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Old 06-13-2010, 08:17 AM   #1
Simon Bridge
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How to Answer a Linux Question


A new la entry has been added:

How to Answer a Linux Question

Quote:
How to answer a Linux question.

After you've been asking questions and getting answers for a while, you will start to feel the need to put something back. However, deliberately setting out to answer questions can be daunting.

Don't be put off
So you are not a guru or anything - never mind. We all had to start some-place. Dive right in. You can start by answering to the newbie forums, or those that apply to your distro.
 
Old 06-13-2010, 09:02 AM   #2
MTK358
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Nice article. But I wanted to ask two things:

I found a typo under the Homework-Style Reply section: it says "gnu/Linux" instead of "GNU/Linux".

And one part that I didn't get:

Quote:
It is also common for users to believe they have an unauthorized copy the commercial software and that is commercial but free (libre) and that they are seeking support from fellow copyright infringers.
 
Old 06-13-2010, 10:31 AM   #3
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The corporate media does not approve of FOSS and also because of the propaganda launched by proprietary s/w companies many 'brainwashed users' may hold strange beliefs. It should be clearer.
 
Old 06-13-2010, 10:45 AM   #4
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I still don't really get it.

So some people believe that the fact that Linux is downloaded for free means that the creators of Linux have their copyrights infringed?
 
Old 06-15-2010, 06:47 AM   #5
salasi
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Ugh; I should have spotted these before.

Quote:
It is quite common for ex-proprietary software users to believe that a "pro" or "commercial" version of software is better than "non-commercial" or "community supported". This is because of extensive marketing to justify antifeatures in common non-free software.

Antifeatures:


The link does not for me resolve to anything useful, but I do get a 'your DNS provider thought you might like this stuff instead' page. I don't see anything useful with antifeatures in the domain name, but I did spot:

http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/antifeatures

although, if people are linked through to this page, they may get confused by the fact that it primarily talks about cameras (and antifeatures in cameras), which could be a surprise.

There is also this great quote from LJ/Cory Doctorow

Quote:
More DRM, more controls on how users use it....They're anti-features. There's no customer who woke up this morning and said, “Gosh, I wish there was a way I could do less with my music this morning—I hope there's an iTunes update waiting for me.”
Quote:
It is also common for users to believe they have an unauthorized copy the commercial software and that is commercial but free (libre) and that they are seeking support from fellow copyright infringers.
I think that you meant to write "copy of the commercial software". I'm still not convinced it is actually clear to someone who didn't know this before they read it, though.

is this clearer?

It is also common for users to believe they have an unauthorized copy of a piece of commercial software, and that they are seeking support from fellow copyright infringers in 'cracking' that software.

(Although that doesn't deal with the issue of people who have downloaded an evaluation copy of a normally 'paid-for' piece of enterprise software, who are seeking support in getting around the need to pay, or around the conditions that apply to the evaluation copy. Did you mean to say something about that?)
 
Old 06-15-2010, 07:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
That's incredible!
 
Old 06-15-2010, 07:07 AM   #7
TheIndependentAquarius
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Quote:
If a post actually breaks rules, don't reply at all - just hit the "inform moderator" button.
I think instead of the "inform moderator" button, it should be "Report" button, since a newbie reading the statement may actually start looking for a "inform moderator" button, which in reality doesn't exist.
 
Old 06-15-2010, 08:33 AM   #8
XavierP
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@Simon Bridge - once you've been through the changes suggested here, drop me a line and I'll create a new version.
 
Old 06-15-2010, 07:31 PM   #9
salasi
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Quote:
you can practice by applying your skills to problems you don't know about.
You can

Quote:
The thread lists have a useful feature - if you mouse-over the titles, you get a preview of the contents. This is useful for making sure a question is really you.
True enough, but, in an ideal world, the point about trying to get the kernel of the question within the first couple of lines ought, therefore, to be in the 'asking a question' advice (and, it would help people getting a heads-up via RSS).

Quote:
Bad titles
It is acceptable to avoid the bad titles you see in ZR threads. There is a type of person who is drawn to these ones, so they will get answered.

If you are new to giving answers, these can be instructive, and you'll be saving someone else the bother. Mouse-over the title to see if they put something helpful in the first paragraph.
Nice as it is, it is unclear how he second para relates to 'Bad Titles' ('these' therefore being the bad titles, bad titles are thus being claimed to be informative; maybe so, but not particularly); I think the para belongs somewhere else.

Quote:
Do not make the first reply to your own thread - unless you have found the answer before anyone else.

