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Linux Snobs, The Real Barriers to Entry 1347

McSnarf writes "It's not Windows. It's not distro wars. Sometimes it's just the arrogant attitude that keeps people from switching from Windows. 'As I spoke to newbies, one Windows user who wanted to learn about Linux shared the encouraging and constructive note (not) he received from one of the project members. The responding note read: "Hi jackass, RTFM and stop wasting our time trying to help you children learn.""
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Linux Snobs, The Real Barriers to Entry

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:26AM (#15156320)

    In my experience, I'd have to say this article is right on the money. While snobs can be encountered for just about any OS you care to name, the Linux snobs are particularly shrill. This shrillness may be attributed to a variety of causes, including social ineptitude, feelings of intellectual/moral/fiscal superority, attempted concealment of their own limited knowledge, etc., but there is just no excuse for this sort of behavior. Linux is first and foremost a collaborative effort, and by failing to live up to that ideal, Linux snobs subvert the very point of Linux itself.

    Yes, it is true that the answers to your questions are out there...Linux does have copious documentation. But the fact of the matter is that a simple answer to a simple question can do much more than save the newbie hours of combing through MAN can also foster the sense of community that is the very lifeblood of Linux.

    Linux users need to understand that when disillusioned Windows users come to them asking for help with Linux, they effectively become representatives of Linux...ambassadors, if you will...and they need to behave accordingly. Abusing new Linux users for their lack of knowledge, rather than helping them to learn more, only harms the cause.

    Just were a n00b yourself once...
  • by ZiakII ( 829432 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:26AM (#15156322)
    I have been using Linux as my OS of choice for a year now and am willing to admit I'm far from being an experienced Linux user. The main thing that helped me when starting to use Linux was Google. If I didn't have Google I don't think I would have solved most of my problems. From what I have seen any problems that I had there where already tons of information out on the web answering these questions if you looked and didn't take the easy way out and post without even trying to search for it on the internet.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:28AM (#15156338) Journal
    Astounding. You've taken a sane, logical article and replied to it in the exact illogical, impassioned manner it criticizes. You, sir, are a poster child for a Linux snob. The article encourages you to stop talking, essentially. Read it again, because it is wholly and entirely accurate.

    My story, aside from parent: I'm trying to install Mailman a year or so back. I have a base Debian install. I'm stuck. I RTFM. It's not that I can't, or that I don't want to, it's that I quite simply don't understand what it's telling me to do. I don't know what an Exim director is, and the manual thingy doesn't really care to say, only that I need to configure Mailman to work with it. (Since then, it's been updated to be a bit more descriptive. I just checked.)

    So, I ask. The response? A snub. Worded from a community member to a third person for me to read: "Maybe the problem isn't Mailman or any of the other awesome software he's running, it's the user not reading all the available documentation."
    I note that I read it, but I don't understand it. No response at all.

    These days, I have one Debian box with ZoneMinder and Mailman sitting here and everything else is still Windows. I'm quite happy with that.
  • Just use Google (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stecoop ( 759508 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:28AM (#15156339) Journal
    What I have found is that there are really tough question in the Linux world or just common mistakes. Sometimes these questions are repeated many times but there may be a reason the questions are asked over and over again. When I use the popular search engine Google to fetch the answer to a question I have, the first hundred results are usually some chat thread with my question being asked and some brilliant and insightful genius replies back with the comment to just use Google. Even better, you can go read a chat thread and it has 20 pages of 20 entries and another brilliant and insightful genius replies back sating he already answered the question and to use the search function to get the answer. What is bad, the question usually fall to the side since the rest of the group thinks it has been answered satisfactorily.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:29AM (#15156343)
    Many of you are too wrapped up in playing with the latest transparent desktop

    You know, I just can't imagine why anyone would call Linux users snobs.


  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:31AM (#15156358) Homepage Journal
    This article seems as much flamebait as anything.
    I read through and a lot of what he was describing sounded like listening to the anonymous cowards on here.

    Asking a Mac user which is the best operating system will result in one answer, asking a linux user to discuss the various distros is another.

    Audiophiles will deride a newbie for asking silly questions, gamers will take the piss out of n00bs for aiming wrong or asking about the best weapons, hell even office staff will give you a 10 minute diorama about their red stapler, but if you ask them what the differences are they will fly off at the handle.

    Nobody knows about all the distros or databases and theres not really a one size fits all solution so people get embedded in their current system.
    Sounds like he just found people on their off days, but I agree with the general article contents - it extends to all walks of life and multiple subjects.

    And I've not even touched on vi vs emacs ;)

  • by eraser.cpp ( 711313 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:31AM (#15156361) Homepage
    I love it when I've googled a topic for days and explain that on IRC and instead of them saying "I don't know" I'm told "You obviously suck at Google". Really warms the heart.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:32AM (#15156364) Homepage Journal
    You RTFMed. I'm impressed. I've been told to RTFM when the FM is four versions out of date and filled with sections of "TODO: write this."

    Open Source software documentation reminds me of Wikipedia: read it for help, but if it's not written yet, write it then read it.

    Yes, I know the software comes with no warranty or support, but the notion of "you get what you pay for" is as strong as ever in many circles.
  • Troll (Score:2, Insightful)

    by boyfaceddog ( 788041 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:32AM (#15156366) Journal
    Could this post be any more obvious a troll?

    Move along - yada, yada, yada.
  • Difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrAfFiT ( 802657 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:32AM (#15156370) Homepage
    One huge difference is that the Microsoft tech support guys are paid to listen to your stupidities. You are a lot more patient and understanding when you're paid.
  • by fudgefactor7 ( 581449 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:35AM (#15156394)
    And every time I mentioned it in the past I got my ass handed to me on a plate. I've asked questions in forums, emailed software maintainers, and done the RTFM, and read the FAQs. And sometimes there are no answers, yet you get the same old "RTFM, n00b" answer, followed by "STFU." Nice. It also doesn't help that some of the documentation on is out of date--which is one step away from being outright wrong when dealing with rapidly changing software. If Linux wants more users (or OSS in general) you need to (1) fix the documentation so that it's always up to date to the newest version; and, (2) fix the culture of the dipshits that are out there. If they don't want to help, that's fine; but to hear over and over again the same unhelpful advise is only shooting your cause in the foot.

    Do I care that this will cost me Karma? Nope. You've had it coming, and I've lost Karma before on this so ....
  • Grow some skin! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:37AM (#15156403) Homepage
    Of course this happens! In the MS-Windows world too. Everywhere. People want and need help. They ask others. Often they get it, sometimes not.

    However, to universally blame the help provider is completely wrong. The asker may be intruding. The asker may be insufficiently respectful or remunerative in other ways.

    Beggars cannot be choosers.

  • -1, flamebait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) < minus poet> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:38AM (#15156410) Homepage
    There are assholes in every camp. I'm sure I can just as easily find Windows and MacOS snobs [well the latter is a given].

    I've personally helped a half dozen people switch to Gentoo. Not all of us are meanies [though I play one on TV].

    This article is pure flamebait.

  • by lyapunov ( 241045 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:41AM (#15156433)
    I landed a job as UNIX admin from learning UNIX out of necessity and then as a hobby. When I got out of the military and started to school I purchased a computer so I would not have to work in school labs. My mathematics degree required two core CS classes, algorithms and data structures and the CS department uses Linux. So rather than piss and moan I purchased another hard drive and dual booted my machine. The reason that I purchased another hard drive is so that I could revert because I knew that I was not going to get it right the first few times. After being able, to once again do my homeword at home, I spent another 6 months getting my printer to work. It was an Deskjet 612 that used the printing performance architecture (PPA) drivers that some guy in Oregon reverse engineered with little or no help from HP. I figured if he had the wherewithall to accomplish that I should be able to at least get it working.

    I spent many hours reading books on Linux in general, and countless hours browsing the web for help on UNIX printing. Wound up switching to CUPS, when it was fairly new, and managed to get it working. It was a lot of work and the only reason that I was able to do it was that I had the attitude that the "machine is not going to win."

    Most people want everything handed to them, and if you do not have a self started attitude UNIX is fairly intimidating.
    The quote that I developed about Microsoft and Bill Gates is this:

    "Bill Gates brought computing to the masses, pity they weren't ready for it."

  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:41AM (#15156435) Homepage Journal
    ??? I did read the article. Both my comments where logical, you just aren't see it. That's fine. Let me put it another way. If Linux snobs where a problem with the wider adoption of Linux then people who are interested in buying Ford or Dodge trucks would be put off by the hostility that each side has towards the other, etc. But yet there are millions of Ford and Dodge truck owners.

    The real problem is this, much of the rest of the Earth is based on a commercial model of adoption of new things. A company makes it, people see it on TV or hear about it from their friends, they go to a store and they buy it. This has been going on for 50 years and in a way it has been going on for a lot longer. Now here comes open source and a completely different way of distributing a product, finding support and so on. People don't understand that new model yet, it takes time. The best thing you can probably do is adapt your new model so that it is close to the older model and slowly change it.

    In my 9 years of using and promoting Linux, I have talked with a lot of new Linux users and I've rarely heard them mention any of the problems with snobbishness that this article describes. I have not seen it much myself and I am on support channels a lot. This is why I don't agree with this article and was making what I considered to be a logical criticism of it.
  • by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:41AM (#15156437) Homepage
    [This] will lead to people that are unable and unwilling to experiment with software. Half of what I have learned regarding software has been trial and error.

    That may suit you learning style, but for others it is extraordinarily frustrating. We need to be able to include everyone in this community. Users who do not have the inclination, or time, to use trial and error should be able to post on help message boards without getting flamed. Sadly, in the Linux community, noob has become an mark of shame. Its absurd and counter-productive. We do not entice new users very well at all, and it is to our detriment.
  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sketerpot ( 454020 ) < minus pi> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:41AM (#15156438)
    Honestly, you'd probably get a much more helpful reply on the mailing list.
  • by saifrc ( 967681 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:44AM (#15156458)
    You make the assumption that most documentation out there is well-written and easy to understand, without making hundreds of obscure references or alienating new users with obtuse language. The reality is that most people who write documentation, unfortunately, especially for OSS, are not good writers, good speakers, or good teachers.

    If you find a particular piece of documentation useful, that's great. It served its purpose. But keep in mind that you and the author might be on the same unnaturally inhuman wavelength, and that "real" people will have a bit of difficulty deciphering the author's meaning.
  • Bizarre (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:45AM (#15156462)
    At this point I was accused of "bitching about service provided for free" and "its a wiki, feel free to contribute and edit it".

