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Old 03-13-2007, 02:19 PM   #1
onebuck
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Slackware Crystal Balls for Newbies!


Hi,

Just my observation for posts here on the Slackware forum.

I try to help whenever possible. Most newbies just don't understand that we are not able to stand behind them nor use our crystal ball(s) to assist them. Therefore we request system information such as syslogs, dmesg or output from specific command(s) to give some insight or information to allow the diagnosis of their problem.

Some attempt to post but do omit necessary information thinking not everything is necessary. Or they just edit needed information out.

I don't know how many times I've requested or others requested syslogs to help and to have someone post back there were no errors to post. The errors will not always be obvious even to an experienced user, so how can a newbie make this justification. Beats me!

The logs class the problem but the user must post information relative to the device(s) that can be used to diagnose the situation.

A lot of the time if a user would do a simple LQ or google search for the problem he/she is having, they would have loads of information to assist them. Most but not all just want the quick and easy way without any effort on their part to diagnose the problem. Thus they post to the forum expecting a quick reply that will get a response to fix the problem.

I know it can be very difficult for someone to decide what information is relevant and what is not. Yet alone diagnosing what the problem is or how to describe the problem/situation. Yes, some do provide to much information or information that doesn't even have anything to do with their problem.

Yes, it would be nice if everyone knew how to break things down to the simplest terms and be able to present in a understandable form.

You really don't want me to start on 'man'.
 
Old 03-13-2007, 06:32 PM   #2
gargamel
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All true. But I think we must respect the fact, that users, and newbies in particular, sometimes need a helping hand to guide them through all the information that is, perhaps, already there.

An LQ or <SearchEngine> search requires you to know how to ask what, in order to get useful results. Sometimes you don't get a single useful hit, sometimes so many, that you are all lost.

So even if a question has been asked before, I wouldn't expect a newbie to find it. But it would be absolutely alright, IMHO, if provide a pointer to an existing solution/answer instead of the repeating the solution itself.

Because, when you try to get something done, and you have tried everything you could possibly think of, nothing is more frustrating than getting an answer of type "RTFM" from a usually friendly and helpful community.

gargamel
 
Old 03-13-2007, 10:10 PM   #3
H_TeXMeX_H
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I definitely agree with most if not all of that. Especially this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by onebuck
I don't know how many times I've requested or others requested syslogs to help and to have someone post back there were no errors to post. The errors will not always be obvious even to an experienced user, so how can a newbie make this justification. Beats me!
The more specific info they can post the better. However, there is one notable exception, who will remain unnamed and who I think is a troll. Basically he did and posted lots of stuff that no one told him to do or post. And every time I tell him what to post, he posts something random.

Really, if newbies were more willing to cooperate, problems would be solved a lot faster and easier. If they don't cooperate, then we get the needed info slowly and not all of it ... often this involves much guesswork and mind-reading.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 02:23 AM   #4
bioe007
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while this sounds like a discussion for more senior 'nixers than I...

perhaps a sticky here akin to "how to ask questions the smart way"?

e.g.
-------
subj= Newbies Read this Before posting

content->

If you're having video problems:
post: dmesg, xorg.conf, Xorg.0.log

if you're having bootloader problems:
post: lilo.conf, fstab, fdisk -a

etc etc..

How to get these files:
- from command prompt type 'vi <path>/<filename>

-----------

I'm sure there are more gen topics and better/more complete needs to request, but I'd leave that determination to more seasoned users.

as a still pretty new-b: When I first go here I remember thinking jeez I see all this stuff people are posting but:
1> I'm not sure how to find that stuff (i.e. the path)?
2> what stuff is relevant for which problem(s)?

i'm sure a lot of this is located elsewhere here at lq but I think the average newbie (if I'm any indication) goes straight to the distro forum they're having troubles with.

even so, my take on trying to help here for people that don't quite know what to do is that once upon a time lots of people told me what to post/ask & look for (and many still are).

