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Old 06-21-2004, 09:59 AM   #1
Ausar
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Telling people to use "Google," to "RTFM," or "Use the search feature"


I know this question may be a little off-base but I have to ask. Who here is tired of people responding to your question with a "RTFM" or "Use the search before asking" or "use www.google.com" when you need serious help? I ask this because I have experienced this on other boards (LQ.org has been very nice to me). I mean, i'm a linux newbie but a windoze vet. I pretty much know how to use most of windoze (but I don't like to deal with the registry). Whenever I need to find something, google has always been my best friend. I have googled for something for months at a time in the past (3 months is my record for a hard to find piece of shareware) so I pretty much know my way around google; even the not so known google services. I also have been using message boards for years now and am very acquainted with the search feature if I need to find something in particular. As a matter of fact, I sometimes find things on google for people on other boards. So when I (or anyone else) asks an intelligent question, I absolutely hate it when I get told to "RTFM, "Use our forums search feature," or, "Use www.google.com." It is an insult to my intelligence and a waste of time. If I had found precisely what info I was looking for in google or the search feature, then I wouldn't have asked the question. Now don't get me wrong, I know firsthand that some people actually don't know how to use google or the search feature and they post redundant questions without knowing or maybe they do know and are just being lazy and not searching. But automatically assuming a person hasn't already searched because their question is similar to others but specificated to a certain area of help needed is wrong and ignorant. I was on a site where I asked for some help (it was my 3rd day using Linux), the thread got 4 replies and all helped me solve my problem, next thing you know, the moderator comes into the thread, deletes all the replies (mind you, there was nothing wrong with the language in the thread, it was all friendly rated "G" talk, no profanity) and says in so many words, "Please use or forums search feature before asking another question. I am locking this thread to prevent any further duplication." I was completely floored by that. I had been reading from their site for about a week to get info on how to install linux, then after I installed it, I had a few problems that I had tried for 3 days to figure out on my own using that forums search feature and trusty google. Then I finally signed up because after 3 days of searching and no definitive answer, i asked the question only to get that rude reply. (Mind you, when I first installed linux, I accidentally installed the bare minimum and didn;t have any documentation or help files). I mean, c'mon, is this type of behavior necessary? I'm pretty sure i'm not the only one that feels this way.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 10:11 AM   #2
linmix
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The behaviour you describe is very irritating and not at all thoughtful. If someoen doesn't wish to really help, they might as well put sock in it, a forum isn't about "scoring replies", but about helping people. On the other hand I have to say that even on this highly educated and friendly forum I've received a couple of invitations to use google. There's one difference though: in all cases they told me WHAT to look for (which isn't always easy to decide).

However, there's always people who ask questions but don't make the least effort to find out for themselves. In the short time I have been on this forum I've come across a number of 'repeated' questions, but simply referring people to the correct thread isn't only the nicer thing to do, but quite a lot more effective.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 10:15 AM   #3
SBing
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Edit: Sorry if I repeated anything Linmix said, I was trying to make a coffee at the same time and I forgot to submit :)

I appreciate your point of you view, but I know for a fact that the answers to some questions could easily be answered by the person who asked them if they simply typed the keywords of the question into google.

People who frequent this board don't mind help others; I certainly learn more by looking at problems others are having and doing my own research into their problems. However, I personally get a little peeved when questions are asked when they clearly haven't made any attempt to research the question. In this case, I reply with a link to a google search that will allow them to do some work for themselves.

I personally think it is good practice to, along with an explanation of the problem, share what you have found in your own research of the problem, e.g.:

I searched at google and found these links: <Link1> <Link2>

However, I do not understand this part of Link2...

or

I searched the forums and found these links, but I've tried this: <What you've done> and it still does not work. Could someone help.