    I've gotten that too. It's very strange. I'm looking in the Wiki because I don't know the answer. When I see the answer isn't there, I'm not the person you want to edit it. What am I supposed to do, write down how I'd *like* it to work?

    I'm not sure what kind of person Linux snobs think they're dealing with. Snobs seem to assume that ordinary users aren't asking questions because they want to know the answers, but because they want to catch the snobs in a mistake. I wonder what social group interacts that way. Oh, geeks. Right.
  • by euxneks ( 516538 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:45AM (#15156465)
    I try to read as much documentation as I can. I also try to help out other newbies by giving them answers (if I know the answer), and also where you can find the answer (in the documentation).

    I think this helps them out by giving them a good answer but then also showing them how to find other answers on their own.

    After all, knowledge is meant to be shared.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:45AM (#15156468)
    [...] The important concept to bear in mind when discussing software issues with Linux apologists is the "Linux Fault Threshold". Clever use of this concept helps you to avoid losing your temper with someone who might actually be able to render practical help, while ensuring that you give the correct dose of venom (60cc of scorpion juice, administered per anem with a rusty syringe) to the vast crowd of mindless apologists who just want you to use their pet operating system because it makes them feel good and gives them something to boast about on Slashdot. I provide this as a service to all the blind, alcoholic, incontinent grandmothers out there who appear to be installing Linux without any trouble if the Slashdot comments on any article remotely related to user interface design are to be believed.

    The Linux Fault Threshold is the point in any conversation about Linux at which your interlocutor stops talking about how your problem might be solved under Linux and starts talking about how it isn't Linux's fault that your problem cannot be solved under Linux. Half the time, the LFT is reached because there is genuinely no solution (or no solution has been developed yet), while half the time, the LFT is reached because your apologist has floundered way out of his depth in offering to help you and is bullshitting far beyond his actual knowledge base. In either case, a conversation which has reached the LFT has precisely zero chance of ever generating useful advice for you; it is safe at this point to start calling the person offering the advice a fucking moron, and basically take it from there. Here's an example taken from IRC logs to help you understand the concept.

    <jsm> Why won't my fucking Linux computer print?
    <linuxbabe> what printer r u using?
    <jsm> I don't know. It's a Hewlett Packard desktop inkjet number
    <linuxbabe> hewlett r lamers. they dont open source drivers [LFT closely approached!]
    <linuxbabe> but we reverse engineered them lol. check the web. or ask hewlett for linux suuport??[but avoided, he's still talking about the problem]
    <jsm> Thanks. I already did that. But I can't install the drivers on my fucking computer. I've got a floppy disk from HP, but my floppy drive is a USB drive and Linux doesn't have fucking USB support.
    <linuxbabe> linux DOES have USB support!!!!!!
    <jsm> yeh for fucking infrared mice, and for about a thousand makes of webcam it does. Get real here. For my fucking floppy disk drive, I am telling you through bitter experience it does not. Even if someone has written the drivers in the last week
    <jsm> which I sincerely doubt, how the hell am I going to install them given that my floppy drive doesnt work?????
    <jsm> this ought to be in the kernel. what good is a fucking operating system that doesnt operate?
    <linuxbabe> Imacs dont have floppy drives at all [useless point, but not LFT. All apologists make pointless jabs at other OSs]
    <linuxbabe> so you ought to be greateful that Linux does. drivers like that shouldn't be bundled in the kernel
    <linuxbabe> makes it into fucking M$ bloatware. bleh
    <linuxbabe> download drivers from the web!!!! apt-get is your friend
    <jsm> So everyone keeps telling me. Unfortunately the fucking modem doesn't work under Linux either, and since the Linux installation destroyed Windows, that leaves me kind of fucked.
    <linuxbabe> Linux doesnt destroy windows
    <jsm>mandrake installer does. It "resized" my Windows partition and now the fucker won't work
    <linuxbabe> you shuold have defragmented. windows scatters data all over your hard drive so the installer cant just find a clean chunk to install into. it isn't linux fault [distinct signs of LFT being approached]
    <linuxbabe> that windoze disk management blows
    <jsm> so why doesn't my fucking modem work?
    <linuxbabe> what computer ha

  • by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:46AM (#15156472) Journal
    One of the reasons I am a fan of NetBSD is their excellent documentation. Not only is it well done, it is easy to find. Also, their mailing lists are full of helpful people who always try to answer questions, even obvious ones from n00bs.

    Nearly every site that aims to be helpful in learning linux is not. It often has references, without links, to utilities you have to scour the internet to find. The people who aim to help never begin at a point where someone who knows little to nothing about linux can begin.

    Where is THE linux documentation? (if you're going to say man pages, please don't)

  • Nope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GuloGulo ( 959533 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:47AM (#15156484)
    "If Linux snobs where a problem with the wider adoption of Linux then people who are interested in buying Ford or Dodge trucks would be put off by the hostility that each side has towards the other, etc. But yet there are millions of Ford and Dodge truck owners."

    I hate car analogies. I hate analogies in general, but car analogies are always among the worst. Yours is an example.

    People usually know how to operate a car when they buy it. The same is not true of Linux.

    Do you see now why your analogy is so terrible?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:50AM (#15156511)
    There is no standard interface, and so the user gains much by experimenting with all portions of the software.

    You just don't get it, the "average" user gains the most by using the computer to do whatever it is they want to use the computer for, not "experimenting". While there certainly is a class of individuals that fit what you said (and I'm actually amongst those), there are definitely times when I need to get something done, and I don't have the time nor the desire to "tinker". I'd much have an OS that does what I want 99% of the time, but is flexible enough for me to tinker with, WHEN I WANT, not as a general course of operation.
  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:52AM (#15156536) Homepage Journal
    While snobs can be encountered for just about any OS you care to name, the Linux snobs are particularly shrill. This shrillness may be attributed to a variety of causes, including social ineptitude, feelings of intellectual/moral/fiscal superority, attempted concealment of their own limited knowledge, etc.,

    I think the qualities that you're attributing to Linux snobs can be attributed to $OS snobs.

    The real reason linux n00bs run into trouble with the shriller elements of the community is simply because they're exposed to them.

    You see, if you have a problem with a Microsoft OS, you go to the MS website, where people paid not insult you answer your questions. Same goes for Apple, Sun, etc.

    With linux, if you have trouble, its just $random_hacker (or $random_slightly_less_n00by_then_you) who's going to help you - this can be both good (you find people are more willing to disclose software bugs, actually know how to support you, etc) & bad (the problems mentioned in the article).
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by solafide ( 845228 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:54AM (#15156551) Homepage
    Which is why Gentoo is the best distro. Sure, it has an aura of snobbery, but generally speaking the users themselves are not snobs. And the manuals are extremely easy to understand. Though it takes some time and typing to use Gentoo, it's very easy to use otherwise, because everything is spelled out. [] []
  • by Malor ( 3658 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:54AM (#15156552) Journal
    This has been true for as long as I can remember. If the software is inadequate or confusing, blame the user. It's happened to me, even here on Slashdot.

    Way back in the stone age.... sometime in 1997, maybe? Maybe 1998. Not sure. Anyway... Linux was _just_ starting to get deployed occasionally in business. I had a couple of DNS servers up on an early RedHat box. The box lost power... these were just desktop machines sitting in someone's cubicle. (We hadn't grown to the point of needing 'real' servers quite yet, and an actual server room was a year off.) My primary box took a LOT of filesystem damage, and it took me ages to fix it. So I commented in a slashdot thread that ext2 was very fragile, and that it was one of Linux's real weak points.

    You just wouldn't believe the crap I got. Slashdot doesn't seem to archive that far back, so I can't give you links, but _most_ of the replies I got blamed me for being stupid. I "should have used a UPS"... ok, I could grant that, but remember we were a shoestring outfit, and we didn't need those on Windows servers. A couple people went off on me for, get this, not knowing how to use a disk editor to find my secondary superblocks and repair with those. I kid you not. Linux was perfect, and ANYTHING that went wrong was obviously the user's fault... to the point that I should know how to manually repair my filesystem. Instead of admitting that the filesystem should survive a power failure, it was my fault for breaking it.

    Several years later, after Reiserfs and ext3 came out, we had a similar conversation, also here on Slashdot. Suddenly everyone is all about how great the journaling filesystems are, and how bad ext2 sucks. It was probably even some of the same people, but the original conversation had already been lost, so I couldn't prove it.

    People just will NOT criticize software they're emotionally involved with. It's the most ridiculous thing I've seen... these theoretically intelligent, rational software designers that become absolutely insane when you suggest their software is imperfect. Blame the user! "You're just too stupid to use our software. Go away."

    Fortunately, there's enough people in the Linux community now that the lunatic fringe doesn't dominate quite like it did, but these people are still out there.

    It was ridiculous then, and it's just as ridiculous now. It doesn't happen as much, but it still sucks.

  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SocietyoftheFist ( 316444 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:55AM (#15156566)
    The reason IBM and Redhat do so well is because they provide pay support. If not for the likes of IBM and Redhat, Linux would be as well known as NetBSD because it is the province of geeks that like to do things for themselves and that don't like to help others. They think, "I did it on my own, why can't you?" I've been using Linux for the better part of 10 years now and I think it is dead on the desktop. I see Apple and Microsoft accellerating away on the desktop front while Linux takes over the traditional UNIX workstation/server market. Having a bunch of people doing what they want hasn't provided us with Linux, Mozilla, OpenOffice, Apache, etc... those all took structured coordinated efforts
  • Re:Bizarre (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QJimbo ( 779370 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:56AM (#15156570)
    Those sorts of responces also go along with the "Edit the code yourself!" type ones too, which I can kinda understand why they're saying it, but do they really want the only people who use the software to be coders? Though I suppose technically they don't mind if nobody uses it...

    I suppose thats what this whole thing comes down to, should people expect help for free software? I mean the authors of open source software usually write it for themselves rather than others, releasing it so others can help contribute, but at the same time so others can use it. The last part seems to be where the problems begin, people have different ideas of support for open source software.
  • Re:Difference (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:56AM (#15156572) Homepage Journal
    One huge difference is that the Microsoft tech support guys are paid to listen to your stupidities. You are a lot more patient and understanding when you're paid.

    There's lots of pay support options for Linux, as well. I'm sure they'll happily guide you through long, drawn out support if they're charging by the minute (with something like Ether [], anyone can provide that sort of pay service).

    What I think they're talking about, however, is the general community. On a Windows-related forum, it is entirely true that there are often armies of individuals dying to help to the best of their capacity, eager to show off what they know. The more simplistic and general your question, the more likely it is to get dozens of answers by eager helpers. Microsoft even anoints some of these as MVPs, a designation that countless microsoft.* newsgroup inhabitants work (for free) towards.

