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harisund
March 27th, 2006, 10:55 PM
Hello everyone

I understand one of the foremost reasons why Ubuntu is so popular, rank 1 in Distrowatch yadda yadda, is perhaps because of the forums.

You were a n00b once, and you have slowly progressed your way up along the ladder, and have reached a pretty decent level of proficiency with your os. You repeatedly surprise yourself as you learn something new day, and you wonder in amazement at the powers of Linux that you slowly unlock, hacking at it day by day.

And then you realize, after all since you were helped by others to begin, you would do good to post back in these forums to assist others out (all the time posting questions yourself too.) So you decide to start helping people out ..

Which brings me to my question. Then, do you ever, at one point, get frustrated? Everyday, well almost every hour, we see some basic question being repeatedly asked. Sudo being a case in point. Inspite of countless tutorials/articles on sudo in ubuntu, every hour there comes a new post on some forum on "it says access denied.. what do I do." Do you ever feel "Oh God. Not again." What is it that motivates you to still go ahead and help that guy out?

When ever I make a post, it is always under the assumption that every good deed is a reward in itself. A simple "thank you" makes you feel you have done your share for the hour, or for the day.

aysiu
March 27th, 2006, 11:00 PM
I almost felt, when reading your post, that the post was written directly to me.

I still, in many ways, consider myself a newbie, and yet I've spent the past ten months helping out new users like myself, and I don't get tired of it (as you can see from my bean count).

I believe in Linux, and I believe in Ubuntu. There are only so many ways one can contribute, and right now:

1. I don't have a lot of extra money--my wife is in school, so we're down to one income and a lot of debt.

2. I don't know how to program.

3. I haven't found too many bugs, but I have reported a couple of bugs to Bugzilla.

Mainly, the only thing I can really contribute is documentation and help.

If I've answered a question "too many times," I usually create a little entry on my website (http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu) for it.

If that explanation doesn't suit the situation, or if the original post-er can't understand all the directions, I'll do a bit of hand-holding, too.

Swab
March 27th, 2006, 11:00 PM
I think you are right a simple thank you is all that is required, or even an acknowledgement of your help. I do get a bit annoyed when I spend time replying to a request for help, and then get no reply from the OP.

aysiu
March 27th, 2006, 11:03 PM
I think you are right a simple thank you is all that is required, or even an acknowledgement of your help. I do get a bit annoyed when I spend time replying to a request for help, and then get no reply from the OP. A "thank you" is always appreciated, but even just a "that worked" is good to get. The worst is when you type out a long explanation about how to do something, and you never hear back from the OP--either that it worked or that it didn't work.

bradlis7
March 27th, 2006, 11:04 PM
Well, I do get tired of helping people out, just like I get tired of doing other stuff.

I'm a programmer, and most of my stuff done has just been a hobby since I'm in college without a job. I've found that I'll stick with a project for a little while, but I'll eventually get tired of it, and it'll end up remaining unfinished. For example, I have 2 projects on sourceforge, one is completely dead, and the other, I'm still doing some, but not much.

I've done the same with forums. I used to be very active on the gnomesupport forums, and that got old, then I was on Fedora forum while using fedora, but that got old as well. Now I'm here and on the drupal forums, but I don't think I'll stay around for a lot longer.

So yeah, I get tired. I've seen a lot of people who are well known, and I think stick around for a while, so I guess some people can do it. I think it has a lot to do with motivation, free time, and patience.

MetalMusicAddict
March 27th, 2006, 11:05 PM
I think you are right a simple thank you is all that is required, or even an acknowledgement of your help. I do get a bit annoyed when I spend time replying to a request for help, and then get no reply from the OP.

I was gonna ask about this very thing. I dont really need the acknowledgement, though it is nice. More what I want is the acknowledgement that the info I have given worked. Then, later, people reading the post will benifit from correct knowlege.

aysiu
March 27th, 2006, 11:10 PM
I was gonna ask about this very thing. I dont really need the acknowledgement, though it is nice. More what I want is the acknowledgement that the info I have given worked. Then, later, people reading the post will benifit from correct knowlege. Exactly! What good is typing everything out to have someone search for it months later and then wonder, "Does that even work? What happened?"

mstlyevil
March 27th, 2006, 11:13 PM
Exactly! What good is typing everything out to have someone search for it months later and then wonder, "Does that even work? What happened?"

I just post links to guides like yours most of the time. That way if they do not answer back, I did not have to type out the instructions myself.

Thanks to you and everyone else who has written documentation and guides for making my life easier.

aysiu
March 27th, 2006, 11:15 PM
I just post links to guides like yours most of the time. That way if they do not answer back, I did not have to type out the instructions myself. That works most of the time. There are special situations, though...

gerbman
March 27th, 2006, 11:16 PM
As long as the "others" in question remain respectful and grateful I will never get tired of helping, no matter how trivial or redundant a problem might be. Willingness to learn is, IMO, the most important quality we can possess, and to discourage it is a crime far worse than asking what sudo does for the billionth time.

John.Michael.Kane
March 27th, 2006, 11:18 PM
Don't bother me helping, and answering repeat questions or new ones. I'm still a new user myself. I answer when i think i can help, I search for the answer if i dont know it off hand. We as users can learn from each other that to me is what it comes down to. can't help someone who dont ask for it or is not willing to learn.

Just my thoughts...

mstlyevil
March 27th, 2006, 11:19 PM
That works most of the time. There are special situations, though...

Thats true. In those situations I will give instructions as long as I am sure they will work. There are a lot of specialty things that I just have no clue how to answer so I just stay quiet in those circumstances.

It would be nice to know your instructions worked.

Brunellus
March 27th, 2006, 11:21 PM
I've ben thinking a lot about Forum Fatigue.

I like helping people out, both on here and IRC, but there are certain things that have made me want to take a breather.

The biggest downers are users who are abusive or obstreporous. I don't even expect "thanks" much of the time, but I am beginning to expect that users do a bit of due diligence and treat other forum members with respect.

aysiu
March 27th, 2006, 11:21 PM
There are a lot of specialty things that I just have no clue how to answer so I just stay quiet in those circumstances. Yeah, me, too. When people start asking about internet connectivity issues (wireless, wired, dial-up), I shut up right away. I didn't have to do anything to configure my internet (DSL), and so I have no idea how to do that stuff...

derelict
March 27th, 2006, 11:23 PM
I've been a member of computer help forums for about 5 or 6 years now and I've never grown tired of helping, the "it worked" as the last post for the thread always gives me enough joy to keep answering questions :)
And if one gets tired or frustrated it's quite better to leave than shoot some arrogant RTFMs...

mstlyevil
March 27th, 2006, 11:24 PM
I've ben thinking a lot about Forum Fatigue.

I like helping people out, both on here and IRC, but there are certain things that have made me want to take a breather.

The biggest downers are users who are abusive or obstreporous. I don't even expect "thanks" much of the time, but I am beginning to expect that users do a bit of due diligence and treat other forum members with respect.