Just my personal views :)

Cheers

Steve

Last edited by SBing; 06-21-2004 at 10:24 AM.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 10:56 AM   #4
wpyh
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Maybe you should start by saying that "I have searched google and..." (similar to SBing's suggestion)
 
Old 06-21-2004, 11:12 AM   #5
XavierP
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The internet is an anonymous place and it is impossible for any of us to know when viewing a question what your level of knowledge is or what you have already done.

To combat this, I would suggest that you preface your questions (or insert within your questions) lines like "I have read man <command> and I didn't find it helpful" or "I have searched the site with these terms (what you searched for) and couldn't find anything to help". I would suggest you read Eric S Raymond's How To Ask Questions the Smart Way (and that's the title of the essay, not a dig at you) to guage how you can better write your questions to avoid this in future.

Another thing you could do is use paragraph breaks - your one paragraph at the top was difficult to read.

And I am moving this to General as it's not a technical question.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 11:19 AM   #6
Genesee
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Re: Telling people to use "Google," to "RTFM," or "Use the search feature&q

Quote:
Originally posted by Ausar
I ask this because I have experienced this on other boards (LQ.org has been very nice to me).
well there's the problem - stay here at LQ, and you'll be fine

agree that "rtfm" replies are rude and counterproductive, but I've seen very little of that here....
 
Old 06-21-2004, 11:27 AM   #7
XavierP
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Quote:
Originally posted by Genesee
agree that "rtfm" replies are rude and counterproductive, but I've seen very little of that here....
Thanks, I forgot to mention that point. We do try to avoid saying RTFM or STFW here, but when you've just answered 15 "Which distro" threads in a row (and I'm not exaggerating by much) you do get to a point where you just type in "this is asked over and over again, please search the site".

The trick is to let us know what you have already done - that way we avoid repeating your actions and you avoid saying "done that already, what next?" and we all remain happy.

LQ's aim has always been to be a friendly welcoming place where no one is made to feel inept or small. And I think we are succeeding admirably at it.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 11:32 AM   #8
SBing
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Quote:
Originally posted by XavierP
...but when you've just answered 15 "Which distro" threads in a row (and I'm not exaggerating by much) you do get to a point where you just type in "this is asked over and over again, please search the site".
lol, I do feel sorry for you Mods, 'Which distro' threads must be so infuriating :(

Seems the general consensus is being more clear about what you've already done and read - something that is quite a rarity in question threads.

Steve
 
Old 06-21-2004, 11:46 AM   #9
qwijibow
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there was one of these threads before.... it ended in a huge flame war.

one person will say how teaching people to use the search, before starting a new thread will keep the forum clean and easyer to use.

then one person will take offence..

and boom... FIRE.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 11:56 AM   #10
Genesee
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Quote:
Originally posted by XavierP
LQ's aim has always been to be a friendly welcoming place where no one is made to feel inept or small. And I think we are succeeding admirably at it.
definitely. and the success of the site reflects that, imo.

as to the "which distro" posts, a useful link to point to is:

The Top Ten Distributions
A Beginner's Guide to Choosing a (Linux) Distribution
http://www.distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major

maybe this could be put in a sticky in the newbie forum, along with a link to linuxiso.org or similar site, and the familiar statement regarding the need to try each distro themselves, etc. at least having that to link to would make replying to those questions easier
 
Old 06-21-2004, 01:49 PM   #11
XavierP
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Stickies are a great resource, but only useful if they are read. Trickykid has written 2 stickies - 1 on installing programs and 1 on choosing a distro. In both cases, they appear to be ignored. UnSpawn has a couple of marvellous stickies in the Security forum - again, I don't think anyone reads them before posting.

In another forum, posts which have been answered before or are covered by stickies are closed outright. Jeremy (and the rest of us) feel that would work against the friendliness of the site, but yes, it does get frustrating. There is no real answer - we've postulated adding an extra screen to the login, but that would add steps to the registration process which would hurt us. The "Has this question been asked before?" link in the post a thread page was another idea, but that seems to have limited use.

