On Thu, 21 Jan 93 18:39:07 EST email@example.com (John Wiegley) said:
>About "newbies" and their education:
> I find that one of my biggest drawbacks as a systems administrator
> is that I've forgotten how to think stupidly. Not that stupidity is
> bad in itself; it comes just before understanding.
The word "stupid" has a negative connotation, as does "newbie".
And just *using* the words builds up certain reaction patterns,
on *both* sides. *I* know *you* mean "pre-understanding", but not
everybody does, and certainly not the average user; (s)he feels
insulted, and rightly so IMHO.
Say Jack and Mark both have seen FAQs in news.answers, but Jack
doesn't know he's to look in news.answers for FAQs. *That* makes
But say Jack has never heard of netnews at all. *Now* he is *not*
stupid; he just doesn't have the same knowledge base...
> But to wallow in
> it is deplorable, and to forget it is dangerous! No matter how
> simple you make things, there's always SOMEBODY who doesn't get it.
> This can be incredibly frustrating.
Betcha it's not even a question of "making it simple", but more of
"putting it a different way"; one needs to get on the same "track"
as the other person. *THAT* can be incredibly frustrating. :-)
> I remember nights when I've sat
> down and thought: how can they possible have miscontrued this? Are
> they trying to be stupid?
No.. I don't think so. Maybe a case of assuming they have a piece
of knowledge which in actuality they do *not*? Like, if one doesn't
KNOW that "news.answers" contains the FAQs, then telling a user to
"look in the relevant FAQ" is just a waste of time.
> we're not going to be able to "raise" the understanding of our
> newbies unless we can somehow speak their language, and learn to
There! You said it yourself... >;-)
> So I don't think it's bad intentions on their part;
> it's just that
> there's this enormous gap between "guru" and "newbie". The chasm is
> so great that the two stand opposed to each other like night and day. The list server of the future is either going to have to be
After having been called "stupid", "newbie", "dumb", "luser" by
someone who (probably totally unsuspectingly!) feels himself miles-
high over that person, wouldn't *you* feel humiliated, furious, and
non-responsive to "down-talking"?
> uselessly simple, or so developed that it transcends the limitations
> of its own intelligence (when it can ascend to such heights that it
> reverts back to its own origin). It would be a Taoist piece of
> magic, but at the moment, some of our list servers may just be too
> darn intelligent. Fuzziness is the universal trait shared by the
> minds of all newbies. Clear cut distinctions just don't wash. So
> we need a program that can deal with fuzziness! (someone mentioned
> AI... I think that's an excellent way to go).
1: Fuzziness is a *universal* trait of humans, period.
(professionals, listen to yourself *outside* your specialty)
2: "Clear cut distinctions" aren't, except to those who understand
the underlying matter. (try explaining the Unix quoting rules
to someone barely understanding them for the REXX language (me))
3: Those list servers aren't "too darn intelligent"; the HELP FILES
are *way* too often written by people who fully understand the
matter, and thus automatically assume too much knowledge on the
part of the reader. The writers can't help doing so!
(even the LISTSERV docs could use a serious rewrite)
4: Since this list mainly relates to list servers ON UN*X, there is
the assumption that all those using them are Unix experts.
(this is a false, incorrect assumption)
5: If Unix is to really be "the opsys of the future", as so many
blatantly expound, then all those concerned will *HAVE* to
accept that a percentage of the users will *not ever* become
anything like the current "gurus", nor need they...
> Until then, it's a problem that's just going to get worse the more
> you think about it. At the present time, there doesn't seem to be
> much you can do except put on a happy grin, swallow a Tums, and
> answer their questions (no matter how stupid).
At the present time, it *can* be changed, if you look at it from the
*users'* point of view, with *their* knowledge-base.
This *will* mean getting rid of the "newbie/guru" attitude...
What would happen if the so-called "gurus" had a mandatory 1-week-
per-semester period when they couldn't make use of the goodies they
were used to, and were forced to use what the so-called "newbies"
had to make-do with?
Lemme tell you; I know what it feels like, after a whole year...
(Um.. effectively 2 days on, 5 days recuperating. :-/ )
At the moment I could kick most computer-related things to that
hot place down-under and back again, and happily do it all over
again (the kicking, I mean), and double for Un*x!
WHY I do this? Don't ask. Not after the above explanation.
Just accept that I'm no masochist.
BTW, IMHO writing docs should be a mandatory 3-person thing:
- One person who knows the application inside-out.
- One who knows (close to) nothing about it.
- One who can write human language correctly and acts as
"interface" between the "programmer" and the "user".
$$\ F. Scott Ophof
---------------------------> I speak *only* for *myself* <-----
My credo: Computers exist for OUR benefit, NEVER vice-versa.