    In Linux forums and communities, on the other hand, that sort of, err, benevolence seldom exists. Linux users, as a general rule, don't have the same motiviation to "show their stuff". In fact I'd say that the opposite is true, and in the Linux camp you're more likely to get responses if you ask highly technical, esoteric questions. A simple question is more likely to be ignored, or responded with a hostile RTFM.

    This could just relate to level of experience.

    When I first got into "computers", I become the family computer guy that everyone came to for help, and in a way it boosted my ego and gave me a way to prove myself valuable. The more this became a career, and as I became more professionally respected and entrenched, the less motivated I was to be "the computer guy". In fact I started to see it is a way that people used me and others like me, soliciting free computer help under the guise of patting my back and telling me how smart and helpful I was.

    Nowadays I have little motivation to help when people ask questions, unless there is some monetary reward, and honestly I usually have the same internal reaction (though usually unvoiced) as that indicated in the story: RTFM. Often the questions are usually the result of selfish people who can't waste a moment of their own time actually looking for an answer -- googling, consulting the help or man pages, or trial and error -- and instead immediately fall upon demanding the attention of others.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:56AM (#15156575)
    This whole argument is stupid. People do flame each other, it's just a fact. We could just as well sit around and wring our hands that the Internet would be more popular if the "online community" would just be more friendly and all the pedophiles and spammers would mend their ways. It's true, but it's also a rather pointless discussion.
  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <{tms} {at} {}> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:56AM (#15156577) Homepage
    I finally decided that it would be easier to ask on their irc channel, #linux-ha @ this point #linux-ha folks suggested I post the entire error log on the mailing list "because more people read the mailing list". I wasn't interested in waiting another week for a "RTFM" response from a mailing list, so I told them "why not help me now, or at least say you arent qualified to help, etc".

    I've never understood the attraction of IRC. I understand it even less when seeking technical help.

    Not only are you relying on the chance that someone who knows the answer is on the channel at the same time as you, but you're also implictly demanding "I want an answer now!" which is not going to go over well.

    I hear many more stories about rude behavior on IRC than other forums; it seems that maybe IRC attracts younger, ruder, and less experienced people.

    I think forums like mailing lists, websites, even USENET, would be much more appropriate. You get a wider exposure for your question, and those who see it have more time to respond.

    So why do people seek help from IRC? I'd like to know.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:58AM (#15156594)
    That pretty much sums up about every conversation I've ever had with a Linux fanatic.

    The phrase "Sorry, Linux can't do that" has never crossed a Linux fanatic's lips. However, they defintely don't have any problem with the phrase "It's not Linux's fault! It's the fault of whoever made that device NOT run with Linux!"


  • Re: Difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:59AM (#15156608)
    > One huge difference is that the Microsoft tech support guys are paid to listen to your stupidities.

    Yep. In internet forums some Linuxers will tell you to RTFM, and some Windowsers will tell you they don't consult for free. I don't see a heck of a lot of difference in the net effect.

  • Re:Nope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:02AM (#15156641) Journal
    People usually know how to operate a car when they buy it. The same is not true of Linux.

    I think your counterexample is worse than his analogy. It's true that most people don't know how to operate Linux, but those same people for the most part don't know how to operate Windows. They would be just as inept at one as they are at the other, and the rote-learned "skills" *cough* they have translate pretty much exactly from one desktop to the other. So I don't see how their ignorance is an issue, since it affects every operating system pretty much equally.

    I guess that's the snobbishness coming in to play...

  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:02AM (#15156649) Journal

    I completely agree with you. That is why I always laugh really hard when open source advocates say that using this kind of software will yield "free support" (in the form of forums) and online documentation. For some (a very small fraction) of projects it may be true but not for a lot of (and not only small, just look at the KDEVELOP documentation [], with hunderds of sections without content).

    And if you go to the "free support" you will only get RTFMs or "try playing with X and Y values".

  • by ( 632313 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:10AM (#15156714) []
    Before asking a technical question by e-mail, or in a newsgroup, or on a website chat board, do the following:

    1. Try to find an answer by searching the Web.
    2. Try to find an answer by reading the manual.
    3. Try to find an answer by reading a FAQ.
    4. Try to find an answer by inspection or experimentation.
    5. Try to find an answer by asking a skilled friend.
    6. If you're a programmer, try to find an answer by reading the source code.

    I might be marked down because of this.
    But what I see day to day in the IRC, very few new people do these very simple things.
    This is why we go off on them, they dont even try to find the answer on there own.
  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:2, Insightful)

    by beaviz ( 314065 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:11AM (#15156717) Homepage Journal

    So why do people seek help from IRC? I'd like to know.

    You said it best yourself: "I want an answer now!" - I think it really boils down to exactly that.

  • The sad part is, that sometimes really is what it takes to get a straight answer...
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:12AM (#15156734) Journal
    Sorry, wrong. Not paying for support may justify the silence, as no one may know the answer to his issue. However it does NOT justify the original answer by any stretch of imagination.

    The silence in response to the "I read it but didn't understand it" post underscores the fact that the original responder DIDN'T HAVE ANY CLUE AND SHOULD HAVE KEPT THEIR MOUTH SHUT.

    I fail to see how anyone can think "you're not paying me, so I can be an asshole" is a valid train of thought.
  • I can tell you why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dereference ( 875531 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:14AM (#15156745)
    Service and products; products and service. They should go together, hand it hand, but they don't. The problem is that, in their arrogance, the open source developers often believe that they've toiled long and hard to create a great product. The product does what they believe it should, and they can't be bothered if you think it should work differently. Recall some of the earlier MySQL documentation that said, basically, "if you need the database to enforce referential integrity, your application is crap so you need to fix your application or use another database..."

    The attitude is prevalent, and ignores completely the service aspect of providing a positive customer experience. You might have the greatest product in the world, but if nobody can install it or configure it, then it's really quite worthless. Sure, the "target audience" can figure it out, but all to often the target audience is just the myopic developer, and everybody else who is exactly like him/her. Oddly enough, this planet has a great many inhabitants who might gain benefit from the great software product, if only the creator bothered to consider even passable service to go along with it.

    I'll blatantly link [] to my own comment thread from another story just a couple days ago, which is exactly on this same topic. There I was flamed for suggesting that having good service is just as important as having a good product, and that there is a large range between the "I'll do anything if you pay me" attitude and the "if you don't like it my way get lost" attitude.

    By the way, I highly doubt it is only the Linux/FOSS community, but it does seem disproportionate; if nothing else, given that it's a smaller community, finding the odd non-snob is somewhat more difficult.

  • Re:Two Experiences (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:15AM (#15156759) Journal
    I try not to be a Linux snob - well, that's not true. I try not to be an OS X snob, and not being a Linux snob sorta comes with that turf. Regardless:

    Can I ask how you learned Windows?
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mindwarp ( 15738 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:16AM (#15156769) Homepage Journal
    As far as mailman on Debian is concerned a person who has RTFM-ed should have encountered the cut-n-paste example in the /usr/share/doc/mailman which is sufficient to get an install running. If for whatever reason this one has been skipped the same blurb is available in the Mailman FAQ.

    And how much effort would it have taken to have courteously replied with that exact piece of information instead of a snub?
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:18AM (#15156790)
    ??? I did read the article. Both my comments where logical, you just aren't see it.

    No, that article says a newbie asked a legitimate question and a rude linux jerk yelled at him. You then say - It's all the newbies fault, he *asked* for it.

    That's fine. Let me put it another way. If Linux snobs where a problem with the wider adoption of Linux then people who are interested in buying Ford or Dodge trucks would be put off by the hostility that each side has towards the other, etc. But yet there are millions of Ford and Dodge truck owners.

    Car analogies suck, but in this case, beyond the fact that car analogies suck in general, you have totally and completly even got the car part wrong. This is not about linux users bashing windows fan boys, (as the ford/dodge rivalry is) it is linux folks bashing people trying to switch to linux!. No car dealer anywhere would bash a new customer.

    You think it's common to see this?
    Customer: I was getting tired of the reliability of my ford so I am going to get this new Dodge I've been hearing about, but on my test drive I couldn't quite figure out hoe to lock the 4WD since it's different that what I am used to.
    Dodge salesman:Did you read the maual? It's in the glove box for a reason. Jeez you are such a pitiful dirver you should even try to drive our truck, moron go back to your little ford.

    Now go look around OS & language forums and you'll see that pattern repeatedly


  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:21AM (#15156812) Homepage
    Fair point.

    I do not recall myself replying with that though for many years now (I do not hang out on IRC though).

    In fact I do not recall myself with a RTFM reply which does not point to a specific FM for many years now (7+ at least).

    It is not snobbish and snubbish to tell someone to RTFM. It is snobbish and snubbish to tell someone to RTFM without telling where to RTFM.

  • by sbrown123 ( 229895 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:25AM (#15156851) Homepage
    It is important for people to learn how to figure things out for themselves. What TMM suggests here will lead to people that are unable and unwilling to experiment with software. Half of what I have learned regarding software has been trial and error.

    Why? Why should users spend hours researching something JUST because you did? Sure, they will learn much more about what they are doing in the process but this, to most users, is unacceptable. Here's a silly real world example: say I wanted to send a letter to a friend in another city. Why should I learn how the post office operates in order to send the letter?

    People who use Windows and Mac computers have other things to do with their lifes than tinker with getting something to work on the computer. Computers, to the vast majority of computer users, is a tool to fit an end and not a hobby or occupation.
  • by BluenoseJake ( 944685 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:27AM (#15156863)
    The other day I had to replace my MB, my system boots XP, W2K and Ubuntu 5.10. When I replaced the system, XP, and then W2K updated all the drivers and then went on like nothing happened. Ubuntu seemed to take the change, but both Gnome and KDE crash violently every hour or so, 5 or 6 segfaults and then it kicks me back to GDM. After seeing the vaunted linux stability in action, I find your elitist attitude a bit undeserved, which I may add, is exactly what this article is discussing. Thanks for making it's point
  • Troll? Wha? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:31AM (#15156899)
    Moderators, do your job properly. Parent is hardly a troll, just because one of the repliers disagrees with parent doesn't mean you should mod it way down. Sort it out.
  • Try Ubuntu Forums (Score:2, Insightful)

    by benjamin_pont ( 839499 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:33AM (#15156917)
    But first do some research...learn the basics...there's only about a million books on the subject and reams of good, free info online to educate yourself.

