Do you have a question? October 16, 2008 4:55 PM   Subscribe

How about a link to How to Ask Questions on the new question page?
posted by blue_beetle to Feature Requests at 4:55 PM (39 comments total)

This idea appeals to me and yet.... We can't get people to read what's already there and I feel that the more AskMe seems like a lengthy homework assignment, the less peple will read anything at all. That said, i lveo that How To Ask A Question page. I'll have to see if I've tossed it up on librarian.net lately.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:58 PM on October 16, 2008


I agree with jessamyn, but thanks a bunch for introducing me to that document!
posted by chudmonkey at 5:14 PM on October 16, 2008


That's great for 'how to ask a tech question' but does nothing for 'is it safe to eat this?' or 'should I leave my bf/gf?' or 'should I take my cat to the vet?' or 'I'm gonna sue my landlord, good idea?'
posted by fixedgear at 5:20 PM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


ick. That page is the closest thing to the embodiment of a comic book guy I've seen in print. It takes three screens just to get to the beginning, then it reads like a know-it-all telling you all the hoops you need to jump through before he'll deign to think about answering you. No thanks. Also, ESR is kind of crazy these days (have you seen his blog? it's a hoot).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:22 PM on October 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


The smartest way to ask a question is to already know the answer.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:32 PM on October 16, 2008


How about you just link to my post on the blue? All kinds of opinions on Eric Raymond there. I get the idea he is not particularly well-liked.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:39 PM on October 16, 2008


These days?
posted by DU at 5:55 PM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am usually all for refinements, but I have to say honestly that I love questions and information and yet I would never, ever bother to read that web page before posting a question. I'm sure it's a great essay, but it's not practical in this context. And the presentation hurts.
posted by Miko at 5:56 PM on October 16, 2008


That's great for 'how to ask a tech question' but does nothing for 'is it safe to eat this?' or 'should I leave my bf/gf?' or 'should I take my cat to the vet?' or 'I'm gonna sue my landlord, good idea?'

We already know the answer to those questions, though:

No.
Yes.
Yes.
Talk to a lawyer.
posted by grouse at 5:58 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


How about a link to How About No?
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:58 PM on October 16, 2008


You mean there are people that exist that have actually read that entire page?
posted by puke & cry at 7:59 PM on October 16, 2008


How to ask questions in Mandarin Chinese
posted by longsleeves at 8:34 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


人们是否讀問題頁?
posted by lee at 8:53 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


我该不该给咱家猫咪做断趾手术?
posted by Abiezer at 12:01 AM on October 17, 2008


Who? What? Where? When? Why?
posted by Elmore at 1:25 AM on October 17, 2008


The revisions table at the top reminds me of Functional Specifications in large software development houses. And the document is just as dry and boring. I found this gem near the bottom:


Q: I'm having problems with my Windows machine. Can you help?

A: Yes. Throw out that Microsoft trash and install an open-source operating system like Linux or BSD.

Note: you can ask questions related to Windows machines if they are about a program that does have an official Windows build, or interacts with Windows machines (i.e., Samba). Just don't be surprised by the reply that the problem is with Windows and not the program, because Windows is so broken in general that this is very often the case.

posted by vacapinta at 2:00 AM on October 17, 2008


The smartest way to ask a question is to already know the answer.

The answer is always DTMFA.
posted by clearly at 2:05 AM on October 17, 2008


glad the guy who wrote that essay isn't my local librarian...

I'm also glad that most of the folks who offer answers in AskMe aren't anything like him either...
posted by jammy at 5:37 AM on October 17, 2008


The answer is always DTMFA.

Dual Tone, Multi Frequency, Asshole!
posted by quin at 7:46 AM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. That's an initiation ritual in FAQ form.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:52 AM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Documents like that have an even more important purpose: to serve as concrete examples of why Linux (oh, sorry, GNU/Linux) and similar ventures are held back from potentially greater success. It's not the content so much as the wretched tone. An awful lot of "we can't be bothered," plus a great deal of "These are the rules we made, this is our special turf, and if you won't sing a little song and do our little dance, you're out!"

All it lacks at the bottom is a randomly generated answer from a list like:

* Why do you want to do that? You are an idiot for wanting that.
* You're using the wrong distro, that distro sucks.
* The easiest way to solve this problem is to stop caring about it.

Don't get me wrong, it's all mostly good suggestions, but as outreach it lacks utility. People who have internalized these rules are, by that point, so very technical as to 1) not need as much help, 2) be an incredibly limited subset of the population. Most people will never get there. As a suggestion for aspiration, fine. As a requirement, welcome to solidly reinforcing major stereotypes about IT staff, intractability, irritability, and social ignorance.
posted by adipocere at 9:28 AM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Documents like that have an even more important purpose: to serve as concrete examples of why Linux (oh, sorry, GNU/Linux) and similar ventures are held back from potentially greater success.

Welcome to 2008, traveller from the 90s.
posted by DU at 9:51 AM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know the phenomenon of people doing an incredibly half-assed search for a question, going to whatever the first result is, then posting there? This FAQ is a response to that.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:06 AM on October 17, 2008


ESR is kind of crazy these days (have you seen his blog? it's a hoot)

Oy vey. I thought posts about politics were a little... off. Then I read this one about race. Ick ick ick ick ick. That is just all kinds of fucked up and wrong, not least of which is the "I can prove I'm not racist because I used to have sex with a black woman" vibe.
posted by dersins at 10:57 AM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


What dersins said, oucha. The dude may know his shit when it comes to open-source whatever, but that's an awesome example of assuming your specialized knowledge in one field qualifies you to speak authoritatively on all things.

