Fwd: Re: [Wine]re:re:HELP
wine at kaotic.co.uk
Sat Oct 9 13:50:30 CDT 2004
> I agree with that, Its very hard to write documentation at a level
> that's easy to understand, but not offensive to those with some
> The main observation I have is the more knowledgeable a person becomes
> the harder it is for them to communicate. There is a lot to be said
> for proof reading by a novice.
> However, the posting that started this thread the standard of English
> was poor, and could be interpreted in many ways.
> wine-users mailing list
> wine-users at winehq.org
I've not used WINE to a major degree, wanting to get my system to behave
itself with the hardware first before I dump Windows and go to a pure
Linux environment. However I have worked for 7 years in a tech support
capacity, so I find myself in a position where I sympathise with both camps.
The developers / programmers are all experienced *computer* users, not
just Linux or Windows users, and in general like myself have probably
grown up with an RTFM mentality. When I started in computers you had to
know what you were doing because if you didn't the only answer you got
was "read the f'ing manual" (RTFM). Hence I grew with computers in a
self-help environment. This mindset can lead to frustration when faced
with a request/demand for help from someone who it is clear has not made
any attempt to help themself.
This is where this thread, predictably in my view, kicked off with a
complaint/demand for help from someone who
a) appears to have poor English skills. However English is my ONLY
language so I refuse to berate someone who is obviously struggling to
make himself understood but at least is making the effort. If English
is his first language and he is simply very bad at it (and with some of
the customers I've spoken to that's not impossible) then I rescind that
somewhat kind viewpoint. Many a time I've had to choke my response to
"oh you mean the double dot.. don't use your jargon on me!" simply
because I've asked the customer to enter a colon.
b) has not made much if any attempt to help himself, despite his claim
of having tried for two years. Does "trying for two years" simply mean
running WINE every couple of months in the blind hope it will work this
c) Does have a *valid* point regarding documentation.
I have A Level Computer Studies (apologies to those not in the UK but
this is a qualification attained before leaving school at age 18 ish, so
draw your own comparisons). During the compilation of my practical
programming project work I had to include full documentation of how the
programs worked. When I wrote my documentation I aimed at the "shallow
end of the gene pool" or to put it kinder, the novice user. I was
explicit in what could and could not be done, giving clear examples of
valid data entry and made sure that it was proofed by at least one other
The environment today has changed radically from when I started in
computers 20 years ago. The RTFM mentality has given way to the T/SMH
mentality (Tell/Show Me How). I should not complain unduly since it is
the existence of this mentality which has kept me in employment the last
seven years. It goes without saying that T/SMH and RTFM do not sit well
with each other.
Programmers / developers, even experienced users have to accept the fact
that not everyone is willing/able to RTFM anymore. However
users/novices have to respect the fact that the former group are (as has
been mentioned before) giving freely of their time and energy, and a
little gratitude would not go amiss. I am sure there is a happy middle
ground along the lines of:
To answer your question fully would take some time, but have a look at
the following links.
If you have any questions after reading these, please feel free to ask."
This approach is not an unhelpful one as it gives the user advice on
where to find what they need, without "spoon-feeding" them. I know
several of the regular contributors here do use this technique and I am
happy to see it.
If the user responds with a comment to the effect that they wanted help
not links, then my attitude does harden to "tough... you've been shown
where to get the answer, so go read it". If on the other hand (going
back to documentation) the referred websites are full of esoteric
acronyms, I would not be surprised or object to the questioner coming
back with a supplemental "OK, but about point 1, how do I do X?" as that
proves they have at least tried to help themselves.
To summarise, questioners need to ask specific questions, and at least
*TRY* to understand any answers/ websites they are given. However
equally those who answer need to be mindful that the person they are
responding to may not necessarily know how to "compile the latest
source" or "provide us with the debug output". Could I suggest, please,
that where such comments are made that a little extra time is given to
explaining how to obtain that which has been asked for?
I hope I have not unduly upset anyone with my comments above. I have
been lurking on this forum for just over a year now and I have always
been impressed with the dedication of those who respond to the regular
please for help. You are all doing a great job, and this is the first
time I have seen this issue blow up in the way it has on this occasion.
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