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Does an idea have value?

by BrowserUk (Pope)
on Feb 03, 2003 at 07:28 UTC ( #232157=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

That is, does the statement,

I have an idea that might be of use to you in solving your problem, but I am unsure of enough of the detail to offer an implementation or even to know if the idea has any real possibility of working.

have any merit either to the OP of the problem, or to perlmonks as a whole?

Occasionally, I see a question here, that despite being beyond my knowledge base (eg. unix), I think I see a possibility for an easier or better solution than those already presented. I am unable to supply a tested answer, and am not in a position to know if the idea has merit in the target environment as there are inevitably sufficient differences in implementation details cross-systems, even when the concepts themselves are generic.

What should I do?

  1. Post my germ of an idea with as much detail as I can muster in the hope that the OP or others will be able to expand it to fruition or discount it based on their greater experience/knowledge?
  2. Only post if I can do sufficient research via the web or elsewhere to allow me to prove the idea could work.
  3. Only post it if I can somehow muster enough research material to piece together a plausible (but obviously untested) implementation of the idea.
  4. Keep my dumb ideas to myself?

A[ ] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]?

Cut&paste, check a box as an answer will do, if discussion would be too difficult. Anonymonk can answer as many times as s/he likes.

Personally, if I am really stuck on a problem--stuck enough that I feel the need to post a question here or elsewhere--whilst I am more than happy to receive a fully authorative, worked solution. In it's absence, I am also happy to receive a speculative possibility for one. Although these can lead me to expend effort that is notionally wasted, if the idea doesn't pan out, I still value it because sometimes the fresh perspective/approach to a solution can cause me to think different and arrive at a solution that I might otherwise never have thought of. Besides, sometimes they pan out and I'm a happy bunny.

Am I alone in thinking this way?

If this prompts enough people to answer, for me to draw a consensus or majority community opinion, I will base my future action when these speculative ideas pop into my head on that, explicit or perceived, consensus.


Examine what is said, not who speaks.

The 7th Rule of perl club is -- pearl clubs are easily damaged. Use a diamond club instead.

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Re: Does an idea have value?
by integral (Hermit) on Feb 03, 2003 at 07:35 UTC
    A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]

    Perl monks after all is about Perl, not about knowing every environment on the planet.

    --
    integral, resident of freenode's #perl
    
Re: Does an idea have value?
by Heidegger (Hermit) on Feb 03, 2003 at 07:41 UTC
    It is not easy to put a strict rule on discussions and communication. There is such thing as a common sense. If one feels that his/her ideas are relevant, then he's welcome to input. Why to obey rules, better trust your intuition and experience.
Re: Does an idea have value?
by AcidHawk (Vicar) on Feb 03, 2003 at 07:46 UTC

    A[X] B[] C[] D[]
    Often, even though a definitive answer in not provided, I find some-one elses ideas extremely helpful.

    I may be so tied up in trying to solve an issue I have, that I don't always consider that there may be a different, if not better, approach.

    Think outside the box type stuff.. isn't always so easy to do when you are faced with a deadline or head banging problem... I would vote that you post your suggestions/ideas and let the community or poster decide if they want to use your comments.

    I also often find that just talking to some-one else, whether they understand my problem or not, is helpful as it stimulates thought processes differently, that otherwise may not have been invoked.

    -----
    Of all the things I've lost in my life, its my mind I miss the most.
Re: Does an idea have value?
by robartes (Priest) on Feb 03, 2003 at 07:56 UTC
    I'm fine with A. I do try to specify explicitely that I'm out in pink cuckoo land when I'm posting out of my knowledge base (Windows, for me), but some of my previous posts have shown that I see no problem whatsoever in expressing my dumb ideas all over this forum. So, my answer would be: yes, post away, but specify that some salt might be required in the digestion of the answer.

    If you are someone that cares about XP (I don't think you are, FWIW :) ), you might refrain from this though - I have gotten the occasional (or even systematic) downvote for posting nebulous pointers instead of definitive answers.

    As an aside, reading the title to this discussion, I thought is was going to be about copyright. I'm happy it is not :).

    CU
    Robartes-

Re: Does an idea have value?
by thezip (Vicar) on Feb 03, 2003 at 08:04 UTC

    Definitely A.

    One thing I remember from my early days of engineering schooling is that I must look at *all* of the possibilities -- even if some of the ideas are not fully developed or even slightly non-sensical.

