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Re: When do we change our replies?

by ww (Bishop)
on Apr 16, 2012 at 02:01 UTC ( #965225=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to When do we change our replies?

"We could bitch that we don't .... "

Or, we could point out that using a C-style loop is un-lazy and thus unPerlish, without bitching. Without the explanation of why we offer the alternate syntax, the reply probably wouldn't be much help to a newcomer... and a newcomer who takes the trouble to include code, pay attention to formatting and some of the other desiderata listed in our FAQs deserves (IMO) the best possible answer... given any shortcomings (if any) in the problem statement.

"But what if they wanted the iteration number? "

Again, IMO, if they didn't mention that in the OP or a follow up, should we try to use our broken crystal balls to guide our replies?

As to a common guide, which I believe is the subject of your question given the amplification in your last sentence, "Is there consistency is my inquiry..." -- I'm not aware of one, other than the examples provided by the most knowledgeable and helpful Monks. And as several recent threads have highlighted, there's certainly something less than consensus about just how to handle the worst of poorly written questions and the "gimme's."

Addendum:

Suppose the next SOPW you see goes like this:

OP: How do I print hello?

A1: Use print which is explained in print.

Q2: Yeah, but how do I do that?

A2a: Read the documentation linked in A1.
A2b: What have you tried? Show us your code and we can probably help you.
A2c: The answer is shown in Perl versions of 'Hello, world.' Google can help you find your answer. We don't write your code for you, but we'll be glad to help you learn if something's still not clear.

Q3: You're not telling me what I need to know. And anyway, those samples show how to print something to a screen. I want to print it to dead treees and since you're experts you can just tell me how to do it.

A3: There are several answers to that:

  • You didn't make your question specific when you first asked it..."print" often means "print to screen and I suspect A1 and A2c thought that was what you meant.
  • To do what you want you'll need to read (...good doc refs)
  • Yes, we could tell you how to do it, but you'll learn more by studying and trying to do it on your own. We're here to help when your attempts fail (but note A2b).

Q4: So go to hell if you don't want to help, you #){P*{ monkeys! I bet I'll get an answer at StackOverFlow, so there...

Is A1 a "good" answer: I would argue 'yes' as it tells someone who looks to be a beginner how to find some documentation... a skill that beginner will need to progress beyond the novice level.

But how about answer A2a thru A2c: To my taste, c is the best answer, because the writer now has some evidence that the OP is looking for a script rather than information or knowledge... a view that (in my eyes) is reinforced by the OP's final statement.

That said, if you emulate the form of replies you admire, you'll develop your own style of helpful responses.


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Re^2: When do we change our replies?
by stevieb (Hermit) on Apr 16, 2012 at 02:05 UTC
    That said, if you emulate the form of replies you admire, you'll develop your own style of helpful responses.

    I am finding this, at a slower pace than I am finding my own coding style.

    Thanks, ww

Re^2: When do we change our replies?
by Argel (Prior) on Apr 16, 2012 at 06:43 UTC
    A good general rule is if you are no longer being polite then it's time to bail. A2c fails on that front, so bail. A2a seems to be pointless unless you think they missed the link, so bail. A2b is okay, though I would suggest asking them directly what they find confusing and then bail if they still show little to no effort. Q3 is clearly time to bail, and may be time for Consideration. Q4 probably deserves to be reaped.

    Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks
    My deviantART gallery

      Why do you say "A2c fails on (the politeness) front?" What criteria for politeness am I simply not seeing?

        The "We don't write your code for you" part. They have not specifically asked you too yet, so you are projecting your feelings and your interpretation of the situation onto them.

        Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks
        My deviantART gallery

Re^2: When do we change our replies? (Strawmen)
by Anonymous Monk on Apr 16, 2012 at 19:55 UTC

    Your addendum is a blatant strawman argument. On a site that sees at most 15 SoPWs per day how many of those are anywhere near what you describe? Let's give you the benefit of the doubt and say 20%, about three, every day violate your specific terms of service. So what?

    Is it that overwhelming an amount for the current regulars to handle? Are these three or four so difficult to ignore approving, front paging or answering? If so that doesn't speak well for this place.

    I like to think most monks have been a little more capable of being able to tell what is worth their time

      Right now, we suffer from a practice (NOT a "policy") of approving almost anything which is not blatantly off topic or outright spam. That's an unfortunate practice that seems, to me, to have developed over the last two or possibly three years.

      And guess what: in the same span, the volume of well-written SOPW has diminished.

