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Re^2: Put some of the posting guidelines directly above the posting form:

by BrowserUk (Pope)
on Dec 04, 2011 at 14:52 UTC ( #941676=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: Put some of the posting guidelines directly above the posting form:
in thread Put some of the posting guidelines directly above the posting form:

but too often we see a SOPW with responses that provide the needed "how to fish" information, followed by a "here's a fish" solution ... and a 'thank you' for the solution,

Teaching newbies how to fish is laudable, but teaching them how to learn, more so.

This site is littered with threads from newbies asking often fairly basic questions where the only response (or responses) are long lists of links to prior art, or "what have you tried", or RTFM (with or without a link); that end exactly there. No follow-on discussion of the possible approaches and their merits. No challenges to received wisdom. No benchmarks or innovations.

And no response from the OPs at all.

A nearly-but-not-quite code solution, sans comments or discussion, provides far more incentive to OPs to engage than any "what have you tried" reply. They see something they can download and try. They can see that it almost fits their purpose. They are engaged. There is incentive for them to come back and ask questions. To try and understand what they've been given and try and adapt it to their purpose.

All too often on the internet -- here far less than most other places -- many of the incumbents respond to newbies first attempts to get to grips with new ideas and concepts with the attitude of "How dare you waste my time with your trivial questions". Completely missing that it is not the questioners that are wasting their time; but the incumbents themselves.

They have the option to simple ignore the questions they feel are below their worth and move on. Instead, they waste their time, and that of the questioners by posting wholly negative what-have-you-tried, can't-you-read, is-this-homework, RTFM flames. And the newbies sense the lie of the land, disengage and disappear back into the ether to seek other more friendly sources of help.

The moment that this place restricts itself to only answering questions that are of sufficient complexity to stimulate the experts; it will die.


With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
"Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

The start of some sanity?

  • Comment on Re^2: Put some of the posting guidelines directly above the posting form:

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Re^3: Put some of the posting guidelines directly above the posting form:
by ww (Archbishop) on Dec 04, 2011 at 15:27 UTC
    For me (and I probably should have made this clearer in my prior), your "nearly-but-not-quite code solution" is crucial... and much to be desired! It's a key distinguising difference between teaching how to learn (in the precise manner you discuss) and a complete solution (the site is also littered with these) which -- I fear -- rarely teaches anything other than, perhaps, "Wow, PM's a great place from which to cargo-cult code."

    And, yes, a plague on the houses of those who consider noob questions "trivial" or beneath their dignity.

    But IMO, and as as educated_foo said earlier, the "tireless scolds" who (in many, but not all cases) remind noobs to demonstrate that they've not asked a question without trying to learn by trying to solve their puzzle, themselves. Agreed, "RTFM" without a link is worthless and discourages those new to the site or to Perl. But a (pleasantly phrased) "RTFM type of reply with a link to the relevant site docs or Perl docs seems to me to be at least as likely to instantiate a teachable moment as almost anything we can do to help.

      a (pleasantly phrased) "RTFM type of reply with a link to the relevant site docs or Perl docs seems to me to be at least as likely to instantiate a teachable moment as almost anything we can do to help.

      You are assuming a) the OP hasn't already RTFMd; b) that if they do RTFM they will see the solution to their problem.

      With at least half, and probably more, of the questions I ask here -- not to mention wrong answers I given to others questions -- don't come down to my not knowing where to look, nor even to my not having recently re-read the appropriate section; but rather to my misinterpreting what I've read.

      If I've misunderstood the docs, re-reading them is unlikely to shake that misinterpretation. But a worked example that demonstrates it, will.


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

      The start of some sanity?

        Well, actually, I don't think I am assuming that the poster hasn't read the FM; rather, I am suggesting that a post whose answer is obvious -- from the documentation's text or examples (IOW, in the FM) -- strongly suggests that the poster has not RTFMed (or has not RTFMed will diligence). Yeah, that's a lot of qualifiers... almost to the point of making a distinction too fine to worry about...

        But you are not the usual poster of what I call 'gimme' questions -- questions that are or are tantamount to "Please write my code for me;" "please do my work for me;" and "I'm ignorant of the existence of the FM." I think the distinction is obvious... and if you post one that falls in the class to which I'm objecting, then I'm going to assume that the issue is a momentary case of brain-lock, not to laziness.

        And a request: within the class of well-written docs -- that is, those with decent examples and explanations -- re-examine your last para. Lord knows, I'm as likely or more so than most, to blindspot myself while reading a doc, but (YMMV) find that re-reading a well-written doc ofter provides a face-palm moment when the scales are lifted away.

Re^3: Put some of the posting guidelines directly above the posting form:
by educated_foo (Vicar) on Dec 04, 2011 at 15:05 UTC
    Preach it, brother. See also MJD's views on the subject, from back during Perl's golden age. If you don't want this website to die like Usenet, don't act like a Usenet jerk.
      Usenet

      Ah Usenet. I remember it well.

      I went to the group for a particular api not that long ago and asked: "Does anyone here use xyz on Windows?".

      The group owner moderator replied: "Don't ask to ask, just ask!".

      I replied: "But I didn't ask to ask; I asked the question I wanted to know the answer to. If no one here uses xyz on Windows, then there is little point in my considering doing so because a) it is unlikely to work; b) I'm not going to be able to get any help getting started".

      He banned me. For arguing.


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

      The start of some sanity?

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