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Re: Regarding participation on this list

This is a difficult issue to address, Barry. First of all is an inclination to say "I feel your pain." All of us know that starting with Debian >is< daunting. Lukas Ruf made a very good point [separate post] that there is an art in formulating your question in a way that is clear & helpful, and also respectful of other users' time & of what it is you're asking of them. I try to keep that in mind at all times: That I don't have any claims on anyone else's time, and any response at all they choose to make is a favor to me. One way to maintain that respect is to work as hard on a problem as you can on your own before posting your question; then give some idea when posting what you've tried and your perception of where your "blockage" is.

Keep in mind that a person who gives a one-line or one-word reply may be very busy & not have the time to do more than a quick "Well, for what it's worth. . . " E.g., I got a one-word reply to a recent post: "pbbuttonsd ?" I had never heard of pbbuttonsd, and had no more info than that to start from; but at least it gave me a place to start in seeking more info. I can always come back with another query after exhausting all I can about pbbuttonsd if that doesn't resolve the problem.

I guess my own impression of responses on the list has been somewhat different from yours. When I first came--just silently monitoring for awhile before starting my Deb install--I had the impression of a bunch of terribly geeky folks, and was afraid that they would all laugh or flame me off the list for asking basic newbie questions. But my experience has been that--if I make my posts as suggested above--I almost always get several replies, some brief & cryptic, to be sure, and some very generous of the responder's time & interest in helping me out.

Good luck!    --Harvey

Barry Hawkins wrote:

To the list at large,
I have been working on getting a Debian install up on my system for ~ 2 weeks now, and I find myself dreading when I have to post a question, because getting an answer on these lists can be pretty daunting. When you do get an answer, it is often a sparse reply indicating "you're not doing it right" or "you're using the wrong thing". Well - yeah, I guess so, or I wouldn't be having the problems I am having. Seriously, folks, when you have new folks coming to a list, it's because they are deciding to give it a go with the Linux distro you favor. It's a good thing. And of the newbie posts I have seen on here, I have yet to come across one of those arm-flailing things like you see on Red Hat, PHP, or MySQL lists like "HELP! my l334 skillz lack!!!!!". I know that sort of thing is _way_ annoying. I would like to thank Harvey Ussery and point to one of his recent posts, "Re: About SPAM.." on December 2, 2003 as a great example of not alienating new folks. It's not a fault of Bart Koppe's, the original poster, that the receipt of SPAM bothers him. Hell, it bothers me, too. I accidentally replied to a post this weekend with my new, private email address that I had just changed - it's not even subscribed to the list. Bam, two hours later my Sven spam has doubled. Responses like "10-15 mails a day is at the low end" and "That's past now; you have got to get yourself a new one if you want to get rid of the spam mails" only alienate people. The LinuxWorld article highlighted in Slashdot today <http://www.linuxworld.com/story/38073.htm> is a pretty damning summary of several key behaviors in open source that alienate newcomers. Please try to remember that you, too, were just learning this stuff at one time. We want to join you in the effort; we are not spending hours trying to learn something just so we can bug you on the list.


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