It doesn't hurt to take a vacation from it if needed. In fact I encourage you to do that so you keep your sanity. By resting every now and then you are actually doing both yourself and those that need your help a favor by keeping a clear mind.

kadymae
March 27th, 2006, 11:24 PM
Granted, I'm not able to help in the n00b forums as much as I'd like, but ...

Part of my duties involve working the reference desk at an academic library. And that involves answering a lot of the same damn question over and over: Where do I check out books? How do I log in? Where do I go to look up articles? How do I find this book?

And yes, to me, where to find the answers to these things is totally obvious and easy, but to them, it's not, and being nice and patient really can make a huge difference to somebody who's asking (for the first time) that question I've answered for the ten-thousanth.

All the documentation and wikis in the world aren't going to do a damn thing for the person who doesn't quite know exactly what they're looking for, or isn't sure where the how-to/documentation is, or isn't quite sure what TFM is telling them to do.

And that's the spirit that permeates these forums -- the willingness to be nice to somebody you think is asking a stupid question with an obvious, easy to find answer.

Because, remember, when somebody's a n00b, nothing is obvious or easy.

IYY
March 27th, 2006, 11:25 PM
It depends on the approach. If the user is treating me like tech support, I get frustrated (but I try not to show it). However, if s/he actually wants to learn how to do things, and wants me to help teach, I enjoy helping very much.

kadymae
March 27th, 2006, 11:27 PM
Willingness to learn is, IMO, the most important quality we can possess, and to discourage it is a crime far worse than asking what sudo does for the billionth time.

Golden words, my fellow Ubuntist, golden words.

Sutekh
March 27th, 2006, 11:28 PM
Cheers to the OP for the question, I had reason to think of this just yesterday.

I want people to stick with Linux/Ubuntu as I did 6 months ago. That was made so much easier for me by the amount of help availlable here.

I know that often the same questions are asked over and over again, I'm sure I answered a dozen threads about mounting stuff in the last day or so, but I'll keep doing it if it makes things easier for new users of Linux/Ubuntu. Plus I find that answering questions helps me learn a bit more about how things work too, so its win win.

(Wo alot of people have posted while I wrote this)

mstlyevil
March 27th, 2006, 11:31 PM
I still find myself asking somewhat stoopid questions sometimes. I have been using Linux since last August and I have barely touched the surface on what I still need to learn. This makes it easier for me to hear the same simple question over and over because it reminds me of myself.

aysiu
March 27th, 2006, 11:34 PM
Plus I find that answering questions helps me learn a bit more about how things work too, so its win win. Ah, the age-old axiom of educators--"The best way to learn is to teach."

Everything I know well about Ubuntu is from having taught it to other new users.

Sutekh
March 27th, 2006, 11:39 PM
Ah, the age-old axiom of educators--"The best way to learn is to teach."

Everything I know well about Ubuntu is from having taught it to other new users.
Couldn't agree more. Mutual learning is 100% true in my experience, in all apsects of life.

harisund
March 27th, 2006, 11:40 PM
WOW ! Am I surprised at the number of replies within what, an hour?

Anyway, to begin with Aysiu, you happen to be one the people I see ever so frequently, and no, it is not targeted at you. I have read your essays, your HOW TOs, and I have great respect for people like you.

Actually, I do not really look for a "thank you" in particular. As mentioned above, "it works" is more than enough, because by merely knowing that it works, I will know I was right, and don't you agree that boosts your confidence up? And only motivates you to help people more?

And yes I have read the entire contents of psychocats.net. Just amazing, and I do bow down to you.

I feel the same was as you do too. As a student, money is out of the question. However, as a computer engineering student, code shouldn't be out of the question, and it definitely won't be long ..

And you know what's as much fun as helping out people? Starting threads to which you get around 20 replies in just as much minutes..

majikstreet
March 27th, 2006, 11:57 PM
i haven't read the thread...
I do get tired.. that's why I haven't helped someone for a long time..

I really like when people say "omg i love you you fixed my pc i love you!!!" or something like that..

I hate when people don't say it worked or whatever..

polo_step
March 28th, 2006, 01:16 AM
I do get tired.. that's why I haven't helped someone for a long time..
This is a great subject and one to which I've recently been giving a lot of thought.

While I'm certainly no great shakes with Linux, I have other areas of extremely high expertise and somewhat rare access, and these are popular subjects. For several years I worked every day on the net disseminating as much of this information as I could, and for no other reason than I wanted more people to have more understanding, and I wanted nothing in return. I eventually stopped helping at all, ever.

Why I did so is probably instructive and applies somewhat to things here.

Mainly, I got burned out for two reasons: 1) Answering the same questions over and over, and 2) putting up with idiots.

1) Was largely my own fault. If I'd had my act together better, I would have just boilerplated the standard answers to standard questions on a website. Then every time someone would ask Question 23b, I could just say, "Here: [link], good luck!" For several poor reasons, I never got around to that and got burned out. Disorganization of knowledge bases is nothing new, though, but it's a HUGE waste of energy for all concerned.

2) There was no solution for the idiots. That's what finally made me take down Usenet from my system last week after twenty-three years of daily participation. The idiots mainly were not just the large proportion of the people asking the questions, but noisy regulars who were increasingly degrading the quality of the fora on which I was posting. I don't have to describe these people in much detail, as if you've been on the Internet for more than a week you've become fed up with them yourself. Some typical ones include the people who ask for advice but in truth merely want attention and will do what they wanted to in the first place despite all the trouble people go to answering their questions...the people who know absolutely nothing and have nothing valuable to contribute but consistently interrupt techical discussions with stupid attempts at "humor" or wildly digressive irrelevancies, and the people who in turn respond to these jugheads...The people who haven't a clue but love to argue with the people who do, and waste everyone's time...the people who are so insecure that they become hostile rivals to anybody with more expertise, instead of welcoming the addition to the knowledge base...the people who have become inappropriately emotionally involved with the subject in question to the point of becoming cranks (this is a big, BIG problem with OS advocates, including some people here)...the numbskulls who argue with everyone about stuff they didn't say...people who have become "fans" and can no longer be objective in discussions...flamers...etc., etc., etc.

On the other hand, I've been in the position of being a new user who needs help, and that's just about as bad. I think on average I get around 20%-30% of my questions answered, across the board. That also applies to my Ubuntu stuff here. I have to say that the so-called Linux "community" wildly overrates itself in the effective help it gives to new users. I've watched it carefully and noticed this to pretty generally be the case.