      Worse, we have some folk (XP whoring? unable to evaluate the quality of a post? something else?) upvoting questions like the initial one in the thread you characterize as a strawman argument. Take a look at the last 24 or 48 hours worth of new questions. There are certainly some good ones, well asked; formatted readably; and non-obvious. But then look at the rest.

      Now, I know the phrase "non-obvious" is a red flag to some, so just to make it clear: If the question is "how do I print hello? I don't understand (some quote from a doc or example). I regard that as a perfectly reasonable question. I still have times when the documentation seems as opaque as some of our laws, but I don't regard a question as reasonable if it leads me to believe the poster hasn't even tried to solve the problem other than by asking others to solve it.

        "Worse, we have some folk (XP whoring? unable to evaluate the quality of a post? something else?) upvoting questions like the initial one in the thread you characterize as a strawman argument. Take a look at the last 24 or 48 hours worth of new questions. There are certainly some good ones, well asked; formatted readably; and non-obvious. But then look at the rest."

        XP whoring?!?!? REALLY? I would call someone who has consistently enjoyed anywhere from one to two dozen upvotes every time he gives a snarky lecture filled with RTFM/Read the FAQ/How NOT to Post links, hundreds of times over the years an XP Whore. But that may just be me.

        You've been told this before but it seems it needs repeating over the corpse of a fly ridden horse: IGNORE the posts! If you can't then by all means /msg the OP. But that would take all the fun out of it for you wouldn't it?

        If we're going to make nonsensical correlations than let's look at the lack of poems, obfus and golf posts. Since pedantry by it's very nature is anti-imaginative I would argue that your (and other's) incessant nagging has killed any fun, creative spirit this place once had.

        Right now, we suffer from a practice (NOT a "policy") of approving almost anything which is not blatantly off topic or outright spam. That's an unfortunate practice that seems, to me, to have developed over the last two or possibly three years.

        Actually, that has been policy for a lot more years than three. Not approving an honest attempt at a question because it fails to rise to your preferred level of quality is mostly just a recipe for a lot of duplicate postings of that question.

        And I expect that practice has very close to zero impact on how likely somebody is to post a question that falls below your standards and very close to zero impact on how likely somebody is to post a question that meets your standards. It certainly can't be to blame for your perceived recent decline in quality since it predates it by years.

        My main advice to everybody related to this is for one to only respond to questions where one has something helpful to offer in response and for which one is particularly suited to answer.

        And I specifically prefer for people to be slow to offer purely "meta" replies.

        If you have "meta" information to offer in reply (like help about posting or about composing questions or searching or not posting, etc.), then feel free to include that when you reply with actually helpful information that is directly in reply to the question asked. If you don't have any non-meta helpful information to offer, then please wait because the odds are pretty good that somebody will come along fairly soon that is better than you at answering that specific question or at understanding what was being asked.

        If the question has actually gone unanswered for a reasonably long time, then look at it again and try harder to come up with something to offer that is on-topic to the question. But if you still can't and you feel you have the eloquence to communicate helpful meta information effectively (which means in a manner where the OP will actually follow some of the advice and then get some helpful non-meta information as a result), then reply.

        And if you are an expert and can offer something useful in reply to almost every single question posted, then give other members a chance to reply to the more basic questions. Concentrate on adding more value by providing more advanced information in clarification / corrections or for advanced questions or questions where you have special expertise (or go do something, ya know, useful with some of your time).

        If a question annoys you, then minimize your annoyance by immediately moving on to something more enjoyable for you. Please try to refrain from sharing your annoyance so that we all get to suffer from it. Most of you are probably even clever enough to figure out a lot of the questions that are likely to end up annoying you so you can avoid even clicking through to them in the first place.

        If a question annoys everybody, then everybody will ignore it. The history of the internet says that's one of the best ways to end something. If the question doesn't annoy everybody, then we have a case of somebody asking a question and some others willingly answering the question via a web site. That sounds a lot like "success".

        If you can't deal with an unworthy (to you) question getting answered by willing, unannoyed people, then I invite you to start your own website and endeavor to not invite any of these people that annoy you to use it and wish you good luck with that.

        I'll probably stick around here where I find, for the most part, that the annoying types eventually fit in or move on. So I don't mind much when somebody new does something annoying. I mostly ignore their annoying action and soon enough their acts are either less annoying or much less frequent (especially when others who are annoyed manage to also mostly ignore it). And in the mean time, I'm not particularly annoyed, because I'm ignoring.

        - tye        

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