    Test out a distro or three on an older system you don't mind making mistakes on, then, after you gain a certain level of knowledge and experience, you can ask more intelligent questions of the community. But of course, you're going to run into the occasional idiot, so matter what the point of interest is. Linux doesn't own the market on arrogance and rudeness, unfortunately, that attitude pervades a lot of computer culture in general, since some very skilled and knowledgable computer geeks have no other life and it's the only authority they have and they weld it ruthlessly sometimes. Pity these's easy to be rude while you're hiding behind a keyboard in your Mom's basement.
  • by PenguinBoyDave ( 806137 ) < minus pi> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:33AM (#15156919)
    Others on the list agreeing with the posting. This is a problem I have heard over and over and over again from people who tried Linux, but when they went to their local LUG they were told to RTFM and to google it before asking questions (oh...and mention that you are trying to find the answer in Google usually fends off another flame from someone.

    I sat nex to a woman on the plane the other day who had tried to get Linux running (she was successful in getting it installed but she wanted to get Apache up and running (I know...a simple task) and get a streaming media server going for her music and movies. After much grief from the LUG she said "Screw Linux" and bought W2K3 Standard server, two clicks of a mouse later she has a streaming media server.

    I switched from Linux to Mac at home because, well, Mac just works...and it works well. At my office I no longer use Linux...I use Windows XP because it is the corporate standard...and I don't have much of a choice. The funny thing is, we were on the verge of switching to a Linux desktop in myu department (development) but when the GIS desktop management people got hooked up with their local lugs and were greeted with the same love described by the article and by a few people here, they said "at least Microsft does't tell me to read the fine manual or talk down to me like I'm an idiot. I had my fair share of run-ins with the snobs referred to here, and to be sure, MANY that I know are not snobs and in fact are more than willing to help because they want others to learn and see the value in Linux.

    Frankly, I'm over the Linux thing (but I can't change my login name to MacBoyDave). I've been a Linux guy since 1997 and since I boought my first Mac, I've bought two more. I still use Firefox and Thunderbird, To be sure though, I'll never recommend Linux as a desktop to anyone again. I said it at a LUG meeting (and was told to leave) and I'll say it again (and earn the troll mod, I'm sure)...Linux people are their own worst enemy.
  • by tiocsti ( 160794 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:38AM (#15156962)
    Some of it may be a difference in priorities. I think for many (id include myself here), people just dont care if you use linux or windows or openbsd or whatever. If i'm not being paid to support someone, i'll support them with a variable degree of patience.

    From my perspective, there are some former windows users that we want, and some we don't want. It all has to do with why they are switching. As an example, I tend to have relatively little patience for people who are willing to do things like use binary blob drivers which you dont get source for, are legally prohibited from reverse engineering, and get no hardware documentation on the hardware. These are the type of users who do more harm to free software than they help, so yeah shun them, call them a n00b, whatever.

    Opensource software doesn't need more ex-windows users, it needs more ex-windows users who are switching because they value freedom. There is a big difference between the two statements. These users should recognize that when you rely on free support, it will be hit and miss, particularly if you ask a question that has been asked a thousand times throughout the day.

    This goes for any opensource community, not just linux. Also, if you want politeness, some mediums are better than others (and irc is prob not on the top of the list). Message boards (or usenet, or what have you) are probably better, particularly since you can search for previous questions.

    It all comes down to the basic question of 'do you care'. For me, I could care less what os someone chooses to use, be it openbsd, linux, windows, hell even qnx. Since I don't have anything to gain by helping someone (since im not into advocacy), my incentive for being terribly useful is significantly reduced.

  • by ookaze ( 227977 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:40AM (#15156975) Homepage
    You know why I dislike these articles ?

    Short :
    - they convey the thinking that most Linux users are snobs or that the problem is worse in Linux and FOSS
    - they convey the thinking that snobs are mostly a Linux problem
    - they say they talk about barrier to entrance for new Linux users, but strangely enough, these new Linux users always ask highly technical things

    Because then, the trolls are out, you know, the people that talk about "snobs", and then, magically, these snobs transforms into "linux users".
    I'm refering to this : "Linux users need to understand that when disillusioned Windows users come to them asking for help with Linux, they effectively become representatives of Linux".
    Who says they don't ? Yes, the big straw men starts coming.
    And with them, the red herring, like : "While snobs can be encountered for just about any OS you care to name, the Linux snobs are particularly shrill".
    Wow !!
    You're a snob yourself, pretending to know every snobs for every OS, at least enough to say such a thing.

    Abusing new Linux users for their lack of knowledge, rather than helping them to learn more, only harms the cause

    OK, that's true. Now, I still have a hard time finding an example of Linux users abusing other Linux users on Linux questions, even in the article.
    I don't deny these people are snobs, but now, what are the questions asked ? They are :
    - How to launch a daemon ?
    - Which database is better ?
    - I can't migrate to the new HA cluster on Linux ?
    - I run a certain piece of software on my servers that logs its messages to a MySQL database (!!!)
    - RTFM jerks on freenode chat rooms (the C and C++ programing ones)
    - ...
    To be fair, some ask about "which Linux distro is better". But most of the questions are not even Linux specific (they could be asked for Unix, Windows, Mac), but Linux snobs get the blame, the focus is on Linux snobs. Why ?
    And most of these questions are highly technical things, that should come way after a newbie has entered Linux world.
    So this article is utter flamebait, but well disguised.
    The worst, is when flamebait articles like these ones, try to make their argument right, pointing to, where people took the bait and flame away.
    What was the purpose of this article besides flamebait ? None : the few snobs are sure to reply with flames, and the others will go on doing their job correctly, just feeling less incentive, being insulted like they were snobs.
    These people are there to help in a FOSS environment, they are not psychanalists that can make the snobs shut their mouth. An article like that won't do any good, it doesn't even provides solutions.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:41AM (#15156986) Journal
    Just because someone hasn't gone out of their way to solve your problem for you doesn't make them an asshole.

    No, but calling someone names or telling them to "you're not reading the docs" does. If you can't help, what gives you the right to berate, belittle and bitch? How about just NOT POSTING A REPLY?

    The concept is a twist on "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." In the context of support -- paid or free -- if you can't help, then don't post. For the record, saying "RTFM" isn't helping.

    The guy already has his answer on what he can do next from his own question, he can identify which bits of the documentation he doesn't understand, research the area on Google and experiment until he does understand it, yes that is probably going to take a while but why should anyone expect other people to give up their time for your problem if you aren't willing to give up your own time for the problem ?

    Right, now considering he does this, unless he pops back into said forum and answers his own question -- not gonna happen -- his information isn't documented anywhere. Thus, Google doesn't see it and can't be seen by doing online research. Sort of a Catch 22. The only things that are going to turn up in the research are the "RTFM" answers. Lots of help there.

    If someone actually gives a HELPFUL answer it helps not just the person asking the question, but anyone who takes the time to research it themselves.

    I've lost count of the number of useless "RTFM" and "did you Google on that" answers I've bumped into when researching an issue myself. One of the reasons that it takes so much effort to track something down by "researching" it yourself is wading thru all the self-righteous BS answers before finding the useful bit.
  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:43AM (#15157008)
    This shrillness may be attributed to a variety of causes, including social ineptitude, feelings of intellectual/moral/fiscal superority, attempted concealment of their own limited knowledge, etc., but there is just no excuse for this sort of behavior.

    There's another possibile explantion one should mention:

    I think the computer corallary to rule that "once you save someone's life they become your responsibility" is: "once you help someone with a computer-related problem, you become their IS guy". Perhaps this is what some of the gruffer responses are trying to prevent. Not that they couldn't be socially inept or smug on top of that.

    I'm not endorsing this behavior, just mentioning it . . .

  • by poofyhairguy82 ( 635386 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:47AM (#15157046) Journal
    The phrase "Sorry, Linux can't do that" has never crossed a Linux fanatic's lips.

    That is because such a generalization is often wrong. There are very few things that Linux can not do what so ever.

    There ARE many things that requires tons of command line hacking and compiling and other nasty things to get done though. So I guess the true statement would be "Sorry, Linux can't do that easily," but since easy is a relative term I don't expect anyone who considers themselves to be elitist to state such a thing.

    The worst thing Linux zealots do is create such a hype (such as a "replace everything with Linux and it will work better") in the first place.

  • by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:49AM (#15157066) Homepage
    "Here's a silly real world example: say I wanted to send a letter to a friend in another city. Why should I learn how the post office operates in order to send the letter?"

    Because if you didn't your friend would never receive his letter. If you didn't bother to find out how would you know what a post box was or that you had to write an address on the envelope or that you needed an envelope or that you needed to buy a stamp or that you needed to put the letter in a letter box ?

    Yes in an ideal world everything we would ever want to know would be right there at our fingertips, we would but need to ask the question to have a queue forming of people clamouring to provide us with the answer.

    Unfortunately it's not an ideal world and no one should have any expectation and that they should be able to do something without putting in any effort themselves. I agree that a lot of applications work a lot more smoothly on Windows & Macs than they do on Linux right now but when things do wrong it can be just as hard, if not harder, to arrive at a satisfactory solution with Windows or Mac software.

    The difference is that most people pay for support for Windows or Mac software but, although there is always an option to pay for Linux support, they do not seem to pay for it. It is then not surprising that they find support they have paid for better than support they haven't.

  • by ndykman ( 659315 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:51AM (#15157105)
    Seriously. Apple and yes even Microsoft (don't laugh!) has had lots of success in listening to non-technical users and trying to meet there needs. Both companies get users in front of software, ask them to use it, ask them questions, and learn from them. Now, they all fall short (it's hard to meet everybody's demands), but they know that the simplest questions can lead to great insights and opportunities.

    If a user can't figure out how to do something, that is a problem to be dealt with. The reason that MS is overhauling Office 2007 so radically is based on user feedback and studies. Granted, it may not work, but if it does, it will keep Office on top of the heap (and may lead to some interesting ideas in other applications). When a user has a hard time doing something, it is a chance to make something better, more effective, and maybe, just maybe, to learn something new.

    The problem is that too many open source projects seem to exist to reinforce one's view on what software should be and must be. So, negative feedback is just reinforcement that the developers "really get it", and that these "newbies" don't. After all, why bother making software anybody can use? If the cool people are using it, and want to join the club, what else do you want? How better to prove you are smarter, better, more of a hacker, whatever than to make people jump through hoops to provide they have what it takes.

    I think OS projects have done a good job in attracting coders and developers, but sometimes, it takes more than that to make a successful piece of software, and too many projects suffer from a myopic mindset of what makes a piece of software work or not.

