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### Reactionary Posting

 on Jul 02, 2002 at 19:39 UTC Need Help??

I've posted as Anonymous because while I feel many will agree, I also feel many people will take offense.

It seems to me that lately, there has been a bit of an elitist attitude running around here, specifically in the SoPW category. I watch Newest Nodes pretty frequently and it always looks like a race to see who can answer "Read the manual / Do your own homework / Use this module, stupid!" first and gain a few measly XP from their competitors... who will doubtlessly agree with them, wanting to post the same things themselves.

I regularly upvote people who say "Well, you should try it yourself first, but 'here' are some resources, 'here' is an example, 'here' is a module" and attempt to point people in the right direction. At least they're trying to help.
Replies like "Have you searched Google?" or "Use CPAN!" I tend to ignore or vote down.
Replies with "use Attitude::Rudeness" I almost always give -- to.

Put yourself in the shoes of those humbly requesting advice, especially those who have bothered to register and become a monk. No doubt you've found yourself in their shoes before. Maybe a manager has asked you to "over the weekend, brush up a little on .NET, we need something by Tuesday" and your first move was to find a community site like this? Do you know how to make a hash in .NET? Do they even have them? One easy way to find out... Ask!
They've come here to form an integral part of the community, and they're getting hit with a pretty nasty welcome.
I don't know if it's people who recieved nasty replies their first few times to Perlmonks, or what, but I notice a lot of mid-level monks simply brushing off the greenhorns.
Think about it, folks, how boring would it be without fresh faces here and there? Who wants to listen to the Old Guard compare notes all day when the general buzz about Perlmonks is "stay away unless you're some kind of adept" and we get no new users?

By turning these people away rudely, without hints, or with worthless hints like "try a search engine" to gain a few measly XP, we weaken the community. Who knows, maybe the Novice who has been lurking for months will come up with the next great Perl advance and we will never see it because we replied nastily to his innocent question.

By souring new visitors, we only make sour mid-level users who wander off before ever nearing Abbot, Saint, etc.

Maybe their questions are stupid, maybe they're just looking for homework help. If so, ignore them. There are better ways to gain levels than to slam them and then enjoy a good round of XP high-fiving with your friends.

When was the last time a "how do I lock a file?" question actually hurt you? Reply when you have something useful to say to Perl initiates, folks.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Reactionary Posting
by footpad (Monsignor) on Jul 02, 2002 at 22:28 UTC

Hm. You may be right, there may have been a few replies that could've been handled a little more diplomatically. However, this isn't the first time the subject has come up:

There are, of course, several other nodes that I could have linked to. However, I feel these provide a good overview of the basic ideals of the place and how previous conversations along those lines have gone. You may note I sorted then by ID, which means they appear pretty much sorted by post date. I find it interesting that certain themes are echoed in each of them.

BTW, if anyone hasn't seen these threads already (or re-read them in some time), I recommend taking a few moments with them. There's a bit of static in a few of the replies, but the basic ideals are pretty easy to discern.

Now, if anyone feels the need to confess, feel free...

--f

P.S. I'm sorry you felt the need to post anonymously; the sentiments you expressed are worth taking a stand for.

Re: Reactionary Posting
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on Jul 02, 2002 at 19:47 UTC

I don't know. In general I certainly agree that the place could be more helpful and personally I try to give advice to newbies such that they're not left knowing a bit more but just as baffled as before. It can be hard to do as one has to try keeping in mind all the little bits of info a more seasoned Perl programmer takes for granted, which a newbie has yet to figure out.

On the other hand I don't think things are as dire as you make them out to be, even if they could be better. I have noticed that there has been a trend to be somewhat cut and dry with replies, but in my observations there almost always also is a healthy number of sufficiently helpful replies.

With regard to the "use This::Module" replies, sometimes I personally have little experience with what another monk is asking for advice about, but have heard of Some::Module which is related or addresses his problem. Should I not give him that bit of info? It's as much as I have, myself. I figure it's better than telling him nothing at all.

