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

William Case billlinux at rogers.com
Fri Dec 30 04:04:53 UTC 2005


.02 cents.

On Thu, 2005-12-29 at 18:27 -0800, jdow wrote:
> From: "Birt, Jeffrey" <birtj at umr.edu>
> > I've found this to be a VERY interesting thread.  It's all has to do
> > with etiquette and on mailing list as in life there are just some plain
> > rude people.  

There are.  But as someone who started using Linux (first RedHat, then
Fedora) 2 years ago, I must say that most people on this and other lists
have mostly been polite, helpful and patient.

One suggestion, I have found my local LUG (Linux Users Group) to be
extremely helpful particularly with my really dumb beginners questions.

> I'm human. I can adapt to other humans peculiarities. So I go with
> the flow. (Just do NOT ask me to make a major adaptation so that I
> can feed information to a computer. It can bloody well learn MY way.
> {^_-})

Check out the LUG in your area, country, it probably has a mailing list
looking for questions to answer.

> > As a newbie to *nix a few years ago I tried to go through an online *nix
> > training program the University offered.  It was useless as it was far
> > to fine grained information, (no big picture overview), to be of help
> > (like the finer points of using VI).  There were lots of times I didn't
> > even know where to look for help (which file, website, man page) and
> > this list was of great help.

I found lots of good newbie sites for people just getting started in
Linux.  But, there seems to be a gap between sites that cater to the
very newest newbies and the very experience.  Transitioning between
beginner and experienced is were I find a problem.  In fact, this list
is one of the better sites for assisting that transition.

> "man" is indeed a handy resource. "info" is king-sized annoying to use.
> Another generally good resource nobody has mentioned is found in the
> /usr/share/docs directory. Some programs are better than others with
> regards to placing useful data there. And another interesting resource
> is simply /usr/share/<item> (eg /usr/share/spamassassin). This often
> contains configuration files or configuration file examples.
This goes to the core of one of my main beefs with Linux and Fedora in
particular.  I would like to see 'yelp' become the main organizer of all
manuals and documents on my system.  Not only original help documents
for every program but additional documents that I have downloaded,
should be located by and added to a greater 'yelp' help system.

> Now, a Linux Newbies document should point these places out to new
> Linux users. It should also point out the accumulated tricks and
> techniques, like using google to search this list or bugzilla. The
> how to ask a question on this group document is a waste if it does
> not include these tricks and information sources as PLACES to search.
> One might even include tricks about using RPM to figure out which
> package contains a file that has you mystified.

That should be all included in a central help program.

> If the documentation lacks these pointers and others perhaps it could
> be "spiffed up" a little?
> Somebody with time or who already has "responsibility" should cull these
> postings for some of these hints and wordsmith them into the appropriate
> documentation packages.
> I can just see a LDP (another fine resource at http://www.tldp.org/)
> including a new Linux_Newbies_HOWTO with generic sections as well as
> distro specific sections to aim people towards the help resources most
> likely to help them get moving and maybe even hit the ground walking.
> {^_-}

Linux has for more help available than I could have imagined when I
started 2 years ago.  But it has taken me two years to find it.  The
"help" learning cure is far steeper than it needs to be, especially
given the amount of raw content there is out there.

In response to the original "RTFM" question.  If you don't like the
question don't answer it.  Thousands of people everyday don't answer
questions.  Join that group.  The world doesn't need another mailing
list cop.

If you feel compelled to answer with a "RTFM", point out which effing ..
Manual.  As a newbie, I can tell you sometimes you don't know the manual
exists, or were it is or you read right through the appropriate section
without understanding that the information was what you needed.

Same with googeling. You have to put the correct search criteria in the
search window.  If you are just learning (and this applies to Linux
newbies or gurus delving into a new area for the first time) you can
search for hours and not find something that is in the top ten list of a
correctly addressed search simply because you are not asking properly.
As was mentioned in an earlier post here, if you want to answer by
saying "google for it", suggest some search criteria.

Just be kind.  From time to time, we all have a brain cramp and ask a
stupid question or a good question stupidly. A bit of a joke and a
rephrasing of the question for the poster is usually easy to do.

Lastly, have fun.  A little joke, a small tease, some witty
self-deprecating remark goes along way smoothing out life on a mailing
list, just as they do in life. 

Regards Bill

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