Fwd: Re: [Wine]re:re:HELP

Dan McGhee farmerdan at i-rule.net
Sun Oct 10 09:18:38 CDT 2004

IMHO, this is one of the most eloquent and considered discussions of 
this particular topic that I have seen.  Thank you.

Before I continue, I must add that I too have been lurking on this forum 
for awhile.  There is a lot of assistance here and I in no way wish to 
insult or offend anyone who is dedicated enough, and has the knowlege, 
to help others use WINE and develop it too.  I also need to say that I 
have some definite feelings about the use of WINE.  With very few 
exceptions there are Linux applications, especially in the "office" area 
that accomplish the very same things that the "windows" applications 
do--it's just a matter of finding, installing and configuring.  I use 
WINE because I have two applications for which I have not yet found 
counterparts in the Linux world and the developers don't intend to 
provide Linux support.  My goal, for my own reasons, is to get these two 
applications working and then remove windows from my machines.

I add this, not in boastfulness but so that people may have some 
confidence in my thoughts.  I am, by education and experience a nuclear 
engineer.  I spent the greater part of my adult life propelling black 
sewer tubes beneath the surface of the ocean <BG>.  I was trained to do 
this and later I trained others to do it.  Additionally, many years ago 
I wrote simple games for myself on a WANG computer, but I have not done 
any programming for years and have become strictly a user.  I am a firm 
believer in both the RTFM and "T/SMH mentality (Teach/Show Me How)"--I 
call it "hands on"--methods discussed here.  Both are necessary in a 
submarine to insure that the number of surfaces is one greater than the 
number of dives.

Another name for the current topic is "training" and, in that light, 
deserves careful consideration by those who both advertise their 
willingness to and actually offer to help others.  Julian Hall seems to 
imply, and I agree with this implication, that seeking and offering help 
contains a reciprocating responsibility.  This responsibility involves 
three elements:  1) documentation, 2) informing the uninformed and 3) 
practicing what is learned.  This is also an iterative process and none 
of these elements is more or less important than any other.

It is, obviously, the second element that gets practiced in this forum.  
However, it is reasonable to expect that the person seeking information 
has done some homework and it is also reasonable to expect that the 
questioner frame the question in precise terms.  Additionally, the 
questioner must frame the question in terms that "pique the interest of" 
someone with knowlege.  (I think there is a science to this, but I 
haven't learned it yet.)  There is obviously a universe of difference 
between the following two questions that probably ask the same thing:

1.  Installed wine.  It don't work.  PLEEEEEEEEEEEASe 
2.  I installed wine using the following method.  <method>  I then ran 
the following command <command> to install XYZ Application.  When I 
tried to use the application using this command <command>, I got the 
following messages <messages> and then my PC stuck its tongue out at 
me.  (Sorry, I had to add that.)  Does anyone have any suggestions as to 
what I might do next?

Language, now, may become a problem.  Since the language of this forum 
is English, I think that the burden of understanding lies with those 
whose facility with it is better.  For example, if I want to answer a 
question and the questioner's English isn't that great, I might respond, 
"I don't quite understand.  Are you asking ......?"  The reverse is also 
true if I'm asking the question.

The responsibility for "Practicing what is learned" lies solely with the 
questioner.  With the advent and growth of windows, I learned "Don't 
screw with the registry, if you do your computer may blow up."  "Don't 
edit the system.ini, your machine may become a useless pile of silicon 
and copper."  When I began my shift to Linux, it took me quite awhile to 
get over this.  Newbies must realize that if they break it they can fix 
it--unlike windows.  In the worst case it takes only about a half an 
hour to <rm -Rf .wine; make uninstall; make distclean; make depend && 
make>  Additionally, "practicing what is learned" either provides a 
solution or, in failure, provides more data to present as a continuation 
of the question.

I have left documentation until last.  I firmly believe that it is the 
cornerstone for success in all technical endeavors.  The problem, as I 
see it, for Linux, generally, and WINE, specifically, is that advances 
come so fast that documentation is, by definition, out of date within a 
very short amount of time.  In my own limited experience in both Linux 
and WINE, I have found that WINE provides some of the best documentation 
that I have found.

In the framework of my opinion here, the reciprocal responsibility is 
this:  The help-seeker must understand and have tried to use the 
documentation before asking a question AND the help-giver must 
understand the documentation in order to point out what may have changed 
and what may be out of date.  For example--I'm not directly quoting, but 
offering the idea--README says "The preferred method of installing WINE 
is ./tools/wineinstall."  Yet, I have seen on this and the developers 
list statements like, "Use wineprefixcreate" and "I haven't used a 
config file for a long time."  Now,

1.  Why is ./tools/wineinstall the preferred method?
2.  I can't find any reference to wineprefixcreate in the documentation.
3.  Before the September snapshot, I have not been able to directly edit 
the wine registry, using rededit.exe--probably operator error--and when 
I use "wineconfg," the message "Winecfg is not fully implemented yet"  
appears immediately.

I confess that I haven't asked any of these questions myself.  I also 
haven't finished "dinking around" yet.  For example, I discovered just 
yesterday that wineprefixcreate doesn't create .wine/config.  Right now, 
I don't know if it's operator error or the nature of the beast.  My 
point is that I can find no reference to it.  This is a disadvantage not 
only to someone learning wine, but also to those users with an in depth 
working knowlege of wine, who are not developers, but who also want to 
help others use it.  I also understand that developers want to develop 
and not write.  Users must realize this.

(Parenthetically, I must add that I want to help the wine project by 
reviewing, editing and authoring documentation.  However, I am learning 
SGML and don't want to create some expectations that I'm not currently 
able to meet.)

What does this current jumble of words mean?  I think that it is 
perfectly reasonable to expect, or request, that a questioner have some 
basic working knowlege of wine before questioning.  I think that it is 
perfectly reasonable to ask for specifics in a question.  I think that 
it is perfectly reasonable to point a questioner to documentation, or, 
if the situation warrants, another venue such as linuxquestions.org.  I 
also think that it is incumbent upon those, who have knowlege, to seek 
the specifics of a question and not "blow it off."  Additionally, it is 
incumbent on the questioner to accept a response and try it.  If it 
doesn't work, it doesn't work and the question can be asked again with 
the new data.

Underlying all of this is that, on both the parts of the help-seeker and 
the help-giver,  questions, answers and amplifying information should be 
wrapped in the shroud of common courtesy and respect.

I am enthralled with the wine project.  I am equally impressed with the 
knowlege and the thoughtfulness I see in this forum.  Please accept or 
reject my thoughts as you see fit.  And, once again, I thank Julian Hall 
those insightful comments.


Julian Hall wrote:

> 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 time?
> 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 person.
> 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:
> "Hi X,
> To answer your question fully would take some time, but have a look at 
> the following links.
> link1
> link2
> link3
> etc.
> 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.
> Kind regards,
> Julian
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