Makeshifts last the longest.

I agree, much ado about nothing. For every reply that could be interpreted as rude or just not very helpful I see a ton of very helpful ones, even on total beginner questions like comparing two hashes. Posting rashly is something that newbies will sometimes do when they first start to get the hang of the site, but they get over it in time. I don't think we have an epidemic here.
Re: Reactionary Posting
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Jul 02, 2002 at 20:08 UTC

I have also noticed several rather useless replies lately, but I don't know that the ratio is substantially worse than a year ago. I'm also not convinced that you can divine that the reason for posting tersely is to gain XP quickly. (Hey, sometimes I post one-liners, and I can't tell you the last time I looked at the rating of one of my posts.)

To make a short post longer, I agree with the premise of being silent if you have nothing to contribute, but I think your judgments are a little careless.

Re: Reactionary Posting
by dws (Chancellor) on Jul 03, 2002 at 00:16 UTC
By turning these people away rudely, without hints, or with worthless hints like "try a search engine" to gain a few measly XP, we weaken the community.

I will counter this in part by repeating an admonition from Homework and the Monastery:

As we consider whether to lend our assistance, let us distinguish between

1. Those who come seeking guidance, and
2. Those who come seeking to have some problem solved for them.

The former are often worthy of assistance, particularly when they provide evidence that they've made a decent stab at their problem. Here is were we grow the community, by lending a helping hand to those who have sought first to help themselves, as other have often done for us. Even so, we must take care to not cheat the seeker out of the pleasure of solving the problem themselves. As the proverb suggests: Offer advice on fishing, rather than fish.

The latter seekers should also be handled with care. Let us be charitable, and seek first to set their feet upon the path to self knowledge. Provide hints. Point to the docs. Give the seeker an opportunity to rise to their problem. But if that fails, let their nodes be reaped.

(shockme) Re: Reactionary Posting
by shockme (Chaplain) on Jul 03, 2002 at 03:23 UTC
It seems to me that lately, there has been a bit of an elitist attitude running around here...

*sigh*

How many times do I have to say it? There is a huge difference between being an elitist and simply being a genetically superior being. As the saying goes, the downside of being better than everyone else is that people tend to assume you're pretentious.

NB: it's humor people. learn it. love it. live it. it's not like we're gonna get out of this place alive.....

If things get any worse, I'll have to ask you to stop helping me.

Re: Reactionary Posting
by Marza (Vicar) on Jul 02, 2002 at 21:39 UTC

I don't know if it is that bad. I too have noticed a bit of an elitist attitude by some of the monks. Yet, there are very helpful ones as well.

A post is a lousy form of communication because you can't always get what the author meant by a remark.

As to the homework issues? Well that is a debatable call. Some times you wonder if it is someone who is looking for someone else to do their work. You can pretty get the idea by how they word the question. One thing I have seen is that if a person is doing homework and they post a question with source; they always get replies as it shows they are making an effort.

Personally, I try to help. I at least will point them in a direction as exploring Perl is the fun part of it all! ;)

Re: Reactionary Posting
by Sifmole (Chaplain) on Jul 03, 2002 at 01:00 UTC
I won't post anonymously.

If what you say is worth saying, then it is worth putting your name on it. If you believe what you say, then you should be willing to put your name on it. If you are not willing to put your name on it, then why should I invest my effort in focusing on it.

There have always been "RTFM", "use this module", and "google it" answers -- but it is rare that a question doesn't get answered more completely by someone else. "RTFM", "use this module", and "google it" are all valid answers. One of the beauties of the Monestary is that we are not limited to get just one answer to our question, so we can be told "RTFM", etc but still get a more explicit answer from another.

Who cares if newbies "wander off before ever nearing Abbot, Saint, etc"? We should just care if they contribute, if they make the monestary better. Someone who is unwilling to "RTFM" to find modules or answers will add nothing to the monestary by always taking only what the monestary already has.

