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Re: Mysterious gdb behavior

On 31 Jul 2002 at 17:11, Christopher Faylor wrote:

> >You contradict yourself.  On one hand, you seem to think that everyone who
> >answers a post on the list is an expert.  On the other, you acknowledge
> >that some people are here to ask questions, rather than answer them.

Where's the contradiction? People who know the answer to a question 
will frequently respond. People who don't know shouldn't, and usually 
won't, bother to demonstrate their ignorance.

> >What you don't seem to realize is that there is no clear division between
> >the two categories.

True. Obviously who the "experts" are is on a question-by-question 
basis. If I ask about cron I figure the responses will come from 
people who know something about cron. If I ask about gdb I figure the 
responses will come from people who know something about gdb. The 
latter set of responders needn't be the same as the former set.

What I find irritating is getting a response that is patronizing and 
also virtually content-free when it comes to actually answering the 
question. I don't see how such a response can possibly be anything 
other than a waste of bandwitdth, no matter who its from and no 
matter who it replies to and no matter what the actual question was.
Answers that amount to "I have no idea what's wrong, why don't you 
just go and fix it youself" and so forth. Of course, someone might 
not know what the problem is but feel they might given more 
information -- they should, if interested, respond asking (nicely) 
for that information. Say, the output of such and such a command with 
these options, or whatever.

> >People answering a question may be (and probably are)
> >other users who are not experts, but vaguely remember hearing something
> >about a similar problem, and are genuinely trying to offer helpful
> >suggestions.

Let's clarify a bit. Suggestions too vague to produce anything but a 
reply asking the suggester to be more specific are *not* helpful. 
Suggestions to research the source code and fix it yourself instead 
of "whining" on the list are also *not* helpful. Suggestions to 
memorize the FAQ, search the web, and so forth are *not* helpful. 
Searching (not memorizing!) the FAQ and documentation of course is to 
be expected, but such a search has probably already been attempted 
and given the user insufficient information by the time the thread 
even starts, so suggesting they do it again, when it will just 
produce the same results as the first time, is *not* helpful.

> >The difference in opinion about the cause of your problem is just that -
> >different people offering their theories on what caused your problem.

I never interpreted it any other way. I did, however, post some 
information indicating that one of the theories is wrong. Narrowing 
it down, of course, being an essential part of any problem solving 

> >This is not easy, as the symptoms you describe don't seem to be
> >reproducible, even by the experts (and Chris Faylor is one).  It's your
> >right to prefer one theory to another, but the scientific method also
> >requires trashing theories that are not substantiated by facts, and
> >experimenting to determine the validity of any particular theory.

Trashing theories that are contradicted by facts. Not merely not 
substantiated. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

So far two theories were proposed -- one, that the space is a 
problem, two, that the problem executables got built with the wrong 
gcc. I've verified that gcc from the bash prompt calls the correct 
gcc, and the problem executables were built by calling gcc from the 
bash prompt, which seems to torpedo theory two. Theory one is all 
that's left unless anyone has a theory three to offer.

One thing that struck me as weird was the way the proponent of theory 
two hinted obliquely at it for three days before bothering to 
explicitly state what he suspected. Once he did so it was a simple 
and obvious test at a bash prompt to dispatch it and move on. Three 
days of time wasted by people not being straightforwardly 

> >Experiments, I may add, that other people have suggested, and that you
> >don't seem to have performed (e.g., trying the same sequence of actions
> >from a directory with no spaces in the name, or varying other parameters).

Don't seem to have performed? I posted a while back when the two 
theories were that spaces caused the problem or that the EXE was 
actually malformed to state that the executable works from the 
prompt, suggesting it's not malformed, just not from gdb, and that 
gdb has consistently worked for executables in a directory without a 
space in the path and consistently failed for executables in a 
directory with a space in the path. Thus your suggested experiment 
above has effectively been performed and I did say as much on the 
list a while ago!

> >Please remember that there rarely are ready answers to complex problems.
> >People on this list try to help, but they (even the experts) are not
> >omniscient.  Neither are they infallible.  It's possible that some
> >suggestions for possible causes and solutions don't pan out.

And I don't hold it against anyone if they don't. I'm not mad at the 
guy who suggested the wrong gcc was being invoked. At least, not for 
turning out to be wrong. For beating around the bush for ages 


It looks like you have the impression that I've begrudged people for 
suggesting things that didn't work. That's not true. The only things 
that have irritated me here have been suggestions too vague or 
ridiculous (memorize 
this, don't use the list for what it was created for) to be useful 
and a certain 
patronizing attitude two or three responders exhibited. (I haven't 
heard from them in a while, and I suppose they did the wise thing and 
killfiled me.)

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