A lot of times there seems to be no answer because of flaws and inadequacies in the OS, in which case the regulars become somewhat defensive and seem to blame the person asking the question. I see that happen a lot on Linux fora.

harisund
March 28th, 2006, 01:44 AM
Hmm.. does this thread tell anything about the nature of Linux users? Maybe a poll is in order :D ?

aysiu
March 28th, 2006, 01:45 AM
On the other hand, I've been in the position of being a new user who needs help, and that's just about as bad. I think on average I get around 20%-30% of my questions answered, across the board. That also applies to my Ubuntu stuff here. I have to say that the so-called Linux "community" wildly overrates itself in the effective help it gives to new users. I've watched it carefully and noticed this to pretty generally be the case. I see this generally to be the case (say, on Linux Questions), but not so much on these forums. Maybe it's because I've gotten more like 95% of my questions answered instead of 20-30%--I may be biased.

I have observed a lot of threads, though. Yes, a lot go unanswered, for whatever reason--usually because they ask something really obscure no one has any experience with. The only real stumper I've seen, though, is this one (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=97720).



A lot of times there seems to be no answer because of flaws and inadequacies in the OS, in which case the regulars become somewhat defensive and seem to blame the person asking the question. Or sometimes what new users perceive to be a "flaw" in the OS is a hardware incompatibility or the lack of GUI configuration tool for something that can be done easily from the command-line via copy and paste.

I haven't found a lot of "flaws" in Ubuntu. There are a lot of things that can be improved--that's for sure! But "flaws"? Those tend to be few and far between. For example, I can think of one flaw. Once Breezy came out, I, along with many others (we all filed similar bug reports) experienced a weird error when ejecting certain USB media (this didn't exist in Hoary). That got patched for Dapper. Great--wait eight months for a fix. Then, there's the whole plain text sudo password scandal. That got patched quickly, but that also seems like a major flaw.

Mainly, though, there are annoyances that can be improved.

For example, in Kubuntu, ivman's default configuration, which simultaneously plays CDs and opens them in Konqueror; or, also in Kubuntu, Adept's lack of warning before removing a ton of packages.

Another annoyance is the need for a separate application in Gnome to keep numlock turned on... or to keep stuff put on the clipboard even after an application has closed.

These I don't view as "flaws," but as inconveniences and places for improvement.

An error when you eject media or the storage of an important password as plain text--that's a flaw.

Most of the time, though, what frustrated new users perceive as "flaws" are the result of:

1. Lack of research for compatibility--either through an online search or the use of a live CD

2. The inability to recognize that the command-line isn't scary and can be the easiest way to get online help, as other users can tell you to copy and paste commands instead of trying to describe what buttons to click on and in what order.

3. A desire to stay with what's familiar rather than what's appropriate--even if both models are equally competent to perform the task at hand.

polo_step
March 28th, 2006, 03:35 AM
I have observed a lot of threads, though. Yes, a lot go unanswered, for whatever reason--usually because they ask something really obscure no one has any experience with.
It's sort of a mystery to determine what gets answered and what doesn't.

I see a lot of threads just die out before the problems get resolved. That happened with me in some of the really bad problems I had ith 5.04, and I see it a lot in discussions of wireless networking, for example.

Or sometimes what new users perceive to be a "flaw" in the OS is a hardware incompatibility or the lack of GUI configuration tool for something that can be done easily from the command-line via copy and paste.

I haven't found a lot of "flaws" in Ubuntu.
I encountered a ton of them in 5.04, and in saying that I'm setting aside the false distinction between problems with the apps, OS, drivers, inaccurate (or nonexistent) docs, etc. If you put this stuff on your distro CD and it doesn't work, it's an Ubuntu problem from a user standpoint. The other distinctions are meaningful only to programmers and developers. I'm the guy at the end of the chain. Something works the way it's supposed to on install or it doesn't. A lot of the insoluble problems I had in 5.04 vanished in 5.10. Why? I don't know and I don't care. I'm just glad.

This should be in big, neon letters:

If a user installs any hardware, software or OS according to the clear instructions provided, his legitimate obligation is discharged.

If he did what he was told and something doesn't work, it's not his fault. In remediating the problem, he and the other users helping him are doing someone else's job. It is certainly beyond his responsibility (and competence) to isolate and identify the source of the bug.

This is a fundamental premise in the industry, but it's almost totally disregarded within the Linux "community" and explains why Linux continues to fail in taking a significant share of the end-user desktop market.

Because Linux is still far more of a hobbyist's project than a finished retail-ready desktop package, it is extraordinarily labor-intensive -- and the rate of burnout among new users and those who try to help them through the initial phases is pretty bad, bringing us back to the original point.

If the cumulative knowledge base was more organized, it would be a huge boon to the knowledgeable few who undertake to help the inexperienced many.

I can't tell you how many times my questions have been dismissed with an irritated, "Do a search!" and what I find in the search is little more than a vast morass of threads with relatively little relevant information, even after hours of slogging through all the junk.

Having to reinvent the wheel every time a new user runs up against the predictable problems will wear anybody out. ](*,)

aysiu
March 28th, 2006, 03:40 AM
It's sort of a mystery to determine what gets answered and what doesn't.

I see a lot of threads just die out before the problems get resolved. That happened with me in some of the really bad problems I had ith 5.04, and I see it a lot in discussions of wireless networking, for example.
I don't see what's so mysterious about it. The forum is made up of users, not developers or programmers (or at least not the Ubuntu developers). People either know stuff or they don't. As I stated earlier, I know nothing about configuring the internet. If the internet works, great. If it doesn't--sorry, I can't help you.
If you put this stuff on your distro CD and it doesn't work, it's an Ubuntu problem from a user standpoint. The other distinctions are meaningful only to programmers and developers. I'm the guy at the end of the chain. Something works the way it's supposed to on install or it doesn't. I'm neither a programmer nor a developer.

I didn't blame any of my Windows installation problems on Microsoft when I had to track down drivers. I didn't blame Ubuntu when I had to edit my xorg.conf file.

If you want your computer to be an appliance, don't install an operating system on it. Buy it with an operating system preinstalled or get someone else to install it for you.

Qrk
March 28th, 2006, 04:13 AM
I don't see what's so mysterious about it. The forum is made up of users, not developers or programmers (or at least not the Ubuntu developers). People either know stuff or they don't. As I stated earlier, I know nothing about configuring the internet. If the internet works, great. If it doesn't--sorry, I can't help you.

I agree. I only know how to fix the problems that I've had personally. I've had a few tricky problems in the past that I've learned from and can help with. But I'm not too much better off than the people asking. Fortunatly I think most users have easy problems to fix, or ones that aren't too critical.

And many times, even if the fix given doesn't work, it gives the user enough information to find out how to fix it. For instance, if someone here can tell you that the problem is with a certain program (say dhcp) you can try the dhcp website for a more detailed fix.

polo_step
March 28th, 2006, 04:52 AM
I didn't blame any of my Windows installation problems on Microsoft when I had to track down drivers. I didn't blame Ubuntu when I had to edit my xorg.conf file.
I don't know if that's a fair analogy.

In any case, it doesn't really address my point. If it were clear that something wouldn't work or was not supported up front, one would have no legitimate complaint.

When hardware that is nominally supported doesn't work properly or a provided application crashes, it's a legitimate complaint and a real problem for which a user cannot be blamed, no matter what the OS. Bad product isn't a consumer's fault.



