The short answer is, give them the answer, but also try to engage them into a discussion about what the answer means, and perhaps also into a meta-discussion about how they should be looking for answers.

On other fora (not necessarily PM, yay), I've seen people get more annoyed with meta-discussion and think they're even more superior/preachy/etc. than "teacher questions" - although I tend towards "The answer to your question is X; Y reference would have told you the same", and have had decent results.

One of the things I love about going to Perlmongers meetings

You lucky sod, to have Perlmongers meetings to go to! :)

I hope that the people that are attracted to programming are the ones who want to tinker, explore, find stuff out and get their task done. And I hope that means they'll want the answer, but they'll also be interested in the background, and also want to know how to ask question in the future. And that means discussion. So that's a vote for the Socratic method.

Absolutely concurred - although there are enough people who are concerned firstly with "getting task done" that they'd be annoyed by discussion before answers. Oh well.


In reply to Re^2: Should a Socratic Dialogue be attempted? by dwu
in thread Should a Socratic Dialogue be attempted? by apl

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