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Newbie Monk Seeking Enlightenment

by azatoth (Curate)
on Jan 17, 2001 at 15:55 UTC ( #52494=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I am new to this site, and was wondering if it might be good to have a Newbie's Forum or something.
I have seen the FAQ, and it is VERY comprehensive, but I thought it might be cool to have like a small area for newbies for get together and learn together about the site as a whole, and the "unwritten" rules that every web-community follows. This might be cool for the site, but I don't know what does everyone think?

I apologise if I have spoken out of turn so soon.

Love, The newbies

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Newbie Monk Seeking Enlightenment
by zigster (Hermit) on Jan 17, 2001 at 16:08 UTC
    If that area were only enhabited by newbies then who would teach you the rules (written or otherwise). Speaking as a newbie (I have only been here a few months). The Monastery is inclusionist. As long as you dont try to upset people you wont. Dont worry about being a newbie get stuck in. You will soon be guided back to the path if you stray into areas that are likely to offend.

    PS. OK Advice newbie to newbie

    • Remember code tags if you post code nuffin will get more -- votes.
    • Remember to try, if you want to ask a question cool but have a bash first. If you do this then however dumb the question no-one will care.
    • Try to make your questions as precise as possible, for you own benifit. The answers are likely to be more appropriate.
    • MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. The Monastry is a comunity you get out what you put it. I have learnt much more investigating other peoples questions than asking my own. Get stuck in and join the comunity.


      I think it's likely that senior monks would often stop by and give a few pointers. At least they'd be prepared for the flood of "How do I get the length of an array|How do I read from a file|etc." questions rather than having them sprung on them. I sense that's part of the reason for the irritation that is sometimes let out in SOPW. You open a thread, expecting some really tricky problem and get "How can I order the keys in a hash?"

      I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

Re: Newbie Monk Seeking Enlightenment
by footpad (Abbot) on Jan 18, 2001 at 01:22 UTC
    Welcome to the Monastery, one of my favorite waypoints on the Perl Way.

    I think that some of the resistance you're seeing to your idea is based on the unstated goal that much of the entire place is intended to be a "nice place" for newbies, apprentices, and masters alike.

    In addition to the advice you've already received (and to possibly generate some further discussion), here are a few of the so-called unwritten rules that I've noticed (in no particular order):

    • When posting nodes, be sure you post them in the right place. What section should I put this in? tells you what you need to know.

    • While some off-topic (e.g. non-Perl) discussion is tolerated, it's best to limit that as much as possible. Remember, we're here to further our understanding of Perl. If you're in doubt, float the idea via CB (as I presume you did on this one) and see what the response is.

    • The Monastery is not /. or comp.lang.perl.misc. Personal attacks are strongly discouraged, profanity slightly less so. Keep it clean, professional, and to the point and you'll do well.

    • Please do your research before posting. Many "newbie" questions have been asked before, though possibly in slightly altered fashion. Use Search, Super Search, and the perldoc command to see if your petition has already been covered.

    • Do not post homework questions. It's called homework for a reason. Assistance can often be found in earlier posts.

    • Do not be afraid to ask for clarification on something that's not making sense. Many of your peers enjoy helping others understand; take advantage of that...but not of them.

    • When posting code, a) do not forget your <CODE> tags, b) do your level best to simplify the code to its smallest reproducible case, and c) provide enough information for a reasonable person to understand what you're after and why you're not getting it.

      For example, if you're getting error messages, tell us what they are. Don't just give us a dump, though. Filter through them, find the most relevant ones, and then provide the summary.

    • It also helps to ask specific rather than general questions. For example, "How do I use Perl to populate a web page from my database?" is more likely to get an abrupt RTFM than something along the lines of "I'm trying to use to save form input into a mySQL table via DBI. I've run into this problem..."

    • Provide credit where it's due. If you get (or find) a good bit of code, don't claim it as your own.

    • Take time to read highly-regarded nodes. You will learn much about the community at large and what it responds to.

    • XP and Reputation are meant to be feedback devices or even conceits. Don't take them too seriously. At some point, you will probably post something that hits Worst Nodes or that loses XP. Learn from it, follow-up if you like, and move on.

    • When following up on points raised in replies to your messages, it's considered good practice to update the original post instead of posting a follow up message. (This is especially true with typos, coding errors, and related stuff.)

      Use your judgment on this, but Updated nodes tend to fare better than follow-up replies. Also, It's not entirely necessary to post "Thank you" replies. A simple /msg via CB can be just as effective.

    • At some point, you'll probably realize that you can log the CB or be tempted to quote it directly. Do not do this without the person's prior (and explicit) permission. Many of the monks use the CB as a sounding board or a common area. Also, it's far too easy to take such comments out of context.

    • While it's possible that you'll find a bug in Perl, it's not likely. If you run into such a situation, take a second look at the assumptions that led you to the code in question. Often, you'll find that the behavior you've found is correct and that you need to adjust your mental understanding accordingly. (I like to think of those moments as opportunities to learn.)

    • Do search CPAN for helpful modules and use the ones that are frequently mentioned here, such as Especially if they're mentioned by the higher level members of the community.

    • If a post does get criticized, remember that criticism often relates to the post, not the poster. In other words, there are some very experienced people here and a few have little patience for seeing people make the same mistakes over and over. (Attempts to rewrite come to mind.)