If you want your computer to be an appliance...
Wait. EVERYone wants his computer to be an appliance, literally a tool with which to perform work, right? What else is there? A toy? Perhaps. Maybe a lot of people have computers to be gaming platforms, literally toys, but even that has to work right.

There's no virtue in a box not working correctly, in any case, or any legitimate reason to disparage people who want theirs to.

don't install an operating system on it. Buy it with an operating system preinstalled or get someone else to install it for you.
Funny that you should mention it, but I did buy a presumably purpose-built Linux box. It still had a load of Linuxy problems in the installed OS (Linspire) that were not clearly attributable to the hardware. As Ubuntu develops, it works progressively better on it and other boxes around here, but there's still a ways to go before it's really seamless. I'm anxiously awaiting 6.06!

aysiu
March 28th, 2006, 05:32 AM
I don't know if that's a fair analogy. Why not? I'm judging what the OS can do from a fresh install. Every time I've installed Windows from scratch (no restore CDs), I've always had significant hardware recognition problems (video, sound, internet), much moreso than in Ubuntu.


When hardware that is nominally supported doesn't work properly or a provided application crashes, it's a legitimate complaint and a real problem for which a user cannot be blamed, no matter what the OS. Bad product isn't a consumer's fault. If anything, you should blame Windows, as almost all x86 hardware does nominally support Windows, but most of it does not even nominally support Ubuntu.


Wait. EVERYone wants his computer to be an appliance, literally a tool with which to perform work, right? What else is there? A toy? Perhaps. Maybe a lot of people have computers to be gaming platforms, literally toys, but even that has to work right. In your mind, it's polarized--an appliance achieves a task; anything else is a toy.

That's simply not true. The ability for a home computer to be extensible (to have new software that gets installed and is usable) makes it both useful and not an appliance. An appliance is usually immutable. My TV is not extensible. It turns on. It turns off. I can change the channels. That's about it. My computer, however, is extensible. If I want to do web design, I can download and install a web design application. If I want it gone, I can uninstall it. If I want to check email, I can install a new email client. If I want to add an email account, I can add one.

Computers are moving into the appliance arena, though, if I'm understanding what these new Windows Media Center things are.

There's nothing wrong with wanting an appliance. All I'm saying is that:

1. An appliance is one way to get work done.
2. You can have an extensible tool that can get work done, too.
3. You should not be installing an operating system yourself if you want an appliance.

And I'm not saying an operating system shouldn't "work right." I'm just being realistic. If you want things to work, you have to get them to work. Either you pay someone to get it to work for you, or you get it to work yourself. Getting things to work doesn't happen like magic.



There's no virtue in a box not working correctly, in any case, or any legitimate reason to disparage people who want theirs to. I'm not disparaging people who want a box working correctly. In fact, I'm encouraging people to do what's practical--either get someone to install it and configure it for you, or learn how to install it and configure it yourself. What's disparaging about that?


Funny that you should mention it, but I did buy a presumably purpose-built Linux box. It still had a load of Linuxy problems in the installed OS (Linspire) that were not clearly attributable to the hardware. As Ubuntu develops, it works progressively better on it and other boxes around here, but there's still a ways to go before it's really seamless. I'm anxiously awaiting 6.06! Sorry to hear about your Linspire experiences.

polo_step
March 28th, 2006, 07:59 AM
Why not? I'm judging what the OS can do from a fresh install. Every time I've installed Windows from scratch (no restore CDs), I've always had significant hardware recognition problems (video, sound, internet), much more so than in Ubuntu.
You must realize how extraordinarily atypical that experience is -- though I was very impressed at how well Ubuntu 5.10 handled the basic board & accessories I built for someone last week. The nVidia card wasn't installed, nor was the USR WinModem, naturally, but everything else worked quite well on this basic system. There was zero hardware problems with XP, however, and I don't know how printers, scanners, wireless, etc. would have worked or not with Ubuntu. Actually, that's not true -- I already know some won't.

If anything, you should blame Windows, as almost all x86 hardware does nominally support Windows, but most of it does not even nominally support Ubuntu.

That's a very odd way of looking at it.

I don't make clear distinctions in whose fault it is that hardware is not adequately supported in Linux, aside from the fact that it's not mine. I should have to say that when the manufacturer provides Linux drivers to the point of having the device rated as "Linux Product of the Year" in some Linux magazine (Ralink rt2500 WiFi) and a year or two later it's still not adequately supported in any Linux distribution, one can hardly blame Microsoft.


In your mind, it's polarized--an appliance achieves a task; anything else is a toy.

That's simply not true. The ability for a home computer to be extensible (to have new software that gets installed and is usable) makes it both useful and not an appliance. An appliance is usually immutable. My TV is not extensible.

You're making a false disinction here -- I meant "appliance" in the literal sense of a tool; you're using "appliance" in the sense of a console stereo.

That's not the same thing.

A computer is only a tool for me as it is for most adult users. Yes, it's an extensible tool that is constantly changing for me, which is why I have not yet been able to get Linux to work out for me as a primary OS -- it takes an incredibly, nightmarishly higher amount of effort to deal with hardware (and some software) upgrades than with the predominant OS, WinXP, which is all but transparent in most cases. I can buy any device in the store and have it installed and running on XP in five or ten minutes and be doing real work with it. I will be lucky to ever get it fully working in any Linux. Which system is more "extensible"?

Maybe it can work in Ubuntu, maybe not -- but it will require a lot of time on the forum either exhausting the few people (if any) with the knowledge set needed to make it work, or wearing myself out digging through miles of search results...which is where we came in with this thread. People do just wear out. There's no virtue in always doing things the hard way or taking the long way around. You only have so much reserves, and you just burn out.

I bought five or ten major peripherals, hardware upgrades and accessories in the past few weeks and I didn't even try to use them with Linux because I knew that most of them probably wouldn't work without an exhausting amount of fiddling, and I simply didn't have the time to waste struggling with it.


Sorry to hear about your Linspire experiences.

Linspire is dogwaste. Now I know. [shrug]

Teroedni
March 28th, 2006, 09:11 AM
I get very motivated by positive post and people which say thanks for the help

Ive gotten a lot of that and it grows my ego;)


I tend to keep away from negative post and only answer thoose i feel i know enough about..
I would say this community is very nice place to help people:)
Most people are willing to follow instruction and are very polite:mrgreen: .

Mustard
March 28th, 2006, 09:34 AM
I quite enjoying helping people get their linux systems working, firstly because I like to see people enjoying the experience of computing, secondly because it helps me to learn more, and thirdly because others helped me to understand what I now know. I owe a debt to these faceless helpers, and feel I should take a small portion of their burden of passing on that knowledge to others. I do get tired of it, on occassion, but when I do, I take a break. Often a very long break. Learning should not be a fearful or debasing experience, so if my attitude is such that I am no longer encouraging a productive learning environment, then I either tell myself to lift my game, or I admit to myself that I am more a hinderance than a help.

