User avatar
PeterO
Posts: 5885
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:14 pm

Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:38 am

How do you politely tell someone that they are trying to do something beyond their skill/knowledge level ?

We seem to be getting a steady flow of posts where new comers are asking about projects that are clearly beyond their current capability, e.g. newcomers trying to write Python programs without actually putting any effort into learning the language first.

Often the posters have used "cut and paste" of code they don't understand. What is the best way to get them to try something simpler first ?

PeterO
Discoverer of the PI2 XENON DEATH FLASH!
Interests: C,Python,PIC,Electronics,Ham Radio (G0DZB),1960s British Computers.
"The primary requirement (as we've always seen in your examples) is that the code is readable. " Dougie Lawson

User avatar
RaTTuS
Posts: 10559
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:12 am
Location: North West UK
Contact: Twitter YouTube

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:48 am

it is the new age of the Eternal September ...
Lots of new Pi owners + Christmas + juming into the deep end...

10 Mil PI's and climbing - it will never stop
How To ask Questions :- http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
WARNING - some parts of this post may be erroneous YMMV

1QC43qbL5FySu2Pi51vGqKqxy3UiJgukSX
Covfefe

MaxK1
Posts: 1043
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:34 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:36 pm

I have come to the conclusion that "reading" can mean anything from "Noticing words on a page", skimming through "stuff" on a page all the way up to intently studying words on a page. I sometimes wonder if some of those folks are staring at the back of their monitors... And then having to deal with parsing some of those run on sentences, spilling eros and Yoda-speak... And then you have the problem of no puncuation to deal with - consider the following (Description of Koalas eating habits)

... eats shoots and leaves
or
... eats, shoots and leaves

Much as I may want to help, sometimes I just quietly back away... :roll:
You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
When General Failure and Major Disaster get together, Private Parts usually suffers.

MaxK1
Posts: 1043
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:34 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:39 pm

Maybe this topic should be renamed "Troubleshooters Lament"
You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
When General Failure and Major Disaster get together, Private Parts usually suffers.

User avatar
DougieLawson
Posts: 39178
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:19 pm
Location: A small cave in deepest darkest Basingstoke, UK
Contact: Website Twitter

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:14 pm

PeterO wrote:How do you politely tell someone that they are trying to do something beyond their skill/knowledge level ?
You don't you simply leave those threads for someone who's more brave or more patient. There's at least one thread running at the moment where I wish I'd followed that advice as even getting a LAMP stack running is beyond some of Eternal Septemberists.

The biggest problem, as usual, is the dismally awful PHPbb3 search. So many things get missed where a simple Google search qualified with site:raspberrypi.org would have elicited the answer.
Note: Any requirement to use a crystal ball or mind reading will result in me ignoring your question.

Criticising any questions is banned on this forum.

Any DMs sent on Twitter will be answered next month.
All non-medical doctors are on my foes list.

Heater
Posts: 15981
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:25 pm

@PeterO,

First thing is we should not worry unduly about the polite part. Back in school our teachers did not. That soon got us on the right track.

I have noticed this phenomena as well. "Hello, I'm new to all this, I want to build a Mars Rover...."

Sometimes my approach is a reply along the lines of:

"Your project will require you to undestand "A", "B", "C", "D"....etc. That is a long road but here are some clues and links to further information on how to achieve "A". If you get stuck with that do ask. Or when you have mastered that come back here and we can discuss the next steps."

@MaxK1,

A lot of questions are so badly formed. Buried in a mass of random details. Many times it's impossible to figure out what the real question is.

Many visitors here do not have English as a first language so one can tolerate all kind of spelling and grammatical errors. That's fair enough.

What bugs me is the ones that seem to be native English speakers but can hardly form a meaningful sentence. Let alone a coherent post.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

MaxK1
Posts: 1043
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:34 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:37 pm

Heater wrote:@PeterO,

First thing is we should not worry unduly about the polite part. Back in school our teachers did not. That soon got us on the right track.

