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Old 05-16-2002, 02:55 PM   #1
Registered: May 2002
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Distribution: Ubuntu, Debian, RedHat/CentOS
Posts: 624

Rep: Reputation: 31
Question Your opinions, ladies and gentlemen...

This is a sort of a weird question... I am just curious if this community has a policy or a custom regarding the types of answers we provide here...

The kinds of answers I give out can be either:
  1. Answers that answer questions entirely, including detailed instructions on how to achieve the target, i.e. solutions on a "silver platter".
  2. Same as A, except I also give out explanations why each step is necessary and/or what each component involved does.
  3. Answers that are more hints than full solutions. These encourage the asker to do some research of his/her own, and serve mostly to "push" him/her in the right direction. These answers encourage learning (and that learning has a better chance to stick around in one's head than with a type B or A answer), in my opinion.
I'll be blunt with ya... I give all kinds of answers, depending on the post. If I can see that the poster is an experienced user, I tend to give type B and C answers, whereas for complete newbies, I give all kinds of answers. If I can see that the newbie is completely lost and just needs to get things working without the will to understand the "how" of it, I give type A answers. If I see that the newbie has a chance to figure out the problem on his/her own, or is interested in how the solution works, I tend to give out type B or even type C answers.

Frankly I prefer type B and C answers (C more than B), because I think the last thing we need is a bunch of users that constantly engage in mindless clicking around in linuxconf, without understanding what they're doing. However, sometimes you just have to go with a type A answer, and I do go with them. It all depends on the situation and the person (more like the impression I get of the person) who posted the question.

Finally, I wanted to ask you how you feel towards people from companies and corporations posting questions here? Do you prefer fellow Linux users to corporate employees, or "all are welcome"? The reason why I am asking, is because of this post, which remained unanswered:
I suspect that it remained unanswered simply because nobody knew the answer.

I just wanted to get some feedback on this, see what you think about it. What do you think about this?
Old 05-16-2002, 03:08 PM   #2
Registered: Jun 2000
Distribution: Debian, Red Hat, Slackware, Fedora, Ubuntu
Posts: 10,712

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Great question sewer_monkey. I also give all kinds of answer, but prefer the C style answer. I can say that we don't have a policy on the type of answer. People are free to answer however they like. As for the second question, all are welcome. I think that question going unanswered has more to do with it being a java/jsp question than anything else.

Old 05-16-2002, 05:26 PM   #3
Registered: Jan 2001
Posts: 24,147

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I myself usually will give more of hints or even refer to a page that might give the full answer in a tutorial or howto, which in turns makes the member posting aware of the resources out there already.
Now if I see that hints or a direction is taken without a full explanation involved and the member still doesn't understand, then at times I tend to give more of an answer to them if I know it.
But yeah, giving full explanations on questions that have been asked over and over again, making it seem as if the poster didn't even attempt to look or search this site or any other site, then they get a push in the right direction.
Old 05-16-2002, 09:47 PM   #4
Registered: Aug 2001
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 5,700

Rep: Reputation: 57
B), almost always. I'm a wordy gibber-monkey so I tend to pepper an entire explination with comments as to why things are relative as well as including steps that aren't really necessary, like:

if "modprobe tulip" doesn't return any errors, check "dmesg" to see if the device registered,

...knowing full bloody well that its impossible for the device not to have registered because the way the driver is written for you to insert the module without it finding a card. Its one of those that always kicks. I just think "dmesg" is nifty and everyone should listen to what their kernel has to say. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, more jackass verbosity.

I avoid linking to how-tos as my one and only (I'm not looking it up), shot with that on a grumpy afternoon was me taking a canon to my toes. The how-to was so out of date that half of what was within it either no longer worked, or didn't apply. I've been browsing a lot of these things lately, and I'm finding fewer and fewer of them were written since 2000. These are pretty solid for "how do I get a network card working", which hasn't really changed on the basic end since loadable module support in the 1.3.x series, but A USB how-to I read, (lurking, someone else's problem, but I had never played with USB, so I figured to learn), was dreadfully out of date and caused the guy to post back a ton of questions I of course couldn't answer because all I had was the how-to too. I think DavidPhillips swooped down from the either and nixed that one btw.

