[GRLUG] Distro's - GRLUG test comment, dead thread

zdennis zdennis at mktec.com
Sat May 13 23:07:52 EDT 2006

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I agree with Ron's Guide, and appreciate Ron for posting it.


Ron Lauzon wrote:
> Robert G. Brown wrote:
>>I beleive what is being objected to is behavior such as
>>described in the article at:
>>   http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/snobsoped.shtml
> That was an interesting article, but the "sobbery" that they see doesn't 
> really exist, but I can see why they
> think it does.  So I've created:
> Ron's Guide to Asking Technical Questions for Newbies
> Many of us who can answer such questions are often the people who are 
> more technically advanced or talented at the companies they work for.  
> In short: we are the answer people.  At work, we are paid to deal with 
> newbie questions (either officially or unofficially), so we answer your 
> questions at work with a smile (after all, we LIKE getting paid).
> Outside of work, however, we answer questions out of the goodness of our 
> hearts and out of a desire to educate people.  But we are not OBLIGATED 
> to answer your question.
> In my personal experience, I have been:
> + Treated as an employee by someone I don't know looking for an answer 
> and demanding it NOW.
> + Called, at home, by someone I barely knew demanding (not asking) for 
> technical help with his school work.
> + Treated as a Google-surrogate (i.e. they were looking for answers that 
> were easily Google-able).
> So, helpful hints for newbies asking questions:
> 1. Ask.  Ask nicely.  I recently started to learn Japanese and they have 
> a whole separate set of "polite" words.  Learn the English versions of 
> those words and use them.  Copious use of the words "please" and "I 
> would really appreciate..." are obviously very helpful here.
> We aren't looking for you to beg for help, but we are looking for 
> appreciation for our help and not to be treated as peons (who aren't 
> getting paid to answer your questions).
> 2. Try first.  Who do you you feel better helping: the person who has 
> made it half way up the mountain on his own, but is stuck and needs help 
> - or the person who is still at the bottom, not having made any attempt 
> to climb?
> Telling us what you did to find the answer yourself when asking the 
> question tells us that you want to learn and makes us more willing to 
> help.  Which leads me to ...
> 3. Learn.  'Nuff said.
> 4. Accept that you may not get the "step 1, step 2, step 3..." answer 
> that you are looking for.  You may just get a little bit of information 
> - and if you asked a good question, that little bit of information may 
> just be the missing piece that lets you figure it out for yourself - and 
> learn something in the process.
> Remember, we just don't want to spread Linux to everyone.  We also want 
> to spread knowledge.  Because if everyone is smart, we can spend less 
> time answering questions and more time doing cool techie things 8-)
> 5. Accept the answer "you've bitten off more than you can chew".  
> Remember that you are asking questions of people who are more 
> knowledgeable and experienced than you (if they weren't, why are you 
> asking them questions?).  Remember that we became knowledgeable and 
> experienced by doing simple tasks, learning and then doing more 
> complicated tasks.  Some of us went to college, some to the School of 
> Hard Knocks.  We didn't get our knowledge from the magic lamp.  We 
> earned it through many trials and failures.
> I have a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science.  I have almost 20 years 
> experience.  I've worked with many flavors of Unix over that time.  When 
> I tell you what what you want to do is outside of your abilities, it's 
> not a slam - it's just the honest truth.
> 6. Remember that techies can be bribed.  An offer of a dinner to help do 
> something when we have free time stands a good chance of being taken 
> up.  Money works too.  I've bought computers from the Junk Store and 
> built them up with Linux for people to have something to play with - but 
> I've been paid for that.
> Finally,
> 7. Respect.  Remember that we aren't your employees, we aren't your help 
> desk, we aren't under any obligation to you.  Treating us with respect 
> keeps our attitudes nice, and makes us much more willing to answer 
> newbie questions.

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