    Finally, I think too many people have a overdeveloped sense of superiority from the mere fact that they use an a particular OS, browser, tool, etc. Sure, it's understandable, but meanwhile, there are tons of people that just want to do something at work or at home, and could care less if the software is open source or not, because it doesn't add any value for them. And until this mindset is address, the RTFM responses will continue.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheLinuxSRC ( 683475 ) <[slashdot] [at] []> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:55AM (#15157155) Homepage
    "Which means not automatically giving the command line answer to obvious newbies when a perfectly good GUI tool solution exists for their disto."

    I have heard this argument before (and even used it when I was very new to Linux) however there are often many reasons to *not* use the GUI tool. First of all, if you are on the Apache mailing list asking about config info for httpd, how can you possibly expect the person *helping you* to be familiar with the distro you use and what GUI tools are available for that distro? And even if they *are* familiar with it, how do you know they even use the Desktop? None of the servers I administer even have X on them. Does that make me less qualified to help you? I think not. Secondly, I have seen many times where the GUI tool made such a mess out of the config files (and borked the entire part of the system you are trying to get running) that the *only* way to fix them was on the command line. Now while I agree with what you are saying in some respect, I dont think it is as cut-n-dry as you make it out to be. I do remember thanking a higher power for KPPP when I had to set up dial-up as a complete newb (circa 1998 or so). Often times just because there is a GUI tool for the job that doesn't make it the *right* tool for the job. That being said, a quick explanation of the command line you are asking someone to run is not asking for too much either.
  • Culture of Hazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by catdevnull ( 531283 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:02AM (#15157226)
    Entering the Linux world reminded me very much of my experience in the Marine Corps.

    You're introduced with verbal abuse and treated like a complete sub-human moron. Then, you gradually get promoted and you pass on the tradition of bashing newbies.

    As with any "geeky" culture, the Linux crowd has a tendency to attract people with some issues:

      -socially challenged individuals ignorant or apathetic toward others
      -marginalized zealots of a "cult" technology (misunderstood or cast aside by the dominant paradigm)
      -insecure, passive-aggressive people with a chip on their shoulder

    Not all Linux-heads are like this, but like religious fanatics, it only takes one or two loudmouths to misrepresent the whole movement to newcomers or outsiders.

    Now, if you want to reply with a flame or you feel a little defensive about what I've typed here, you might want to evaluate the motives behind your emotional response. I'm not talking about everyone in the linux community, I'm just making an observation about the types of people I've worked with in IT and the linux community over the last 15 years and these are some tendencies of my own as well as those around me. Some, if not most, are helpful and encouraging.

    If you're one of those jerks (I've seen alot of them here on Slashdot), get help. Learn to be patient. Don't continue the chain of abuse, grasshopper.

  • Ah, a volunteer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:02AM (#15157228) Journal
    Good, because whole opensource needs coders and even graphical artists (ewh) and document writers and usuability engineers what we can really use is tech support monkeys.

    So you have hearby volunteerd to sit in an irc channel and answer any and all questions.

    oh wait, you can't be arsed? Figures.

    We need to be able to include everyone in this community.


    Just that. Why?

    As for noob. It is more then being a newbie. Everyone is new to something at least once. There is nothing wrong with that. There is something wrong with expecting others to do your learning for you.

    You claim "we" (does that include you) do not entire news users very well. Mmm, odd. You were new once. So was I. So were millions of others. How can that be?

    When I was still new to unix (yes I am old) I received plenty of help as well when I later switched to linux. I never been told to RTFM.

    Either I was lucky, or polite enough or I showed that I had spent time trying to figure it out on my own before resorting to pestering someone else with it.

    I always approach asking for help like asking for directions. I am male. Death first! Well urban male, so being lost for half an hour in freezing weather is about my limit but the idea is, only ask for help as a last resort.

    But hey, if your willing to jump in and start asking all the lazy questions I am sure there is a project waiting for your help. Welcome to unpaid tech support hell.

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:03AM (#15157235)
    [Devotees] just will NOT criticize [anything] they're emotionally involved with. It's the most ridiculous thing I've seen... these theoretically intelligent, rational [people] that become absolutely insane when you suggest [the object of their affection] is imperfect.

    This more generalized statement applies not just to software, but to politics, religion, sports teams, brands of cars, etc., etc. Nationalists, religious zealots, OS zealots, hardcore fans, etc. are all the same kind of person -- someone who cannot handle objectivel criticism of something they love because they think that criticism and disdain are equal. They have a "mommy is never wrong" kind of love instead of a "my kid's not perfect, but I'm still proud of him" attitude.

    These people drive me insane in every arena of life that I encounter them in.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qw(name) ( 718245 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:08AM (#15157285) Journal

    It is not snobbish and snubbish to tell someone to RTFM. It is snobbish and snubbish to tell someone to RTFM without telling where to RTFM.

    In a way, I think the very acronym, RTFM, is snobbish but that's just from a person who was deeply involved in the OS Wars in the mid to late 90's.

    When people who are new to a discussion group or IRC channel ask a simple (to the experienced) question and receive a RTFM response, they can be quite offended by the apparent harsh reaction. They see Read The F'ing Manual and think, "How rude! What a bunch of snobs" and don't ask again or they become defensive and respond in kind.

    Whether experienced people know that RTFM is a casual response or not is irrelavant. The new guy doesn't know that will more than likely be offended. That, IMO, is a barrier to people migrating to Linux (or any other OS for that matter).

  • Grow up! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jeppe Salvesen ( 101622 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:09AM (#15157297)
    If you think most people are wired like yourself, then you really need to log off for a few months and live in the real world. If you want world domination, then you gotta understand how the world works.

    It's as simple as that.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:11AM (#15157310) Journal
    It is not snobbish and snubbish to tell someone to RTFM. It is snobbish and snubbish to tell someone to RTFM without telling where to RTFM.

    "RTFM" is still a response which turns off users and sends them back to Windows. I'm very much a Linux newbie myself, but when someone asks a simple question that I can answer and know where to find it in the documentation, I give them both.

    Someone asks how to get a directory listing in the command line. You could:

    a) tell them to RTFM

    b) copy and paste the entire FM so they don't have to do any work

    c) Tell them that the command is "ls", and then tell them where to look for more information on switches and such.

    Option A shrinks the Linux user base. Option B does not encourage the poster to learn how to find answers for themselves. Option C gives them a quick answer to their question and tells them where to find more information.
  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krinsh ( 94283 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:13AM (#15157343)
    They're not willing to spend 30+ hours to try and get their "free" software to work, and then get told they're a loser asshole when they ask for help. People are more than willing to buy support; they just expect tangible and easy-to-initiate products with that support.
  • Re:Ah, a volunteer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:25AM (#15157443) Journal
    Either I was lucky, or polite enough or I showed that I had spent time trying to figure it out on my own before resorting to pestering someone else with it.

    In my experience you hit the nail on the head right there. While the first two are great and important respectively (lucky, polite) it's the third item on your list that gets results. Show the person you are asking that you made a good faith effort to find the answer in the usually voluminous documentation available either with the software itself or on the web. While not all of it is the same in terms of quality and usability there is *tons* of it and a little patience and perseverance generally will find what you need.

    As an example I find the Debian Reference Manual to be a little sparse on details. But when read as a whole I sat back and realized that the answer to all my questions were in there, even if they were just hints or pointers to go look for other documentation.

    One point I'd like to make to the RTFM crowd; I agree with you, telling someone to read the manual can be a bigger help to them then they may realize. Users generally pick up much more then what they were looking for when they take the time to read. But you can tell someone to read the manual *politely*. You don't have to curse at them or belittle them. Just tell them what manual, where they can find it and, this is important, if you can afford to spend a little time helping a fellow human offer to assist them with any questions or aspects of the software/manual that they are unclear on when they finish reading TFM.

    As open source developers, who don't generally get paid for the work they do, I can understand a little bit of "don't bug me about it, I just released the source" but there are definitely times when it will pay to help a few people who obviously are a) genuine in their desire to learn and b) have already tried a few other available avenues before bothering a developer. A lot of them will then turn around and start fielding questions in forums, helping others locally and generally improving the "support" available for your software.

    As for Windows users that troll forums asking stupid questions in an effort to extract some emotion from an overworked developer and then turn around and tell all and anyone who will listen about the Linux nut they met when they had a question: screw them.

    And one last thought; is it the "elitism" or the the sandals and ponytails []?
  • by hubie ( 108345 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:26AM (#15157453)
    As usual, your mileage may vary. I've upgraded windows machines (from NT to 2k, and others up to XP) and I have had my share of headaches: drivers that don't work, so I have to hunt them down and install them; the system losing one of the two CD/DVD drives; things like that. So my "out of the box" experience is different than yours.

    What appears to have happened to you doesn't surprise me at all. If you put in a new motherboard (that isn't the same make, model, version as the old one), it should be no surprise you need different drivers to operate it. Microsoft either has all the drivers you need pre-installed (which is why the OS footprint can be huge), or they've worked it out with the major hardware makers to know where to go to get updated drivers (the whole Microsoft Certified driver thing). Ubuntu isn't necessarily going to know you now have a completely different graphics hardware setup unless you tell it so, which means telling it to use different drivers.

    That Microsoft will detect and attempt to take care of an issue like this automatically for you seems to be your yardstick for quality (as I mentioned, my experience is that I have had to do a lot of that leg work manually, just like I would if I was running Ubuntu); to write it off with a pithy comment about "the vaunted linux stability" is, I think, being very disingenuous of you.

  • Re:duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:27AM (#15157463)
    Mac users aren't arrogant... they are zealots. There is a big difference.

    An arrogant person won't bother to explain why their OS of choice is superior, because they can't be bothered to deal with "idiots".

    A zealot will talk your ear off telling you exactly (at least how they percieve it), their OS of choice is superior.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IMightB ( 533307 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:30AM (#15157489) Journal
    I completely agree. Anyone with enough experience with computers knows that if you give people that are relatively new to them whether it be windows or linux, a complete hand holding . They will take advantage of you even for the smallest of things, things that you have explained 2-3 times already. I'm a patient person, and early on was taken advantage of alot like this. Now, my rule is the first time you ask me something, I'll explain it step by step or sit down with them and show them how to do it, and give URL's or notes or something to help that person out. Second time the same question is asked, I'll try to explain it a different way, use different analogies etc. If they ask me a third time, I'm like "WTF I've told you twice, why didn't you take notes? I gave you links, documents etc to help you out.", and I'll explain it again. Fourth time: RTFM

    Now I may be a little "more" patient than some. When I started out with linux, I pretty much always would google, browse list archives, etc. BEFORE I would post my question, and when I did eventually post my question, I would include steps of what I have done already, the lists I have browsed, and the parts of the docs that I didn't really understand.

    This technique has, 99.9% of the time, let to helpful answers, and not just responses like RTFM.