Last edited by bioe007; 03-14-2007 at 02:27 AM.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 05:52 AM   #5
XavierP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bioe007
perhaps a sticky here akin to "how to ask questions the smart way"?
Once upon a time, after ESR/Rick Moen posted the original "How to Ask Questions...." but before this post, a really good looking and intelligent moderator on LQ created How to Ask a Question (14 September 2004). And we still have the problem. Many people even have a link to the ESR/Rick Moen article in their sigs, I doubt a sticky would work.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 06:57 AM   #6
Hangdog42
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Quote:
I don't know how many times I've requested or others requested syslogs to help and to have someone post back there were no errors to post. The errors will not always be obvious even to an experienced user, so how can a newbie make this justification. Beats me!

This is one where we really have to give new users a lot of slack. I don't know how many times I've asked people to post info from their log files only to have them ask "What's a log file?". Since your average Windows user (or even your above-average Windows user) has never even heard of a log file, let alone seen one, this is one area where some hand-holding is definitely required. This is also frequently an excellent opportunity to introduce them to the magic that is grep.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 07:15 AM   #7
hitest
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This is a a very good topic, onebuck:-)
A lot of newcomers to Linux are like me, a hobbyist. I have no formal training in computer science or engineering, but, have picked up a few things here and there through reading and trial and error. I am fully aware that I have gaps in my understanding of Unix/Linux.
I am very thankful for this forum because we have gurus, engineers, and regular users that collaborate to solve problems.
I try to be very patient with rank beginners because I remember how discouraged I became when I asked what I thought was a good question only to have my butt flamed off by the resident RHCSE.
I think this forum is so very busy due to the generous nature of the posters here. We work together to promote the best OS on the planet.
Slackware:-)
 
Old 03-14-2007, 08:59 AM   #8
onebuck
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by hitest
This is a a very good topic, onebuck:-)
A lot of newcomers to Linux are like me, a hobbyist. I have no formal training in computer science or engineering, but, have picked up a few things here and there through reading and trial and error. I am fully aware that I have gaps in my understanding of Unix/Linux.
I am very thankful for this forum because we have gurus, engineers, and regular users that collaborate to solve problems.

I try to be very patient with rank beginners because I remember how discouraged I became when I asked what I thought was a good question only to have my butt flamed off by the resident RHCSE.
<snip>
I know my frustrations are shared here on LQ. I won't flame intentionally, sometimes tempers or personalities do flare.

We do try to help as much as possible but a user does have some responsibility of their own. I know the problem may leer out at the newbie. But when someone posts a a request of information to help then the same user just decides on his/her own the information is not warranted.

I've tried to be instructional whenever possible. Sure some is social but the international boundaries should not be a factor. Communication is the important part in the solving of any problem.

As for the persona of LQ, I think it's great! We have a good informal forum without dominant personalities that could exclude others from the format. I don't want stringent but I do want courtesy as the main factor that represents the LQ forum.

Others have noted a sticky, I really don't think a sticky would help. Most don't use the search on LQ or Google. So how many would read the sticky?

I reference a lot in my sig, in hopes some interest will arise.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 10:00 AM   #9
hitest
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by onebuck
Hi,

We do try to help as much as possible but a user does have some responsibility of their own. I know the problem may leer out at the newbie. But when someone posts a a request of information to help then the same user just decides on his/her own the information is not warranted.

I reference a lot in my sig, in hopes some interest will arise.
Well-said, onebuck:-)
Great links in your sig, btw:-)
 
Old 03-14-2007, 10:35 AM   #10
KleB
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Well, I have one thing to add. Namely, this madness for posting all sorts of config files is not always so necessary.
I must say that it often happens that anyone asking a question here is likely to be treated like a complete newbie. And the helpers often don't read the posts well enough to be able to give valuable information. I say this just so that you don't think it's just the newbies who don't do things right.

And if I my tell from my own experience, I once asked if anybody knew what to do to get an intel graphics card (i810 driver) working with xorg 6.9, because it worked under 6.8 but chrashed on the newer version with _the same_ xorg.conf. And yet everyone started discussing what and why I should do something to my xorg.conf. And as I just didn't get an appropriate answer, I installed an "third party" xorg 7.1, and the card worked well (of course, again with the same config)...
And it's not like I was the only one experiencing the bug, the whole internet is full of bug reports, but none of the solutons worked for me, so I asked the question. And yet, everyone wanted to teach me how to write xorg.conf, which I am quite capable of doing myself. And I did _not_ ask for help with xorg.conf, but to know if anyone knew the bug and have figured out an working solution. It's obvios that nobody knew the bug, but then you can just say "hey, I don't know the bug", of just post nothing. It will be more informative.

