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Re: Something is very wrong with this group

On 2 Mar 1998 bruce@va.debian.org wrote:

> > When did he say that?
> Part of this was his private response to a previous mail in this
> series. 

that is a very inaccurate interpretation of what i said.

this is what i said (with some additional comments)

: > You forgot ease-of-use. We really need to work on that. If we can't
: > make the system easier without making it less powerful, we will not
: > get those users.
: true, we do need to work on that....and we are...but maybe linux isn't
: suitable for some users unless they have a good network/system admin or
: help desk on site. another point to remember is that these users have
: the same problems with Windows and other supposedly easy-to-use systems.
: i.e. in some cases, it's not the software, it's the user.
: i don't know if you've ever worked in a support or help-desk job
: but i have several times. i see the same range of cluelessness to
: cluefulness regardless of the program, or it's ease of use, or operating
: system.  Some people are - for whatever reason (usually fear or lack of
: confidence...occasionally because they're simply not smart enough) -
: just incapable of learning/using/understanding computers.
: > We do _not_ currently respect them, we ignore them and respect a tiny
: > minority who are into computers for computer's sake.
: i disagree.  it's not just those who are into computers for their own sake.
: it's also those who are willing to have a go, willing to actually use their
: brains to think and learn about a problem.  
: you can see it in action on the mailing lists and newsgroups, and
: you can see it sped up on IRC. someone comes into the channel asking
: a question, people try to help them out. if the 'client' repeatedly
: asks dumb questions(*) and shows that they aren't even trying then the
: 'support staff' eventually lose patience, or just give up, and stop
: helping them.
: in all of the linux support channels (irc, mail, news, etc) we're unpaid
: volunteers, and there's tacit acknowledgement of the fact that you can
: only hope those who will help themselves. i don't think that that's a
       ^^^^  oops.  a typo - i meant 'help'.
: bad thing.  i see it as a good thing...kind of like evolution in action.
: Other people are a real joy to help - they're not geeks but they're
: willing to learn whatever they need to get up and running.  You tell
: them something (it might take a few tries to make a usable analogy for
: them) and they learn it and remember it.  These are the ones who will
: really benefit from using linux.  These are also the ones who tend to
: 'pay their dues' and stick around to help other newbies when they can.

in other words, they're following the path that we've already travelled
- from absolute newbie beginner to confident/experienced user, and
possibly all the way to unix guru.

: respect is something that is earnt....and you earn it by trying. you
: don't have to succeed all by yourself, but you at least have to try.

you also earn it by learning from your mistakes. making a mistake isn't
a bad thing (in fact, it's a necessary part of learning). failing to
learn from a mistake and repeating it over and over again is bad.

: (*) dumb questions = asking for magic incantations (commands) to type and
: ignoring explanations of how/why something works, and how to use the unix
: documentation systems like man and info.  yes, some questions really *are*
: dumb.....although it's usually not the question itself, it's the attitude
: behind the question.

> But Manoj makes it clear, too. There are a number of people on
> the lists who are not interested in the naive user. That is fine for them,
> but not fine for the project as a whole or Linux in general. 

bruce, this is NOT a "you're either for us or against us" situation.

there is more than one way to solve the ease of use problems. you appear
to be in favour of taking the easy way - dumbing down the system so that
any moron can use it. this is simply not possible, no matter how hard
you try - it is a mistake to underestimate the foolishness of the truly
stupid. it's a waste of time trying to cater too much for this <wild
guess> 5% </wildguess> of the population....you get a better return on
time investment catering for those who are willing and able to learn,
the remaining 95%.

A better, IMO, way is to make the tools accessible to people of average
intelligence and learning ability....make it easier for them to bring
themselves up to our level of knowledge, and help them to do so. we are
very close to this now, and getting closer all the time with projects
like gnome (and kde too, even if it is non-free :).

I've worked a lot of support jobs, and I know what successful support
is. it's *NOT* simply solving their immediate problem and giving the
user a magic spell to type in.  Successful support is *teaching* the
user something so that s/he won't need you as much.  True success in
support is making yourself obsolete.  If i have supported someone,
then i feel that i have failed in my job unless I have taught them
something...even if i have successfully fixed their problem.

yes, this is probably elitist. big deal. linux (and unix) is *not*
suitable for everyone. use the right tool for the job.

> I'd prefer not to have to use NT at work. That means we have to make
> Linux able to compete with it.

fine. so don't use linux at work. you're certainly competent enough with
unix (and i would hope that pixar in general is too) not to have to use


craig sanders

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