    Questions from people where it is blatantly obvious they have done none of the aforementioned steps piss people off. My favorite questions to ignore are the ones where it is obvious that they haven't read the docs, and want step by step hand holding, as if it is their right as a newbie to not have to research anything, they typically go something like this: "I want to setup my webserver, I'm a newbie and just want step by step instructions, I don't have time to RTFM, or search google. I have posted this question before and all I got was RTFM, or no response. I need it done now for my job, it's an emergency! What is up with all these rude people out in linux land?"
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by azhrei_fje ( 968954 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:34AM (#15157546)
    Part of the problem is when a n00b goes to a developer forum and asks questions that are not development questions.

    This happened to me. I was interested in hacking my TiVo (standalone 540-series) which is pretty much unhackable without a PROM modification. But I had managed to look through some of the files that I'd copied off the TiVo hard drive and I had some questions about one of the file formats. I looked through the SeriesII forum as well as a lot of searching and didn't find the answers to my questions, so I posted. Big mistake. :(

    Please understand, I'm not new to Linux. I've been teaching a Linux Internals course for a few years now, as well as device driver development, kernel debugging, and so forth. I know a little bit about the Linux kernel. What I didn't know was the boot process used on the TiVo. I was slammed by the forum moderator ("RTFM in the Newbies section"). I thought I had done that, after already spending hours+hours of searching and reading posts that were too old to apply to my unit.

    Until... I went back to the newbie forum and read every one of the sticky articles and I found 80% of the information I was looking for (sigh). Part of the problem was that the newbie forum has about 15 sticky articles, some of them with 40 pages of posts in a single thread. Experience had taught me that most of those are too old to apply to my unit, so I would open the thread and jump to the last page, working backwards through the thread, to see if I could find something relevant. Well, the information was actually in the first few posts -- the community had been editing that post and updating it as time went by.

    My point to all this is that newbies often post in an area that is for developers; they should start with places like [] or other generic Q&A sites, then progress from there. The people that frequent those sites want to help others, not write code. They're the newbie's best chance of having their questions answered.

  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:42AM (#15157630) Journal
    I've not personally tried Debian, but, I have heard the community there isn't exactly 'newbie friendly'.

    The debian community is very friendly, for certain values of friendly. The old saw "give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime" applies here. I would consider teaching people to be self sufficiant to be the friendliest option, and I try to do so. But many people just want their fish now and refuse to be taught. They then criticize the linux community as being unhelpful when we won't hand over the fish. Is this fair?
  • Re:duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamrock ( 863246 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:44AM (#15157647)

    Hey! I resemble that remark!

    Thanks much, that comment made me laugh out loud. Oddly, while some Mac users can be intolerant fools who sneer at Windows users as "lemmings" and "sheeple" among other much worse things, the Mac community is generally welcoming, civil, and helpful to people who ask questions out of genuine curiosity. And no, we're not some kind of cult who slavishly defend Apple and His Steveness from the Great Ignorant Unwashed. In fact you'll find that Mac users tend to be the most vocal critics of Apple, especially if they do something unpopular; fortunately they've been doing almost everything right in recent years, so there's been an extended honeymoon between Jobs and the faithful. The best description of Mac users' attitude toward Apple is to say that the Macintosh belongs to US, Apple and Steve Jobs are merely its stewards.

    The vast majority of us can't be bothered to get into flame wars and childish shouting matches. Unfortunately, the rabid frothing zealots among us (most of whom are completely clueless about Macs in the first damn place) are the ones who give the entire community a bad name. These are the idiots who send obscenity-laced messages to journalists who make even the slightest derogatory remark about Apple, so it's no surprise that the prevailing view in the mainstream press is that Mac users are all "fanatics"; it's mostly only the fanatics they hear from. The rest of us are too busy doing more important things. Like reading Slashdot.

  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by czarangelus ( 805501 ) <iapetus@gma i l .com> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:45AM (#15157654)
    This attitude is exactly what people are talking about.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oh_bugger ( 906574 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:50AM (#15157690)
    if it requires four obscure command-line options, manually installing more services and editing config files to do something that a Mac can do out of the box, it isn't really working

    Exactly! The fact you have to actually type stuff to install something puts alot of people off Linux. Yes installing from source using the command line can make sure it does it exactly how you want it to be done, but for "95% of the time" (quoting from an installation guide) the same 4 commands will work. I'm a linux newbie for the most part and maybe someone can answer for me, but if it's true that most software will install with the untar, configure, make and make install commands, then why at the very least is there not a batch file or the linux equivilent that you can doubleclick will do the install? I have asked linux enthusiasts this plenty of times and I always get answers about control over source and even more often I get "Why do you want to turn Linux into Windows?!", so there is a lot of snobbery over this issue. I'm not suggesting that the command line should have no part on the install of software, I'm suggesting that it shouldn't be the primary method of doing something so basic.

    Fortunatly there is progress with the .rpm and .deb installers, as well as .package files. The way I see it is linux arrogance and snobbery is holding Linux back and stopping it from getting a decent foothold on the desktop market.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:52AM (#15157708) Homepage
    One of the strengths of Linux is that if you have a problem, you can often contact the developers directly.

    One of the weaknesses of Linux is that if you have a problem, you often come into direct contact with the developers.

  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:52AM (#15157709) Journal
    Keep in mind this story is several years old, and comes from a era when Linux's USB support was half-assed and printing support was a mess of different little programs. In all likelyhood the "drivers" existed, but the autoconfiguration infrastructure didn't, which meant that every particular configuration had to be put together by-hand, which could take hours and is too difficult to explain over IRC.

    Which follows a general pattern for Linux:
    1) Linux Distros have some infrastructure issue which make it more difficult to use than Windows
    2) Linux Zealots spend several years explaining how it's not a problem and you need to grow a bigger nerdpenis
    3) Finally someone writes the missing software and everything works great
    4) Life moves on.

  • by Glen Ponda ( 599385 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:03PM (#15157812)
    who have memories of what they went through in the VAX days

    All pleasant memories, for me: comprehensive, accessible online help for every aspect of the system, LSE (language sensitive editor), a powerful scripting environment (DCL), a reasonable mail client, powerful ACL on the filesystem. All packaged in green-screen goodness!
  • by kwerle ( 39371 ) <> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:05PM (#15157827) Homepage Journal
    In the Linux world the software UI can be vastly different across all applications. There is no standard interface, and so the user gains much by experimenting with all portions of the software. Even then there are some similarities, such as command line switches. Teaching a user to read the documentation (hopefully it has been well written) will do them a better service then giving them the answer. If the documentation is poorly written (I have seen poorly written documentation in both Windows and Linux) it may be necessary for the user to ask for assistance. In that case (and only in that case) please try to be hospitable.

    This is 3 crocks and 4 excuses.
    If you run a disty, all the software you ship had better be uniform. If it isn't, your disty sucks.
    If a user can't figure out 90% of what they want to do without even going to the help, your disty probably sucks.
    If a user can't figure out the remaining 10% of what they want to do inside the docs, your disty certainly sucks.
    If a user has to use the commandline at all, your disty sucks.

    Your notion of the "user gaining greater experience" is an excuse. The user should not have to gain much of any experience with the OS - their experience should be with their business. If the system doesn't install and let the user log in and have clear and obvious access to Email, Web, and Office Suite, your disty sucks. If they don't have subtle access to system tools/config, your disty sucks.

    I installed Ubuntu the other day. I had to edit the x11org.conf file by hand just ot get the monitor working. By that, I mean that when I started the computer, I was greeted with a black screen. I had to edit /etc/fstab by hand to get the 2nd drive to mount after reboots. In my book, Ubuntu has been added to the sucks list.
  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Metzli ( 184903 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:10PM (#15157877)
    If the support forum for a particular piece of free software is not helpful, why pay support money to others for that particular piece of software? Why wouldn't you spend money, even if it's more, for a product that you know you can get supported?
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hellboy0101 ( 680494 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:15PM (#15157914)

    I remember back in the day (circa 1998), I used to ask noob questions and get flamed all the time. I swore to never be one of those people, but I do live by the saying "Give a man a fish, and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime".

    I always instruct noobs to stop phrasing their questions as, "Somebody tell me how to do this", and start phrasing them as, "I've tried this, this and this, but still can't figure it out. Can someone tell me where I could the information on how to do this? I'm new, and if needed, can post additional information if needed. Thanks in advance!". I found out quickly that people came out of the woodwork with helpful ideas, suggestions, and links to information that very nearly always solved my issue.

    I also tell them that they are now responsible with sharing that information back to the community to help out others. You don't need to be a programmer to give back to the OSS community. Sharing your knowledge and experiences is every bit as valuable.

  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by secolactico ( 519805 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:21PM (#15157979) Journal
    very true. In fact I use RTFM a lot among friends

    "do you know how to do what XXXYY does in perl in php?"
    "Not, RTFM"

    That is not rude, it simply means, no I do not know how, but should be in the manual.

    It's all in the wording. In these days of instant communication we tend to abbreviate too much and many times we are mistakenly taken as rude or impolite or a snob.

    Among your friends, it might not be a problem, but to a complete stranger and "noob" it gives the impression that you are an arrogant prick than can't be bothered.

    Compare to this:

    Noob: "do you know how to do what XXXYY does in perl in php?"
    You: "I dunno. Sorry. Perhaps you can find more info in the manual."

    And if you are feeling generous enough, throw in a link to TFM.

    Part of the blame lies in the acronym itself. When somebody looks up what RTFM means, their belief that they are simply being snubbed is reinforced.

    "Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as "empty," "meaningless," or "dishonest," and scorn to use them. No matter how "pure" their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best."

    Heinlein. Notebook of Lazarus Long

    Kinda the same situation.

    That said, people should stop being so thin skinned whenever posting in a public forum. It's nothing personal, we don't really hate you. We don't even know you.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:22PM (#15157990) Homepage Journal

    Part of the problem was that the newbie forum has about 15 sticky articles, some of them with 40 pages of posts in a single thread.

    Don't feel bad. That's not the actual problem. The problem is trying to treat a forum like a book. It isn't one, and it never will be.

    In particular forums are collections of flat databases. We invented hierarchical databases (like just about every filesystem we use today) for a reason - some information simply does not organize well in a flat format.

    The web is designed to be a hierarchical database with links that jump from one tree to another, or simply one branch to another. This is a quite logical way to look at information.

    When I have two competing software packages, and one has real documentation, and the other just has fora, I pick the one with docs even if they're incomplete, and usually even if the forum-supported software has more features. In my opinion, the documentation should be started before any code (beyond proof of concept) has even been written.