    • As Blue mentioned, start reviewing the home nodes of the higher level monks. Many contain links to extremely educational material. I wholeheartedly second his suggestion.

    • Enjoy yourself, but not at the expense of others. Yes, this is restating some of the things I mentioned earlier, but remember that your peers are professionals who participate for a variety of altruistic reasons. Respect that.

    At lot of these ideas have been expressed earlier, often far more succinctly and eloquently. You'll find many of these on the home nodes Blue mentioned. Here are a few to get you started: Turnstep, ybiC, Ovid, tilly, and (of course) merlyn.

    Again, feel free to participate; that's what the community is for.


    Update:  Added a couple of points stemming from CB feedback; also, fixed a few typos.

      I want to touch on a couple points of footpad's.

      While some off-topic (e.g. non-Perl) discussion is tolerated, it's best to limit that as much as possible. Remember, we're here to further our understanding of Perl. If you're in doubt, float the idea via CB (as I presume you did on this one) and see what the response is.

      Almost two points to remember on this:

      1. OT posts should be labeled as such. I'd like to believe that my (OT) Apache Server issue post demonstrates the finer points of an OT post. It has some relation to what I am doing in Perl, although it is not related to actual Perl code.
      2. Responses to OT posts should be limited to helping out with the problem. If you have a problem with an OT post, -- it and be done with it. If you absolutely have to make a point to the author, /msg him/her. Of course, this is just a peeve of mine in relation to the above node.

      For example, if you're getting error messages, tell us what they are. Don't just give us a dump, though. Filter through them, find the most relevant ones, and then provide the summary.

      footpad forgot the golden rule, even though it's written everywhere: use strict and -w. Update: In case you're throwing out some CGI code, -T is an option that I shouldn't have had to be reminded about. :) Thanks, footpad for keeping me on my toes. End Update

      And there are a few things I'd like to add:

      • Accept the fact that you aren't the best programmer. This is important if you post code. Your code is going to get reviewed since this is a public forum. People are going to give you pointers on how to do something better. This is not a personal attack. merlyn's been doing this far longer than you have.
      • The best thing to do if you find yourself in a flame war is to throw buckets of water into the discussion. Pride is only useful if you wish to be proud of yourself. Piss off the wrong people and that's nothing to be proud of.
      • footpad mentions the Search and Super Search. I'm going to mention the Random Node. If you're not here for a particular reason, then go find a reason to be here. I'm not saying that every visit to PM has to have a reason, but that if you're bored and want to learn, this may have some acceptable side effects.
      • Make friends with those above and below you. I see more coteries formed in the CB than anywhere else. And it's always nice to know that if you are needing a few points, those people will be willing to help with a level up (your welcome, Lexicon). P.S. the other users is in XP order.
      That's just some of my extra thoughts to throw out. ++ to footpad for sharing the secret to his success. :)

      ALL HAIL BRAK!!!

Re: Newbie Monk Seeking Enlightenment
by Blue (Hermit) on Jan 17, 2001 at 19:04 UTC
    I find that mentioning that you are new here and learning does great things towards getting you more gentle and well explained answers. No need to 'retreat' to a Newbie room for fear of getting others irritated.

    I must admit, not in our favor, that we are often tired of seeing the same questions coming every few weeks, and respond harshly. Or just point to the documentation and previous nodes about the subject. To minimize this, search for questions first. If that doesn't help you, or you need more help then they give, mention the nodes you looked into, and ask for additional help.

    I think that, in theory, everyone here wants to help others. But we are all human. Some of our pet peeves include homework, cargo cult programming, and most importantly, people who just want answers without putting in any work. Hopefully, we can avoid needing a place for those new to post without fear of annoying long-timers.

    Heck, if you really want to, put "(Newbie question)" at the beginning of your title, so those who aren't in the mood can skip it, and the others know how to treat you. I don't know if this will work, but it can't hurt.

    As for the unwritten rules of the site, many monks have home nodes listing their favorite nodes. And while interesting Perl is everyone's first pick, there are many on expected behavior of the monastery. In the "Other Users" nodelet try clicking on a few of the first (highest ranked) monks on, and explore from there.

    =Blue might be eaten by a grue...

Re: Newbie Monk Seeking Enlightenment
by azatoth (Curate) on Jan 17, 2001 at 16:29 UTC
    Okay so in the chatterbox people thought it might be a good idea to have a little page or something in which newbies could post to each other and the community. As this guy said :

    "On the other hand, all net-communities have this problem. There is some unwritten code for a newbie how to behave. Any question containing the word 'newbie' will be treated gentle (in general)."

    So maybe like a place for newbies to get comfortable and cut their teeth would be a good idea?



Re: Newbie Monk Seeking Enlightenment
by OzzyOsbourne (Chaplain) on Jan 18, 2001 at 00:26 UTC

    It is difficult being new to anything, and sometimes we seek the comfort of others that are just as new as we. In doing so, we feel that no one knows more than we do, so no one can point out our flaws. We become a headless, directionless, comforted mass. We have no one to learn from or follow, and the ones we do follow, are following others.

    Being forced to swim (or at least float around watching the swimmers) is much better for the newbie and the group as a whole.

    It teaches the newbie the rules, and the community patience.

    I gave you a ++, though. Don't apologise for what you think. You are a contributing part of this community.


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