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

David L. Gehrt dlg at mail.inanity.net
Thu Dec 29 21:13:29 UTC 2005


I have a couple of thoughts on things raised in this thread:

1.  When  I first  became a  *NIX admin  I went  from being  an assembly
    language programmer of code  for embedded systems to administrating
    a system running 4.1a BSD.  What  saved my bacon was the KWIC index
    (KeyWord In Context) for the BSD man pages and documents.

    I believe  that some  sort of comprehensive  index to the  Linux man
    pages and the LDP generated  docs would allow many people to resolve
    their own issues.  I do not know if ptx(1) would meet this need, but
    something like a KWIC index for the Linux documents would be of huge

2.  In a past job I had occasion to  give a bit of a class to new system
    administrators  titled  something  like  "Host  Based  Diagnosis  of
    Network Problems."  The  part of the information which  seemed to be
    most helpful was  telling these admins was for  any problem reported
    to them was to insist on details indicating a fault .  This included
    a  precise description of  what the  user was  doing when  the fault
    occurred, the precise  text of any error messages  received, and any
    log  entries which  resulted.  There  was some  complaints  that the
    users would know into which log files to look.

    On that  point all I  could say  was a computer  is just a  tool and
    people  should know  the rudiments  of  using their  tools and  that
    includes documentation,  where the log files are  and generally what
    type of logs  go in which log files.  Syslog.conf  is a key resource
    to figure that out.  Now  "mere users" can't read the logs, usually,
    but on this list people can read logs for the most part.

    It occurs to me that people  who ask for help should do these things
    at a minimum.   Precision is important, it is  a great assistance to
    those of  us who  might help.   It is key  that we  who try  to help
    should not  have to spend  a lot of  time trying to figure  out what
    question  is really  being asked.   Usually there  multiple possible
    causes, so multiple possible responses.  Make it easy on us, and you
    will get quicker and more accurate answer to questions.


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