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Interesting use of the chatterbox...

by Necos (Friar)
on Apr 12, 2002 at 05:38 UTC ( #158489=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Chances are I'll get downvoted for this. That's fine... Chances are I'll lose a lot of XP for this... That's fine too... But what I'm about to discuss is something that bothered me:

I was logged in when someone else logged in (I'll leave out the name) and asked a questions to the effect: "How come this .cgi file doesn't work?"...

Ok, I know off-topic talk goes on in the CB, as I know most of us have been involved in. That's what it's made for (chatter, that is). Of course, whenever I go into #perl on Dalnet or EFnet (depending on where I am when I connect), the topic always says "This is not #cgi, #apache, or..." There's off topic talk in #perl (and #perlmonks for that matter), but it's never help-desk type talk.

I think my gripe with that whole conversation in the CB was that it made it seem like The Monastery was turning into #apache all of a sudden. Even if it is for a second, it scared me something terrible.

I know that most people around here are fairly familiar with CGI, Apache, and web services in general. That should be obvious since a lot of monks are coding CGI apps. I'm pretty sure that most small-time (read: non-corporate) CGI coders have designed web-boards and/or posted FAQs for their work... It would be quite silly not to.

I never expected the CB to turn into a "newbie helpdesk" in a matter of seconds. I'm not saying that people can't ask questions (even OT). I think what I'm saying is made more clear by the following statement: "You wouldn't go to Slashdot to ask how to configure a Winmodem."

I think the whole point of this rant is: "If you are doing anything that is beyond your level of understanding, you should at least know where to go for the appropriate help."

NOTE: The person eventually got their problem solved, which is cool. It was, in fact, a Perl problem. The particular .cgi file was riddled with errors (or at least someone said that it was).

Am I being paranoid/silly? Or, should I be shocked that someone used this place as a helpdesk for a totally unrelated subject?

Theodore Charles III
Network Administrator
Los Angeles Senior High
4650 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
323-937-3210 ext. 224
email->secon_kun@hotmail.com
perl -e "map{print++$_}split//,Mdbnr;"

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Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by grep (Monsignor) on Apr 12, 2002 at 06:00 UTC

    Necos,

    I'm sorry, but I just cannot sympathize with you. I think it's in my nature to help people. Helping people is one reason I chose IT as a career. I've assisted (hopefully) people with subjects ranging from network cards and routing to perl in the CB.

    I've had great talks about jobs and music and general bitching in the chatterbox. It's the main social aspect of perlmonks and I would hate to see any policing happening to the chatterbox.

    But enough of my not so great opinion, let's go to the Chatterbox FAQ++

    What sort of things are discussed in the Chatterbox?
    Everyting and anything!! Topics tend to lean towards perl (naturally). Unix and current events pop up often too, but in general, anything goes.

    Two advantages I can think of if the CB becomes a newbie helpdesk.

  • Less AM's - having to actually register to use the CB cuts down on AM posts. Not that I complaining about AM posts, but I think attaching a name to post adds some responsibilty
  • Less OT posts (sorry Ovid) - The less shell scripting, apache, and SQL posts the more time to answer perl questions


  • grep
    Unix - where you can throw the manual on the keyboard and get a command
      I like your points, however the flipside to the AM bit is the potential to fill up the namespace,tie up handles, which could be solved of course. OTGH having a username might encourage more use and interaction.