I have noticed this phenomena as well. "Hello, I'm new to all this, I want to build a Mars Rover...."

Sometimes my approach is a reply along the lines of:

"Your project will require you to undestand "A", "B", "C", "D"....etc. That is a long road but here are some clues and links to further information on how to achieve "A". If you get stuck with that do ask. Or when you have mastered that come back here and we can discuss the next steps."

@MaxK1,

A lot of questions are so badly formed. Buried in a mass of random details. Many times it's impossible to figure out what the real question is.

Many visitors here do not have English as a first language so one can tolerate all kind of spelling and grammatical errors. That's fair enough.

What bugs me is the ones that seem to be native English speakers but can hardly form a meaningful sentence. Let alone a coherent post.
I will make allowances for non English speakers, but holy carp, it can be painful to work with someone who doesn't want reply to all the requests for clarification...
You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
When General Failure and Major Disaster get together, Private Parts usually suffers.

Pithagoros
Posts: 578
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:16 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:54 pm

MaxK1 wrote:I have come to the conclusion that "reading" can mean anything from "Noticing words on a page", skimming through "stuff" on a page all the way up to intently studying words on a page. I sometimes wonder if some of those folks are staring at the back of their monitors... And then having to deal with parsing some of those run on sentences, spilling eros and Yoda-speak... And then you have the problem of no puncuation to deal with - consider the following (Description of Koalas eating habits)

... eats shoots and leaves
or
... eats, shoots and leaves

Much as I may want to help, sometimes I just quietly back away... :roll:
Did you read the Lynne Truss book or just notice the words on the front cover?

wildfire
Posts: 619
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2016 10:39 am
Location: Dundee, Scotland

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:57 pm

MaxK1 wrote: I will make allowances for non English speakers, but holy carp, it can be painful to work with someone who doesn't want reply to all the requests for clarification...
Erm :lol:

EDIT: Sorry, missed earlier post but still :lol:
Last edited by wildfire on Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
E8 85 A2 64 C9 64 81 94 64 81 95 64 89 84 89 96 A3
Still NF Shirls

Heater
Posts: 15981
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:59 pm

Wow, after all these years I have never heard the term "Eternal September".

Mind, I did not get internet access till the riffraff did in 1996. There was no internet when I was in university in the 70's. And there was precious little opportunity to experience it between then and about 96.

Anyway, the term "Eternal September" is not appropriate here. We should not be so elitist. The phrase comes from a time of a predominantly academic usenet. Whereas this forum is a place for any purchaser of a Pi, no matter what their age, experience, qualifications, literary or forum skills.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

MaxK1
Posts: 1043
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:34 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:12 pm

Pithagoros wrote:
MaxK1 wrote:I have come to the conclusion that "reading" can mean anything from "Noticing words on a page", skimming through "stuff" on a page all the way up to intently studying words on a page. I sometimes wonder if some of those folks are staring at the back of their monitors... And then having to deal with parsing some of those run on sentences, spilling eros and Yoda-speak... And then you have the problem of no puncuation to deal with - consider the following (Description of Koalas eating habits)

... eats shoots and leaves
or
... eats, shoots and leaves

Much as I may want to help, sometimes I just quietly back away... :roll:
Did you read the Lynne Truss book or just notice the words on the front cover?
I saw it somewhere else not attributed to Lynne Truss. And I liked it :)
You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
When General Failure and Major Disaster get together, Private Parts usually suffers.

Heater
Posts: 15981
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:15 pm

Pithagoros,
Did you read the Lynne Truss book or just notice the words on the front cover?
I had never heard of Lynne Truss.

