so that it’s hidden by default.

ui design leads the behaviors because, as we establish, no one rtfm’s.

As always there rarely is one answer, it always is a combination of factors. And as said above, UX matters a lot. Some designs invite errors, some prevent them. But for automating, good UX is harder than most tasks.

Yes, some people are lazy and do not read the docs or do not search. But many do search and do read and still fail.

I too have problems finding things on the forum that I know are there. I guess mainly due to the fact that there are so many threads mentioning the same keywords.

And as for reading: many programmers are secure in formulating and reading, but most people are not. They read what they expect and do not notice that is not what the text actually says. They miss important keywords, such the significance of the word “crosses” in a state trigger. People will think: but it has crossed it, and do not realize that it matters that the moment has passed long ago. Many think “when” and “if” in automations are synonymous. They do not realize “when” is a designation of time, and “if” is not.

Last but not least, this is harder to interpret explanations in another language. Also at times translations in native languages are not precise, losing some of the significant distinctions.

So I try to be patient, and not assume laziness. But is is, and remains, hard not to get irritated about it.

unbelievable ROFL :joy:

Yes, that i’ve seen often too…

You forgot “It was working until the last update…”

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We should start collecting the shit… awesome :smiley:

Wait, what about “I followed a 3 year old YouTube video and it worked for him but not for me”?

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Don’t forget ChatGPT… :grin:

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Grammatically the word points to a moment in time. I cannot see how there can be any confusion. Even for non-native English speakers, I’d consider this basic vocabulary. If I say the whether is sunny, it means right now. There’s no waiting implied. If I say my condition is that I’m fit or healthy, it doesn’t imply a desire. It’s what’s true right now. It’s if, not when. Logically you won’t say: turn on my light if the sun sets. You say when the sun sets. That said, I think there were changes made to the UI automation editor to use wording like “and if” for conditions — yet some people complained about that. Don’t quote me: I don’t use the UI.

  1. Post holiday wave

  2. Post hardware launch wave

  3. Post “Ultimate HA set up guide” video wave

  4. Post cloud service shutdown wave

It’s almost like clockwork

I agree, but my gripe is the search box itself. If you search for two terms, the assumption is made that those words are consecutive, not that both needs to exist independently. You’re better off searching the forum from Google, generally speaking. Maybe there are forum search tricks I’m unaware of.

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The HA condition may be a little unusual in that its main function is to stop the automation if it is not true. Most people probably think in terms of continue if true…

It has improved a bit, but yes. Also links to generic topics are swamped by links to integrations for particular products.

Still, lets be positive. When I put a link to the docs in a post I usually come back to find several people have followed it. Which is a good thing. Isn’t it?

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and yet there is the confusion… so… i think empirical proof is on my side :slight_smile:

that’s UI design for you… “i don’t see how someone could misunderstand” is the trap of underestimating the nuances of good UI. if there’s a way to misunderstand ui, people will find it.

I’m not going to get into a contest of credentials. You can search me if you want.

At some point people have to learn too: home automation introduces concepts not usually seen elsewhere and it is technical by nature. I’m not against simplifying or clarifying, but there is a limit.

Maybe we need a collection of simpler stuff in Community Guides - or a new “Cookbook” category. To go back to the OP, @tom_l has done a post on this which deals with the question in a few lines:

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Natural language is not used the same way as programming languages are. No one takes everything literally. Most of the time that is a good thing, sometimes it is not.

When people ask you to pass the salt at dinner they will assume you’ll give them the the salt shaker too, not just what is in it. Technically speaking, that was not what was asked. To most people that is clear without them even thinking about it. But it shows people will automatically make assumptions about what is said. Those assumptions are based on how people view the situation. Assumptions that can be wrong if people lack experience with that particular situation.

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Home Assistant seems to be making efforts to enhance user-friendliness and accessibility, catering to individuals stepping out of their comfort zones. While it’s unfortunate that not everyone possesses the same level of expertise as some of the users in this community, it’s worth considering whether the repetitive nature of certain questions is due to user oversight or if it reflects shortcomings in the simplicity and accessibility of the documentation?
I acknowledge that the comment may sound somewhat provocative; I’m partially adopting a devil’s advocate stance. It’s important to recognise that there is no definitive right or wrong in this situation—just differing perspectives. :slight_smile:

Yes, I agree very much here. Although there are youtube videos, these do not always have the simplicity required for beginners.
Having mutiple clear examples, videos, and prebuilt automation examples.

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