Don't get me wrong, I like the work of linuxdocs, and wished I had the sense to have used them back when I was just learning how to get Linux to support my wonky hardware, but to link to that directly, without knowing if RH for instance has done something screwy in their most recent production kernel that renders most of that moot (unlikely, but those guys are wiley). It's just a quick way to turn someone off towards Linux. Or maybe really its the fact that when people come here for the first time, what they're amazed about is that they get a hand typed out non-cgi bin created (er... loosley, stick with me for a minute) response from some other geek half the world away in less than an hour who knows the answer to their problem. Meanwhile they're still on hold with SuSe's 1-800. So when someone's first reply is a link to an outside site; after they've gone through the, albeit very very minor, hastle of registering, its sorta reads like a "you're not smart enough to play here", or at the very least, that the problem is not worth the attention of the LQ community.

This is not to discount the one habit Kewp is into a lot, which is still inclusive, of linking back to previous LQ threads in the archive. This leads to nifty things like the time I was helping three different people with different wireless cards on the same thread. That's just fun.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the reason I think this forum is so effective, and how we're about to break 100k posts, half of which since December, is the fact that unlike a how-to, a newb can actually recieve a direct answer instead of searching for one; and unlike an IRC channel or some other IM concept, there is a record of all of those distro specific, kernel specific, proggie version specific little questions out there on the hard drive of LQ (one of the more abused disks on the planet as it is.)

Wow, okay one complaint about Quick Reply is that the other form let's me realize just how long I've been dribbling on.


Old 05-17-2002, 09:54 AM   #5
Registered: Mar 2002
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Distribution: Suse 7.2, Gentoo 1.4, Solaris 9
Posts: 661

Rep: Reputation: 30
I help as much as I can. If I can supply A I give it and so on...

...without going on too much (Just kidding guys)

Actually, on the subject of the quick comment thing, which I'm using now, is that it does not alway display at the bottom of the screen in Konqueror 3 if you scroll the screen before the page has fully loaded.
Old 05-17-2002, 10:26 AM   #6
Registered: Mar 2002
Location: London
Distribution: Red Hat 9
Posts: 302

Rep: Reputation: 30
can i just say,

as a person who hasn't used linux for long, any answers i may give tend to be of the "here's what i found out so far for myself" variety, which is just stuff that may or may not help that person, also, i'm very likely to post a "here's what i found using google" type response, but only if the page concerned looks relevant, i usually keep a note of the url for my own reference later. Also, if it was so easy to find using google, why didn't they find it themselves?

My answers are usually confined to the newbie section since i am a newbie myself, and could not hope to do more than answer other newbie's questions from an "i've just done that" perspective.
Old 05-17-2002, 12:30 PM   #7
Registered: Feb 2002
Location: Grenoble
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 9,540

Rep: Reputation: 149Reputation: 149
Usually I try to give type B answer, but sometimes it's much to do/try etc, so it's rather type A. Type C? Rare, usually when people are asking for a suggestion, not full answer.
Old 05-17-2002, 01:10 PM   #8
Registered: May 2002
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Distribution: Ubuntu, Debian, RedHat/CentOS
Posts: 624

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 31
Thanks for the feedback... I think that giving links to complete newbies is not such a big crime, as it encourages them to find answers themselves, as well as introduces them to on-line resources (such as the LDP) that they probably never even heard of.

I dunno... I kinda like encouraging people to learn for themselves, because whenever I get a type A answer, I can never rest until I figure out the why and how of it. I realize that everyone's not like me, but still, learning's a good thing, no matter what. At the same time, however, I know the limits, if I see that the person is going nowhere, or if it's a time sensitive issue, I resort to type B and A answers. I still have a bit of ethics left in me.