    Often new and better solutions are derived by sleeping on these crazy ideas -- sometimes the ideas contain hidden merits that may cause you/others to see the problem in a different light. That is why discussion is so effective.

    What's important is the end result. Did a fellow monk ultimately get the answer the were looking for?

    BTW, I highly value your opinion, because you always seem to be spot on.

    Where do you want *them* to go today?
Re: Does an idea have value?
by JaWi (Hermit) on Feb 03, 2003 at 09:08 UTC
    A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]

    Like others already said, you should always look at all the available possibilities before solving something. If you think your idea solves the problem from a different angle, you should present it; after all we're all here to expand (and share) our knowledge!

    -- JaWi

    "A chicken is an egg's way of producing more eggs."

Re: Does an idea have value?
by Abigail-II (Bishop) on Feb 03, 2003 at 09:50 UTC
    I'd like to say A, but considering the many "ideas" I see posted here which wouldn't solve the questions asked, I'd pick B.

    Abigail

Re: Does an idea have value?
by castaway (Parson) on Feb 03, 2003 at 11:46 UTC
    A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]
    - I'm not sure what *you* should do, but personally I'd rather share my ideas and get voted out/shouted down (as also happens sometimes), than keep quiet. I think we learn more that way, even if the idea we had was completely off track/irrelevant.
    You have to be able to take being told that your idea was wrong/irrelevant though :)

    C.

Re: Does an idea have value?
by Solo (Deacon) on Feb 03, 2003 at 12:41 UTC
    A[ ] B[X] C[ ] D[ ]

    I have started typing responses only to get about half-way through them and thought, "Wow, this is a cool idea, but I have no idea if it will work." Generally I don't post that sort of message (now) because:

    • it usually doesn't work
    • it's only a cool idea to me
    • there's too many @#$!ing nodes already
    For instance, right now I really want to get into the OO-style modifiers for 'sub' discussion, but I've been too busy researching Class:: modules to test any code ideas, so I'm staying out. Chances are that discussion may be worn-out by the time I get back there, but that's better than extra noise right now, IMHO.

    My policy for right now is to respond with untested ideas only in very familiar ground, which is Win32 for me.

    --
    May the Source be with you.

Re: Does an idea have value?
by vek (Prior) on Feb 03, 2003 at 13:20 UTC
    BrowserUk,

    A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]

    I think it has to be 'A'. I'm of the opinion that you should post an idea even if you are not an expert on the subject. Others will then have an opportunity to give their input and perhaps expand on your idea. This way everybody learns something - the OP, you, lurkers etc.

    -- vek --
Re: Does an idea have value?
by Ctrl-z (Friar) on Feb 03, 2003 at 14:12 UTC
    This is a problem that has come up for me, not so much in the capacity of Perlmonks - where I am definitely here to seek wisdom not hand it out - but on some other forums

    My own litmus test for these situations is this -

    "This is just an idea, but, if it captures the imagination of whoever it was directed at, am I willing to make the effort to communicate the methods in my madness".

    That can be a surprising amount of work, but its not the same thing as "Only post if I can do sufficient research via the web or elsewhere to allow me to prove the idea could work.". These are informal forums, albeit with a certain high standard. If someone wants infallible support, then they should pay for it.

    If your willing to follow through, then IMHO its all good. As you say, sometimes just getting a feel for different perspectives on your problem is more important than getting an authorative answer.

    Can I have a vowel please, Carol...
Re: Does an idea have value?
by l2kashe (Deacon) on Feb 03, 2003 at 14:28 UTC
    A, definately A.

    I had a day week before last where I decided, screw experience. I decided that even if I don't have the "correct" answer, or even a full grasp of the situation, one extra set of eyes and comments on code or ideas isn't going to hurt anyone. If it gets tested and fails miserably, then that line of thought is thrown out or flagged as bad. Not only for the question at hand, but its then documented and anyone who comes along and reads it or super searchs on that topic will see it, and the problem space is that much smaller.

    Yeah negative xp sucks, and it makes me feel lousy sometimes that people dont appreciate my input, but o well, I can get over it.

    Sometimes resolving a problem is adding small components up until you have an overall solution, and other times removing items until you have a base answer is the appropriate solution.