There are some monks that have a bit of rough exterior most of the time, others that do occasionally, and almost all can be "misunderstood" at some point. I however think that there is a bit too many "thin-skinned" people hanging around as well.

-- Sifmole

Re: Reactionary Posting
by FoxtrotUniform (Prior) on Jul 03, 2002 at 04:57 UTC

I may as well weigh in on this one, too.

First: I like RTFM nodes. That is, I like to see terse replies of the form "Here's the FM, read it or go away". I try to make a habit of upvoting these nodes, because they're incredibly high in signal and low in noise. They give the newbie valuable information -- a pointer to the appropriate documentation, and quite often suggestions for how best to use said docs -- and they don't waste any time repeating what's been said ten thousand times already. "RTFM" without even a hint as to which FM is to be read is not especially useful, and I think it's those nodes that you're complaining about.

And that's the problem: I only think that I know what nodes you're complaining about. I don't know, I don't even have any examples. Granted, I don't grovel through Seekers of Perl Wisdom and the dozens (hundreds?) of nodes that it generates on a daily basis, so I may have missed an underground explosion of incivility, but you (whoever you are) obviously haven't: please, point me to all of these "rude", "worthless", "elitist", "XP-whoring" nodes. I've missed them, and from the sounds of it they're well worth my downvotes.

From what I've seen -- and though I try to be diligent in my studies of the FM and CPAN and the like, I've managed to post some pretty dumb questions -- the nodes you're complaining about exist more in myth than in reality. You obviously have a more than passing familiarity with Perl Monks, and likely a strong command of the site's linking conventions. Show me the problem, and I'll support you without hesitation. I don't want this site to turn into a slashdot s/Linux/Perl/g any more than you do.

Put up or shut up.

--
The hell with paco, vote for Erudil!
:wq

Re: Reactionary Posting
by atcroft (Monsignor) on Jul 03, 2002 at 15:01 UTC

A thought-provoking post, my dear sir (or madam, as the case may be).

Yes, I have posted some shorter and even longer postings that basically said, "have you tried these resources?" because quite honestly, I didn't think they had made an effort. And no, I didn't do them for the XP, because I think XP is just a way to show if a particular posting was interesting or useful to someone. In the former, I gave a short description of the process involved; in the second, I suggested searching, and provided a link to a previous posting which covered much of what was being asked; and in the latter, perhaps I did "go off" on the poster, but it seemed very obvious that so little effort had been put in at that point-but even then I provided links to two or three relevant pages both on and off-site, as well as additional resources s/he might consider.

Short of a few postings in Discussions or Meditations, though, in each response I have at least tried to give a suggestion I though would be helpful. And yes, I feel I have been burnt by a [id://143064}home]work question or two before, but even in my responses then, the information is there (in that case, though, obscured only to those not willing to take the time to get work to get it). I really doubt, however, that responses that don't at least give some direction get rated all that highly. Questions asked in the pursuit of knowledge are never stupid, even when we fall on our face in the process. My opinion, however.

You say to put ourselves in the shoes of those new ones just coming in. I did. I looked for an answer to a problem, couldn't find one, signed up, and posted what I thought/hoped was an intelligent question, got back useful responses, and stayed. Then, after a few posts, I slowed down to take in the feel of the site, and started posting only when I felt I could make a contribution (however small). I learned about the CB, more about how to use the site, and tried to make my use of the site more effective. Now it has been over a year, and I'm still working at trying to use the site more effectively, as well as trying to offer a glimmer of knowledge once in a while in all the noise I might generate.

There seems to be a growing feeling that the Internet is a panacea, that you should just be able to sit at a keyboard and the answers should come without having to expend even so much effort as to type briefly. I'm sorry-yes, the Internet is a great thing, but it's a great thing only because it allows easier communication of ideas and questions. The Internet may be a rather nebulous cloud (as it is oft depicted in network drawings), but the "silver lining" to it is merely people like you and I, sitting behind a machine.

