in reply to
Pedagogy: pointers or plaintext posts
Well, since there seems to be a somewhat common theme, here's what *I'd* like to see improved:
Encouraging people to read the friendly docs is fine, however, let's not troutslap them too heavily for it. After all, there are people who don't realize the docs are there or how rich they are. (Sorry, but it's true.)
Granted, some people don't get it. Fine. Let's give folks a chance to get it before we hammer them.
When telling people how not to do something, please try to include at least a brief (or a link to a fuller) description of what they should be doing instead, preferably one with enough detail to be truly educational. It's all well and good to alert people to their mistakes, but there are some that learn best from examples, rather than failure.
When you find yet another instance of a meme, CCP, or commonly-made mistake, please don't dump on the person and then leave. If you're going to warn them off of something, try to take time to point them to a discussion with helpful specifics. If you don't have time, then please trust that at least one of the others will take that time.
If you're tired of reading the same-old questions and writing the same old responses, then maybe it's time for a break or to write some new material. We've an everchanging readership and some people may not know as much as you do. (Sorry, but one of the problems endemic to online support is that you will continue to see the same questions asked again and again. Think of it as an opportunity to improve your writing, presentation, and communication skills.)
When you discover something that works in more than one situation or something that could help anyone else, regardless of the scope or specificity, please consider doing an appropriate Meditation, Tutorial, or whatever. I know this type of thing takes a lot of time, however, we can't point people to good nodes in the archives if we don't maintain them and update them.
When someone appears completely clueless, try to assume that they're simply inexperienced and are therefore willing to learn to do things the right way. Don't just assume that they're morons. Please.
Just because something appears to be off-topic is not automatically a reason to consider it. While certain things are off-topic, anything even remotely related can generate interesting replies containing topical information. I'm not saying we should turn this into apachemonks.org, however, there may be value in letting certain obliquely related node remain.
Case in point, someone recently posted a node describing certain problems installing a given module. Turns out the underlying problem had nothing to do with Perl, but with the libraries on the machine in question. Yet, a careful review of the POD, README, and the archives revealed no hints to that requirement. Granted, the module's author *should* have included a Prerequisites section in the POD, however, let's not slap the poster around because he didn't know that a certain set of BSD libraries were out of date.
And while I'm on the soapbox, please don't consider nodes that have (good|decent|fair) replies. After all, we've all seen threads that started strangely and then evolved into interesting, educational, and relevant discussions.
In a sense, this goes back to Turnstep's PerlMonks as Ambassadors. While we've made some progress in those areas, I do wonder how many people have been scared off since that was posted. Tilly once told me that he participated in the community to help give back to it. I'd like to see that ethic continued. Well all have little tidbits and facts we use to get our work done. So, let's share them as completely as possible. You'd be surprised how helpful that can be (or how appreciative people can be when they find those tidbits.)
It's all well and good to be asking the right questions; however, I think it's also good to assume that people who take the time to ask for help, request feedback, or otherwise post things are trying to learn. It's certainly a lot less stressful than assuming that everyone else is a clueless moron.