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The decline of Linux boards.

Posted 12-15-2013 at 12:27 AM by Randicus Draco Albus

It is painfully easy to see. Look at almost any Linux users' forum and the obvious jumps out. Almost no knowledgeable members. This is true of all pan-Linux boards: LinuxQuestions, LinuxForums, LinuxFormat, Linux.org, etc. It is also true of many distro-specific boards.

The Cause
In their drive to attract Windows users, the people who manage most boards have enacted policies of enforced "politeness". "Read the manual and ask questions about the parts you do not understand" is considered "rude". Those who violate the spirit of the board are chastised. To make matters worse, on many boards politeness must even be shown to obvious trolls. Those who tell the trolls to stop whining or to go away are severely chastised, while the trolls are given shoulders to cry on. Members who inform those too lazy to read the instructions where the answers are to be found and suggest reading those answers, are soundly rebuked for being "Linux elitists" trying to prevent the spread of Linux to the masses.

The Result
Boards with a friendly and polite atmosphere where no question is too stupid to deserve a polite answer, laziness is rewarded with spoon-fed answers, and trolls are given a warm welcome. And no more than half-a-dozen members able to answer questions beyond a very basic level. Such as how to download and burn an ISO. For the most part, the blind leading the blind.

It is not a coincidence or a statistical blip that most knowledgeable users have abandoned fora, to the detriment of the Linux community. What happens after the last of knowledgeable people leave? Thanks to derivatives like Ubuntu and Mint that actively try to attract Windows users with "a system that does everything Windows does, but is free of charge," and created the politeness at all cost forum atmosphere to facilitate that goal, the on-line Linux community has become a joke. It is no longer users helping each other overcome problems. It is now a community of clueless people discussing the best ways to use Wine and instructing each other on how to abuse sudo. All the while insulting those geeks who try to educate them about what free software is. Such utopian ideas have no place in the real world, where proprietary shitware is "necessary". Expecting people to learn how to configure a system, instead of just installing any and all proprietary shitware, is the old-fashioned geek attitude that holds Linux back.

The future of Linux is bleak. A small real Linux community hidden in mailing lists and a large on-line community of fora with inane babble and new-comers searching in vain for information.
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    As a new member of Linuxquestions, I have seen enough questions of the type "I have this problem and am too lazy to google or even properly describe it, please spoon-feed me!". But it doesn' seem to me that this is tolerated; usually there are no answers at all or somebody explains that more information is needed, or that the answer is out there and where to look for it.

    In short, while people may be polite most of the time, they do tell clearly what needs to be told. So I don't quite share your opinion.
    Posted 12-16-2013 at 01:55 AM by berndbausch berndbausch is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Explaining that more information is needed is not the problem. The problem is when people are directed to the documentation and the response is, "I did not come here to waste my time reading documention. I came here to get an answer. Give it to me now." And yes, I have seen, and been involved in, threads where someone is asked to post information relevant to a problem, such as /etc/network/interfaces and the response is, "I do not care about that kind of thing. I just want an answer to my question." On most boards today, such people are expected to be handled with kid gloves. Telling them their problems cannot be resolved without the information asked for in a manner not as polite as can be, will usually earn a rebuke from the administrative staff. Even though the person asking the question to be told to f-off. This is why most knowledgeable people have abandoned Linux boards in disgust.
    Posted 12-16-2013 at 04:52 AM by Randicus Draco Albus Randicus Draco Albus is offline
  3. Old Comment
    I don't quite understand the connection you make between Linux specifically and the change in tone in the forum. Is the change in tone unique to Linux forums or is this happening to other IT forums too or is your concern limited to Linux forums. For example, would you say this is true of RailsForum or Technet or DevShed? Or is the "dumbing down" unique to Linux users' forums?
    Posted 12-16-2013 at 10:08 AM by vmccord vmccord is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Yes, I am referring to Linux boards. I do not participate on technical fora, so have no experience to form an opinion on.
    Posted 12-16-2013 at 11:53 PM by Randicus Draco Albus Randicus Draco Albus is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Cool blog Randicus Draco Albus. It's interesting to hear a view like this from another person.
    I know you participate regularly (or at least used to) over at one of the Debian forums, i think the atmosphere over there is the complete opposite to what you have described. Many of the members there are snarky, disrespectful and closed off to people whom need help. That is one of the reasons i don't participate there very often.
    I like the atmosphere of LQ, people can converse in what i consider reasonable lax. I have said things to other members here which were not polite, but the members whom i directed it at were in the wrong, and i think that because of this, my stance was tolerated. I try to maintain a sense of politeness and helpfulness most of the time though and i think most users deserve it.
    I do not see demanding users here very often, and when i do, they're usually told 'where to go' before i read their post. The users here aren't shy, they won't conform to a rude request from a lazy noob, but they will help most users whom are respectful but are not knowledgeable to know where to find an answer.
    The problem with many noobs entering the world of Gnu/Linux is not only the change of os, but many people simply are not intuitive enough to think of using a search engine to solve their problems.
    My mum constantly asks me for computer related help, and i'm still drilling it into her head that she needs to learn to search for her problem first. Some people take longer to learn things.
    Posted 12-21-2013 at 09:25 PM by Knightron Knightron is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Quote:
    I know you participate regularly (or at least used to) over at one of the Debian forums, i think the atmosphere over there is the complete opposite to what you have described.
    The problem with DFN is that there are almost no knowledgeable people left. The board is now dominated by: a few loud ignoramaces who bully new-comers, but are incapable of answering questions; and many idiots who insist that Debian will only work properly after being configured to work like Ubuntu. DUF was much better, but is now almost dead.
    Posted 12-22-2013 at 10:35 PM by Randicus Draco Albus Randicus Draco Albus is offline
  7. Old Comment
    @Knightron Oh well, moms always think they should get special dispensation.
    Posted 12-23-2013 at 10:17 AM by vmccord vmccord is offline
  8. Old Comment
    True. How does one say no to one's mother?
    Posted 12-24-2013 at 12:28 AM by Randicus Draco Albus Randicus Draco Albus is offline
  9. Old Comment
    The main goals of the boards were to clearly smash windows. the casual windows user doesn't need to read the manual or dig deep into forums. Just get the problem solved, thats all that matters. Now that windows xp died(the cult still lives ), distros are having the quote "replace that xp". LXLE, q4os and a lot of the good distros are doing this. Linux should be more out there.