      --
      perl -pe "s/\b;([mnst])/'\1/mg"

Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by BUU (Prior) on Apr 12, 2002 at 06:18 UTC
    Im slightly confused as to what exactly your rant is about.. that someone was trying to get help in the cb and didnt? If he really wanted help, why didnt he just post a question?
      You might wanna read the post again (It helps if you're confused). His (young monkwise) rant was that the chatterbox was used in asking/answering apache/cgi specific questions. Seeing the whole gamut of non-perl questions lately, it's forseeable how Necos might construe the chatterbox as having the same standards applied as Seekers of *PERL* Wisdom. Seekers of *PERL* Wisdom is for people needing help with *PERL*, not apache or some Javascript. The only standards that apply to the chatterbox is to keep it clean (no flame wars ~ which will and do end up in the Borg's Belly), which means that any , and I do mean any, topic is welcome. Here's a cb moment MeowChow has immortalized on his homenode:

      Overheard in the CB shortly after a conversation between crazyinsomniac and myself, regarding the finer points of various digestive waste-products:

      <malaga> msg/crazyinsomniac when i chomp it, it hangs - i'm doing it wrong i'm sure - i'll go try it again
      Tyke hopes that malaga's comment to crazyinsomniac has nothing to do with the excrement conversation

      See what I mean, pretty much anything goes in the CB.

       
      ______crazyinsomniac_____________________________
      Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
      perl -e "$q=$_;map({chr unpack qq;H*;,$_}split(q;;,q*H*));print;$q/$q;"

Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by cjf (Parson) on Apr 12, 2002 at 06:49 UTC
    Am I being paranoid/silly?

    Yes.

    Paranoid because people answering a few questions in the chatterbox will not turn this site into apache/sql/whatever monks. If anything it will show people that this is a friendly, helpful site and will make them more likely to contribute to it.

    Silly because what is said in the chatterbox is very different than what is posted on the site. I routinely hear people talking about movies, music, food, you name it in the chatterbox, nobody complains about this. The chatterbox is very informal and I think it prevents many off-topic posts.

Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by grinder (Bishop) on Apr 12, 2002 at 07:58 UTC

    You shouldn't lose XP over this, it's a legitimate question (although I disagree with you). I think that if a problem can be boiled down to a succinct question that can elicit a yes/no/link/url answer then run, don't walk, and ask it the chatterbox. I don't care if it's how can you tell if an raw egg is fresh (without cracking it open)*. (later: which is not the same thing as testing whether an egg is raw).

    Quite often a good answer will be provided, thereby avoiding the necessity of posting another node in Seekers of Perl Wisdom. I get much more annoyed by questions in SoPW that could have been easily solved in the Chatterbox.

    It provides a very fast turnaround for simple questions. You either receive a response in 30 seconds, or you can conclude that no-one logged into the CB knows the answer. Either way, you don't have to wait for very long. And it's always interesting to follow the exchange, even if it doesn't directly concern you, or you don't have anything to contribute. You never know when the information will come in handy.

    I still lament that there is no SQL equivalent of Perl Monks, but on the few occasions I've posted an SQL question in the CB I've always received good replies. I hope that never changes.

    ___

    * place the egg in a cup of water. If it floats to the top, it's not fresh (gas is forming inside).


    print@_{sort keys %_},$/if%_=split//,'= & *a?b:e\f/h^h!j+n,o@o;r$s-t%t#u'
      * place the egg in a cup of water. If it floats to the top, it's not fresh (gas is forming inside).

      Interesting. The solution I was expecting you to mention was spinning the egg (on its short axis), then stopping it for a split second, then letting go. If the egg is raw, it will start spinning again. If cooked, it'll stay put.

      --t. alex

      "Nyahhh (munch, munch) What's up, Doc?" --Bugs Bunny

Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by Necos (Friar) on Apr 12, 2002 at 08:34 UTC
    As with any of my posts, I always hope to hear criticism that will better me. I guess I what bothered me about this particular person was that he tried a couple of resources, and then threw his hands up. Then he figured: "Hey, I'll ask the monks why this script I downloaded doesn't work." During the conversation, I kept pointing out things that he should be doing and he replied to me something to the effect of "I'm trying to get help and you're giving me the tenth degree."

    I've always thought that downloading something you don't really know how to use is usually frowned upon. That doesn't mean to say that you can't learn how to use it. You have to download Perl and write/test code before you can actually learn it.

    I remember one time in a CB chat, virtualsue was asking about getting a remote server to send content to an authenticated client. While it wasn't necessarily Perl related, it was a rather interesting topic. After some idea tossing, we finally figured out a solution. I thought it was cool (read: kickass) that I had helped solve a problem.

    I really wish I had a log of the CB chat that I was referring to in the rant. I guess my anger was because I see that kind of talk in #perl and watch people get banned. That's, of course, not to say we should start banning people from PM because of OT CB talk... Boy, would that be stupid.

    Whenever I had a problem with a piece of code I've written, I used to think to myself: "Go to Perlmonks and ask!" After a while, I realized that it was stupid to just go to Perlmonks every time something went wrong. After having gained a lot of experience with Perl over the past year, I can now actually look my code over and fix something like 60% of my problems without even asking anyone for help. That's not to say I'm perfect, because, by all means, I'm not. I'm just saying that I try to understand what's going on before I jump up and ask for help. Having just a little bit of insight into one problem helps you to solve other problems later, right?

    In the end, I guess I'm just angry that it seemed inappropriate for this particular user to be asking "Why doesn't this script I downloaded not work" when he didn't really even know what he was dealing with (of course he knew what the end result SHOULD be, but it never hurts to crawl around inside the source and see what's going on). I've always believed that someone should understand at least 25% of what's going on when they download a program. That 25% includes knowing the background of the program (features, bugs, etc.), possibly some of the code behind it (especially if it's open-source code... e.g. Perl/Python), and the places to search for help should something go wrong (can someone say Google?).

    Hmmm... I wonder if that's a far-out idea or not... Probably is...

    Lastly, I'd like to point out that most of the completely OT stuff in the CB (question-wise) usually comes up in a very casual manner. Example:

    monk1: Hmmmm... I wonder why this NIC isn't working
    monk2: What's going on monk1?
    ...
    ...
    ...
    some solution reached or monk1 is pointed to a list of resources that may be helpful.

    I don't see anything wrong with this... I sure hope someone agrees with that... It just bothered me that the person asked the I-downloaded-this-script-and-it-doesn't-work question. Like crazyinsomniac pointed out, I guess I was assuming the same standards (for the most part) that apply to SoPW apply to the CB. Bad assumption by me. But I'm glad that somebody made it clear for me (and yes I did read the CB FAQ. I just never figured anyone would say something THAT OT.).

    Thanks again for the slice of humble pie. It's mighty delicious and educating.

    Theodore Charles III
    Network Administrator
    Los Angeles Senior High
    4650 W. Olympic Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90019
    323-937-3210 ext. 224
    email->secon_kun@hotmail.com
    perl -e "map{print++$_}split//,Mdbnr;"
Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by shotgunefx (Parson) on Apr 12, 2002 at 09:09 UTC
    Well, that's what ignore is for right?

    -Lee

    "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by Necos (Friar) on Apr 12, 2002 at 09:21 UTC
    After having lost 1 XP (from the -3 rep), I'm starting to see that people are just downvoting because they disagree with my "rant." Like I said originally, that's fine. The main purpose of the meditation/discussion was to get feedback from other monks and find out the flaw in my logic/attitude/what-have-you. In other words, just don't blindly downvote because you disagree. Write a reply... Please. I'd like to hear how others feel about this particular situation.

    Note: As shotgunefx puts it... "That's what ignore is for." Now, why didn't I think of that before? It's a great point, in addition to grinder and crazyinsomniac. Yet another reminder that the CB can be a wild place and there's a way to control how much madness reaches your doorstep.

    I hope to at least get something constructive out of this whole ordeal...

