The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Research questions

simonsresearch's picture

Research questions


I previously posted about an upcoming project that I am working on. This will be a research paper that analyzes what a post or recipe in this forum looks like and what makes it useful for the community. 

I would like to send out a set of questions that will help me analyze how posts are done right now, and get information on how you guys like to see in a post, as well as what you include in your own posts.

It would be amazing if as many people participate so I have more information to work with for my paper. The questions are not that many and they will not be long. 

If you are interested please send me a message through the forum or to my email which is so I can send you the questions that I need for the research. 

Hope to hear back from you guys and wish you all a nice day. 


pmccool's picture

There are a number of different "types" of posts that we see on TFL fairly often:

  • The "plea for help" post.  This may take several different forms.
    • "What went wrong with my bread?"
    • "What kind of (mixer/oven/mill/whatever) should I buy?"
    • "Where can I find a specific ingredient?"
    • "What would be a suitable substitute for _______, since I can't find that in shops in my area?"
  • The "I just found something cool!" post.  It might be about a technique, a type of bread, a piece of gear, a video, a recipe, etc.
  • The "Here's what I've been up to, lately" post.  These are most often in an individual's blog, rather than in one of the forums.
  • The Community Bake post.  Usually about a member's participation in, or a question regarding, one of the Community Bakes that happen periodically here.
  • The "Let me just tell you poor, benighted souls how it's really done" post.  Oddly, these usually come from first-time posters and I don't understand why anyone would want to lead with that.  Especially if the post contains inaccurate information or is about a topic that has been covered in depth (and often better) previously.
  • Of course, any of the above usually generate anywhere from a few to a massive number of response posts.  Those can be, and often are, all over the map; which is more often good than not. 

There are probably other types, but those are types that I see fairly consistently.

So, when you ask what people like to see in a post, that's a very open-ended question.  You may want to specify the type of post you are interested in, or you may want to tailor your inquiry to allow people to respond to different types of posts, since the responses will vary with the type of post the respondent has in mind.  That's up to you, of course, since this is your project. 

One other thing to note: TFL is a global community.  That has two effects.  First, if the OP does not specify their location, a number of the responses they get won't be useful; since both the OP and the respondents are basing their queries/statements on an unspoken assumption that the other party shares their regional context.  Second, some things (ingredients, climate, available technology, etc.) aren't translatable to, or don't have equivalents in, other parts of the globe.  Example: I presently live in rural Michigan, in the U.S.  I don't have tandoor ovens or Indian flours or tropical climate or tree-ripened mangoes.  Conversely, someone living in Chennai, India, won't have U.S.-style ovens or U.S. flours or temperate climate or maple syrup.  We can converse with each other about baking in general terms but I don't know what I must to be a help to them with specific issues, nor they me.  We are, literally and figuratively, a world apart.  We need to be aware of that, preferably at the outset of any interaction.

Best of luck with your project.  If I can provide further useful input, please let me know.


happycat's picture

If you are doing research at a university, you need to obtain ethics approval from your university and post an approved description of your work, aims, and intended usage of data, and gather informed consent from each participant before collecting data which also explains how to withdraw consent and remove their data.

You also need to disclose your institution name and supervisor name and ethics review contact, and you really should explain the course or project and its purpose and implications. If this is a major course assignment, your prof should really arrange some kind of ethics permission based on an agreed or reviewed protocol.

It's one thing to analyze existing posts on a public forum as some kind of rhetorical exercise. It's quite another thing to interact with users and solicit new data to create a research product.

Ethics rules were put in place because of decades of horrific abuse of people in the name of research.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is also important. We try to avoid political and religious statements. Neutral ground.  We want to be supportive as well when it comes to baking pleasure and frustration in baking.

  •  There are the supportive posts that share feelings and inspire future bakes.  Positive feedback.

You have to admit that sharing photos is a great way to communicate and a good source of inspiration.  Sometimes we get our lines of communication "crossed" but we try to be mannerly.

We do enjoy each other's posts and bakes photos of the good, the bad and the ugly.  A little humor is also good for the soul.

  • There are posts under testing recipes for published and not yet published baking books.
  •  Discussions about "what if...?"  Experiments.