And I believe one can help even without knowing the config (if it's an obvious problem, which is not a rare thing when newbies ask) and if you need the config, you can always request it - and if he doesn't post it, then it's not your fault. As simple as that and there is no need for such panic abaut what to post and what not...
 
Old 03-14-2007, 10:59 AM   #11
onebuck
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KleB

And if I my tell from my own experience, I once asked if anybody knew what to do to get an intel graphics card (i810 driver) working with xorg 6.9, because it worked under 6.8 but chrashed on the newer version with _the same_ xorg.conf. And yet everyone started discussing what and why I should do something to my xorg.conf. And as I just didn't get an appropriate answer, I installed an "third party" xorg 7.1, and the card worked well (of course, again with the same config)...
And it's not like I was the only one experiencing the bug, the whole internet is full of bug reports, but none of the solutons worked for me, so I asked the question. And yet, everyone wanted to teach me how to write xorg.conf, which I am quite capable of doing myself. And I did _not_ ask for help with xorg.conf, but to know if anyone knew the bug and have figured out an working solution. It's obvios that nobody knew the bug, but then you can just say "hey, I don't know the bug", of just post nothing. It will be more informative.
Hi,
Quote:
Well, I have one thing to add. Namely, this madness for posting all sorts of config files is not always so necessary.
I must say that it often happens that anyone asking a question here is likely to be treated like a complete newbie. And the helpers often don't read the posts well enough to be able to give valuable information. I say this just so that you don't think it's just the newbies who don't do things right.
I think that some of what you say can be true. But not for every case. If the problem is indeed a config problem then of course, look at the config file. You can post segments that are relative to the problem without posting the whole file. Just present it! Yes, for xorg it would not be need if you just have the mouse configured improperly to post the whole file. But if the problem was a lilo problem then to request the /etc/lilo.conf file to diagnose the problem. Especially if the user was using a global statement that should be a local within a stanza.

I really believe that users can and do post a lot irrelevant information. Sometimes this does make things harder to deal with. But I would rather have to much than not enough. I feel that I can weed through and find the answer when there is just too much.

Quote:
And I believe one can help even without knowing the config (if it's an obvious problem, which is not a rare thing when newbies ask) and if you need the config, you can always request it - and if he doesn't post it, then it's not your fault. As simple as that and there is no need for such panic abaut what to post and what not...
That is your judgement! Nobody is pointing fault here. Just a discussion about the situation/observation on LQ Slackware forum. You are single pointing here. We cannot class all the problems since the problem is a variable you can be intuitive sometimes but not always.

No one is in a panic here but you.

As for your past LQ experience, I'm sorry to hear that it wasn't positive. As you say 'helpers', we do give our time freely so as to help the LQ community and a wonderful Slackware distribution.

Someone once told me here on LQ 'Chill out'! So 'chill out' and take the discussion as too what it is, constructive by example.

Last edited by onebuck; 03-14-2007 at 11:01 AM.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 11:21 AM   #12
Erik_FL
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Every person asking a question is different. Sometimes it's more productive to give them a general idea how to investigate and solve the problem instead of trying to provide a step-by-step solution. I've found that helping other people learn some new concepts can be better than just handing them the answers. That depends on the person.

There are different kinds of problems as well. It's fine trying to analyze information to find a known solution to a known problem. Sometimes the number of possibilities makes it impossible to troubleshoot the problem through an exchange of posts. In that case there is no choice but to get the person reporting the problem to do a lot of the work independently.

I've also found that people (including myself) have a tendency to avoid saying "I don't know" when we get past our experience in helping someone solve a problem. Nothing will confuse a new person faster than when the person helping them is confused. It's better to avoid answering a question if you don't have the time to adequately find good information. Sometimes that involves time or software that isn't available.