It actually pains me to see some peoples questions sinkly quickly down the page unanswered. If I have no answer, the best I can do is to offer encouragement and attempt to empathise with that disheartening feeling of being the only person who is having the 'unfixable problem'.

On other occasions I have to switch off to peoples problems, because I am only one person, with limited resources (and a finite amount of patience). It's not physically possible for me to attend to everyones needs. It's a task that can only be undertaken by a community of people, and if I 'believe' in a community, I need to trust that someone else will pick up from where I left off, and carry the torch, so to speak.

I have a sufficient degree of trust in this community, and the enablers of this community. I sense the enthusiasm for a vision and a desire to make that vision work in a collaborative effort. While that common vision prevails, I'll continue to feel my own small contributions have some worth, to myself, and to others, both in the sense of a personal achievement and in the sense of helping to build something of value for others in the future.

frodon
March 28th, 2006, 09:56 AM
I just post links to guides like yours most of the time. That way if they do not answer back, I did not have to type out the instructions myself.

Thanks to you and everyone else who has written documentation and guides for making my life easier.I agree, that's the better way to help ubuntu beginners, writting complete documentations about common needs and problems then give the link to the doc. If the user want to learn more or just need some extra explainations the thread is still opened.
I think this way is the best to help beginners, since the users will have the answer to their questions and also know where to find informations (i think about UDSF, tips &tricks forum, wiki, unoficial starter guide, .... )

To answer the first post, in a personnal way, i'm not tired to help, i just changed a little bit my way to help (UDSF involvement), i give links first to let the users understand by themselves.
In all of the case a "that worked" is really enough for me, i help others because others helped me before and i hope that the persons i helped will help other users .... that's the better thanks i could receive.

mips
March 28th, 2006, 12:33 PM
As with all things in life you sometimes get tired and also annoyed.

I hate it when people dont even try on their own, they just want to be spoonfed. The "search" facility is a great resource. If you can apply logic to a search here or on google I can almost gaurantee you will find what you are looking for.

I hate it when people cannnot even formulate a question. Questions like "It does'nt work?" etc get my goat. How the hell are we suppose to know what you are referring to ? Be specific, list what you have done & guides followed, give a detailed list of your hardware if their is hardware involved. We really need a sticky in every forum to explain to people how to ask questions, if they do it wrong you post the link to the sticky ;)

The third thing that gets to me and really gets to me is when you try and help people and they become arrogant, start acting like assholes etc. The kind that basically believe they are "entitled" to help as if it is their god given right. Sometimes you see someone trying to help and the reponse is a snide/sarcastic reply, almost like a pissing contest.

As mentioned here FEEDBACK is required. We need to know whether it worked or not so the next person that comes along and reads it also benefits from the post. In the past I sometimes type out a long response, sorry no longer. Now I post links and copy and paste stuff. Gets very tiresome typing the same stuff over & over and then you dont even get feedback whether it worked or not.

Another helpfull thing would be if people actually completed their profiles. Helps to know if the person is using Ubuntu/Kubuntu etc. Country also helps when it comes to certain things like ISP/ADSL/Cable details etc.

Brunellus
March 28th, 2006, 03:00 PM
I agree, that's the better way to help ubuntu beginners, writting complete documentations about common needs and problems then give the link to the doc. If the user want to learn more or just need some extra explainations the thread is still opened.
I think this way is the best to help beginners, since the users will have the answer to their questions and also know where to find informations (i think about UDSF, tips &tricks forum, wiki, unoficial starter guide, .... )

To answer the first post, in a personnal way, i'm not tired to help, i just changed a little bit my way to help (UDSF involvement), i give links first to let the users understand by themselves.
In all of the case a "that worked" is really enough for me, i help others because others helped me before and i hope that the persons i helped will help other users .... that's the better thanks i could receive.
part of what makes the whole process so fatiguing is that there are countless threads where you point a user to established docs, and then they fire back with "well that's over my head."

Then you explain it in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY in a post. And magically, they understand.

There's a psychology to support. Even if the answers are out there, users want THEIR problem solved. Users who need support tend to think, irrationally, that they are the only ones who are suffering/suffer their problem(s), and that the OS has something against them, personally.

Forum help, even if we're ladling out the same content as in the wiki, the udsf, or other doc projects, looks after the human dimension of configuration and troubleshooting.

Just like any other human relationship, it's tricky. Some users are relatively self-sufficient, and only need a pointer. Others are more emotionally needy. The needy users are the most tiresome.

harisund
March 28th, 2006, 03:42 PM
Hello everyone, it's me again (the guy who started the thread :D ) ..

I just wanted to say, to a great extent the way the question is framed makes a lot of difference too. Sometimes, the subject line itself is so compelling that you would want to help out just so you could challenge yourself.. Again, if it is a mere "Please help, n00b here", it is so not descriptive enough to merit second look at the thread, wouldn't you think?

Hmm.. I am thinking of writing an article to LinuxJournal or some place on the philosophy behind forums.. what do you all think?

Thanks again for your opinions !

mips
March 28th, 2006, 04:17 PM
Hello everyone, it's me again (the guy who started the thread :D ) ..

I just wanted to say, to a great extent the way the question is framed makes a lot of difference too. Sometimes, the subject line itself is so compelling that you would want to help out just so you could challenge yourself.. Again, if it is a mere "Please help, n00b here", it is so not descriptive enough to merit second look at the thread, wouldn't you think?

Hmm.. I am thinking of writing an article to LinuxJournal or some place on the philosophy behind forums.. what do you all think?

Thanks again for your opinions !

What do you want now ? Just kidding :)

True, it comes back to my gripe about people that can't formulate a question and it starts with the subject line.

I find myself more inclined to help when the subject is properly defined and the question/contents of the post has all the facts in it.

adamkane
March 28th, 2006, 04:18 PM
Many new users don't think to offer details about their problem, or to submit a screenshot. If someone wants their question answered, they'll offer some background.

towsonu2003
March 28th, 2006, 05:35 PM
Which brings me to my question. Then, do you ever, at one point, get frustrated? Everyday, well almost every hour, we see some basic question being repeatedly asked. Sudo being a case in point. Inspite of countless tutorials/articles on sudo in ubuntu, every hour there comes a new post on some forum on "it says access denied.. what do I do." Do you ever feel "Oh God. Not again."
As long as I know how to solve the problem, I don't mind multiple posts asking the same thing. You end up memorizing the wiki page (or whatever) anyway, which is good, because the wiki indexing system at ubuntu kinda sucks...

I get tired when I cannot solve the problem to which I already responded... that really sucks.

KingBahamut
March 28th, 2006, 05:47 PM
Hello everyone

I understand one of the foremost reasons why Ubuntu is so popular, rank 1 in Distrowatch yadda yadda, is perhaps because of the forums.