If anyone reading this has any ideas on ways to cut down on the repetition, without making LQ less friendly, please post your idea in the Website Questions & Suggestions forum (obviously after searching first to make sure no one else has had the idea ). While I can't say that your ideas will be put in place, I can say that they will be seen and considered.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 02:28 PM   #12
Ausar
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You guys are absolutely right on your points (Xavier, sorry for the "no paragraph breaks," was in a rush out the door to pick up my wife on time.) I will definitely use some of the suggestions such as "Ive searched this <link> and couldn't find out what I was looking for. And I also forgot to say that sometimes a keyword makes all the difference between a successful search and a search where you will find your answer on page 154 of the search results (yes, I have went that far before) .
And the person using google or the search with the wrong or not so great keywords will usually end up without finding their answer. A good example is a person looking for info on windows (the physical ones that you open) and putting windows in the search field and only turning up links for PC windows when they could have specified something like "Anderson Windows" in which they would get what they was looking for. Also, replying with keywords to enter in google or a search or linking to a specific thread is VERY helpful. I appreciate those. I have gotten tons of help that way.

I didn't intend this thread to be a flame war. Just was happy with the help here and wanted to share a little frustration with you guys about how arrogant some people are on other sites. But again, that is a good idea that will use when asking for help by providing links of what I have already searched.

LQ.org has definitely been helpful to me and no one has yet to insult me. I won't name the other forums for spams sake.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 02:33 PM   #13
Brain Drop
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The way I see the situation:

1) The people asking the simple or repetitive questions are new.
A) They are not familiar with the annoyance of these questions.
B) Whatever you do they will not read other information first.
i)They are confused and lost and feel a need for a real person's assistance.
or
ii) Since it is new to them then certainly nobody has asked something like this before.
or
iii) They find some info that does not EXACTLY match their situation so they do not find resolution.
C) Nothing will change this.
2)Possible actions.
A)Reply with a short 'google it' or RTFM.
i)Does not make a positive impression of Linux or this site.
ii)Releases more negative energy into the world.
iii)Makes the site seem non-benificial to new comers.
B)Ignore them.
i)Makes the site seem non-benificial to new comers.
C)Answer them.
i)Creates frustration for answerers.
ii)Releases more negative energy into the world.
iii)Does begin a positive experience for new comers.
D)Implement some sort of default answer button: 'While this question is intriguing for you, it is for us a simple/repetitive question that will take time away from other questions. Please try searching this site and/or google.com/linux. Then, if you can not find your answer, re-ask and tell us where you looked and we will be happy to assist you. Please do not be offended by this, we are only trying to make sure problems with hard to find answers get the attention they need.' This would tell them what to do and why without causing resentment. Perhaps a short term fix would be to have a message like this readily available to paste from the clipboard or something but a button to push would be ideal I think.
 
Old 06-21-2004, 02:39 PM   #14
XavierP
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Cool - I think the only way to improve posting standards is for the rest of us to improve our own posting. For example, there are a number of threads called "Help Me". If you were searching for an alsa solution by thread titles only you would never see those threads.

So, the suggestions are:
Use helpful thread titles - "Help Me" is no use. "Alsa Problem on Slackware" is much better
Put in as much information as possible - "I can't do it" helps no one. "Here is my hardware, output of lspci, my kernel version and my distro + things I have tried is excellent and will also help others coming behind you"
Post the solution - telling others what helped will help them
Always say thank you to whoever helped - that way they'll help you again

Really, that just paraphrases Eric Raymond's (ESR) essay - everyone should read it through at least once. It may be a little dated, but the advice is still good.
 
Old 06-22-2004, 02:48 AM   #15
linmix
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How about a policy of reporting this tyre of thread to the moderators so they can send the culprit a standard private message explaining that to get an answer and to make collaborate with others it is necessary to be more descriptive, including some of the comments in the last post?
There are many people who accept terms of conditions of services without actually reading either the terms or the FAQ or anything else that might give them a clue as to how things work or should work.
 
  


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