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Article: "Hi jackasses, RTFM and stop wasting our time trying to help you children learn."

 
 
Danno
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      04-19-2006
Just saw this interesting opinion article about how abusive Linux snobs
are to Linux newbies who want to give the OS a chance. I hope no one
here ventures into that much rudeness when it comes to java. Almost
everyone here from Roedy, Patricia, Oliver, Hawtin, Chris are pretty
decent to newbies here and get them the answer they need. As a founder
of my local jug, I try to make it important to let beginners in, and
don't "over-tech" them as much when they need answers.

Article link: Linux Snobs - Real Barriers to Entry
http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/snobsoped.shtml

 
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Monique Y. Mudama
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      04-19-2006
On 2006-04-19, Danno penned:
> Just saw this interesting opinion article about how abusive Linux
> snobs are to Linux newbies who want to give the OS a chance. I hope
> no one here ventures into that much rudeness when it comes to java.
> Almost everyone here from Roedy, Patricia, Oliver, Hawtin, Chris are
> pretty decent to newbies here and get them the answer they need. As
> a founder of my local jug, I try to make it important to let
> beginners in, and don't "over-tech" them as much when they need
> answers.
>
> Article link: Linux Snobs - Real Barriers to Entry
> http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/snobsoped.shtml


I don't think there's any call to be mean to people, but I find it
highly grating when someone shows up on a newsgroup (mailing list, web
board) and demands answers when they clearly have made zero effort
themselves.

If someone makes a polite request, I'm much more interested in helping
them.

I think this might be in part a cultural thing. I've noticed that a
lot of the posts that come off as incredibly rude or demanding seem to
be written by people for whom English is not the first language, and
who don't seem to live in the Americas or Western Europe. That group
also seems to favor using textspeak abbreviations ('u' for 'you', '2'
for 'to', etc), which seems to drive a lot of people up the wall,
fairly or not.

--
monique

Ask smart questions, get good answers:
http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
 
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Monique Y. Mudama
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
On 2006-04-19, Monique Y. Mudama penned:
>
> I don't think there's any call to be mean to people, but I find it
> highly grating when someone shows up on a newsgroup (mailing list,
> web board) and demands answers when they clearly have made zero
> effort themselves.
>


Since one of the links from the article criticizes the link in my sig:

Look, you can do whatever you want to do. It's just that if you
follow the suggestions that in the "smart questions" document, you are
*far* more likely to get an answer (or even better, answer the
question yourself, in the meantime learning a lot that will serve you
well in the future). A person can rant and rave about how it's
unfair, but in the end, that's not going to help them get an answer.
Following the instructions in the "smart questions" document *will*.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the "teach a man to fish"
approach.

Also, there seems to be an underlying assumption in all of these
articles that we *should* want more users. Why? A lot of linux users
worry that linux will pander to the inexperienced user and become just
as (insert whatever negative here) as windows. There are always a
handful of experienced users in any discussion group who will bend
over backwards to help a newbie, provided that the newbie shows
initiative and the willingness to absorb some knowledge, not just get
the job done. Is that so wrong? When I'm donating my own spare time,
don't I have the right to decide who I should help and who I can
ignore? (I'll admit that's different from actively insulting people.)
If anything, I find that if someone irrationally insults a newbie,
someone else appears to try to help the newbie, even if they hadn't
participated in the discussion beforehand.

I also think there is a big difference between helping someone use an
operating system and helping someone use a language. People use
operating systems all the time without fundamentally understanding
what's going on. They're users. But if you're asking about a
programming language, that's different.

It's the difference between the expectations one would have from a
homeowner vs. a builder or architect.

--
monique

Ask smart questions, get good answers:
http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
 
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Roedy Green
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      04-19-2006
On 19 Apr 2006 09:04:01 -0700, "Danno" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote, quoted or indirectly quoted someone who said :

>
>Article link: Linux Snobs - Real Barriers to Entry
>http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/snobsoped.shtml


We had a very knowledgeable guy in our PC club. If ever asked a
question he would go on for at least 30 minutes. The questioner had in
mind most of the time a couple of sentences for a reply. I used to
host the Q&A session and tended to that mode myself, looking on my
answers more as entertainment for everyone than specific help for the
questioner.

