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Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?

by Abigail-II (Bishop)
on Sep 05, 2002 at 14:10 UTC ( #195373=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?

Personally, I think you should refrain from answering if you don't know your answer is correct. It drains more resources to correct mistakes than to answer questions - if only because it tends to lead to pointless discussions. But the main reason is that for this scheme to work, those that do know are now expected to read every thread and each post in the thread, to weed out mistakes. Time that could have been spend writing answers to unanswered questions.

Furthermore, there will always be a delay before an answer can be corrected - during that delay people could read the wrong answer, and take it to be correct. Only to find out they are wrong later. This will decrease the value of this site.

Abigail


Comment on Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?
•Re: Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?
by merlyn (Sage) on Sep 05, 2002 at 14:43 UTC
    Furthermore, there will always be a delay before an answer can be corrected - during that delay people could read the wrong answer, and take it to be correct.
    And then repost it somewhere else (maybe even here) as the "correct" answer.

    I've seen bad memes that refuse to die, posted again and again in response to the same FAQs.

    I'd prefer it if someone posts "this isn't tested", or "I saw this answer but there may be better ones" if that is indeed true. Even I still answer that way on the areas in which I'm not a firsthand expert.

    Over time, people can sometimes assess "This person doesn't really know as much about this particular subject as he/she thinks they do", but that's hard to pick out in the beginning, especially if they talk big. There's a particular troll in the newsgroups who is like this, leading the true beginners astray. Luckily, the experts haven't entirely given up putting prophylactic postings around the troll's answers.

    -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

Re: Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?
by hossman (Prior) on Sep 05, 2002 at 18:06 UTC
    In a realm of thought where TMTOWTDI, and in a language where different versions might contain subtle differences in behavior, and in a forum where the nature of the Q & A doesn't lend itself to allways having a complete picture of the problem, ... who is to decide the definition of "correct" ?

    Above all else, this is a discussion forum. People shouldn't have to fear posting just because they aren't 100% certain that their way of solving a problem is "the most correct".

      who is to decide the definition of "correct" ?

      Anyone who tries to run bad code and finds that it doesn't work. Is that democratic enough for you?

      BCE

Perlmonks - democracy or oligarchy?
by tuique (Novice) on Sep 05, 2002 at 21:55 UTC
    Abigail-II, don't forget TMTOWTDI

    What is your standard of correctness? What if someone disagrees with its definition? You express a view of PerlMonks that is oligarchic in nature--where a select group of powerful individuals is responsible for bestowing wisdom.

    My response is, "But what about hubris", that characteristic to which none other than St. Larry himself attaches such import? Hubris is the democratic urge to raise oneself up to the gods, and at the monastery that is accomplished by posting.

    It seems to me that in an unmoderated forum for sharing knowledge, it's more realistic to expect a process to occur in which members post, and reflect upon each others' postings. From this process a shared concensus will arise. Obviously poor posts will be quickly identified and labelled as such.

    As others have mentioned, there is clear value in this process, over and apart from the value the initial requestor receives from having his or her singular problem addressed. It's democratic and it works.
      Hubris is the democratic urge to raise oneself up to the gods, and at the monastery that is accomplished by posting.
      However, let us not do this at the expense of the people we are trying to help. A broken solution is a broken solution: to post such, is to attempt to raise yourself at the expense of others. I ask you to either not post, or post with qualifications, if there's a chance you are posting an ineffective solution.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

        Blinks

        A broken solution is a broken solution: to post such, is to attempt to raise yourself at the expense of others.

        No it is an attempt to help someone. Suggesting such is like suggesting we should punish a good smaritan for failing to save somebody. You can actually learn from a "bad" solution.

        Think about it. People here jump all over a person for really bad solutions. If they are serious about staying here, then they will think about it the next time.

        I ask you to either not post, or post with qualifications, if there's a chance you are posting an ineffective solution.

        Interesting choice of words. ineffective solution so basically if we are not up to your skill level, we should never answer a question?

        Maybe I am just blind but do people actually answer stuff knowing it is wrong?

        In this place someone submitting a broken solution is just asking to get their head blown clean off. Frankly, I learn as much from the dogpile after a bad response as just about anything here.
        ()-()
         \"/
          `                                                     
        
           Hubris is the democratic urge to raise oneself up to the gods

      Well, actually, dictionary.com serves it up thusly:
      hu·bris Pronunciation Key (hybrs) also hy·bris (h-) n. Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance: “There is no safety in un +limited technological hubris” (McGeorge Bundy).

      mb
Re: Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?
by frankus (Priest) on Sep 06, 2002 at 11:03 UTC
    I feel that Perl Monks exist on several strata, beyond the arbitrary ecclesiastical nomenclature. I would expect Abigail-II, merlyn and others to come up with a brilliant ways of solving the question; this in no way invalidates a less experienced monk's answers, it should ( and frequently does ) augment the contributions of less experienced monks.

    If someone posts a wrong answer, then reply with an explanation of why it's wrong. This way the learning experience is increased. You educate more people: the poster of the "wrong" answer, and anyone who had the same misapprehension.

    Weeding out these mistakes will weaken the educational worth of a thread. Retaining the mistakes gives a more rounded view of the subject and a demographic of the people who concurred with the "wrong way". This kind of stats is vital in reviewing documentation and enhancing the syntax. Obviously this data is by no means empirical, but at least flags mis-conceptions, for anyone who cares to look for them.

    As a Perl Newbie some years ago, I felt it was important to dive in and contribute. The easier questions, perhaps should be left for the newer monks. It leaves seasoned Monks to add insight into wider issues like cross-platform implications, race-conditions and such that will be of worth and relevance. This way the initial thread is a vehicle to a wider theme, where monks of several levels of ability can profit.

    --

    Brother Frankus.

Re: Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?
by Ay_Bee (Monk) on Sep 06, 2002 at 15:47 UTC
    I am a self taught novice who manages to get the occasional script to do some useful work. As a result of learning a lot by lurking in this forum my knowledge and confidence had been greatly increased to the point where I was starting to venture my opinion where I was fairly sure of my knowlege. I now realise that my temerity is regarded with disfavour by those of great knowledge and experience so henceforth I will desist as it appears I may be causing more harm than good. Ay_Bee
    -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- My memory concerns me - but I forget why !!!
      ...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.
      ---v

        ...NO, NO, NO! Don't stop.

        Oooooooooh, normally my girlfriend says that ;-)

        Blackadder
Re: Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?
by blackadder (Hermit) on Sep 09, 2002 at 12:49 UTC
    I agree with Abigail ;-{) Blackadder
Re: Re: Newbies, trying to help, and where to draw the line?
by NodeReaper (Curate) on Sep 09, 2002 at 12:50 UTC

    Reason: claree0 dup of 196240

    For more information on this node visit: this

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