You were a n00b once, and you have slowly progressed your way up along the ladder, and have reached a pretty decent level of proficiency with your os. You repeatedly surprise yourself as you learn something new day, and you wonder in amazement at the powers of Linux that you slowly unlock, hacking at it day by day.

And then you realize, after all since you were helped by others to begin, you would do good to post back in these forums to assist others out (all the time posting questions yourself too.) So you decide to start helping people out ..

Which brings me to my question. Then, do you ever, at one point, get frustrated? Everyday, well almost every hour, we see some basic question being repeatedly asked. Sudo being a case in point. Inspite of countless tutorials/articles on sudo in ubuntu, every hour there comes a new post on some forum on "it says access denied.. what do I do." Do you ever feel "Oh God. Not again." What is it that motivates you to still go ahead and help that guy out?

When ever I make a post, it is always under the assumption that every good deed is a reward in itself. A simple "thank you" makes you feel you have done your share for the hour, or for the day.


Sometimes, but then I just break a keyboard or two and then im happy. Seriously, as long as I know im helping out the user, Doesnt bother me much.

Zodiac
March 28th, 2006, 05:57 PM
Remember, when somebody's a n00b, nothing is obvious or easy.

Well said, well said indeed...

Master Shake
March 28th, 2006, 06:59 PM
I work in tech support for a living, and I do get horribly tired of answering the same questions over and over again. I try to be nice about it, but sometimes the people I'm talking to must be deaf to not hear how burnt-out sounding I am.

I need a vacation. :|

kadymae
March 28th, 2006, 07:51 PM
Many new users don't think to offer details about their problem, or to submit a screenshot. If someone wants their question answered, they'll offer some background.

But on the flipside, the problem is many people don't even know what they want to ask, as freaky as that sounds.

I mean, I work on a library's reference desk (in fact I'm there right now).

I a few days ago, I got a phone call from a guy who wanted, "facts about the NYSE".

It took several follow up questions (aka "the reference interview") to determine what kind of facts about the NYSE he wanted. (He wanted closing market scores.)

Or just now, I helped a woman (an older woman coming back to school after many years as a homemaker) who wanted to know "What's the indentation for APA style papers?"

"It's the same as MLA. You indent the start of each new paragraph 5 spaces."

Blank look.

Through further questions, I determined that she was really asking what the margin should be. (One Inch, same as MLA.)

Zodiac
March 28th, 2006, 07:55 PM
But on the flipside, the problem is many people don't even know what they want to ask, as freaky as that sounds.

I mean, I work on a library's reference desk (in fact I'm there right now).

I a few days ago, I got a phone call from a guy who wanted, "facts about the NYSE".

It took several follow up questions (aka "the reference interview") to determine what kind of facts about the NYSE he wanted. (He wanted closing market scores.)

Or just now, I helped a woman (an older woman coming back to school after many years as a homemaker) who wanted to know "What's the indentation for APA style papers?"

"It's the same as MLA. You indent the start of each new paragraph 5 spaces."

Blank look.

Through further questions, I determined that she was really asking what the margin should be. (One Inch, same as MLA.)

Ohhhh she's (he?) good...

/Agree :mrgreen:

I think to help people with their PC problems you have to have a lot of empathy and patience, regardless of any other factors.

John.Michael.Kane
March 28th, 2006, 08:01 PM
kadymae you helped them both, and you held your cool. just as most of the folk who help out around here. sure you will get some who will question you, and say you dont know what your talking about ect. bottom line you give them the best answes, and links to get them going. thanks or no thanks.

NetMatrix
March 28th, 2006, 08:50 PM
I didn't read through all of the posts, so forgive me if someone has already made mention of this. I think that the reasons that people come to forums isn't because they didn't want to search for the answer, but because they searched and didn't find it.

Search engines can all be a little different and sometimes not searching for the right word will lead you in the wrong direction, or sometimes nowhere at all. i.e. About a year ago I started looking for the answer of how to reset the password on a cisco switch. After searching over and over with no result I gave up. A few months ago I started studying for my CCNA exam and there it was right in the book. The issue is that they didn't consider it a "reset" but called it by another name (I can't remember right now). Anyway my point is sometimes when you search for something you have to enter in just the right info to find what you need. I find the forums very useful, both as someone looking for info, and as someone giving info.

I think we will all be tired at some point, but I don't think there is anything in life that you can do without taking a break to recharge.

harisund
March 28th, 2006, 09:04 PM
I didn't read through all of the posts, so forgive me if someone has already made mention of this. I think that the reasons that people come to forums isn't because they didn't want to search for the answer, but because they searched and didn't find it.


Yes, I completely agree with you there.

Which is why I believe it would be a very good idea to have a neat collection of documentation, such as in wikis etc, and then point to people who ask questions in the forums ...

earobinson
March 28th, 2006, 09:17 PM
As long as the "others" in question remain respectful and grateful I will never get tired of helping, no matter how trivial or redundant a problem might be. Willingness to learn is, IMO, the most important quality we can possess, and to discourage it is a crime far worse than asking what sudo does for the billionth time.
sure I get tiard of it some times so i take a break and come back later

claydoh
March 28th, 2006, 10:30 PM
Sure, I get a bit tired (I am sure we all do, or will after a bit) It is sort of a "stage" if you will, of community membership and activity, regardless of the subject

I for one do remember being a Newbie, finding answers to my questions in various different ways. I would help answering what I felt I was capable of, and as I learned, I could answer more questions about more diverse subjects, and if I couldn't I at least had an idea of where to locate answers. Then, after a while I would get tired of the repetitive nature of questions, as in my mind, if I could find or figure out the solutions (and I do not consider myself "smart", "savy" or very "techie"), by gosh, why couldn't these folks?

Then, it kind of dawned on me. My wife, whom I consider a very bright person, would never research information on any question or problem. She would just ask me, and I would do it for her. She wasn't being lazy, just perhaps a bit impatient, but mostly she knew I could at least get to it faster than she felt she could on her own. That and various other things kind of put it all into perspective, and I would jump back into it with a bit more vigor.

Then it sort of resumes the cycle, where I do on occaision get fatigued and eventually reinvigorated.

kadymae
March 28th, 2006, 11:19 PM
kadymae you helped them both, and you held your cool. just as most of the folk who help out around here. sure you will get some who will question you, and say you dont know what your talking about ect. bottom line you give them the best answes, and links to get them going. thanks or no thanks.

And that's what makes the Ubuntu forums so damn good. Most of the people here keep their cool with frustrated n00bs and will ask follow up questions to make sure they're on the same page and this makes a huge difference in making new people feel welcome and it encourages them to keep trying Linux.

(And, SDPlissken, you are a good example of this.)

---

And for everybody else on this thread, if/when you feel yourself getting burnt to a crisp, take a frelling break. Seriously. You've earned it. You're not getting paid for this. It's helpful for both you and the n00bs if you go and recharge yourself so that you can keep showing humanity towards others.

gerbman
March 29th, 2006, 11:50 AM
I work in tech support for a living, and I do get horribly tired of answering the same questions over and over again. I try to be nice about it, but sometimes the people I'm talking to must be deaf to not hear how burnt-out sounding I am.