Looks like one does not need to read her books. The message in the titles is clear enough. For example:

The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage Without Apostophes!
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

User avatar
Burngate
Posts: 6306
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:34 pm
Location: Berkshire UK Tralfamadore
Contact: Website

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:32 pm

One reason I could never be a teacher:

In September, you encounter twenty or so kids who haven't a clue about your subject, don't know how to think logically, or read or write. At least half don't really see the point of it, either.
For nine months you slave like a ... slave ... to instill some discipline in them, and by June, you've got at least ten who are fit to be released into the world.
Then three months later you're back where you started.

The same is true here, though instead of a 12-month cycle, in some ways we're always at the start.
But at least sometimes someone learns something, and, boy, doesn't that feel good.

MaxK1
Posts: 1043
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:34 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:37 pm


The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage Without Apostophes!
Ooh-good 'un...
You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
When General Failure and Major Disaster get together, Private Parts usually suffers.

Martin Frezman
Posts: 1009
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:05 am

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:45 pm

I had not heard of her either - but I've heard the phrase. I heard as a description of what a typical man does in a girl's apartment on a date.

Anyway, full title of the book is:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
If this post appears in the wrong forums category, my apologies.

Heater
Posts: 15981
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:56 pm

Of course one can manage without apostrophes. One just has to speak a logical language like Finnish:

girl = tyttö (A girl)

girls = tytöt (Many girls)

girl's = tytön (Belonging to a girl)

girls' = tyttöjen (Belonging to many girls)

That just means getting to grips with 16 or so suffixes...
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

Martin Frezman
Posts: 1009
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:05 am

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:07 pm

That just means getting to grips with 16 or so suffixes...
Heh heh. I think I'll stick with my apostrophes.
If this post appears in the wrong forums category, my apologies.

Heater
Posts: 15981
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:24 pm

On the other hand. I don't need no stenk'n apostropes. They are just a short hand.

When you hear (not read) the utterance:

"The girls like spaghetti" it could mean:

"The girl is like spaghetti"

or:

"Those people, each of which is a girl, like spaghetti

or possibly even:

"Those people, each of which is a girl, are like spaghetti"

Surely it's possible to remove apostropes in all cases?
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

ElEscalador
Posts: 839
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:55 pm
Location: Detroit, MI USA
Contact: Website

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:27 pm

As long as they keep buying stuff so production can be up and parts costs down, I'm OK with them biting off any size project they can or cannot chew. After a several year hiatus from building projects because it was so tedious and/or expensive to do little things (like use a relay with a microcontroller - needed to put together a resistor, transistor, opto-isolator, diode, two voltages....multiply that times 8 and I'm bored to tears). Now I can get it all set up for $8 on ebay? A $1.99 buck-converter? A $5 LINUX COMPUTER?? It's amazing what we can buy for peanuts now - in some part thanks to noobs buying all the things they don't know how to use or didn't need.
Robotics tips, hacks, book extras https://youtube.com/practicalrobotics

User avatar
g7ruh
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:49 am
Location: Blackfield UK

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:28 pm

If we don't get back on topic, I fear the Apostrophe Police will make an appearance in this thread.

Having said that, any techy or wannabe techy won't think it through: RTFM is the place of last resort. Back in the 70's RTFM was all we had, (if / when all else failed), now Google is your friend and a wonderful learning aid. Maybe we need to suggest greater use of Google (or your favourite search engine) as a way to promote RTFM in a more modern way so the simple thing is "Google". I use it all the time and it does save me time when I hit a problem, and I seldom have to post here for help. A search with "raspberry pi" and the problem usually points one in the right direction.

Roger

Heater
Posts: 15981
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:54 pm

g7ruh
Back in the 70's RTFM was all we had,
Actually, that is not how I remember it. As a teenager in the 70's most of what I picked up came from magazines, instructions in kits, a few books. Actually getting hold of TFM was a rare thing. At the time there were no micro-controllers/microprocessors, I counted myself being very lucky to get hold of actual Texas Instruments TTL data books and RCA 4000 series data books.

Or there was the local amateur radio club meetings where a young guy like myself could hang out and annoy the old timers with all kinds of electronics questions.