    Theodore Charles III
    Network Administrator
    Los Angeles Senior High
    4650 W. Olympic Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90019
    323-937-3210 ext. 224
    email->secon_kun@hotmail.com
    perl -e "map{print++$_}split//,Mdbnr;"
      I'm gonna be a bad boy and follow this sidetrack instead of the real discussion. :)
      ...just don't blindly downvote because you disagree. Write a reply... Please.
      Sometimes I think this should be written in big letters beside the "Vote" button, because I can't recall one single time anyone has given me a reason for a downvote (although it has probably happened)... and that has sometimes, even often, left me pretty puzzled as to why I am getting them. Especially if my answer to something is correct, although not perfect - and I most oftenly try to be just polite and helpful (do I succeed? dunno). I'd really, really appreciate the feedback, so I can learn something, if I did something wrong.

      It was especially annoying in cases like I dare you to run this. - I even rant about it in the node... . Funny thing is that I got lots of personal positive messages about the node (in my standard), then it got at a guess about 40-50 votes, of which a third was down ones... was a real rollercoaster, and thus pretty funny. If I had gotten any reasons... (still none to this date) - the downvoting doesn't bother me, if it is for a reason.

      I still wonder why people are so reluctant to explain themselves? They afraid to get an enemy, or to be downvoted themselves? Just lazy? Not deeming the target worth it? Any of the reasons? All? Probably a little of this, a little of that, and it depends...

      Sadly, I guess I am guilty myself. I will try to be better. Update: *Laughs at tjh* - yes, a Confession section would be great... haha. :) Nooooo... not a MattScript!!! Please...


      You have moved into a dark place.
      It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
        "Sadly, I guess I am guilty myself. I will try to be better."

        I've often wondered if we needed a formal "Confessional" section in the monastary. :)

        Well done, my son. For your penance, recite perlfaq7, satisfactorily improve at least one MattScript, and use strict for a year.

        LOL; however, treating others like we want to be treated (in CB, for instance) is a Good Thing.

        If I ever downvote you, I'll give you a reason. :-) I'm surprised no one has. I would guess maybe it's all the reasons you gave: laziness, fear of "retaliation", desire not to make enemies... but I don't know.

        Personally (though I'm pretty new here), I really haven't found a reason for downvoting any node so far. I don't think I would downvote a node that raises interesting points like Necos's if I just happened to disagree with those points.

        Sorry, this is off-topic, but a discussion I'm curious about and interested in. Maybe we could start a new Perl Monks Discussion thread?

        I admit it! I downvote without /msg'ing or replying! I upvote without /msg'ing or replying!

        When I have something to say, I say it. What if I don't? What about a poorly-written incorrect node, already replied-to and corrected? I have nothing to add. Posting a second correction is pointless -- I might as well post a copy of the reply that already exists. /msg'ing is pointless -- the author surely by now knows something's wrong! In this case, a downvote is the surest way of communicating agreement with the correction.

        What about a well-written correct node, already fully discussed in followups? I have nothing to add. Posting another followup is pointless -- I might as well post a copy of a reply that already exists. /msg'ing is pointless if I have nothing new to add -- the author surely by now knows everything's right! In this case, an upvote is the surest way of communicating agreement with the writeup.

        There's no difference between the 2 cases. Words should be used as necessary; upvotes should be used as necessary; downvotes should be used as necessary. I don't want to receive 50 /msg's just because some obscure writeup of mine reaches rep +33 (exercise for the reader: prove that this is in any case impossible). I don't want to send over 30 /msg's a day just for giving feedback.

        I fully expect everyone to downvote me when I add a followup consisting of the words "Yes. I agree." after a really good writeup. I'll even skip my inalienable "post-downvote-/msg'ing rights".

        When /msg's and replies are warranted, use them. When they're not, don't. Do the same with your votes. And combine these tools, when appropriate.


        UPDATE. I also reserve the right to downvote unchecked incorrect code, incorrect claims about relative speeds of 2 techniques, or incorrect claims that there exists a speed difference when measurement would show there is none. However, in those cases I'll often explain myself...

      To me, the "If you downvote, please reply" idea seems nice at first but doesn't hold up under much scrutiny. My position is:

      If you have something to say, then say it. If it is constructive or interesting, then consider posting it. If not, a /msg would be better, but better still might be to decide that you don't have anything worth saying, but that is up to you.