I need a vacation. :|C'mon Shake, how about some inspirational writing (from the Aqua Teens cartoon...Shake and I don't actually live near eachother, nor do we converse over trashed cars):

Master Shake: Good morning Carl. How's it goin?

Carl: Hello there Mr. Food Monster Man. This is how it's goin. Look at my freakin' car. It is crushed, to Bejeesus and back.

Master Shake: [stares at wrecked car] Have you gotten any estimates?

ndhskp
March 29th, 2006, 12:18 PM
No not really, I like helping people out. I have not had any poor situations. But! I get sick and tired of howto author's not working on there howto's. You see it all the time howto's that are completely F***d up and out of date. And the howto authors ignore advice on correcting it. No I won't name names as we all know who they are.

Edit 1: Actually that statement above is not too smart, actually it's pretty insulting. Maybe howto authors are busy with work or having a baby, getting married or maybe there sick. How the heck would I know. So my apologies to howto authors for offending you. I'm sorry. So disregard that part about the howto.

Do you ever get tired of seeking help on Ubuntu forums I sure as hell do. Everybody is so dammed focussed on the helper and not the helpee. How many questions do you see every day that don't get answers lots and lots. Or what about people who respond with a demeaning question about what you are trying to do instead of just answering the question. Or how about the people helping you solve a simple problem with Quantum mechanics when newtonian physics would have sufficed.

C'mon people the posters are not the enemy here.

Edit 2: Actually I can understand when the same question is asked over and over it can be tiring to answer, so in that case we should simply link to earlier answers. And when a question is asked that nobody knows the answer too I think we should leave it unanswered so that we always know which post need answers in case someone comes up with the answer in the future.

woedend
March 29th, 2006, 12:40 PM
I love helping when I can(which isn't a whole lot normally). Its a good feeling. But personally get tired of the same questions brought up repeatedly(firefox scrollwheel issue), and how the dapper forums at one point was flooded with XGL/Compiz questions. They have a right to ask, but at the same time it really puts a strain on the flow of bug-checking/confirming when the forum turns into using something thats been heavily marked as unstable on top of a marked unstable OS.

gerbman
March 29th, 2006, 07:47 PM
Or what about people who respond with a demeaning question about what you are trying to do instead of just answering the question. Or how about the people helping you solve a simple problem with Quantum mechanics when newtonian physics would have sufficed.

C'mon people the posters are not the enemy here.
I agree that a lot of posts go unanswered, but so many of them are answered as well. I'd like to see some stats on this. As far as the quoted points go, I can't remember any instances of that happening, so I don't really agree. Sorry if you've had a bad experience :-|

aysiu
March 29th, 2006, 08:01 PM
I agree that a lot of posts go unanswered, but so many of them are answered as well. I'd like to see some stats on this. As far as the quoted points go, I can't remember any instances of that happening, so I don't really agree. Sorry if you've had a bad experience :-| I go looking for unanswered posts and answer them when I can.

I'd say in about 90% of the cases, though, the ones that go unanswered do so for a good reason. It's usually an obscure problem that no one knows how to solve. If people think it's worth answering a post to say, "Yeah, I don't know how to solve that, but I'm just going to reply so you don't feel neglected," then maybe that's what we should do.

I almost feel as if that's salt in the wounds.

polo_step
March 30th, 2006, 12:16 AM
So...OK...the answer to the initial question is, "YES!"

I agree that the outdated help & how-to stuff is discouraging, but it's merely an example of what we're talking about.

When normal people are doing stuff for free, they don't do it very well for very long. They DO get burned out. Their enthusiasm and discipline may be adequate to finish the initial project, but there's no motivation to maintain it indefinitely after it's become drudgery. That's why they invented paychecks. They give a quick answer to the age-old question, "why bother?" ;)

That's not a problem just limited to Ubuntu or Linux, it's just the way the adult world is...though in the impoverished world of Linux it becomes a lot more blatantly obvious much sooner.

jamesr
March 30th, 2006, 05:50 AM
The answer to the question posed is "yes" because we are human but do we keep helping out, the answer is equally "yes".

From a personal point of view, Yes it nice when the thread is finished nicely with a "Thank You" or "problem Solved". Nothing is worse than not knowing if the problem is solved.

The reasons for helping are as manifold as we are all different. Sometimes it is self interest ie if I help then I should be able to get help in return. Some times it is altruistic ie just helping although there are some people say that we are never altruistic. Personally I see it as many reasons:-
1) giving back for help that you, yourself have received
2) The feeling of helping others
3) The hope that when I have a problem somebody will be able to help me
4) extending my own knowledge, because there can be times when I many have to do some research to find the answer
5) keeping the brain active etc etc

Comments about repeat questions
1)Sometimes the questionner is not posing the question correctly or
2) Not seeing the wood for the trees or
3) not sure what to ask or
4) not going back to basics or
5)sometimes when googling for information one gets overloaded with information and sometimes conflicting information
6) a new user and not sure what to ask or where to start.
and so on.

That is why I do not mind answering repeat questions and will try to give the answers in stages.

Comments about unanswered posts, sometimes it is the subject that is misleading and sometimes the wrong question is being asked and as a consequence the thread becomes unfinished.

One of the great points of these forums Ubuntu and Kubuntu, there is very little of RTFM approach which is a very common tech support answer in the technical world. Yes often that is what you would like to say but you should not. Also the information may be in the manuals but where.

just my 2 cents worth.

Master Shake
March 30th, 2006, 05:42 PM
C'mon Shake, how about some inspirational writing (from the Aqua Teens cartoon...Shake and I don't actually live near eachother, nor do we converse over trashed cars):

Master Shake: Good morning Carl. How's it goin?

Carl: Hello there Mr. Food Monster Man. This is how it's goin. Look at my freakin' car. It is crushed, to Bejeesus and back.

Master Shake: [stares at wrecked car] Have you gotten any estimates?

Shake: Now its obvious to me that meteors killed Carl's car, but he's comitted to give us $20. So what I propose we do is to spend that money now, before he has a chance to take it back.

lexor
March 30th, 2006, 06:16 PM
Its like many things if someone asks you for help and you have the knowledge to help someone then you should out of good manners.

I have noticed that on many pc forums on the internet and off the internet there is this kinda non helping attitude.

I dont know why this is maybe cause if someone took the time to learn something then why should they pass on that information to someone that wont take the time to read a book on the subject, personally I dont really care for this attitude.