  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:22PM (#15157994)
    Gentoo is a distro where there are always dozens of people willing to help you. However the reason for that is that Gentoo generally requires a good deal of computer knowledge, common sense, persistence and tenacity to make it do anything. The people who can use gentoo are the users that people are willing to answer questions from. Gentoo users like a challenge and like to figure out things themselves, thus if they ask a question, chances are that it isn't solvable through a quick google and actually needs to be answered. That is the reason why I have never seen someone told to RTFM on the Gentoo site. However I imagine that would change if they were repeatedly asked questions that have answers that can be found on the web.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hahiss ( 696716 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:23PM (#15158000) Homepage
    There might be a bunch of reasons for this, none of which you might find persuasive---but at least I hope you find them to be kinder responses:

    1. People writing software may really not be concerned with ``ease of new user use." Some people are concerned with such things, others aren't; after all, that's the difference in philosophy between vi and GUI-based, WIMP text editors. This is also why some distros try very hard to provide integrated tools that allow new users to install stuff without having to use the CLI---to allow people who otherwise do not have the skills to track down dependencies and the like install with a simple point-n-click interface.

    2. This might indicate that there's an organizational or philosophical difference between (some) people who write software (individual programs) and those who put together distributions. As long as there is a division of labor, a software developer might be inclined to say ``well, if you want something easier, tell your distro to include it in their repostitories." If Free Software is about scratching the itch of the programmer, it seems that individual projects will focus more on getting the coding done with a 95% install solution rather than spend time getting that 5% solved (or for that matter scratching the itches of others, which, if the simile holds, are less pressing than one's own itch after all).

    3. Nothing makes you more 1337 than watching the configure & compiling messages scroll across your screen---sure, you don't know what they mean, but your friends using windows are just lamers compared to uber-1337 watching compiling. (I keed, I keed)
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:29PM (#15158064) Homepage Journal

    "RTFM" is still a response which turns off users and sends them back to Windows.

    You know, that's why most corporations that vend technical products have a support staff that's completely separate from their development staff. Developers and newbies rarely mix. The difference w/ open source projects is that you often don't have that middle support layer to cushion things.

    I personally consider myself to be part of the rare breed that can do both. I worked on the "computer hotline" when I was in college, and later had a mixed role as both a UNIX admin and customer support staff at a small ISP, so I've already had a trial by fire. The computer hotline gig was in the age when dmail and vi ruled the college email scene, rather than, say, Outlook Web Access. I think if I can explain vi to someone who has never really used computers, and not make them feel bad, I think I can claim patience with newbies. :-) (Or patiently explain to the umpteenth Mac customer that the cable that came with their Global Village modem isn't suitable for PPP because it lacks hardware flow control support, while keeping them from blowing up. *shudder*)

    If someone does ask me a question, I'll take the time to patiently answer it. If the answer's fairly involved, I might explain the initial portion of it, and point to further references. (Thank the heavens for "vitutor.") Another skill that people should try to cultivate is "anticipating the next question." If you can do that, not only can you preemptively filter subsequent questions, but it also makes you a better documentation writer.

    In my experience with other technical people, these skills are rare. I've met and worked with some very bright technical people that confuse their inability to explain something to another person with that person's ability to understand it. I've also met people that snap after getting the same question for the eleventy-billionth time. These people need layers of filters around them.

    I kinda look at this in terms of the old "Give a man a fish"/"Teach a man to fish" saying. What we have here is a third action: "Laugh at him because he can't fish, and tell him to go back to McDonalds." Not really acceptable, is that?

  • by fumblebruschi ( 831320 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:33PM (#15158103)
    Absolutely true. In one respect the computer industry is exactly like the construction industry: nobody has two minutes to tell you how to do something...but they all have forty-five minutes to tell you why you did it wrong.

    When I started working at a tech company, as a lowly new-guy know-nothing, I found that any question starting with "How do I..." or "What's the best way to..." would be ignored; so I had to adopt another strategy. Say I wanted to do X. Research showed me there were (say) about six or seven ways to do X. Which is the best in my situation? I don't know. So I pick an approach at random, though I don't actually use it. Then I wander down to the coffee machine and casually remark, "So, I needed to do X, and I used approach Y." I would then, inevitably, get a half-hour discussion of why that was stupid, and what I should have done was use approach Z, because of this, this, and this. Then I would go off and use approach Z.

    In ten years in the tech industry, that strategy has never failed once. I think the key difference is the subtext. In the first strategy, the subtext is, "Hey, can you spend your valuable time helping me do something trivial?" while in the second strategy, the subtext is, "Hey, here's a chance to show off how smart you are." People being what they are, the first subtext will usually fail--but the second will always succeed.
  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Directrix1 ( 157787 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:33PM (#15158104)
    The source is free, its a gift. If you want to leave strictly because you're being a pain in the ass, then thats fine. They have posted what works for them for anybody to use. What is being described is somethink akin to checking a book out from the library, and then calling the author up and demanding he explain his reasoning behind certain parts. They already gave you the code, if you really don't like it then don't use it. But don't for a moment assume you are owed the privilege of support from them. There is a pretty universal equallizer in this universe called "money". If you don't have the knowledge or resources to do something then "money" can get you there. This applies universally among free and non-free software.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:36PM (#15158122)
    You are a Linux snob.
  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:53PM (#15158264) Journal
    Remember, if you have a problem or question, 100 to 1, somebody else has had it too, so Google probably already knows the answer (or at least the question :-P);

    I've found this is true, and you can almost always find an answer like "Just add frobuz=1 to the foobar.conf file".

    Except then I find that:
    1) My distro has renamed foobar.conf to conf.foobar and stuffed it in an odd directory
    2) The command has changed from frobuz=1 to nofrobuz=false
    3) I can't figure out the configuration file syntax and have to look it up (or do more googling)
    4) Finally I learn that entire foobar subsystem became obsolete with kernel 2.6 and has been replaced with something that works entirely differently.

    Anyway, googling for Linux answers is like a maze of twisty passages, all alike. You'll probably get through, but it won't be quick.
  • My RTFM Story (Score:4, Insightful)

    by randomErr ( 172078 ) <> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:03PM (#15158351) Journal
    About a year and a half ago I was using GAIM and ran into a glitch. I checked there site and a new version had come out. I upgraded to the new version on my Win98 system. Yeah I know but, the accounting package our company had didn't work right on anything else at the time.

    The new version crashed upon startup. The website hadn't had anything posted about upgrade problems. So I went to the IRC channel for GAIM and asked them if there was an issue. The channel had the usual 'Welcome to GAIM' text. Two developers were in the channel at the time.

    One developer told me to read the site about and check that channel. Again, neither had been updated. The second developers called me an idiot, and said I should know more about GTK. The GAIM project has just updated to GTK 2.6 from 2.4; 2.6 is not Win98 compatible.

    So I asked if there was work around. The next 20 minutes the second developer berated me for asking such stupid questions with the first developer 'Amen-ing' everything he said.

    Finally a third developer who came into the channel and flipped out at the immature attitude of the first two. #3 told me the whole story about the new version and GTK. The third developer changed the title on the channel and left to put a note on GAIM.

    While that person was away I asked if they have been a lot of problems with GTK for while. I was then told that they were thinking about dropping development on Windows because to many Windows people were using GAIM, and not enough Linux people.

    After all that I left the channel, changed my name, and came back to see what was going on. Two more people came in with same basic questions on GAIM and GTK. I was able to divert the wrath of the cruel developers and actually give the people some help.

    So there's my horror story with OSS and OSS tech support. I still use GAIM on occasion, but I and most of my friends are moving over to Google Talk
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:24PM (#15158545)
    I've been using Linux for about 7 years now, and I've NEVER come across a "Linux snob" except for maybe a couple times.

    So you've NEVER (in caps) come across one, except for 'maybe a couple times'? Which is it? NEVER in caps, or 'maybe a couple times'? Or are you just being defensive, because maybe, just maybe, you're one yourself, and you've NEVER (in caps) run across one worse than yourself?
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:27PM (#15158571) Homepage
    God knows how long I put off learning the ins and outs of Linux distros because of the Linux catch-22: Linux sackriders go on about the superiority of Linux and insist that you're still living in the Dark Ages if you're using Windows, yet if you even feign interest in wanting to learn and perhaps getting some guidance from them, they shun you for being a newbie.
    Yeah? So what else is new?

    This isn't really anything to do with Linux. It's "Computer Geek Syndrome," plain and simple -- the feeling of superiority a nerdy, introverted person gets when he realizes he understands something better than someone else does. Some people who only ever use Windows have this same anti-n00b attitude. The only difference is that they don't scare anybody away from using Windows, because all the computers come with Windows installed. Thus, you either put up with that obnoxious nerd when you have computer problems, or you go looking for nicer, knowledgable friends.

  • by Malor ( 3658 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:29PM (#15158589) Journal
    I wasn't going here for support, I was making the observation that ext2 was fragile, and that I had lost data from it. And immediately, it was all my fault.

    I was saying, and rightly so, that Linux wasn't ready for business yet, and wouldn't be until it had a better filesystem. This was approximately like pouring blood in the water; the sharks showed up minutes later.

    After ext3 and Reiser went mainstream, Linux was finally ready for primetime... and then everyone agreed that ext2 was really awful. It was funny, but also rather sad.

    If the user wants your software to do something it doesn't do, that does not mean the user OR the request is stupid. Dismissing needs is probably the second cardinal sin of opensource developers. If something is hard to do, there is always a chorus telling a user that they "don't want to do it that way", even if it's completely obvious that they do, and even if the chorus has no alternate suggestion.
  • by ebresie ( 123014 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:33PM (#15158619) Homepage Journal
    From my perspective, there are some former windows users that we want, and some we don't want. It all has to do with why they are switching. As an example, I tend to have relatively little patience for people who are willing to do things like use binary blob drivers which you dont get source for, are legally prohibited from reverse engineering, and get no hardware documentation on the hardware. These are the type of users who do more harm to free software than they help, so yeah shun them, call them a n00b, whatever.
    I think this is the same type of snob-ery they are talking about. If you are a developer able to look for, install, develop, etc a driver, more power to them. But if you are not a developer, having them do anything with source makes no senses. If someone wants to convert over from Windows, who is not a developer...they will ask..."what's a driver" or "I have a car and can drive myself, why do I need a driver"? If someone without skills has a unique piece of hardware, and no drivers are available, and they try to use their system, only to have it not work (won't recognize their video card, network, etc)...that is a perfect scenario where someone would get turned off and just go back to Windows. With a specific hardware platform, and the only one willing to provide a driver is a binary only version, what else is a non-developer to do? And as productive as indicating the need for the driver, unless the developing community has that driver, you are kind of just hoping someone can support it with open source drivers.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:34PM (#15158626)
    I think you might have just illustrated the original article's thesis quite nicely.


