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Old 21st July 2008
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Default What makes a perfect seasoned member?

I've been in a discussion with another member lately (whom shall remain nameless) about some of the replies given in many of the threads on this forum. It would appear that while we all wish newbies were 'perfect', there seems to be some problem with some of the more seasoned members (meaning the 'regulars' ) of this forum as well.

I'm not going to bash anyone outright, and I certainly don't mean any ill will to this forum or any particular members. But sometimes I find that there are those that are replying in threads with no actual real information or direction to contribute to the OP. It's almost like there are those types of replies that are just given to show that they are "in on the topic", whether relevant content is contributed or not.

To be sure, one thing discussed in my private conversation with the other member is that I would rather someone contribute erroneous information than completely useless non-information. At least with the 'wrong answer' there can be a correction (and normally there is.) With a 'non-answer', you just to have shrug your shoulders and move on... but it's a bit distracting and annoying, IMHO.



So I ask... what makes a perfect seasoned member of this forum? I ask this so that those of us that take pride in this forum can check ourselves with regards to our replies to newbies who are looking to us for good, real information to help them out. If we are going to expect something from the newbies, perhaps we should be expecting something from ourselves as well. Thoughts?
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Old 21st July 2008
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A "perfect" seasoned member re-reads the OP's question several times before answering.

(I fail to do this enough, and will sometimes provide a misleading answer due to a keyword I misread ... or failed to see. Mea Culpa.)
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Old 21st July 2008
BSDfan666 BSDfan666 is offline
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I should stay away from this topic, I'm an ill tempered regular.
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Old 21st July 2008
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A perfect seasoned member helps another member help himself. And does so with clear, understandable English that is appropriate given the skill level of the newbie -- even if that advice is: "Please read chapter N in the handbook". For a forum to stay healthy, the relationships have to be more or less symbiotic.
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Last edited by anomie; 21st July 2008 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 21st July 2008
dk_netsvil dk_netsvil is offline
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I think that the pursuit of perfection is a fundamentally flawed endeavor, but I think it certainly helps if a forum member accepts that this is a community resource and serves a larger entity. If it helps to think about it this way consider that a forum is a binary society: there are people who are asking for help and people who are responding to those requests.

I think the ideal member asking should be clear about what they would like to know, as clear as language allows since many people from non-english speaking countries wind up here, as well as patient. I know I hate seeing a question like, "I want to build an enterprise web server. Someone give me step-by-step instructions." I appreciate that the person asking for this assistance has a desire to get involved, but I think it's symbiotic: if the asker provides some details as to how far they got before they got stuck they tend to get a better response. It helps if the person asking for information is detailed in their post. I don't want your IP address or your domain name, but I want to know if you compile apache 2.2.4 manually and which modules you're trying to use.

Responders should be clear and patient, which I think most of the active posters are. I think responders, philanthropists that they are, are making an offer of advice or a solution to someone's problem. I think a responder needs to do some quick fact-checking prior to making a suggestion. I know there have been a few times that I posted something off-the-cuff and shortly realized my post was going to be completely useless for one reason or another and immediately I edited my post to contain something more relevant.

I'm not perfect, but there is room for improvement, and anything I can do to facilitate change I am willing to do. If someone asks a general question and I give a general response I'm not sure there's a real problem there. If someone makes a specific request for help, say, debugging their IPv6 firewall and pastes in their pf rules and I offer up some general IPv6 trivia I suppose I have what's coming to me.
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Old 21st July 2008
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So if I may suggest a framework to critque/approve against- if you have already mentioned one of these, it's not that I ignored your comment... it's that I thought it worthwhile and incorporated it-

1) Stay on topic
We have enough issues with newbies/non-regulars hijacking threads or going OT without the more regular users doing so. Pay attention to what the OP is asking for. While it's a good thing to correct a responder's erroneous information, aside from that it's important to stay on the OP's topic. Imagine being a newbie, asking for help, only to have your thread turn into a whole other discussion. And yes... it happens.

2) Ask the right questions
As regulars here, we tend to get pretty judgemental about what the OP is asking (aka, not being specific enough, among other things) but we really need to pay attention to our own attempts to glean a better understanding of the OP's issue. Asking a question that clearly has nothing to with the OP's problem can send a newbie in the wrong direction fast, and add to the confusion when you expect them to understand it may have been slightly OT. And asking a question that is clearly beyond the understanding of the OP does them no good, either.

3) Be respectful
Perhaps this should be 1) , but it's been stated previously that the newbies are the lifeblood of this forum. Scorning them for not understanding the framework under which we operate on a normal basis isn't sufficient to "go off on them". Gently pointing out that perhaps one of their problems is not addressing the issue from the perspective we would address it from goes a long way in building the community we hope to live in. And general politeness should go without saying, but if this wasn't a problem it wouldn't be mentioned here.