You have to remember we are neotenous apes, and much of our
conversation has an undertone of dominance hierarchy. As we are
expounding technically, we are also displaying like a prairie chicken
or dominating. Knowledge of some esoteric realm is a great way for an
otherwise low status ape to impress his fellows. Much question
answering is a form of hazing.

It is a bit silly when a novice asks to learn esoteric knowledge and
is told he is stupid for not knowing it already. He is clearly working
to rectify the situation.

It is a very old game. Knights used to laugh at their squires when
they did not know the complete set of venery rules (brace of
pheasants). See http://mindprod.com/jgloss/collectivenouns.html
--
Canadian Mind Products, Roedy Green.
http://mindprod.com Java custom programming, consulting and coaching.
 
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Oliver Wong
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      04-19-2006

"Danno" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) oups.com...
> Just saw this interesting opinion article about how abusive Linux snobs
> are to Linux newbies who want to give the OS a chance.


One of my more memorable experience with "Linux snobs" was when I had
asked help for a networking driver. I had downloaded a driver off the
internet, put it on a floppy diskette, loaded it onto the linux machine, and
then checked out the readme. It said to compile the drivers using "gcc"
followed by 3 lines worth of command line arguments (at around 80 characters
per line, that's 240 characters worth of command line arguments).

So I type in the command exactly like I see it (except I ignored the
newlines, and uses spaces instead), only to have gcc tell me that one of the
flags I provided (e.g. "-foo") was no longer supported. There was no
suggestion of what flag I should use instead, and simply omitting the flag
yielded even more cryptic and dangerous sounding error messages.

So I during that period (a couple of years ago, while I still had the
exact command line I entered, and the exact error messages I got), whenever
I found out someone was an "experienced" Linux user, I'd ask them if they
knew how to solve my problem. One of the answers I got was "If you're too
stupid to use a compiler, you shouldn't be using Linux."

Now here's the real shocker: this wasn't in an online newsgroup or
mailing list. He had said this to me, in person, to my face. We were both
computer science students at the same university, attending the same class.
In fact, he was my partner for a project in which we were writing a RPG in
Java. I had designed the finite state machine interfaces that he had to
implement to allow for the transition between my "overworld map" engine to
his "monster battle" engine. We got the highest grade possible for the
project (an A). Either he was saying that for all compilers, I was too
stupid to use them (and thus too stupid to use Linux); or he was saying that
if there exists a compiler for which I am too stupid to use, I would also be
too stupid for Linux. Both interpretations didn't make sense to me.

I was stunned by his response, so our conversation had ended there. The
next days, we'd continue to meet up and work on the project, but we never
brought up the topic of Linux again.

>
> Article link: Linux Snobs - Real Barriers to Entry
> http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/snobsoped.shtml


This article links to a blog entry in which someone claims that people
who say "RTFM" do so because they don't know the answer and wish to sound
smart. In my experience, when someone doesn't know the answer, they tend to
simply not respond, letting someone else give it a stab. Every now and then
in this group, you'll see someone ask a very obscure question, and they
receive zero responses; I suspect because no one knows the answer.

The article also links to other sites which criticize Eric Steven
Raymond, and from that, infer that the "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way"
document (http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html) is "bad". This
is known as an "ad hominem" attack, and is a logical fallacy. I've read the
smart-questions document, and while I don't agree with everything it says, I
believe that a person who blindly follows the rules there will probably get
better results than a person who willingly breaks all of the rules. I'm NOT
saying that I know Eric Raymond personally, and he's a great guy, and that
all those bad things said about him are lies. In fact, I had never even
noticed who the author of the document was until reading the above article,
and the sites it links to. I've never met Eric Raymond. I'm just saying
regardless of Mr. Raymonds personality, the document, overall, has some good
advice.

Every now and then I get surprised by what people find insulting.
Someone asked me for advice on building a custom computer (not physically
building it; rather selecting the components and having it pre-built). She
showed me the specs she was considering. I knew that all she never plays any
games at all on her computer; not even solitair or hearts. So I told her she
didn't need the $300 3D accelerator video card she had listed (this was back
in the days before Vista, so OS UIs were strictly 2D), and onboard video
would be sufficient. For some reason, she took this as an insult, I guess
because I was implying that she wasn't "worthy" of the video card. She
complained, and pointed out that I had an expensive video card in my
computer (I *do* play games, like Fable, Doom 3, etc.), and accused me of
treating her like an inferior. So I told her she's free to do whatever she
wants with her money, but that she had came to me for advice, and my advice
is to not buy that video card.

