in reply to
Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?
Well, it seems that the general consensus is that you shouldn't post unless you know you're right.
And, they have a valid point. Your wrong answer might lead the questioner astray. Moreover your answer, if
mistaken for wisdom, may spread like a cancer infecting program after program with bad code. Yes, this really happens!
The reason this happens is because, often, bad code runs. It compiles without error, often without warnings,
and produces the required result in the situation offered. If it didn't, it wouldn't spread very far.
The result is that security suffers, modules are poorly written and widely adopted forcing everyone else
to hack their own work to accomodate it's mistakes, and programming gets a little harder for all.
It does happen, but if you refrain from posting can you prevent that? I don't think so. The above happens
not simply because a wrong answer was given, but because no better answer was seen. Some piece of crucial
knowledge was not made available (or came too late) that could have lead to a better understanding of what
is involved. Thankfully though, PerlMonks is a community with a deep talent pool at it's desposal, and we can always
refer back to the wisdom from the past. Wrong answers usually lead to a correction, with an explaination of
why it needed correcting. And, in my humble opinoin, more is often learned from these corrections, than from
the correct answers themselves. These discussions give us things a canned correct answer cannot, insight into
the experiences of others that lead to better programming.
Yes it would be more concise and efficient if the best answer was always the first given. But, to me
the best answer should be a complete answer, including the why(s) and not just the how(s). In my experience this
is rarely done though. Only in the messy fray that ensues after a wrong answer (and usually the more wrong the
better), can you seem to find this.
So post. Test first and think through your answer. If you're not completely sure, say so. Those are your obligations
if you choose to be helpful. But don't worry. If you're wrong, your answer might destroy programming as we know
it, but it's more likely that your answer will infuse more knowledge into the discussion than would have otherwise surfaced.
You, as well as others, might learn something from it.
-- O thievish Night, Why should'st thou, but for some felonious end, In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars? --Milton