This guy was/is a spokesman for OSS? Jeeziz. Who were the other candidates for the job, a cord of firewood and a dead donkey?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:23 AM on October 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Documents like that have an even more important purpose: to serve as concrete examples of why Linux (oh, sorry, GNU/Linux) and similar ventures are held back from potentially greater success.

Welcome to 2008, traveller from the 90s.


I do wonder how the ragey linux old-guard are handling the increase in EEEs and other linuxy things people actually use. I predict an increase in frothing and factionalism, "You're using Ubuntu? How dare you!", etc... etc...
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on October 17, 2008


I work with a couple of Linux old-guard types, one of whom has been using UNIX since v.00001 (let alone Linux). They both use Ubuntu, as do I, and at least one of them runs and recommends Linux-based devices. I remember seeing an anti-Ubuntu rant somewhere on MeFi once, but other than that I've heard nothing but positivity.
posted by DU at 11:42 AM on October 17, 2008


Hmmm, this is unrelated, but I've used up my MetaTalk post for the week:

Metafilter is mentioned in the latest episode of Security Now! as an example of a site impacted by a Cross-Site Request Forgery @ 40:02 in the podcast.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:53 PM on October 17, 2008


bb: (previously) (more info) (batman)
posted by Pronoiac at 1:06 PM on October 17, 2008


DU, I'm a traveler from the 80's! My help desk solution: when people come up to ask me a question, I just hit a hotkey and Windows Media Player cues up an MP3, perfectly timed, to Zebra's "Tell Me What You Want." If the supplicant is still present after a full round of air guitar over the chorus, I will then hear their request.

In a more serious vein, I used "concrete" with more than one meaning, as in, "this stuff has become a durable fixture." I used to say, "You cannot simultaneously be 'l33t and 0wn the desktop." Now I just wonder if ESR is to open source as Fred Phelps is to evangelical Christianity, a zealot so off-putting, the notion that he is a deep cover agent might be entertained, nay, even brought over for a couple of drinks.
posted by adipocere at 1:41 PM on October 17, 2008


Gawd, ESR is what happens when smart people don't value traditional education enough to learn how to do things like read studies and evaluate evidence. And don't get me started on his bizarro version of racism… It's like how every now and then you run into someone who's so wrong and so detailed in their wrongness that just engaging on a surface level is instantly going to spin into a giant waste of time.
posted by klangklangston at 1:58 PM on October 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Man, when I read that godawful ESR race essay, all I keep seeing is, essentially, "some of my best friends lays are black". I love how he asks Eve to get in touch with him: if I were her (assuming she actually exists), after reading what he wrote I'd burn my computer.
posted by scrump at 2:57 PM on October 17, 2008


I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
posted by mandal at 5:31 PM on October 17, 2008


Who's on Faust.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:05 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I work with a couple of Linux old-guard types, one of whom has been using UNIX since v.00001 (let alone Linux). They both use Ubuntu, as do I, and at least one of them runs and recommends Linux-based devices. I remember seeing an anti-Ubuntu rant somewhere on MeFi once, but other than that I've heard nothing but positivity.

There's a lot of anti-Ubuntu sentiment within the other distros, which is to be expected. This is fairly typical.

I like Ubuntu a lot. This was just an informational interjection.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I use Feodra.
posted by puckupdate at 8:03 AM on October 18, 2008


Ooooh that takes me back. Such fond memories of the Debian list.

Karsten M. Self, where are you now, you helpful douchenozzle?
posted by everichon at 9:40 AM on October 18, 2008


Oy vey. I thought posts about politics were a little... off.

I read the linked-to posts and I have to say, wow, what a stupid man. Not socially maladjusted, not better suited to be talking about computers, although he certainly is those things. But what he comes across as most is not a very intelligent person.

I think it's about time for the "genius geek" myth to go. I work in computers (and so do some of my best friends, haha), but I think it's time to see programming for what it is: a skill. Some people are very good at it. (I'm assuming this guy is, though I have no clue on his actual contributions). An auto mechanic also has a skill which appears highly esoteric to the average person. We don't assume he's a genius. (Certainly there are brilliant people who work with computers, but they are the exception, as in virtually every other field.)

Not every socially maladjusted person who likes computers is a genius, just like not every physically unattractive person has a "great personality."
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:57 PM on October 18, 2008


Some people are very good at it. (I'm assuming this guy is, though I have no clue on his actual contributions).

not so great, apparently.
posted by tallus at 4:42 PM on October 18, 2008


I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.


Your honest servants are so dull!
I dismiss them, and resume
With two new slaves I've just engaged:
Mrs. Whither and Dr. Whom

Such enigmatic helpers, these!
They cost a few more pence:
They came to me in a group of three
And still, I know not Whence.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:34 AM on October 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


« Older Do mefites have a life offline besides meetups?...   |   London meetup Nov 4th - US Election Night Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments