[ic] Beima's Response!

Guy Soudant guy.soudant@soudant.net
Mon, 02 Apr 2001 08:04:32 +0200


I would like to comment on the fact that you call newbie questions dumb 
questions. Dumb questions are questions that are not asked. I agree that 
some people might want to search the archives better, but some questions 
seem to be simple to answer, but in the end are rather complex problems 
which cannot be solved by the community of this mailing list.


Guy Soudant
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-----Original Message-----
From: Dan B <db@cyclonehq.dnsalias.net>
To: interchange-users@lists.akopia.com
Date: Sun, 01 Apr 2001 22:34:30 -0800
Subject: Re: [ic] Beima's Response!

> What is this list for?
> Community.
> In my opinion, that little word can mean a lot.  For those of you that
> feel 
> annoyed by the sheer volume of newbies asking the same question over
> and 
> over again, or one that is answered in the docs:  would you prefer it
> if 
> you were the only user on the list?  Or only 10?  20?  Interchange has
> at 
> least tens of thousands of users.  We are bound to get all kinds of
> dumb 
> questions (I'm renowned for asking them).
> But there is so much value in all of those users, that to me it is
> worth it 
> to answer their questions and try to help them get through the 
> documentation.  I find a lot of value in Interchange comes from the 
> community.  And community starts with newbies.  You never know when a 
> newbie that doesn't understand the documentation will become the next 
> Stefan Hornburg, or contributes a new usertag for a financial service,
> or a 
> patch that allows application-level database clustering, for example
> (I'm 
> working on it ;^).
> I think that too many are applying the stereotype of "too lazy to read
> the 
> documentation" when really it's, "too hard to _understand_ the 
> documentation".  In fact, when I started, it was hard to know HOW to
> search 
> the documentation/mailing list.  I didn't know about "grep -r", and the
> google search.  I was hungry, but didn't know how to fish.
> That is why, now, I *try* to answer every question I can, even though
> I'm 
> usually not very good :-).  Because I'm trying to build the 
> community.  Frankly, I do it because I'm selfish.  Because I receive a
> lot 
> of value when the community is strong; the environmental diversity 
> increases Interchange's technical value much more, more diverse ideas
> are 
> shared, etc.  To me, it is the equivalent of sitting in an office at
> Oracle 
> doing development on 10i.  We are the ones who can download the CVS and
> contribute straight back into the source.  So I'm going to do what I
> can to 
> help the new intern, even if "what I can" isn't much.
> I think that Red Hat (Akopia) realizes that there is value in
> demo-specific 
> documentation (the "engine manual") in addition to the general
> interchange 
> documentation (the "combustion theory").  For example, Jon Jenson
> mentioned:
> http://lists.akopia.com/pipermail/interchange-users/2001-February/00499
> 1.html
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> On Thu, 22 Feb 2001, Bob Puff@NLE wrote:
>  > Is there any doc file on the Construct demo itself, telling how /
>  > where things are?  There seems to be a ton of stuff in there.
> There's plenty of useful stuff throughout the other docs, but nothing
> specific on the demo yet. We plan to have separate documentation for
> the
> demo for the 4.8 release. Sorry!
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----------
> Basically, I think we all have high goals for Interchange.  It's too
> bad 
> that right now we don't have the holy grail of documentation.  But
> instead 
> of spending hours flaming about how many newbies don't read/understand
> the 
> docs (inluding me) and what to do about it, why doesn't someone _do_ 
> something about it?
> Aren't there some experts out there that can run circles around
> "construct" 
> demo?  What if the said experts took the time to contribute to the 
> docs?  E.g., "Gee mike, I got sick of people asking how to send out
> email 
> confirmations, so I wrote down the 1-2-3 and A-B-C baby steps of how it
> is 
> done in Construct".
> Unfortunately, most people don't spontaneously write metric tons of 
> documentation.  But there are so many unique individuals on this list
> that 
> I would wouldn't put it past the community.
> My hope in writing to you all is that we can get back to encouraging
> and 
> helping, rather than tearing down.  Give a man a fish and he will eat
> for a 
> day.  Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.  Are we
> teaching 
> newbies how to find out what they want to find out?  "grep -r" and the 
> mailing list URL's are posted often, that is examples of teaching to 
> fish.  So is giving a URL to the location in the docs, or to a given
> mail 
> archive.  In fact, even mentioning "search for terms XYZ and ABC" is
> still 
> "teaching to fish".
> And by the very definition of doing that, we will weed out the lazy
> ones 
> who don't want to learn it (i.e. just want their fish handout).  And we
> avoid the alternative of earnest users who want to learn to fish but
> can't 
> because no one teaches them.
> For each newbie or repeat question, here is what I try to do (often I
> fail):
>          - recommend search terms to use on a search that will result
> in 
> the answer
>          - recommend a chapter / section in the docs
>          - recommend a resource outside of interchange (unix for
> dummies, etc.)
>          - link to a specific doc section
>          - link to post from mailing list archive (very illuminating)
>          - explain HOW to search for information (grep -r usage,
> google)
>          - real time documentation (for undocumented, unexplored
> topics, or 
> opportunities to pontificate, like now).
> Doing the above takes a *little* more time than "RTFM".  But sometimes 
> "RTFM" doesn't equate with the steps above, and the value that the 
> community will recieve by attempting to be a little more recieving can
> be 
> unexpectedly large.  CFM and others already do this very well.  In
> fact, I 
> have recommended that the mailing list be setup to reply to every *new*
> user post (i.e. the first post you write, but not thereafter) with a 
> message that outlines all the resources for searching for the answer to
> your problem.
> In conclusion, I think that if we all have a more helpful attitude,
> then we 
> will add to the ranks of people who use/understand interchange,
> including 
> the amount of people who write patches.  It's too bad that we don't
> have 
> more "core" developers now, but we can all help to get more people to
> that 
> point.  (I, for one, am striving to get there).
> Well, now that I have won the "most kilobytes wasted in a single
> e-mail" 
> award, I'm going to retire to my iml programming.  Thanks for
> listening,
> Dan Browning, Cyclone Computer Systems, danb@cyclonecomputers.com
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