One of the stall tactics of some customer support organizations is to keep asking for one more piece of information, or suggesting one more thing to try. People may become frustrated without ever realizing why, and start feeling like they're being patronized. Be careful not to go duck hunting with a Howitzer. Sometimes asking for way too much information is as bad as not asking for enough. It does help if you also explain why the information is important, and what you plan to do with the information.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 12:07 PM   #13
KleB
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I'm sorry if you got me wrong. I'm not panicking, I'm not disappointed with LQ, I also consider myself more of a "helper" than the one seeking help (although I had some interesting issues to ask). I used the word "helper" merely because I'm not a native english-speaker and it was the first word that came into my mind.

I only wanted to say that we should let people ask first, then request more data as we feel appropriate. If someone needs a fast solution, forum can't be considered as the most reliable way to obtain it. But if you want to get a fast solution it's up to you to describe the problem as best as you can and post anything that comes into your mind and it is a bit more likely that the first answers will solve the problem.
But I think that nobody should expect people to immediately post all the configs, logs and stuff. If they do, fine, if they don't also fine, but it'll take a bit more time for them to get problems solved. Nothing to worry about here and this is what I wanted to tell in the first post. If it sounded nervous or something, sorry, it wasn't meant to. I only wanted to present you my opinion about the subject.

Last edited by KleB; 03-14-2007 at 12:09 PM.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 01:50 PM   #14
onebuck
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by KleB
I'm sorry if you got me wrong. I'm not panicking, I'm not disappointed with LQ, I also consider myself more of a "helper" than the one seeking help (although I had some interesting issues to ask). I used the word "helper" merely because I'm not a native english-speaker and it was the first word that came into my mind.
As I said in a earlier post, communication is the layer that can present road blocks. Internationally and locally the presentation can always be mis-interpreted by anyone. I was not pointing that 'helper' was a bad choice but to make it as a positive constructive point. I think, that I understood your intent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KleB
I only wanted to say that we should let people ask first, then request more data as we feel appropriate. If someone needs a fast solution, forum can't be considered as the most reliable way to obtain it. But if you want to get a fast solution it's up to you to describe the problem as best as you can and post anything that comes into your mind and it is a bit more likely that the first answers will solve the problem.
Well said!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KleB
But I think that nobody should expect people to immediately post all the configs, logs and stuff. If they do, fine, if they don't also fine, but it'll take a bit more time for them to get problems solved. Nothing to worry about here and this is what I wanted to tell in the first post. If it sounded nervous or something, sorry, it wasn't meant to. I only wanted to present you my opinion about the subject.
I never said anything about a cookbook type of post. Those get very boring fast without the personal touch. No one took your post as nervous, especially me. I was just sensing the drift of your post.

I do feel that the OP should post any valid requested data. Some people have the fear of security hovering over them thus they tend to block out or edit out necessary data. Therefore causing a problem with the diagnosis. Sure I don't need the wep/wpa key but the output of a complete 'ifconfig -a' would assist in the diagnose of a network problem as an example.
 
Old 03-14-2007, 05:54 PM   #15
gargamel
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All the content of all postings in this thread appears to be correct and fully justified, you are all right. I'd like to sum it up, so far, to this:

1. Communication is key.

2. Users asking for help are obliged to cooperate and provide the information requested by the people who take the time to support them with their problem.

3. Advisors/helpers/supporters (whatever the best word may be) should try to answer the original question, and not just post something more or less related they happen to know.

4. Let's be a bit more patient with noobs, when they don't follow rule #2, because it is characteristic of newbies that they don't know the rules, yet. When they post irrelevant or insufficient information, it is usually because they just don't know what we are talking of, at all, in my experience.

I know, it takes a lot of time and sometimes nerves, to "educate" them first, but they just don't know better. So, I have every understanding for your position, onebuck, and I even share it; but at the same time I well remember how grateful I was so many time that someone provided a helping hand to answer even my most basic and sometimes *really* stupid questions.

But I don't see a solution here. Noobs just don't know the rules. Once they do they usually are no more noobs.

gargamel
 
  


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