Blunt Tools (was: cgf does not want private email about cygwin)

Mark Keil
Mon Jun 25 16:10:00 GMT 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christopher Faylor [ ]
> Sent: Monday, June 25, 2001 2:50 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Blunt Tools (was: cgf does not want private email about
> cygwin)
> On Mon, Jun 25, 2001 at 01:35:36PM -0400, Ken Collins wrote:
> >I find the non-answers annoying, personally. It's like 
> >taking a class where the prof answers every question
> >with "look it up in the book." I don't enjoy seeing 
> >other people shamed. I just want to learn about cygwin.
> I prefer to teach people how to think rather than doing the 
> thinking for them.  I think that repeatedly telling people
> to use the resources available to them (google, mail archives,
> FAQ) is a method for doing that.  Repetition is an important
> method for getting this point across.
> So, we have to keep hammering this point to make it effective.
Hammering might not be as necessary if users could be
better helped to be more prepared.

> Doing the research yourself and answering every single 
> repeated question with elaborate detail IMO 1) doesn't
> scale and 2) doesn't really teach.

In light of this discussion, I'm curious why you were against
adding google search examples to the FAQ?

There I tried to suggest a way get people up to speed faster
on the learning curve and I was shot down. By cgf no less.
A bit discouraging.
> In my experience, philosophical discussions like this are 
> more likely to result in harsh interchanges than questions
> about code.  I suppose, YMMV.

Philosophy gets close to values, and value conflicts are the
root of most harsh interchanges, at least in my observation.

> No one has suggested that people should not ask questions.  You are
> apparently objecting to the "search google" responses but Chuck and
> others have indicated that, given the volume (among other 
> things), there
> is only a limited amount of time that the old-timers can 
> provide.  So, I
> don't see how setting up a newbie mailing list would help.  Are you
> expecting new people to step forward to answer questions in exhaustive
> detail?

Folks could be helped to ask better questions by reducing
the hurdles to success. There is a lot of help already,
and much of it is very good. A few more updates could make
it better.

> Actually, the "here's what you should do" attitude is also something
> about this list that bothers me.  You very very rarely see that turned
> around to either "What can *I* do?" or even "Here's what I can do".
> That's too bad.

I have used cygwin for three years and it has worked so well
that I havn't really needed to monitor the list. That is until
I tried to get inetd to work...
As a relatively new addition to the list it wasn't real
obvious how to come up to speed fast. I thrashed a bit, as I
didn't have the luxury of lurking for months.
When I learned of Earnies google search aids that was a big help.
When I thought, I can help here and suggest that it be added to
the faq (It ceatainly would have helped me if it had been in the faq).
It was shot down, by cgf. 

So, what can I do?
I can't add a line to the sig that suggests that users check the faq,
and in http form so that it is brain dead easy to check the faq.

I can't add lines to the welcome to the cygwin first mail that
recommends that the new member check the faq and user guide,
and in http form to make it brain dead easy to access these pages.

I can't modify the cygwin web page to highlight the faq and user
guide in another section about being prepared to ask questions
mre effectively, and that that will result in better answers.

I can give you a modified paragraph for the cygwin web page
that highlights the resources that would help new seekers:
  For all other questions and observations, please send email to the Cygwin
Mailing List.
  This includes questions about where to find things, questions about why
things are done
  a certain way, questions about the color preferences of Cygwin developers,
  about the meaning of the number 42, etc.
  For better answers please check these before posting (and you may even
find your answer)

I can observe that a mailing list faq might be helpful, and maybe
it could contain google search examples that would help teach
people to make informed querys with less thrashing before they
reach enlightenment. Maybe a seperate faq might pass muster?

Make it easy to succeed. It will pay the dividend of more informed members.

I can be hopeful that this won't be shot down. :-)


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