    "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - Sherlock Holmes

    On the side note of spurring new thought, in a recent thread I started "The need for speed", I made it a point to respond to the first few posts, and in one of them I just sort of rambled in typing a response, and then had a quick insite due to a suggestion, and typed up what I thought of it, right in the response. Turns out that I didn't actually use it, but someone else can come along, read the post, read the reply, read my rambling thought, how I got there, and the basics of why. If the thoughts are no good, then the thought process will get flamed/shredded to hell and everyone benfits

    I mean isn't this what opensource and online communities are for? If not then I am really really lost and confused :P



    /* And the Creator, against his better judgement, wrote man.c */
Re: Does an idea have value?
by data64 (Chaplain) on Feb 03, 2003 at 14:31 UTC
    A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]

    The response is unanimously A at this point.


    Just a tongue-tied, twisted, earth-bound misfit. -- Pink Floyd

Re: Does an idea have value?
by joe++ (Friar) on Feb 03, 2003 at 16:29 UTC
    A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]
    Seems like everything has been said before; my considerations:
    1. TIMTOWTDI (of course!)
    2. I'm slightly biased toward option B in a sense that the suggestion should be clearly on-topic
    Personally, I have had the positive experience with this community that my questions were answered directly (a good solution means productivity) as well as generating some phylosophical spin-offs, which, in turn, caused me to think my designs over on a higher level.

    The latter is what drives you to learn and improve oneself. So please, suggest away freely as long as it's remotely related to the OP (I guess that stands for Original Post)!

    --
    Cheers, Joe

Re: Does an idea have value?
by tye (Cardinal) on Feb 03, 2003 at 17:38 UTC

        E[X]
    Wait until the question has been around at least a couple of hours and then post your idea if nothing better has yet been posted.

                    - tye
Re: Does an idea have value?
by mpeppler (Vicar) on Feb 03, 2003 at 19:11 UTC
    I'll second tye's idea. I'll answer a question where I don't have full understanding of the target situation if no-one else has taken a stab at it, or if I have a strong feeling that the answers appear to be off-line from my understanding of the problem.

    Michael

Re: Does an idea have value?
by Coruscate (Sexton) on Feb 03, 2003 at 19:12 UTC

    Well, I wanted to make option [E], but tye has already done that, so I'll add a new option.

    [F] - All of the Above ('D' only under strict circumstances).

    A - Depends on how much you can muster with your knowledge. If you can provide an english description of how to go about it, but cannot put together the code that matches that description, absolutely. There are times that the idea just isn't founded enough (ie: Something like Couldn't we use references here?. Yes, but *how* and *where*?)

    B - Absolutely. IMHO, you don't have to be an expert on a subject in order to participate in the discussion associated with it. On the other hand, you shouldn't walk in completely ignorant on the subject and try to offer ideas that just won't even relate (this sort of response might be considered to fall under catagory 'A'). Do at least enough research that will allow you to offer your thoughts without looking like you don't know what you're talking about.

    C - This is probably the best way to go about things, but it's an unrealistic method. If every answer was required to come with a complete, working solution to get the job done, there would not be as much discussion on things. I imagine it would be a "here's how to do it, end of discussion" type of thing. Yet again, the other side of the story: others would comment on these answers, offering ways to improve upon the code and its implementation. Who knows? Maybe we'd have more intelligent discussion here. But I think it's too much to ask/demand that a person research a subject to the point that they could teach it. Unless the topic interests you, you shouldn't have to spend an hour putting one reply together. :)

    D - Absolutely Not! - No, no, no! Don't do this one, because what if your idea was right? What if you thought of a way to reduce a chunk of code by half, while at the same time improving the efficiency and clarity of the code? The only time you should consider not posting your thoughts is if you truly believe that your comments will not provide a positive contribution to the discussion. Post your thoughts. If you're right, you'll be praised. If you're wrong, some will offer reasoning as to why it doesn't function correctly, others will downvote you thinking that your answer was worthless. Take it as it comes. For every downvote you receive, I think you'll get 2 ir more upvotes.

    E (tye's answer) - Sounds good to me, though at the same time, don't think that your input would be unwelcome if others have already provided good answers. TIMTOWTDI, and it's our job to make sure that it gets done in every way possible :)


          C:\>shutdown -s
          >> Could not shut down computer:
          >> Microsoft is logged in remotely.
        

Re: Does an idea have value?
by Wysardry (Pilgrim) on Feb 03, 2003 at 23:41 UTC

    A[/] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]

    I would say A, unless the problem was already well on its way to being solved by others, when I'd lean towards B or C.

    D is probably best reserved for when the problem actually has (or appears to have) been solved to the satisfaction of the person who asked about it.

    Not only do fresh ideas send people along paths they probably wouldn't have considered themselves, they can also help solve similar problems for those searching for similar topics months or even years later.

