Why questions don't get answered, or "No, I've already RTFM, tell me the answer!"

Birt, Jeffrey birtj at umr.edu
Thu Dec 29 18:44:11 UTC 2005

I've found this to be a VERY interesting thread.  It's all has to do
with etiquette and on mailing list as in life there are just some plain
rude people.  Add to the mix that computer geeks (including myself) tend
to be elitist, *nix aficionados especially so.

i.e.: "...after all I have gone through a severe amount of pain and
mastered *nix; therefore I am far superior to the Windoze drones."

The general "Linux is far superior to anything else, RTFM you freaking
idiot, and BTW Windoze sucks" attitude is a great detriment to Linux.  I
think this attitude is the root cause or the problem (my personal
favorite was someone refusing to respond to people who 'top post' in
replies, I personally think the whole top posting idea is
counter-intuitive and akin to trying to carry on a conversation by
repeating everything that was said before and then adding your own 2

As a newbie to *nix a few years ago I tried to go through an online *nix
training program the University offered.  It was useless as it was far
to fine grained information, (no big picture overview), to be of help
(like the finer points of using VI).  There were lots of times I didn't
even know where to look for help (which file, website, man page) and
this list was of great help.

I agree with Les when he pointed out that man pages, if they exist, are
a reference; (if you don't know the subject already they are useless and
very frustrating.) But I strongly disagree that one must have interment
knowledge of the command line, I/O redirection, and environment
variables before starting a program.  That's like saying you must learn
how the internal combustion engine works before driving a car.

Jeffrey T. Birt
Electronics Engineer
Integrated Systems Facility
University of Missouri - Rolla

-----Original Message-----
From: fedora-list-bounces at redhat.com
[mailto:fedora-list-bounces at redhat.com] On Behalf Of Les Mikesell
Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2005 10:59 AM
To: For users of Fedora Core releases
Subject: Re: Why questions don't get answered, or "No, I've already
RTFM,tell me the answer!"

On Thu, 2005-12-29 at 09:07, Charles Howse wrote:

> My first experience with Linux was when I bought a book about Linux
> contained Red Hat 5.  Didn't know what a man page was until I finished
> reading the book.  Today I am still dumbfounded sometimes by the lack
> help contained in a man page, or by the over abundance of terms that I
> to stop and look up, then try and understand whether that applies to
> situation.

You really have to understand what the shell does to every
command line before starting a program before reading other
man pages. The concepts of i/o redirection, wildcard filename
expansion, and environment variable setting are not repeated
in the man pages for every program even though they may be
useful or even necessary.  Man pages are meant to be a reference,
not a tutorial.  A tutorial should be a separate volume since
you normally only need it once and never want to see it again
while you may need the reference for obscure options later.
Unfortunately, a tutorial doesn't exist for some programs
you might want to use.

  Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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