|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
Beware the Trolls!by dmmiller2k (Chaplain)
|on Dec 28, 2001 at 20:13 UTC||Need Help??|
In a recent pair of new nodes ('Extract string from rear of string' and 'Search a string from beginning or end' (which has since been reaped)) a nearly identical question was asked by two Anonymous Monks.
The question itself had some hallmarks of a homework-type problem. In one of the two threads, some unsuspecting Monks unfortunately took the bait and all but solved the questioner's problem for him (or her).
One is left to ponder, did PerlMonks get a good grade on that assignment?
It's surely one thing to make an attempt to solve a problem and get stuck. It happens to all of us (or most of us, I expect) once in a while. And while typical responses to such trevails can span the gamut from trying to solve the problem to merely being supportive (e.g., "it happened to me, too"), the unifying theme seems to be one of nurturing, mutual respect and community.
One of the things that drew me here initially, and keeps me here still, is the overwhelming sense that no matter what the problem, SOMEBODY here will be able to point me in the right direction.
But to just put a homework problem out there and troll for answers shows antipathy and lack of respect for this community which I find reprehensible. It makes me feel violated, like we've been used.
I hereby propose the use of the term, 'Trolling', to describe this sort of behavior, that of baiting well-meaning Monks into solving one's problem rather than doing one's own research and taking a decent shot at it. The term as I propose it should be used in a negative context, with a particular emphasis on lazy students. (This is as opposed to Lurking, which I suspect, we've all done to some extent, and which in contrast, is likely acceptable to most of us -- after all, that's how we learn)
Further, I suggest referring to practitioners thereof as Trolls (fitting in kind of nicely with the whole Middle Earth, Monk thing) and that we try to avoid assisting them with their homework or programming assignment or whatever.
There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, or TANSTAAFL, as science fiction writer Robert Heinlein's characters are fond of saying.
Let's not give any more Trolls a free lunch.
Update: I in no way mean to imply that all who pose academic questions are Trolls, or that asking such questions at all should be thought of as Trolling.
No. Trolling is more like asking a question (academic or otherwise) with little or no obvious effort made to attempt to answer it first on one's own. In other words, a Troll might be someone who says, "Help, I can't figure out how to do X", rather than, say, "I'm trying to do X by doing this; what's wrong with what I'm doing?"
Obviously this is a judgement call.
dmmYou can give a man a fish and feed him for a day ...
Or, you can teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime