I think it’s always going to be difficult for new users to decide whether or not they should start fresh or continue a post, because they lack the knowledge/experience to know if their issues are the same or different from what they’re reading. All they can do is interpret what others have written and take a guess. So you end up with some people jumping onto threads with different problems, and others starting new threads right next to other ongoing discussions about the exact same thing.
I’m not immune to this. I don’t have your technical skills, so I often can’t tell if the problem I’m trying to solve is directly related to a post I’m reading, and I sometimes can’t understand aspects of the discussion. If that’s the case, am I better off trying to explain everything in a fresh post, or tack onto an existing one so that the people I’m asking for help have context? I personally lean toward the latter approach.
I was also going to suggest closing old posts after they’ve been dormant for a period of time, but sometimes the value is engaging the people who were previously involved in the discussion and have a lot of context. With a new post, that doesn’t happen automatically. So, I’m not sure where the happy medium is.
In the end, I think the best thing we can do is be welcoming at every turn and understand that new users haven’t learned how to engage with this community. That enables us to coach them and help them gain confidence in being part of it. Otherwise, we run the risk of scaring people away because they worry more about being scolded and judged than being helped. The downside is that this requires a lot of patience, and patience wears thin when you feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over again.
As much as I want to protect new users, I also want to prevent dedicated folks like all of you from feeling like this is a burden. Your time and effort is valuable to this community, and hobbies should be fun.