If I can help I will without making a judgement on a persons attempt to use the search button or read the book. The kinda reply to posts like read the book or use help menu newbie dont really help a community and you tend to find these community's dont last long or get much posts/new members.

easyease
March 30th, 2006, 07:41 PM
lol at the aqua teen fans. all we need now is meatwad to make an appearence.

gerbman
March 31st, 2006, 12:08 AM
lol at the aqua teen fans. all we need now is meatwad to make an appearence.It's not just fun and games, you know. Aqua Teen Hunger Force has many real-life applications. For example, the episode with the plague of pop-up ads (Interfection, I think)...that should be mandatory viewing for all current and potential Windows users. If a cartoon won't get to those people, I don't know what will.

(okay okay, that is one of the few real-life applications of ATHF)

:-)

bvc
March 31st, 2006, 05:40 AM
I have only read the first few post, so forgive me if I say something that has been said. I can barely read a post anymore, much less a thread :mrgreen:

Look at the Dapper Devel Section.Over and over the same question shown on the same recent post result page. People do not even search, and it's so much faster than asking and waiting for an email. Crazy!

On another forum I was heavily involved in, I burned out at about 4400 post in 1.5 years. I expressed my frustration, suggested a FAQ Section...it was done and that did help a little but... Took another 3 years to reach 8500 post.

Just as it is natural for people to be lazy and not search, it is natural for others to get frustrated at those that don't. It's ok though, because there's always new blood in linux/computers excited about their adventure and wanting to share the knowledge and help others who are where they once were, or are. So the world turns. Linux is for Human Beings :p

harisund
March 31st, 2006, 07:11 AM
wow BVC ! I indeed bow down to you !

Panhead Bill
April 10th, 2006, 04:44 PM
I didn't read through all of the posts, so forgive me if someone has already made mention of this. I think that the reasons that people come to forums isn't because they didn't want to search for the answer, but because they searched and didn't find it.

In my case, that is a great description. I am new to Linux, my programming background is highschool fortran, some switch throwing on 8080's, and BASIC programming in the early 80's.

No offence intended: In MY mind the Ubuntu website is not intuitive, it took a few trys to find the forums, and a few weeks to find where there was BASH basics. (The information IS here, but it was not intuitive TO ME.) Really not a biggie, in my eyes, as I entered this as a learning experiance.

While I have an engineering background, my current occupation (in the Plumbing dept. of a Home Depot) exposes me to the same type of Noob questions; basic problems, and usually the same problems several times a day. It can be challenging to keep my responses cheerful and clear, but I never want to become one of THOSE sales associates - you know, the ones that are rude, annoying, or useless.

I have to rate the responses I have received and viewed on other threads as good to very good. I personally have to get further along the learning curve to be able to ask better questions.

jeremy
April 10th, 2006, 07:56 PM
I would like to give at least as much help to others as I have received myself. I have periods when I spend a fair amount of time and effort on this, searching for unanswered posts etc., and times when I am too busy, lazy, tired, whatever, to do as much as I would like to.

Part of my work is giving support to windows users, which I feel is an uphill struggle. Giving help to linux users (or potential users) is downhill all the way. It helps to make the world a better place!

jonrkc
May 23rd, 2006, 06:52 AM
I've been using Linux--first Mandrake/Mandriva, then Ubuntu, which I find much more to my liking--for three years and a few months, now. As soon as I started finding solutions to my beginner's problems, I also started answering questions about the same problems on forums, and I've been gratified to get thanks from many users for helping them solve something.

But it's easy to get burnt out scanning posts; it's depressing to go to LinuxQuestions and find 13,000 questions with no replies; it's especially disheartening to run into rude, arrogant users who berate beginners and fall back on the lame tactic of RTFM. Some people don't have time to read manuals, yet they genuinely need help with their installations. Many, many people can scarcely find a spare moment in the day, because they work for a living. I'm retired and have loads of spare time, but even I would not like to be simply told to "read the f****** manual." (By the way, I do read the manuals.)

When a poster makes me suspect he or she is simply incompetent beyond help, I either try tactfully to lead the person toward information that might help them, or else I just don't say anything. I have never made a rude response and I hope I never do. I have avoided forums for lengthy periods because of reading a rude response, not even to me, but to somebody asking for help in good faith and getting ridiculed or yelled at for it. It upsets me. There is never, ever any reason to be uncivil, and that applies to moderators, too. Moderators can be stern yet tactful. I've seen boorish behavior by moderators that made me want to avoid forums forever.

I think we are all beginners. I am 66 years old and I have accomplished a few things in my lifetime, but I will never consider myself well educated, or particularly skillful in anything. I know there is always something else to learn, and always a new mistake waiting to be made.

When Pablo Casals was an old man, and revered as probably the greatest cellist of modern times, he was interviewed on TV once. In the course of the interview, he said, "In the morning, I take up my cello, put my finger on the fingerboard, and hope I hit 'C'."

I believe that is the healthiest attitude anybody could have.

aysiu
May 23rd, 2006, 06:58 AM
I'd have no problem recommending people read manuals if the manuals were actually understandable.

To a beginner or intermediate, this just looks like gibberish:
tar [ - ] A --catenate --concatenate | c --create | d --diff --compare | --delete | r --append | t --list | u --update | x
--extract --get [ options ] pathname [ pathname ... ]

jonrkc
May 23rd, 2006, 07:04 AM
I'd have no problem recommending people read manuals if the manuals were actually understandable.

To a beginner or intermediate, this just looks like gibberish:
tar [ - ] A --catenate --concatenate | c --create | d --diff --compare | --delete | r --append | t --list | u --update | x
--extract --get [ options ] pathname [ pathname ... ]
Well said! And it's possible, isn't it, to say something like, "Try reading [manual page], which may help you understand this issue, and if you're still having trouble, let us know here."

Yes, there are posters who are asinine with their questions and obviously lazy and inconsiderate of the forum's purpose. But if I read a post from such a one, I just go on to the next post. I don't take it upon myself to be an abusive "authority figure."

(I also never read posts with subjects such as "Help!". There are 13,000 better-stated subjects with no answers yet to deal with!)
:) (and here is where I MEANT to put that smiley face...)

aysiu
May 23rd, 2006, 04:22 PM
Well said! And it's possible, isn't it, to say something like, "Try reading [manual page], which may help you understand this issue, and if you're still having trouble, let us know here." Rather than pointing people to manuals, I usually point them to links. I know where those links are, but new users may not be able to come up with them right away, even in a Google search.

In fact, sometimes people search for help on Google and come up with bad links that offer bad advice or don't explain things well.

jonrkc
May 23rd, 2006, 04:35 PM
In fact, sometimes people search for help on Google and come up with bad links that offer bad advice or don't explain things well.
A lot of seemingly good links are actually out of date, too. I wish every web page carried the date of its creation or latest modification at the top or bottom. Sometimes I look at the page source in hopes of finding a clue, but often there's none.

aysiu
May 23rd, 2006, 04:44 PM
A lot of seemingly good links are actually out of date, too. I wish every web page carried the date of its creation or latest modification at the top or bottom. Sometimes I look at the page source in hopes of finding a clue, but often there's none. Oops! I don't put a date of modification on my Ubuntu website. Maybe I should!