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Reading too much into it?

by grep (Monsignor)
on Jun 20, 2009 at 18:45 UTC ( #773276=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I just noticed that Sorting help has a negative reputation. I'm guessing that it's 2 things in the post that have made the node accrue that reputation total.

  • The lack of poster's code
  • The line 'Please help me ASAP'

When I read that node, my first reaction was 'Jeez, another code writing service request'. I'm guessing by the vote, that this was a common first reaction. But I got to thinking and putting myself back all those years before I knew where to find answers/how to ask and I could see how someone wrote this with the right intention. There is nothing in the post about writing the code for them. Strictly speaking they are asking for 'help'. We can give them help and, in fact shmem and Marshall gave good answers. shmem pointing to the appropriate documentation and Marshall giving a detailed explanation on how to apply the knowledge they are seeking.

Getting to the 2 problems with how the OP asked.

The lack of code could easily be a lack of knowledge of where/how to find documentation that effectively teaches them how to even get that start, where code could be produced. perldoc is a start. is great but I can see how someone new to perl doesn't know about it.

As to the 'Please help me ASAP'. 'ASAP' is generally considered a command in American culture, but if taken at face value is a simple request. We do have international users and they may not understand the implication of using 'ASAP'. But we can explain it, and not take offense.

We are stewards of how perl is viewed by the world, let's cut new users some slack. Let show them where/how to learn perl. The real problem could be our narrow view, from our experience in perl and Let's not let get in the way of helping someone into perl.

One dead unjugged rabbit fish later...

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Reading too much into it?
by Your Mother (Archbishop) on Jun 20, 2009 at 20:11 UTC

    I agree. XP may just be bits moving around but it can have a strong effect on participation. I don't downvote newbies unless they do something particularly heinous. Open source can be difficult; especially when self-taught. And code is sometimes difficult to search for. Beginners can have weird gaping holes in their knowledge that one kind monk can solve in a jiffy: I didn't know perldoc existed for the first year I was writing Perl.

    The ASAP, though, isn't a command as much as it is a bit rude to use on strangers in a volunteer situation. Say you're kicking back with some friends, tinkering on gear, sipping drinks, talking shop and news, and someone you've never met bursts in and says, "I need help, now!" Unless they're bleeding from a head wound, the natural reaction is, "Get bent," or "Why don't you walk out and come back in and try that again?"

      I like the image of us sitting round drinking beers and shooting the breeze. It captures the spirit of the CB well!

      I sometimes think one of the odd "gapping holes" is the culture of Perl Monks itself. A while back there was a poster who always signed off "Back at you!". I could tell that he/she was trying to be friendly, but it irritated me, given that the posters' questions were usually very basic and the people responding to him often had more expertise than many could hope to acquire in a lifetime.

      And yet I was unwilling to downvote and saw the irritation as my issue, not his/hers. So many on line programming forums are filled with question and answers equally inane. I grant you, a quick look around the monastery ought to make someone see that this is a place of a different sort. But even that requires figuring out what that wild array of links in the sidebar really means. It is all a bit overwhelming the first time (or first few times) one visits.

      Best, beth

Re: Reading too much into it?
by ikegami (Pope) on Jun 20, 2009 at 19:05 UTC

    It's not about lack of code, it's about a (perceived) lack of effort.

    It's not exactly an obscure topic. There's so much XML stuff out there. I could see him being overwhelmed by options. But no. There's no indication he tried any of the tools available. He didn't ask as if a specific tool could do the job. There's no indication he even looked for solutions.

    I simply ignored the post. I didn't downvote.

      it's about a (perceived) lack of effort

      I guess that's my point. We know about CPAN and how to search it. Does he? Is the perceived lack of effort really a lack of effort, or the fact that we know about CPAN and we are looking at it that way?

      I agree the question was worded badly. But couldn't his 'help' request mean 'Can you show where I can find this out?'. Can't we give the benefit of the doubt?

      As a test I googled 'perl sort XML' and this was the first link. I think we can all agree that it is not the least bit helpful.

      One dead unjugged rabbit fish later...

        We know about CPAN and how to search it. Does he?

        Yes, I'm sure he knows how to use a search engine. Google searches CPAN and PerlMonks.

        As a test I googled 'perl sort XML' and this was the first link.

        You seriously only expect 5s of effort?

      I looked at the node and was all ready to pull out my crayon (they won't give me sharp objects like pencils) to write the usual diatribe about not hand parsing mark up, when I realised that nowhere had the op alluded to XML. Indeed he calls it a 'text' file. I then noted the other replies which provided enough information to get the OP up and going, at least to the point of discovering it is XML and that XML can be nasty. I guess with a little encouragement he may come back at that point and ask a better question.

      True laziness is hard work
      I also get annoyed by posts that simply ask PerlMonks to write a piece of code with no apparent effort by the poster. However, I wonder if they simply have no clue what the site is for and want to see a Perl example by an experienced developer.

        I am a little late to the party here, and as a fairly new perl programmer myself, there have been a lot of times where after reading the documentation for a given perl module I have had to do pretty exhaustive searches to find anything that gave me even a beginning of a clue as to how to do something.

        Oftentimes this is because the docs are written for people that are more familiar with perl than I am, or there is a very simple example and it can do "all these other things" but they seem to have no good docs. Why that is, I dunno, it could be that I just don't know what I am looking for, or where to look.

        My reason for replying is that there are many things that I am learning on my own, but I often see that I have written some chunk of code and after looking at it I think "Damn, there must be a far better way to do that. I don't particularly want someone to write the code for me, but I wonder sometimes if it would be better if someone that was far better with perl than I took the time to provide the code and then subsequently explain it.

        I have found some code snippets on the web that do what I need, and they are very short which is nice other than, while I understand that it works for what I am using it for, I would rather see the 10 lines of code that were smashed down into that fancy one-liner I am now using and I would like to see them explained and a what,why,where,when,how given about why the one-liner works and how it all relates, so some theory I guess.

        Just my $.02, but I think examples by experienced folks come in handy. On top of that, the more examples I see or are available, the less questions I generally need to ask :)

        Right now I am questioning what I wrote because I am pretty sure that was long-winded and didn't actually cover what I wanted to, but my brain hurts, so I am not bothering to edit it or anything. Deal :)

Re: Reading too much into it?
by Argel (Prior) on Jun 22, 2009 at 20:31 UTC
    Aren't the answers by shmem and Marshall examples of the stewardship you mention? Not to mention that if raj123 really needed that answer ASAP then I seriously doubt he cares about the node rep or the effect on his XP. Overall it looks like the system is working fine to me.

    Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks

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