- Oliver

(Yeah, she bought the video card in the end; and she still doesn't play
computer games.)

 
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Martin Gregorie
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
Monique Y. Mudama wrote:
>
> I don't think there's any call to be mean to people, but I find it
> highly grating when someone shows up on a newsgroup (mailing list, web
> board) and demands answers when they clearly have made zero effort
> themselves.
>
> If someone makes a polite request, I'm much more interested in helping
> them.
>

Agreed. One thing that's guaranteed to make me to ignore the post is if
it ends with any variant of "[please] answer immediately".

I'd suggest that, please or no please, that is rude in any culture or
language unless it comes from one of your bosses.


--
martin@ | Martin Gregorie
gregorie. | Essex, UK
org |
 
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Monique Y. Mudama
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
On 2006-04-19, Martin Gregorie penned:
>>

> Agreed. One thing that's guaranteed to make me to ignore the post is
> if it ends with any variant of "[please] answer immediately".
>
> I'd suggest that, please or no please, that is rude in any culture
> or language unless it comes from one of your bosses.
>


One thing that's often annoying to experienced participants, but
probably seems perfectly reasonable to the person asking for help, is
a request to answer by personal email, rather than on the list. They
may even feel they are helping to reduce traffic.

Most experienced posters prefer to keep things on-list. One, it
relieves them of the burden of feeling obligated to follow the
question to its bitter end. Two, it gets more eyes on the problem as
well as the proposed solution. Three, typically the conversation is
archived so that it is searchable on the web, allowing others to
search on the question and find an answer without ever needing to ask.

Personally, if someone asks for an email response, I simply ignore the
post. They're probably not checking back with the group, and I'm not
about to get involved by emailing them personally. (Maybe this is
akin to "not making eye contact" with people you expect to be pushy or
off-balance.)

--
monique

Help us help you:
http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
 
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Roedy Green
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
On Wed, 19 Apr 2006 14:35:51 -0600, "Monique Y. Mudama"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote, quoted or indirectly quoted someone who
said :

>Personally, if someone asks for an email response, I simply ignore the
>post


The other problem is more often than not, the email will bounce.

Discussion is for the benefit of everyone.
--
Canadian Mind Products, Roedy Green.
http://mindprod.com Java custom programming, consulting and coaching.
 
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Roedy Green
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-19-2006
On Wed, 19 Apr 2006 19:25:14 GMT, "Oliver Wong" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote, quoted or indirectly quoted someone who said :

> She
>showed me the specs she was considering.


Nearly always the person is not really asking advice. They just want
your stamp of approval on what they have already decided to do. That
way they can blame YOU if it does not work out.

This reminds me of something I discovered about human nature. I was in
charge of acquiring a large number of microfiche viewers for the BC
Hydro gas division. I thought it would be useful to ask all the
vendors to bring their models in for a day so we could test them side
by side, and the people who would actually use them could try them out
and vote on them.

To my surprise the clear winner was the most expensive model, even
though it was quite average in every respect I could see. My boss
said, "You made a big mistake, Roedy. You should not have posted the
prices on them. People automatically vote for the most expensive."
Naively, I expected users to factor in value to their choice, or at
least to go for the highest quality.

I later discovered that as a computer retailer there were people who
always wanted the most expensive of everything, even when the quality
was worse or when the extra cost features were useless to them. I
particularly remember one guy just about heart broken when he had to
settle for the second most expensive monitor simply because most
expensive ones were out of stock.

Stereo shopping for me was always a frustrating experience. I want
one with almost no controls. I like to operate it in the dark. Stereo
salesmen were always trying to sell gimmicky features that would just
get it the way of routine use.
--
Canadian Mind Products, Roedy Green.
http://mindprod.com Java custom programming, consulting and coaching.
 
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Danno
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-20-2006

Oliver Wong wrote:
> "Danno" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> news:(E-Mail Removed) oups.com...
> > Just saw this interesting opinion article about how abusive Linux snobs
> > are to Linux newbies who want to give the OS a chance.