To make an analogy, I'd rather teach someone to multiply numbers manually, instead of teaching that person how to use a calculator. To me Linux is not just an OS, not just a tool, it's a whole learning experience...
Old 05-17-2002, 04:38 PM   #9
Registered: Feb 2002
Location: Grenoble
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 9,540

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I have a different opinion about Linux. I thought so 2 years ago when I decided to use Linux exclusively, and I still do. Linux is my method to do what I want to do. Learning? I like digging in documentation to find interesting, new options. But it's not the most important thing. Linux is not a hobby for me. Right, it's a lot of fun, but fun isn't really important. What is important is work. And it's good for it.
That's why I don't usually tell people to learn something. I try to explain what to do, and why. This can be useful for them.
Knowing how lilo works is not really important. System commands are not important. The only important thing is what you want to do. The system should help me, or be neutral. It should never ask me to use strange utilities or commands. Just the easier way.
I know there are some people who treat Linux as another toy or like developing or... But Linux is not a system for developers. No more. Really. When I started using Linux as a workstation many people laughted. Still there are some who laugh.
Linux is the best system I know to do what I want to do. It's configurable, stable... You all know this.
What I think is: KDE and GNOME are good for Linux. I was very happy when I saw Webmin for the first time. And linuxconf, Mandrake Control Center... I know they are not perfect, but they're heading the right direction. I don't use them myself, but they help people to easily configure their machines. That's good.
That's why I think type C answers are good only when people are asking for this kind of answer. In other cases, B or A.

Last edited by Mara; 05-17-2002 at 05:12 PM.
Old 05-19-2002, 08:20 AM   #10
Registered: Mar 2002
Location: Salt Lake City, UT - USA
Distribution: Gentoo ; LFS ; Kubuntu
Posts: 12,612

Rep: Reputation: 64
When you guys answer my questions, I am usually looking for a B answer. I am only sometimes guilty of not already searching the site or anywhere for a good answer to my question. But usually what I find doesn't really suit my question. Example: The first time I saw foo (chmod -R 777 foo) I thought, "what in the hel| is foo?" But now I know because I saw you guys use it so much.

And an A answer doesn't usually help me either cause it sometimes doesn't apply to my system/situation. And sometimes I am not asking a question for myself, so I will use a lot of "for instance" type things. Then when the question gets answered with a type A answer, I still have no idea on how to help that person. Type C answers are usually not really good, I am usually looking for more of a "my level" answer rather than a blanket answer, type C I think is like a RTFM type answer. Usually I have already Read the F**king manual and it didn't help me.

Now Fin, you are a long winded typer!
Old 05-19-2002, 11:20 AM   #11
Registered: May 2002
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Distribution: Ubuntu, Debian, RedHat/CentOS
Posts: 624

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 31
Thanks, MasterC!

Feedback from people who get the answers is important to people who usually give answers, so that they can adjust to your needs.
Old 05-22-2002, 12:11 PM   #12
Registered: May 2002
Location: Hell, A.K.A. Arizona
Distribution: MD 8x / WIN2K / QNX
Posts: 156

Rep: Reputation: 30
I try to give clear and concise answers as best I can. I dont really get nasty at people who dont run a search for their questions first, or not looking in the MAN pages, because I figure that most customers do not.

I just give the answer and sometime put in their that they should try these other "x" resources first.
Old 05-22-2002, 12:26 PM   #13
Senior Member
Registered: Apr 2001
Location: Cornwall, England.
Distribution: Debian + Ubuntu
Posts: 4,345

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I generally try and give my bit. If I don't know the exact answer, but I have a rough idea of what it might be, then I say so. All too often if a thread hasn't been answered within the first couple of days, it will just sink - which isn't too heartening for the poster, so I try to post anything that I can, without claiming that 'I know it all', and hope that someone else who is more knowledgeable on that specific topic picks up the thread.

If, however, I do know the specific answer to a question, then I'm more likely to give A/B answers, or give a very brief guideline and say 'it's already been answered a few times, here's the search thing, take a peek.'
Old 05-28-2002, 03:42 AM   #14
Registered: May 2002
Posts: 179

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
it's hard to say...if i know i saw something in a HOWTO or some online documentation, i give the link. if i'm really bored and don't know the answer, i'll look it up and give the link. i disagree with Mara in that commands and learning is not important. Linux is all about commands and learning. if the poster did not check the author's website, i give them a link (if i find it) if it's something i know, i'll usually give the answer. rarely do i ever say how or why to do something



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