Perhaps there are some terse answers, and perhaps some of them hurt the feelings of the recipients sometimes, but that may be as much from being thin-skinned, too expectant of something for nothing, and too wrapped-up in the idea of being "politically correct." Well, TANSTAAFL, and real life is an even harsher place than on-line. I'll try to not smack people so hard with the rod, but I fully expect the rod of correction (of thought processes, or behaviors) to be applied (with sufficient guidance) when it will be of appropriate effect.

Re: Reactionary Posting
by bronto (Priest) on Jul 03, 2002 at 08:36 UTC

Dear felllow

Your post made me make deep conscience examination. I examined my latest 20 nodes, and I found just two that I would like to your judgement.

The first one is Etiquette, maybe OT (was: Re: PERL and HTML), in reply to peacemaker1820's Populating HTML form fields from database (was: PERL and HTML).

That node's text showed up very well in the list of SoPW, due to its formatting. And, as I said in my reply, I think that this community would be a better place if people will focus on the question title, rather than on where to put some bold and italics here and there (BTW, the node was considered and retitled).

I'm a monk since a fortnight, but it didn't take me a lot to understand how to format code snippets, how to quote someone else's text and so on. Education should live on both sides, the asker's and the monks'. My reply, and my -- to the question, were an attempt to make peacemaker1820 and other askers aware of the existance of an etiquette in the monastery. Am I guilty for that?

The second node was Re: Search And Replace, in reply to 178455. Ok, we are here to help, but... really you know how to do /$user/ and you don't know that you need to add an i? Seriously, brother, did him even try to read the docs? I'd like to make it clear that I don't mind to reply to questions I find obvious, like how do I get a sorted array out of this hash?. But, again, it's a matter of education: don't waste our time and we'll don't waste yours. My two cents of Euro Ciao! --bronto # Another Perl edition of a song: # The End, by The Beatles END {$you->take($love) eq$you->made($love) ; } Re: Reactionary Posting by grinder (Bishop) on Jul 03, 2002 at 17:30 UTC By turning these people away rudely, without hints, or with worthless hints like "try a search engine" to gain a few measly XP, we weaken the community. Who knows, maybe the Novice who has been lurking for months will come up with the next great Perl advance and we will never see it because we replied nastily to his innocent question. On this specific point (gaining a few measly XP) I don't think you have much to worry about. Between a post that says RTFM and another post that adopts a more pedagogical approach with a couple of code examples, it's a no-brainer: the latter gets the ++ and the former gets nothing. Or possibly, from now on, a -- if it appears to be rude. Then again, if the sole response is a terse link to a CPAN module, that also gets a ++, because at least the person has been helped out. Use your votes with care, and if people start to see that a terse answer garners them 2XP, and a well thought out vote answer garners them 20, they will start putting more effort into their answers. Personally, I have a lot of respect for people who manage to answer the 27th post on how to compare two arrays, courteously or otherwise. These days I just tend to skip over those sorts of questions. print@_{sort keys %_},$/if%_=split//,'= & *a?b:e\f/h^h!j+n,o@o;r\$s-t%t#u'
Re: Reactionary Posting
by Mission (Hermit) on Jul 03, 2002 at 15:03 UTC
Dear Anonymous Monk,

Advocacy is everyone's duty in the Monastery. Some take that charge much more seriously than others, and some don't want that duty at all. I like your attitudes expressed in the post. Yet at the same time, I wonder why the secrecy? Why post as AM? To avoid offending people? I don't think what you posted would offend someone. People may disagree with your philosophy, but disagreement (though sometimes painful) typically leads to growth.

I know that I have messed up big time at the Monastery before. While I was embarrassed at the time, I surely wouldn't post as AM to avoid offending people. It was my mistake and I was greatly humbled by it.

It was your choice to post as AM. I'm glad you did post though. It was the first time I ++ a post by AM. I just hope that you don't use AM as a shield. Present yourself. Be accountable.

- Mission

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