>
> One of my more memorable experience with "Linux snobs" was when I had
> asked help for a networking driver. I had downloaded a driver off the
> internet, put it on a floppy diskette, loaded it onto the linux machine, and
> then checked out the readme. It said to compile the drivers using "gcc"
> followed by 3 lines worth of command line arguments (at around 80 characters
> per line, that's 240 characters worth of command line arguments).
>
> So I type in the command exactly like I see it (except I ignored the
> newlines, and uses spaces instead), only to have gcc tell me that one of the
> flags I provided (e.g. "-foo") was no longer supported. There was no
> suggestion of what flag I should use instead, and simply omitting the flag
> yielded even more cryptic and dangerous sounding error messages.
>
> So I during that period (a couple of years ago, while I still had the
> exact command line I entered, and the exact error messages I got), whenever
> I found out someone was an "experienced" Linux user, I'd ask them if they
> knew how to solve my problem. One of the answers I got was "If you're too
> stupid to use a compiler, you shouldn't be using Linux."


Damn!

>
> Now here's the real shocker: this wasn't in an online newsgroup or
> mailing list. He had said this to me, in person, to my face. We were both
> computer science students at the same university, attending the same class.
> In fact, he was my partner for a project in which we were writing a RPG in
> Java. I had designed the finite state machine interfaces that he had to
> implement to allow for the transition between my "overworld map" engine to
> his "monster battle" engine. We got the highest grade possible for the
> project (an A). Either he was saying that for all compilers, I was too
> stupid to use them (and thus too stupid to use Linux); or he was saying that
> if there exists a compiler for which I am too stupid to use, I would also be
> too stupid for Linux. Both interpretations didn't make sense to me.
>
> I was stunned by his response, so our conversation had ended there. The
> next days, we'd continue to meet up and work on the project, but we never
> brought up the topic of Linux again.
>
> >
> > Article link: Linux Snobs - Real Barriers to Entry
> > http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/snobsoped.shtml

>
> This article links to a blog entry in which someone claims that people
> who say "RTFM" do so because they don't know the answer and wish to sound
> smart. In my experience, when someone doesn't know the answer, they tend to
> simply not respond, letting someone else give it a stab. Every now and then
> in this group, you'll see someone ask a very obscure question, and they
> receive zero responses; I suspect because no one knows the answer.


I actually take pride in saying "I don't know". Not here on USENET of
course, since that would just waste bandwidth. I just don't like the
idea of having bullshitting someone so they can take that info and
waste their time with it.
>
> The article also links to other sites which criticize Eric Steven
> Raymond, and from that, infer that the "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way"
> document (http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html) is "bad". This
> is known as an "ad hominem" attack, and is a logical fallacy. I've read the
> smart-questions document, and while I don't agree with everything it says, I
> believe that a person who blindly follows the rules there will probably get
> better results than a person who willingly breaks all of the rules. I'm NOT
> saying that I know Eric Raymond personally, and he's a great guy, and that
> all those bad things said about him are lies. In fact, I had never even
> noticed who the author of the document was until reading the above article,
> and the sites it links to. I've never met Eric Raymond. I'm just saying
> regardless of Mr. Raymonds personality, the document, overall, has some good
> advice.
>
> Every now and then I get surprised by what people find insulting.
> Someone asked me for advice on building a custom computer (not physically
> building it; rather selecting the components and having it pre-built). She
> showed me the specs she was considering. I knew that all she never plays any
> games at all on her computer; not even solitair or hearts. So I told her she
> didn't need the $300 3D accelerator video card she had listed (this was back
> in the days before Vista, so OS UIs were strictly 2D), and onboard video
> would be sufficient. For some reason, she took this as an insult, I guess
> because I was implying that she wasn't "worthy" of the video card. She
> complained, and pointed out that I had an expensive video card in my
> computer (I *do* play games, like Fable, Doom 3, etc.), and accused me of
> treating her like an inferior. So I told her she's free to do whatever she
> wants with her money, but that she had came to me for advice, and my advice
> is to not buy that video card.
>
> - Oliver
>
> (Yeah, she bought the video card in the end; and she still doesn't play
> computer games.)


 
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