    And in my personal opinion, once customization of the UI starts then the manual reading comes. Crunchbang is proof of that. Hacking into that openbox distro had been the turning point in my adventures with tux.

    Your opinion of the elite being "1337" is still considerate, thats why we have archlinux :P
    Posted 07-21-2014 at 01:26 AM by t1nm@n t1nm@n is offline
  10. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Linux should be more out there.
    So we should make the problem even worse? Great idea. Chase away the few knowledgeable people left. Boards will be completely useless when the only people on them are the blind leading the blind.
    Quote:
    Your opinion of the elite being "1337" is still considerate, thats why we have archlinux :P
    I do not know what 1337 is. Hip, cool?
    I am not an advocate of elite users. Since the freedom and power Linux gives users over the computer requires learning at least the basics, it is wrong to abandon the belief users should be expected to adapt. Catering to clueless people who do not want to learn does not make Linux stronger. That and the corporate influence responsible will be the destruction of Linux, and perhaps BSD as well.
    Posted 07-21-2014 at 06:11 PM by Randicus Draco Albus Randicus Draco Albus is offline
    Updated 07-21-2014 at 06:13 PM by Randicus Draco Albus
  11. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Randicus Draco Albus View Comment
    Catering to clueless people who do not want to learn does not make Linux stronger. That and the corporate influence responsible will be the destruction of Linux, and perhaps BSD as well.
    Well said. I've long held that the only reason for building a big user base is perhaps for hardware support, which arguably Linux has over the BSDs due to larger userbase (but the numbers don't line up 100%...for a time webcam support on OpenBSD was better than Linux, but that was some time ago).

    At any rate, I fully agree with what you have to say, and it upsets me that the trendy, bad-ass operating system that Linux started off as has basically bloated out to being useless for minimalists such as myself. If NetBSD or FreeBSD go next, I still hold hope that Theo remains a big enough jerk to keep the mindless masses at bay.

    Edit - puts a new spin on "zombie apocalypse", doesn't it? =)
    Posted 07-21-2014 at 06:53 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
    Updated 07-21-2014 at 06:54 PM by rocket357
  12. Old Comment
    Well, I can kinda relate I guess. One of my responses on another fora

    Quote:
    If members keep crying/whining/huffing and puffIng about wants and benefits and needs. I expect this to effect the people doing the heavy lifting here. That leads to burn outs. I left the gimme gimme stage when my nuts dropped.
    If this gets me banned. So be it I guess.
    So far I have not been banned or warned yet. I gotta learn to ignore the ingrates and just leave posts
    like that be. Being a scooter tramp. It is kind of hard to keep ones mouth shut sometimes.

    I am never a elitist. I remember being a clueless computer user myself.
    I kinda know what you mean R.A.D.
    I guess when I read things like

    Quote:
    This approach is a contributing reason why Linux never gains popularity on the desktop. Just way too much geek mentality. "Oh, just open a terminal and run these 50 commands and everything will be fixed." I embrace no illusions that most non technical users will ever tolerate such answers.
    Then they follow up with

    Quote:
    am trying to be constructive here.
    But if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. I shoot it. Pluck it. Then eat it for Dinner.
    Some fancy talk does not fool this uneducated Scooter tramp.

    Whether or not they become the demise or not. I don't really know.
    Everybody wants mainstream. Well. Welcome to the benefits of everyone doing what you thought
    was your own private Idaho.

    All these young bucks camping out on your lawn. Kinda pisses you off, don't it?

    My stab in the dark for this week. At least the OP is trying.
    http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...7/#post5207320
    Posted 07-21-2014 at 06:59 PM by rokytnji rokytnji is offline
    Updated 07-21-2014 at 07:07 PM by rokytnji
  13. Old Comment
    Quote:
    So far I have not been banned or warned yet.
    I was banned from a forum not that long ago. Although the teenage moderator on a power trip banned my account after I left the board in disgust. So it does not count as a real ban.
    Posted 07-22-2014 at 09:09 AM by Randicus Draco Albus Randicus Draco Albus is offline
 

  



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