[CentOS] Dogs, trolls, and neighborly free/open source

Thu Aug 5 21:10:23 UTC 2010
Robert Heller <heller at deepsoft.com>

At Thu, 5 Aug 2010 11:11:27 -0700 (PDT) CentOS mailing list <centos at centos.org> wrote:

> On Thu, 5 Aug 2010, Les Mikesell wrote:
> > On 8/5/2010 12:25 PM, Paul Heinlein wrote:
> >> On Thu, 5 Aug 2010, Les Mikesell wrote:
> >>
> >>> The part I have trouble understanding is that while it seems 
> >>> perfectly acceptable to be dumb about most coding languages and 
> >>> ask for a canned routine to do something you are too lazy to write 
> >>> for yourself, the same does not apply to shell commands even 
> >>> though there is not much inherent difference in complexity.  Is it 
> >>> just that coders are more willing to share their work than 
> >>> administrators even in cases where it is equally reusable?
> >>
> >> The major difference I've seen in that sort of request is that 
> >> coders tend to ask for help with a small subset of the overall task 
> >> (a routine) while erstwhile admins tend to ask for help with the 
> >> totality of the task.
> >>
> >> When someone says, "I'm writing a shell script, and hereabouts I 
> >> need $TOOL to do such and such," a good answer is usually 
> >> forthcoming.
> >>
> >> When someone says, "Tell me how to script this $PROJECT," the 
> >> commmunity usually points the OP off to Google/Manual.
> >
> > I don't think it is the nature of the requests that are different 
> > (although coders perhaps have to know more to even ask a reasonable 
> > question), just the responses.  Coders seem much more likely to try 
> > to make their work available to others that haven't even asked while 
> > administrators pretend that everything they do is unique and not 
> > reusable - or they don't want it to be.
> I guess I'm not convinced (though I'm really not trying to be stubborn 
> or curmudgeonly :-).
> I'll grant that in both cases the request is essentially the same: 
> "Help me do this." When someone's "this" is their whole scripting 
> project rather than a particular section of it, however, I guess I 
> just roll my inner eye and delete the message. When someone has 
> narrowed the question to a technological particular, I'm much more 
> willing to assist.
> I realize the only difference is the scope of the question. Am I more 
> inclined to treat the latter questioner as a willing learner and the 
> former like a layabout? Is it simply that the larger the scope, the 
> more reluctant I am to understand and contribute? Hmm. Must navel-gaze 
> on this...

Note that often it is the case that the 'wider scope' questions are
more vague and open ended (where the answer could be a whole book). Or
maybe the question is just plain vague -- that is a kind of general
non-specific question -- kind of like the 'ultimate' question in the
Hitchhiker's Guide (answer: 42).  And these vague, wide scope questions
tend to suggest that the asker really does not know what to ask in the
first place.  And also suggests that the asker is not really interested
in learning how to do whatever, but wants someone else to do the whole
project and hand him/her the results on the perverbial 'silver platter'.


Robert Heller             -- Get the Deepwoods Software FireFox Toolbar!
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