Why questions don't get answered, or "No, I've already RTFM, tell me the answer!"

Charles Howse chowse at charter.net
Thu Dec 29 04:36:17 UTC 2005

> Hash: SHA1
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: fedora-list-bounces at redhat.com
>> [mailto:fedora-list-bounces at redhat.com] On Behalf Of Charles Howse
>> Sent: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 7:38 PM
>> To: Fedora
>> Subject: Why questions don't get answered, or "No, I've
>> already RTFM, tell me the answer!"
>> I'd like to start a calm, respectful, reasonable discussion
>> of the reasons
>> that we tell people to RTFM, or reasons that people don't get their
>> questions answered on mailing lists and usenet groups.
>> I'm not complaining about anything or anybody, just wanting
>> to start some
>> discussion which might lead to more answers and less 'noise'.
>> No one has been disrespectful to me, don't get the wrong idea.
>> I personally am a former Microsoft Certified Professional in
>> NT Server 4.0,
>> have used operating systems including, PC DOS, MS DOS, OS/2 Warp,
>> all flavors of Windows through XP Pro (except ME, which sucked
>> sooo bad), Linux,
>> FreeBSD, and currently, Mac OS X Tiger.
>> I've administered networks consisting of hundreds of
>> workstations and dozens
>> of servers, installed lans and wans from scratch, taught
>> Windows operating
>> systems, software and networking.
>> I feel that might just barely qualify me as knowing a little about
>> computers, and I say that seriously...'a little'.
> I know how you feel.  ;-)
>> There are a lot of things I don't know, and when I run out of
>> research options, or get frustrated when all the troubleshooting
>> solutions don't
>> work, I'm heading for usenet or a mailing list, because time
>> after time,
>> that has been the resource that provided the solution.  A
>> wise man once told
>> me, "Someone out there has solved that problem, you just have
>> to find them."
>> I don't really know where to start, so here are some random
>> thoughts...
>> Maybe I got told to RTFM because I missed something in it?
>> Well, could you
>> just politely point me to the section I missed, please?  Or
>> give me a link
>> to a howto or some html page where it is explained?
>> Maybe the question has been answered in the FAQ for the list?
>>  Just point me
>> to it, you don't have to say anything else.
>> I've seen lots of posts to this list and others with no
>> subject or a subject
>> that has nothing to do with the question, but the question
>> was answered
>> respectfully.  So, when I post with a good subject, one that
>> will show up in
>> a Google search, help me out.
>> Many lists and groups regularly autopost the guidelines for
>> posting, FAQ,
>> and relevant howto pages, point me to those when necessary.
>> Someone used the phrase 'spoon feed' recently.  I don't
>> remember who, nor is
>> it important, but what's wrong with a spoon full of sugar now
>> and then?
>> And why would you ignore a reasonable question unless you
>> don't know the
>> answer?
> Is replying to say "I don't know" any more constructive than ignoring
> the question?  At the least it lets the OP know that the mail was
> received, but really, that's about it.

For clarity, what I mean is, if I ask a question, and you know the answer,
but it has been asked and answered many times, I would prefer to hear:
"That question is answered in the list FAQ, which is here <link>."
If you know the answer, but ignore the question because it is in the FAQ,
then aren't you increasing bandwidth consumption by causing the thread to
>> I think the members of this list are mostly doing things the
>> way I would
>> like to see them done, but I also think we could all do better, eh?
>> I don't mean to step on any toes, just want to start some
>> discussion. Does anyone else have any thoughts on why questions
>> don't get 
>> the respectful
>> treatment they deserve?
>> -- 
>> Thanks,
>> Charles 
> While I agree with you on the general gist of what you're saying, I
> think that the people who are behaving negatively on lists are people
> who are demanding attention.  *Most* people answer, if they know.  Or
> point if they can.  What I've found, is that at least 2 out of 3
> times, when I go to google someone's problem, the answer is usually
> in the top 10 links found.  For people that are particularly active
> on lists, this can be frustrating.

I agree 100%, with the exception that I would prefer to hear:
"I Googled for +"Fedora Core 4" +install" and the answer is..."
That helps me learn how to do my own Googling and come away with answers.
> This list in particular seems to be relatively well behaved,
> although, I don't follow it as closely as I used to (switched
> distros).  So I'm a little curious why you're asking these questions
> now.

Ummmm...well, I just did a lot of research on some list archives, including
this one, and there seemed to me to be a lot of negative responses.
Now the worst list I've ever subscribed to as far as negative response and
RTFM was freebsd-questions.  Whew!  Better put on your asbestos underwear
and list all your research before you post there!

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