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Re: Re: Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?by agentv (Friar)
|on Sep 06, 2002 at 16:48 UTC||Need Help??|
...NO, NO, NO! Don't stop.
With due respect to the observations made here that sometimes bad information in a forum may take on a life of its own, I would submit that this is the anomaly in a healthy and active forum.
TMTOWTDI applies not only to coding but to participation in a forum. If you as an experienced member, are weary of correcting mistakes, you can stand aside and let someone who is not as "battle-hardened" take care of the issue. Or you could post a pointer to something that has already been written that addresses the concern. The only way that this is of grave concern (this being the posting of incorrect information) is when you feel that you must personally correct all mistakes that appear here.
I had another instructor lament to me that while teaching complex material, it is not okay to oversimplify in the interest of initial understanding. His position was that if you omit any of the details, then people fill in the gaps with their own notions of how things work. This can sometimes lead them down blind alleys.
To that I say, "perhaps." On the other hand, their self-created misconceptions may not be destructive at all. If I believe that my car starts each day because I light a candle and chant Dr. Seuss' "Too Many Daves" before setting out in the morning, does it matter that I don't know anything about internal combustion engines? Probably not.
And on those rare occasions when my misconception does have some bearing on the problem I face, it isn't long before I go somewhere and ask for help on the issue. I may spend some time wheel-spinning before I realize that something is wrong, but I say that this is far outweighed by the times that I was able to accomplish something in spite of my misconception. (Perhaps because of it.) My alternative is to be hamstrung by the attitude that I can't do anything unless I know all of the gory facts.
This is where the hubris comes in. It's the ability to move forward, perhaps even with an imperfect understanding of all the issues.
And back to the core issue. Should you refrain from posting if you're not sure? I say that this community would suffer if you decided not to post out of fear that your post would cause some damage. It would suffer because when thoughtful and conscientious members do not post out of fear, that leaves only the true experts (and we can go down to the Barnes and Noble to hear what they have to say) and those who are unaware that they're off base.
And then this would be something similar to the newsgroups, which I stopped reading long ago because it felt to me that everyone who was not fully expert had their posts met with ridicule and derision.
Perl Monks is valuable because of posts from people like you. Even when you're wrong, it adds something of value to the dialog. And as someone pointed out (very helpfully) here, if you're not 100% sure, then include a disclaimer. (If it seems ironic that we should be humble and display hubris at the same time, that's just how life works sometimes.)
...All the world looks like -well- all the world,
when your hammer is Perl.