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OK, I'll disagree with you.  But only to a degree.  I've worked the
equivalent of an unpaid help desk on IRC (Ubuntu-Arizona LoCo).  We
worked with people that not only weren't necessarily running Ubuntu, but
many times were so far out of the area that their time zone was in
Siberia, etc.  We worked up a series of questions (my son, who had
worked for help desks, and has graduated to being a tech in the NOC
helped us with them) that would guide the person on the other end
through the process.

In effect, we became teachers, because we preceded it with "now, write
these questions down, because they will be important with the next
question you have."  Teachers are not the same as servants.  Teachers
expect a certain level of retention and competence of what has already
been taught, but don't presume that an individual is at a particular
level of such until they talk to them.

As a result, Arizona LoCo became famous for helping people (as much as
we could) with problems with RedHat/Fedora, Windows, and even Mac in
addition to our normal Ubuntu help.  It's really a matter of attitude
and patience (and believe me, some of the people we helped could really
try one's patience).  Our help included teaching people where the forums
were and how to use them, how to run a search on Google (or the search
engine of their choice), as well as how to ask questions.  Many of those
people went on to help others (to the best of their ability) before
referring the others to us.

The system works, but, it DOES require patience and a good attitude to
develop and manage.  As you can see, by comparing what you wrote with
what's above, this does help the questioning individual to develop
better skills in asking questions as well as providing him with the
tools to provide answers himself/herself.


On 11/25/2010 04:54 PM, Robert Holtzman wrote:
On Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 04:44:42PM -0500, Marc Par� wrote:
Le 2010-11-24 16:20, Robert Holtzman a écrit :

The best and most practical way is to help them out. The bottom line
is that we would like every type of individuals to use our office
suite and to be happy with it. I have yet to be on one "help" list
or help forum where this question has not been asked and the best
approach has always been to be courteous and help out. It always
leave the user grateful and satisfied.

One of the best ways to help them out would be to (gently, if that makes
you feel better) instruct them that it is customary to do a modicum of
research and try what's found before posting a question to a list. Also,
the post should include the standard information, s/w version, OS, etc.
If you have been participating in mail lists for very long, I'm
surprised you don't recommend this yourself. 

Let's not assume that they can't/refuse"won't make an effort to
learn and just help them out. After all, they are here for help.

If there are too many of these individuals on our help lists, then I
would say that our help list has internal problems that need to be
addressed. This would be more of our problem than theirs.

This might be true if the contributors to the list were paid employees
or if the posters were paying for help. In that case pandering to lazy
users with an infuriating sense of entitlement might be excused because
one does not piss off a paying customer. The truth is, however, that the
contributors are unpaid volunteers who hang here from altruistic
motives and as such are entitled to the respect of not having their time
wasted trying to guess the problem from incomplete questions. 

This may have little to do with installation instructions but it
addresses the flavor I'm getting from some of the messages that *all*
users should be catered to and the clueless ones not be guided into the
right way to ask questions but be tolerated and spoon fed. I have
nothing against clueless users. That's how everyone starts out but, I
remember being guided (sometimes not so gently) in how to ask questions.
I'm not advocating *all* noobs become proficient sysadmins but running a
few simple searches and trying a few things is a far cry from that.

As far as I'm concerned there is too much of what I call the servant
mentality on this list. I don't find nearly as much on any of the other
lists I'm involved with, including the ubuntu-users and firefox-support
lists which get their share of newly minted users who barely know how to
turn their computer on. 

Feel free to disagree with me but that's my take on these things. 

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