In a way this forum is that club meeting. raspiberrypi.org and others are the magazines. All is working well.

Certainly "go google it" is often a good response. But many times people don't know what it is they should be googling for. They don't even have the terminology or keywords yet.

Also a search for "debian ...whatever" will work better than a search for "raspberry pi...whatever".

You have to know what you are looking for before you can look for it. As it were.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

User avatar
kusti8
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sat Dec 21, 2013 5:29 pm
Location: USA

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:29 pm

Heater wrote:Of course one can manage without apostrophes. One just has to speak a logical language like Finnish:

girl = tyttö (A girl)

girls = tytöt (Many girls)

girl's = tytön (Belonging to a girl)

girls' = tyttöjen (Belonging to many girls)

That just means getting to grips with 16 or so suffixes...
Estonian as my first and English as my second language I can attest. Many other things are easier like spelling. It's spelled just like how it's pronounced.
girl tüdruk
girls tüdrukud
girl's tüdruku
girls' tüdrukute
There are 10 types of people: those who understand binary and those who don't.

timrowledge
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:12 pm
Location: Vancouver Island
Contact: Website

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:07 pm

g7ruh wrote:If we don't get back on topic, I fear the Apostrophe Police will make an appearance in this thread.
Nee-na'w-ne'e-n'aw!
g7ruh wrote:Having said that, any techy or wannabe techy won't think it through: RTFM is the place of last resort
Part of the problem with RTFM is that the FM is usually rubbish. I just had a colleague point me to `man 2 info` as a suggestion for finding a problem in a PulseAudio library that is causing problems. For some reason the unix world appears to have outsourced writing of man pages to a sequence of broken Markoff chains that output in randomly mixed Finnish, Linear B, Klingon and Elvish-D. Almost all software is guilty of nearly the same attitude.

I know that writing actually useful doc is difficult - I've tried myself with varying levels of success - but that doesn't excuse the normalisation of junk. Then we have to add in the problem if out of date doc, even when it is of some use; even the most persistent googling tends to discover far too much outdated, incomplete or simply wrong 'doc'. And then there is the complete-newly problem; when trying to find out about something very new to you it is amazingly hard to discover search terms that are effective.

So please, when someone asks for help about something you know a bit about, at least point them to a good FM if possible.
Making Smalltalk on ARM since 1986; making your Scratch better since 2012

Heater
Posts: 15981
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:41 pm

That is right Tim. We are trying swim in a swamp of ever changing software. The FM is always out of date. Assuming it was any use in the first place.


Writing good documentation and tutorials is a skill that few have. It takes a lot of time. Keeping it up to date is almost impossible.

One thing that really annoys me is googling for some solution to some stupid problem or other and finding a ton of blog posts, tutorials etc that are years out of date and now wrong. That might be OK but so many times it's hard to know when the thing was written and the author does not specify exactly what versions of this and that they were using.

Is it asking too much to put a date on an article and pin down the software versions under discussion?

PulseAudio is a case in point. My experience so far is that if it does not work or do what ones wants it to do out of the box with ones OS installation it's impossible to make it do what one wants no matter how much googling one does.

This problem is not just limited to Raspi or Raspbian or Linux or Open Source in general. Recently I started using Windows a lot. Having not used it since Win 95 I am a newbie. Same problem there. Microsoft's help does not help. Articles I find on the net don't match the OS I have. And so on.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

ejolson
Posts: 5402
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:47 am

Re: Try something simpler first ?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:03 pm

timrowledge wrote:I just had a colleague point me to `man 2 info` as a suggestion for finding a problem in a PulseAudio library that is causing problems.
Early in the GNU software project texinfo was developed for software documentation. This system was based on LaTeX and incompatible with existing man pages that were based on troff. In my opinion having two incompatible systems fragmented the way in which software was documented on Unix-like systems to the point where many people stopped bothering at all. Why fix the tires if the window is broken?

Return to “General discussion”