4) Be clear
Engrish (sp for humor's sake) is the language of the forum, but not necessarily the OP or other members. If you have a firm grasp of the English language, it falls on you to use it properly. If a poster can't communicate their issue elegantly in English, imagine how hard it is for them to decode grammaticly incorrect, nonsensical shorthand chickenscratch. Was that overly done?

5) Make some actual suggestions related to the issue discussed
Waxing philosophical is okay once the answer has been arrived at, or if the OP is clearly not understanding the proper answer already laid in front of them. But to give your view of the subject at large before the answer has been clearly stated is just a bunch of garbage. It has no place in this forum, and makes you look like you're just trying to be a smart guy when you really having nothing of worth to contribute. Consider it forum cruft. Remember, people come here looking for answers, not to see if you can yuk it up on any topic they throw in the hat. If you don't have an actual answer, considering waiting for someone who does to post it, before 'weighing in' with a mere opinion.

This doesn't have to be the completed list... I just don't want to go on forever, and thought these were the most important points.
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Last edited by ai-danno; 21st July 2008 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 22nd July 2008
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Being one of the few people who frequent this forum without a BSDForums history behind them, I know what I expect of 'seasoned members' is little more then I do of suhc people in any other technical-oriented group.



0/ Be knowledgeable of the domain in question.

---> knowledge doesn't buy wisdom but there are plenty of wise enough people here. I often have much more respect for people who show that they are competent in an area then for those who are merely being verbose about it.


1/ Be reasonably polite to and respectful of other forum visitors (regular, noob, or pest).

---> In one circle in which I am involved in: you behave as such or you will likely get your account moved to /dev/banned.


2/ Be active within the community and help keep the forum alive and vibrant.

--> Example: taking six weeks to get a reply from someone, if _at all_ would suck. I've seen this happen to people numerous times outside these walls. Well, you know what I mean by walls :-P. Forums that become stagnated are also of no help to anyone, beyond picking its remains for useful information.


3/ Understand enough of the English language to be able to communicate effectively.


---> IMHO in terms of languages: it's more or less the lowest common detonator on the internet.


4/ Be patient with people -- not everyone is like you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ai-danno View Post
imagine how hard it is for them to decode grammaticly incorrect, nonsensical shorthand chickenscratch. Was that overly done?
You have just described the quality of my handwriting :-)


My English skills are not the best by any bodies regards, let along my own! The only time I do actually care, is typically when writing e-mail, comments in code, or in more 'sensitive' topics -- in which I try to be carefully composed.


When it comes to reading others words, I don't really care if they wrote it well or not, as long as I can understand it.



Two reasons for my language skills [or lack there of]. I don't give a flying flub about the 'laws of the English language' as strongly as my teachers and as a number of friends have exclaimed:

"I could swear you've never heard of semi-colons."


But most importantly life here requires that I type fast, about as fast as I can think or faster! If a post takes more then ~5minutes, I will likely end up AFK, courtesy of my FH's. Which means speed is of infinitely more important then obeying the laws of American or British English.

----


I think ai-danno has good points, especially when it comes to posts that are not contributing any value to the discussion or the OPs issues.


It's certainly one that I struggle with at times.... Sometimes I will start posting a reply out of instinctive interest in some matter.


Then stop and think, does this actually help anyone reading this thread?


And decide whether to ^W my way to another topic, recompose it appropriately, or post it as is. This is one of the reasons I like the quick-reply feature -- more time to think before ye'post.

A great man once said:

"Tis’ better to be quiet and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt"




Tis' also better to keep thine reply to thyself, then be found a jerk.



(Disclaimer: I have no ability with archaic language.)
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Last edited by TerryP; 22nd July 2008 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 21st July 2008
ocicat ocicat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dk_netsvil View Post
Responders should be clear and patient, which I think most of the active posters are. I think responders, philanthropists that they are, are making an offer of advice or a solution to someone's problem. I think a responder needs to do some quick fact-checking prior to making a suggestion. I know there have been a few times that I posted something off-the-cuff and shortly realized my post was going to be completely useless for one reason or another and immediately I edited my post to contain something more relevant.
...which gets to the heart of what ai-danno is pointing out.

While I agree with anomie that teaching is a laudable goal, posters come here for insight, context, & experience. Fundamentally, can a poster walk away after reading a response & either solve the problem (ideally) or have more information which can help them find the answer themselves? Sure, no one can know the exact answer to every question posed, but there is a difference between:
"Here are the underlying issues & here are links to the documentation which explain it further..."
...as compared to:
"Well, you might find something in the documentation somewhere..."
As dk_netsvil clearly puts it, does any response we add to a thread provide any more clarity, focus, & direction, or is it simply noise?

I don't always live up to this myself, but it's a question we need to continually ask ourselves if we want this site to be truly useful & grow. We might see our own perspectives mature in the process.
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