      If I "say something" that criticizes, I try to be constructive. But just being criticized, even in a constructive manner, is often a bit of a blow. So if I criticize I don't downvote because that would be "adding injury to insult".

      But if one doesn't have anything useful to say but can't manage to just let things go, then I'd rather one downvote than rant or insult.

      So I consider a downvote to be an anonymous expression of disapproval from someone who doesn't have anything worth saying. And I personally don't want to hear from such people. I don't see any good in "/msg tye Boy, you are stupid". And I see plenty of potential bad in that. I've heard people say that they'd rather get such a /msg from each downvoter rather than silent downvotes. But I boggle when I hear such claims.

      I'm sure there are lots of people that don't like something that they perceive (accurately or not) about me or something I wrote. If one of them can find the strength to make an intelligent, thoughtful expression of it to me, then I might be able to find the strength to take the criticism well and perhaps discuss the disagreement. If they "have nothing worth saying", then I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear from them.

      But I am certainly not quick to downvote, and I encourage others to not downvote too easily. There are lots of reasons to skip over the downvote. I'll give just a couple of examples of reasons.

      First, I hate downvoting of new members. Their first posting is unlikely to be a great node. But I don't find treating them to "Ack! You lost 2 experience points!" repeatedly to be useful. Yes, I want them to be encouraged to improve. But new members are also unlikely to understand the XP system and so can easily react very badly, ranting, whining, storming off never to return, becoming a troll, etc. I'd like a new feature that prevents XP from going negative (at least for a while after your first posting) so that downvoting would be less likely to make such a bad first impression.

      Second, I usually avoid downvoting nodes that are unlikely to have a positive reputation (because they are new or appear the type of node that others would downvote). I don't enjoy traumatizing people with those "Ack!" messages or by putting their node in Worst Nodes. I enjoy even less listening to them whine about being downvoted. Let us take this thread as an example:

      This thread started out with:

      Chances are I'll get downvoted for this. That's fine... Chances are I'll lose a lot of XP for this... That's fine too...
      and after 6 replies we get:
      After having lost 1 XP (from the -3 rep), I'm starting to see that people are just downvoting because they disagree with my "rant." Like I said originally, that's fine.
      [....]
      In other words, just don't blindly downvote because you disagree. Write a reply... Please.
      So with a reputation of -3 and 6 replies we are already told to stop downvoting without replying. By my count, there was no basis for assuming that there were any people downvoting that were not also replying.

      So even someone who repeatedly says that they expect to get downvoted and won't mind, we still get complaining after the loss of a single XP. It can be very hard to ignore the XP when you are getting downvoted. It is very easy to ignore the XP when you are getting XP for casting downvotes or when you are listening to someone else complain.

      I'd like a downvote to give the voter a chance of losing one XP. Either the voter thinks you should ignore the XP and so a downvote shouldn't be a big deal and so they shouldn't find the potential loss of one XP to be a big deal either. Or, the voter only downvotes in extreme cases and shouldn't mind the very rare loss of a single XP.

      In anticipation of alternate proposals: I don't want to eliminate downvotes. I find them to be at least a valuable "release valve", probably preventing (IMHO) more rants than the number of complaints they generate. I've reviewed many, many proposals for how to limit downvoting in a wide variety of ways, some written by me. In the end, I couldn't support any of them.

      BTW, I find the current voting/XP system to be pretty good. No, node reputations don't accurately reflect the quality of a node. I think there are lots of such unrealistic expectations that we could discuss (not that I really want to dicuss them). Of course, there will always be room for the occasional minor tweak, especially as the audience for this site changes and evolves. But, IMHO, the voting/XP system has a lot to do with the success of this site.

              - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")

        I downvote (rarely) in 2 cases:

        • obviously bogus code or bad advice: posts are here to stay, and I think the downvotes help teach people that they should really know what they are talking about when they publish code, and that they should test it before posting. BTW that's also why my favorite code style is a complete script with the DATA part holding test data: this allows readers to download and test the code, and to add more tests if they want to. If there is no further post correcting the mistake then I post a correction, otherwise I believe the -- is enough.
        • trolls, or really bad meditation, especially deliberatelly provocative ones. Some monks make a habit of posting before they have really thought about a problem, I think it is worth --'ing them in an (often futile) attempt at making them realize that just like you should think before writing code, you should think before posting.

        I think a lot of newcomers start by posting a lot, often bad quality posts, in order to gain XP. The downvotes help teaching them the proper behaviour, which is to post accurate code and well-thought out meditations. Posting should not translate into automatic XPs.

        "I'd like a downvote to give the voter a chance of losing one XP."

        I'd like to propose a somewhat less drastic change. I think it shouldn't be possible for the voter to gain XP by downvoting. As it is right now, I could spend all my votes downvoting and still climb in 'experience' as a result.


        Everything went worng, just as foreseen.

        In the root post, I pointed out that I was probably going to get downvoted for the node was because I was going to talk about a fairly controversial topic that I know quite a few people will disagree with.

        If you walk into a park and there's a sign on it that says "Anything goes," chances are that after some mishaps (theft, fights, etc.), even if the sign says no rules, that the regulars will begin to agree on a type of etiquette. In the case of my root node, I was pointing out a particular type of question, as well as how the question was asked.

        When I said Am I being paranoid... I was asking whether or not there was some sort of "etiquette" that had developed in the CB. According to most of the replies, the answer is no.

        When I wrote the After -3 rep..., there were only 3 replies or so (I think). By time I finished writing, there were a few more replies (I should note it was like 3AM or something and I was half asleep). I'm just trying to start a discussion on the "etiquette (or lack thereof)" that may have developed over time in the chatterbox. For example, in places like #perl (on IRC), CGI/Apache/WWW specific questions are frowned upon.

        In posting this node, I was hoping to start a interesting debate... And, from the looks of it, it somewhat backfired. Oh well...

        Theodore Charles III
        Network Administrator
        Los Angeles Senior High
        4650 W. Olympic Blvd.
        Los Angeles, CA 90019
        323-937-3210 ext. 224
        email->secon_kun@hotmail.com
        perl -e "map{print++$_}split//,Mdbnr;"
Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by ignatz (Vicar) on Apr 12, 2002 at 17:32 UTC
    > Chances are I'll get downvoted for this.

    Arg! Nothing sings to the -- demons of my soul sweeter than starting off a node with a gripe about getting downvoted. Yet, I will resist the call of their dulcet song simply because I think that it's an interesting point.

    I kinda/sorta disagree with you. For me it's a sort of an everything in moderation kinda thing. Maybe someday there will be a private chatterbox feature that people can take these discussions into. Hmmm, that sounds kinda fun...

    ()-()
     \"/
      `                                                   ` 
    
Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
by dthacker (Deacon) on Apr 12, 2002 at 22:07 UTC
    "Am I being paranoid/silly?" Paranoid? No. Silly? Yes!

    "...should I be shocked that someone used this place as a helpdesk for a totally unrelated subject?

    I'm not shocked at all. There are a lot of helpful, knowledgeable people here.

    We enforce our own standards of what questions are appropriate and what are not. Monks are a pretty disciplined bunch and the content of the monastery reflects that. I think it's unlikely we are going to see the CB turn into the newbie help desk.

    The person eventually got their problem solved, which is cool. It was, in fact, a Perl problem.

    Not all subjects are as OT as they may appear!

    I think the whole point of this rant is: "If you are doing anything that is beyond your level of understanding, you should at least know where to go for the appropriate help."

    My counter-point would be, "If they're in the wrong place, at least point them in a productive direction"

    Dave


    Code On!

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