In which case: do not erase your original question - no matter how stupid you feel. Instead, mark the post "[solved]" (thread tools top right of post #1) and reply to your own question as if you were replying to someone else's.
One other situation in which you could reasonably reply to your own thread first, is if you suddenly realise that there is information that you ought to give, because otherwise there is no chance of getting a good answer.

Quote:
Pay attention to post flow
When you reply, it will not always be clear which post you are replying to - or which part. Even if you are the first responder, another member may beat you with a shorter post. You can easily establish the context of your answer by quoting part of the question.
...or quote a post number (#)...

Quote:
In addition, since this is text, try to add the rational
rationale not rational

Chambers:
rationale - underlying principle...
rational - endowed with reason, of the reason, agreeable to reason, sane, intelligent...

Quote:
Users will often not follow the question guidelines, correcting peoples posting style is an educational process which improves our community as well as overall literacy.
I'm unsure about that 'peoples': if it is a singular possessive, then it should be 'people's', but that seems ugly (and how can I tell the people are not in more than one group and it shouldn't therefore be peoples'?); 'their' seems to be a better alternative in this case.

Quote:
Don't use that distro - use distro xyz instead.
... it does not matter how ill informed you believe the users choice of distro is, if their choice is not directly appropriate to their problem do not suggest changing it. If you want to convince people which distro is best, there is a thread for you.
I am sure that 'appropriate' ought to be 'relevant'; surely if their initial choice of distro is not appropriate for the application to which they intend to put it, then what we should do is tell them?
 
Old 06-15-2010, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
One other situation in which you could reasonably reply to your own thread first, is if you suddenly realise that there is information that you ought to give, because otherwise there is no chance of getting a good answer.
Or if the auto-bump period ends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
...or quote a post number (#)...
Or use "@usermame" to refer to the most recent post by "username".
 
Old 06-21-2010, 10:44 PM   #11
Simon Bridge
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Please note - I am watching but I am also very busy right now. I'll get to it when I can.

Quote:
One other situation in which you could reasonably reply to your own thread first, is if you suddenly realise that there is information that you ought to give, because otherwise there is no chance of getting a good answer.
Then you edit your original post.

Quote:
in an ideal world, the point about trying to get the kernel of the question within the first couple of lines ought, therefore, to be in the 'asking a question' advice
... agreed, and, therefore, this comment needs to added to the discussion of that howto.

Quote:
Or use "@usermame" to refer to the most recent post by "username".
... I'd discourage this for the context as the post you want to refer to will not remain the most recent. Quoting the post number (#) is another approach, but can create an arrogant impression: "this has already been answered in post #23"! The reader has not seen the advise first time through, so why should they see it next time? Better is actually to quote the relevant text as well as the number of the post you get it from. Making it a link is even better.

@Xavier - how do I do that?
 
Old 06-22-2010, 12:21 AM   #12
XavierP
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Through the contact links in my profile - just drop me an email with the latest revision and I'll do the rest.
 
Old 06-22-2010, 04:34 AM   #13
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Bridge View Post

Quote:
One other situation in which you could reasonably reply to your own thread first, is if you suddenly realise that there is information that you ought to give, because otherwise there is no chance of getting a good answer.
Then you edit your original post.
The reason that I am less-than-keen on advising people to edit their original post, for anything more than typos, etc, is that performing anything other than trivial changes to posts leads to the situation in which posters feel free to change their post dramatically without any history. This is not a good thing.

In this particular context, it is probably OK, but I have concerns that this spills over into a situation in which people do it more generally, in which it isn't.

Quote:
Quote:
in an ideal world, the point about trying to get the kernel of the question within the first couple of lines ought, therefore, to be in the 'asking a question' advice
... agreed, and, therefore, this comment needs to added to the discussion of that howto.
Writing from my hollowed-out volcano, I can now reveal that the master plan was to wait for this to be issued and stabilised and then go back to that howto and try to get it brought into line.

<hysterical rising tone>
World Domination! Bua, Ha Ha Ha! (I only include that last line because I am contractually obliged by the conditions of my membership of the Union of Meglomaniacs so to do.)
</hysterical rising tone, possibly>
If I can be bothered.
 
Old 06-22-2010, 06:30 AM   #14
MTK358
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Bridge View Post
... I'd discourage this for the context as the post you want to refer to will not remain the most recent. Quoting the post number (#) is another approach, but can create an arrogant impression: "this has already been answered in post #23"!
My context was not "that guy already posted the answer", but "that guy wrote something and I want to add to that conversation".
 
  


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