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Re: [OT] improving the mailing lists WAS: Re: Debian VPN

Personally, when i'm searching for something, i follow these steps:
1 - do i know what is it that i'm searching?
no: wikipedia + search engine (aah.. so that's what a vpn is - just an example)
yes: search engine (vpn debian, vpn linux... whatever)
Actually even if i know what i'm doing i'll use wikipedia anyway (even
though i don't find it reliable) 'cos it usually points to other
similar software.
2 - sort out a bunch of results from the search, not just skim through
the 1st page of a google search result.
3 - look into those, checkout those websites for documentation:
features, FAQs, searchable webforums, etc. Eventually i'll come up
with a few candidates.
4 - look those candidates up on apt-cache, packages.debian.org and
wherever else i can remember. Use apt-cache show.
Then i'll try and fiddle with it. If i get stuck with configuring the
software, i'll check all i can about it, including the man-page.
5 - then i might use the mailing list.

Of course, this is just me.

I think it's two issues. One, the GUIs and Desktop Enviroments are
growing friendlier and Ubuntu is doing a goob job and 'advertising'
linux. It's good, but the average newbie knows less and less about
computers in general and linux in particular, so the questions tend to
me more and more basic.

The second issue is that bash, manpages, root and all that can indeed
be scary for anyone fresh out of Redmond prairies.

*However*, i think most people will instinctively react with a RTFM
when someone asks something that could've been easily answered by
using a search engine and actually working on the results. Everybody
knows Google, everybody knows Wikipedia. Most people are just lazy and
if the "i'm feeling lucky button" won't help, heck, just mail someone.
Thus the Ubuntu forums having questions about ls. How about searching
for linux tutorials, howtos and alike before?

And i guess it wastes everybody's time asking something without
providing any kind of details whatsoever. This, for me, is also an
example of lazyness. Any mailing-list how-to-post guide will tell you
to provide as much info as you can and not complying will inevitably
make someone from the list reply with "can you be more specific?".

Obviously, this is only my opinion and humans are a diverse species.

> The other issue about asking Google is when I did a search for "Debian how to ask for help" the first page[1] tells me to RTFM!
It does so by giving you a few places on your system where to start,
including a FAQ. It's probably not a good example though since it
seems to be a maintainers' list, most of them wouldn't be newbies... i

Nuno Magalhães

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