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Re: FYI: HTML targets in "Smart Questions"

On Mon, Jul 22, 2002 at 08:25:50PM +0100, Raphael wrote:
> On Sun, 21 Jul 2002, Dario Alcocer wrote:
> > [snip]
> Moderation? Donīt start me on that one. In the end Moderation only
> resolves in new not cygwin lists that will attrackt trolls to the cygwin
> list. I'm glad to eleborate if this is not clear.

No need to elaborate, I'm well aware of the "double-edged sword"
aspects of moderation.  Besides, if you read again what I wrote,
I'm referring to a very limited form of moderation, which only
affects the initial post made by all subscribers.  That hardly seems
like a detail to "get started" on.

> Who asked them to school new users? Now don't get me wrong, anybody's
> contribution is valuable and special. But if people think they have to
> school fellow list members and are irritated by that it might be a good
> idea for them to take some time of?

Well, you're right, no one *asked* them.  However, as ESR's essay
points out, community standards don't come for free.  They have to
be enforced and communicated (what I referred to as "schooling"),
and the problem with many new users that participate in public
mailing lists is that they don't realize that a certain standard
of conduct is expected of them in order to keep the mailing list
working for the common good.

Now granted, you may argue that there are other ways to familiarize
new users with the standards of conduct.  You seem to prefer the
FAQ.  I guess I prefer the immediate feedback provided by auto-reply
to initial posters.

> [snip]
> I subscibed
> using the site and remeber clearly that there was somekind of incentive
> there and if I'm not mistaking the manual states something alike. What a
> lot of people forget is that for a newbee it is not always clear where to
> find the right answer or faq.

Absolutely, I agree with you, it's not always clear.  In fact, I
think you may have just corroborated what I've observed for a long
time; information is only *useful* when you are *expecting* to
receive it.

Trying to tell a new user how to ask questions in the subscription
confirmation is *not* effective because it is *ignored*.  The new
user isn't *ready* to hear about "how to ask smart questions"
immediately upon subscribing.  The information is irrelevant at
that moment, since they're *not* asking a question at that particular
moment.  However, they will be more receptive when they are trying
to get help for the first time; this is the correct time to tell

The moment they're ready to ask their first question on the list
is *precisely* the moment you want to inform them of the minimum
requirements that they are expected to meet.  This the reason why
I think blocking first-time posts and automatically informing the
requester they can re-submit their question (after they've read
ESR's essay) is better.

> Well as you noticed I think it's better to give 'hardworking people' their
> own list where they will not be bothered. I could even agree to make that
> accesible by an exame ;-)

Well, I don't agree, but of course, you have the right to your
opinion :-P

Seriously, though, I don't think that you want to separate newbies
because then, newbies will probably never become gurus.  We *want*
more gurus, because the more gurus we have, the more questions get
answered, and by extension, the more newbies that are helped.

My impression is that Chris, Chuck and the other gurus don't mind
answering questions, per se.  They just would like the requesters
to do a little homework before they ask, that's all.

> > == Footnotes ==
> >
> > [1] - One other way to do this is to include a link to the ESR essay
> > in the confirmation e-mail subscribers receive, but I *doubt* very
> > much that most would take the time to read it then.  However, if
> > we instead wait to ask them when they're focused on getting their
> > first question answered, we can hopefully start teaching them the
> > fine art of asking questions.
> Is that what this list is for?

No, but surely if *everyone* on this list (gurus and newbies alike)
asked questions the "smart way" we'd all reap the benefits of a
better and more fruitful mailing list.

Thanks for your comments, you've helped me sharpen my thinking on
this somewhat controversial topic.

Dario Alcocer -- Sr. Software Developer, Helix Digital Inc. --

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