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Old 27th May 2008
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jggimi jggimi is offline
More noise than signal
Join Date: May 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 7,209
Default What makes a perfect newbie?

I once posted this ideal in a thread on some other BSD forum. It was prompted, at the time, in response to a thread about net decorum, or the lack thereof, among some of our newer users who were, um ... shall we say... less than patient while simultaneously less than forthcoming about the problems they wanted us to solve for them.

For republication here, I have reduced the runway, and generalized the content for all BSDs:


Note that technical expertise is not on this list of what makes an ideal newbie. I believe people should be comfortable coming here with no BSD experience and little or no technical background, but they must be willing to obtain both if they wish success.

The Perfect Newbies...
  1. ...Do their homework...

    1. They read the Project's documentation: the FAQ or Handbook. They read it more than once.
    2. They read man pages. They follow the SEE ALSO suggestions in man pages to discover additional information.
    3. They know how to search the Problem Report database at the Project website, and they do so.
    4. They keep bookmarks to their favorite Project mailing list archives in their browsers. They search the archives frequently.
    5. They know how to use Internet search engines, and use them.
    6. They search daemonforum, too.
    7. They read books. Books on Unix. Books on BSD.
  2. ...Describe their problems...

    1. They describe problem situations clearly.
    2. They post actual error messages they've seen.
    3. They post the actual commands they used, and the output of those commands that they didn't understand, or that confused them.
  3. ...Disclose their situations...

    1. They tell us what architecture they are using.
    2. They tell us what release and flavor they are using.
    3. If they are using a custom kernel, they say so.
    4. They post their dmesg. (This covers c1, c2, and c3, by the way.)
    5. They post the content of applicable configuration files.
    6. They provide "pictures" of their network layouts when applicable.
  4. ...Communicate...

    1. They respect the forum membership, in return.
    2. They understand that this forum is not a Help Desk, and that the people who are trying to help them are volunteers.
    3. They respond to suggestions and recommendations from the people who are trying to help them, letting their helpers know what worked and what didn't.
    4. They post the information helpers request, with redactions of private information, such as public IP addresses.
  5. ...Keep a positive attitude.

    1. They approach each problem as a learning opportunity. "What knowledge do I lack?" rather than "It's broke. Fix it for me."
    2. They expect nothing. They know their helpers are only other BSD users, and that we will refer people to project mailing lists or bug reporting facilities when necessary.

Last edited by jggimi; 27th May 2008 at 11:25 AM. Reason: typo
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