    Of course, this is just my opinion, but you were asking for our opinions, right? :o)

    __________
    "Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to one instruction which doesn't work." -- (Author Unknown)

Re: Does an idea have value?
by steves (Curate) on Feb 03, 2003 at 23:52 UTC

    For me, definitely A. Your mileaage may vary.

    Explanation: Having written code for almost 20 years, I don't find writing the code to be the difficult part -- at least 90+% of the time. Mostly I'm looking for new ways to approach problems. Sometimes I am stuck on a very specific problem, but those generally are not the kind you can offer an idea for (e.g., how do I get this @!#$% linker line for DBD::mysql to work on Solaris 2.7).

    That being said, I think there are probably more people who are lacking the coding experience that need concrete examples and solutions. So no one answer is correct ... depends on the audience.

Re: Does an idea have value?
by submersible_toaster (Chaplain) on Feb 04, 2003 at 05:45 UTC
    A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]

    Definatly A , on the grounds that even your 'germ' of an idea could take root in more places than your 'soiled' mind! :)

    Besides, don't scribes-> have votes and bishops-> moderation facilities to sort out what is valued or otherwise. meanwhile ...


    Any ideas on win32 fork/wait/waitpid horror please direct to this.
    Update:added the boxes.

    I can't believe it's not psellchecked
      A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]

      I'll have to go with A. Often times I am about to pull my hair out, LITERALLY(you should see my balding head;o))

      Then I'll ask for help.

      Often I get some very off the wall comments(different forums not just PerlMonks), so I'll try them, often they don't work, most of the time they do, but I'll tell you this, and my wife would confirm this, I will read every post on the matter, in the thread upon which I'm focusing on(usually mine). Then I'll go to sleep frustrated, and I will dream the solution. I swear, It happens all the time. I wake up, remembering what I did in my dream, and it works!

      I probably could not do that, if I don't get to read those other "angles" on the matter.

      One time I was stuck for at least 8 days, I swear, I almost just through my dang computer away, then one time I read an answer from Dave Cross in ANOTHER thread on a different subject that had nothing to do with my problem, and it while I was dreaming I solved it, but that time I could not remember when I woke up what I did.

      So I scanned over and over the code AGAIN. Then I remembered what Dave did, so I looked at my code again and again. And I changed one field in one subroutine, and another field in a different subroutine, and it worked.

      I would never had thought of that if I had not read what Dave said.

      sometimes answers come from NOTHING AT ALL. Don't ever stop sharing your knowledge, it is TRULY POWER.

      Even if it does not belong, if a person reads it who has never known that before, they became stronger minded and a better person, because of it(provided it's upbuiding not negative).

      That is my 4 cents on the subject:o) Take Care,
      Richard.

      Sorry If I rambled on and on... It's about 1:30 am but I've been up for almost 22 hours straight. I'm seeing stars ;o)
Re: Does an idea have value?
by haxordan (Novice) on Feb 04, 2003 at 16:35 UTC

    A[X] B[X] C[ ] D[ ]

    I would say a combination of A and B. While it's great to brainstorm to solve a problem, you also need to be able to "sell" your idea should someone should think that you are on the right path to a solution. Feel free to post your ideas, but also be able to back them up (even if it's just with a toy problem) with some proof. That way, you not only will be helping others, but you will also gain experience through your testing.

    I often look at my code and think "How can I break this?" I try. That way, when I release something, I know it will indeed solve the problem it addresses. Not only does this produce good, stable code, but it also expands your knowledge of the implementation.

    Just my thoughts.

    --
    haxordan

    If the world is to end in a whisper, I hope that it's not someone whispering,"I wonder what this button does?" -DTB

Re: Does an idea have value?
by skx (Parson) on Feb 04, 2003 at 19:03 UTC

     One thing I've found in the past is that I've been sufficiently intruiged by a question to go off and research an answer myself.

     Typically I'll spend a while reading the perl documentation, playing with some test code - then discover just before posting an answer that somebody else answered it nicely.

     This is enough to make me not answer, mostly, but I don't regard it as a bad thing because it's forced me to learn something.

    Steve
    ---
    steve.org.uk
Re: Does an idea have value?
by talexb (Canon) on Feb 07, 2003 at 23:17 UTC
    A[X] B[ ] C[ ] D[ ]

    Implementations are nice, research is helpful, but neither or those is any good without the idea.

    --t. alex
    Life is short: get busy!

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