  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trentblase ( 717954 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:35PM (#15158629)
    But don't for a moment assume you are owed the privilege of support from them.

    I generally agree with you, but in this case they were in a support channel. If somebody sets up a support channel, it's reasonable to expect to get support there. At the very least, you deserve not to get berated.

  • Re:duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:36PM (#15158642) Homepage Journal
    Meet me by the fence tonight at 1am. I'll have a van waiting. We can take you to a place where Father Steve will never find you. There is another life out there for you, trust me!

    Ah my brother, but father Bill and the disciples Linux have already shown me their paths. I decide to follow the cult that works for me :) There will always be sheep, in which ever cult you join.
  • by thisjustin ( 878053 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:38PM (#15158661)
    I think this issue can really be thought of as a major gap in the whole open source model of software development. With the exception of a few companies, most of open source development is community driven while companies continue to produce closed source products. This is where the problem arises.

    Software companies, like most other companies, have more than just an engineering department. There is HR, PR, and of course support. Because the goal of companies is to make profits, the purchasers of their products are usually their top priority. This usually means support for their products. We all know that this support is not always the greatest, but it is not often that I have had a tech support rep attempt to berate me over the phone, in fact they would never even direct me to RTFM even in its most polite form.

    If the Linux community wishes to see its market share grow appreciably its members need to start thinking of the whole open source experience. In effect everyone involved in the community needs to see themselves as ambassadors for the whole community. Sure maybe 90% of the Linux community spends their working day in IT or writing code, but when it comes to acting as a community member you need to fill all those (positive) parts of the corporate model that are missing in the open source one.

    I'm sure there are some who would prefer to keep Linux for themselves and people like themselves and if that's what they want they can continue to act like those described in the article. However for the rest of us the issue goes beyond basic decency in support forums, the Linux community needs to start providing more than just a product as-is but a whole experience and it needs to be much more positive and inviting one than it is now.

  • by CptNerd ( 455084 ) <> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:38PM (#15158665) Homepage
    Not to mention the fact that companies that have deadlines really don't like it when you write critical systems by "trial and error." I've only worked at a few companies where I had the luxury of time to experiment with libraries/systems/languages, in order to learn them. Sadly, they're no longer in business. I wonder why...

  • Re:Bizarre (Score:3, Insightful)

    by susano_otter ( 123650 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:43PM (#15158711) Homepage
    I suppose thats what this whole thing comes down to, should people expect help for free software?

    To me, it seems more like, "what kind of interaction should people expect from other community members, when they join a software developer/user community?"

    Should they expect a community full of jerks saying, "I got mine, chump, now STFU and let me enjoy it", or should they expect a community of cheerful, cooperative, helpful people interested in discussing the ins and outs of the sofware helping newcomers to experience its many benefits?

    I don't necessarily expect help with free software, but I do expect that if you've started or joined a community about that software, then you're here to talk about the software in a productive way. Why join a community if you're just going to fly solo anyway while abusing anybody who comes along looking for a collaborative approach?
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dire Bonobo ( 812883 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @02:44PM (#15159273)
    > Most people want everything handed to them

    No - most people just don't care about computers all that much.

    Do you expect people to tinker with their cars?
    Do you expect people to tinker with their television's wiring?
    Do you expect people to tinker with their plumbing?

    Then why would you expect people to tinker with their computers? For most people, a computer is an appliance, and deserving of no more tinkering than a tv. You can whine about people being "not ready" for computers all you want, but that won't change the basic fact that mature technologies don't need to be babied to function properly.

    It isn't people that aren't ready; it's computers.
  • Re:Hah, no kidding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @02:53PM (#15159353)
    I, among many others, used to be a regular on Yahoo's programming chat rooms. Here's a pretty typical exchange (abbreviated), and the observed aftermath:

    Newbie: Somebody tell me what I'm doing wrong.

    Us: Post the smallest snippet of code that exhibits the problem, or be more specific in your question.

    Newbie: Why the fuck can't you pricks just tell me what I'm doing wrong.

    Us: We can't tell you what you're doing wrong unless you give us more information.

    Newbie: You guys are elitist assholes. I'm reporting you to Yahoo! [Newbie leaves the chat room]

    By chance, I happened into a different room that the newbie had run off to.

    Newbie (to the room): Those programming guys are assholes. All I did was politely ask for help with a simple problem, and I got nothing but flames and attitude.

    Here's another common scenerio:

    Us: (answering the same question for the 10th time in a hour, and one of us adding the question to a FAQ maintained by one fo the regulars).

    Newbie: (asking the same question).

    Us: Go to [our web site]. We've answered the question at length too many times to want to type it all in again.

    Newbie: Fine, be an asshole. Why can't you just answer it here??! You guys are such pricks.

    Whenever I read a story about someone claiming that he was maligned by people in a chat room, I take it with a huge chunk of skepticism. I don't doubt that he was eventually bashed. I doubt that the bashing materialized out of nothing, and for something as simple as asking a question. That isn't to say that it never happens this way, but I have never in my 11 years using Linux seen it happen as described by the supposed victim.
  • by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:03PM (#15159431) Homepage
    It's a troll, and a plagarized troll [] at that, so of course I'll bite.

    Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, the numerous gratuitous digs towards the other guy's operating system of choice might have been what caused him to stop worrying about your specific problem and get sidetracked into defending his OS's honor? I mean, the only reason anyone, anywhere, would find it worth their time to hang out on IRC answering Linux questions is because he has some emotional investment in the Linux scene. So when somebody comes on and starts spouting off with:

    Why won't my fucking Linux computer print?

    I don't know. It's a Hewlett Packard desktop inkjet number [You can get more information than this just by looking at the computer]
    ...I've got a floppy disk from HP, but my floppy drive is a USB drive and Linux doesn't have fucking USB support.["Linux doesn't support peripheral X" is a far cry from "Linux doesn't have USB support."]

    By this time, the requester has already lost just about all the good will he can expect from the average IRC denizen. IRC can be a very helpful forum (it's certainly pretty hit-and-miss), but if you go onto a channel with the attitude of "this product sucks, it ruined my life, and I blame each and every one of you personally," then the chances of getting your issue solved quickly approach zero.

    Even by this point in the conversation, it's difficult to imagine him having any real sympathy from the masses, so the only people who would even try to continue working on it are the ones who want to wipe the grimy smirk off his face. I know the guy had a bad experience, and I know he went into the conversation pissed. I'm sorry about all that, and I'm sorry that his computer got hosed. But for god's sake, what the hell did he expect would happen? He goes on to blame Linux for destroying his computer, and claiming that it's "a fucking operating system that doesn't operate".

    I'm not terribly sad that "we" (meaning us sad sacks who get a little thrill when somebody converts) lost him as a user.
  • by Llywelyn ( 531070 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:04PM (#15159434) Homepage
    I work in a production environment. There are a wide array of things I have learned to do myself by trial and error, but if I need something to work I need it to work yesterday.
  • Re:RTFM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdn-programmer ( 468978 ) < minus author> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:26PM (#15159637)
    I take exception to this.

    The manuals in general are poorly organised and extremely verbose. There seems to be no good way for them to be updated. The man pages are notorious for not having good examples.

    I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert because people actually pay me big bux to do things. It is extremely frustrating sometimes to get good information.

    As an example - I posted a more or less correct road map on how to get sound working in a debian machine. Other than the fact that this is obsure - the woody configuration was borken. That was about 4 years ago as I recall.

    The procedure is posted in sourceforge under GRIP support and people can find it here: =203714 [] ID 653979

    While the post is not perfect - it is a start and it at least tells people what they should look for.

    Over the last 4 years in the IRC linux help groups I have on several occations encountered people running into the same issues as I ran into in 2002. The manuals have NOT been updated. I have seen on a number of occasions A*holes telling people to RTFM. Like *WHAT* manual am I suppose to read? Why can't the software check for this? Why can't it put out a reasonable error message?

    The situation is really bad in the Unix world and while it has gotten better over the years - there is a serious rift between what we need and what we have.

    I have experiance on more than 13 operating sytems. Unix is the best by far. However the manuals are close to the worst with only the IBM mainframe manuals claiming the prize. Those are truely horrible - mostly because they are so thick that a person would have to spend a month to read even one of them.

    Surely we can clean this mess up. A way to start is to open up the temple and let people actually correct and improve the manuals using a wiki style documentation system. I do know there are efforts in this area. The thing is these efforts need to be welded into the distros people commonly use.

    People can disagree with me of course - but the flavour of the posts on this thread clearly indicate we have a major problem.
  • Re:Ah, a volunteer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Neoprofin ( 871029 ) <(neoprofin) (at) (> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:30PM (#15159679)
    " We need to be able to include everyone in this community.


    Just that. Why? "

    Obviously you're not one of the people who wants linux to become a mainstream desktop operating system either in the near future or ever for that matter?
  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:45PM (#15159841)
    Conversely, I found Gentoo to be the most informative of distros for learning Linux.

    I do have a certain level of familiarity with computers, having been a developer on Windows for some years, as well as a hobbyist back as far as the Commodore PET.

    Because installing Gentoo (especially from Stage 1) requires you to hit the command-line and tinker with things, it's a great way to learn Linux in general. After basing my MythTV box on Gentoo, I'd gone from a n00b to someone who "got" most of the underlying workings of the OS and had even contributed a small patch to the kernel.
  • by NicM ( 188290 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:14PM (#15160121)
    > Why won't my fucking Linux computer print?

    This kind of belligerent, vague question is probably the reason this person doesn't get answers. Very few people with actual, genuine clue are going to get involved when the person asking hasn't even tried to make their initial question complete or useful. It not only looks like this person has an attitude but that they are also going to make anyone who answers do a lot of work to get enough clear information out of them, such as their set up and what they've tried already, so they can give an answer. Many people help others on IRC (without being paid, in their own, personal free time) because they enjoy it, and if it looks like someone is going to be unnecessarily hard to help, many will just go do something else.
  • by Pitr ( 33016 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:39PM (#15160338)
    Developers aren't the problem. An OSS project has more than just developers, there are people who test for bugs etc. and there are people who document stuff. Yes, the time is donated, but here's a little secret; if you don't make it easy to use your product, people won't.

    There are LOTS of non technical people. They will NEVER be technical people. They simply don't think in those terms. It doesn't mean they're stupid, but there are certain tech concepts that they just can't wrap their heads around, the same way I can't wrap my head around income taxes. And there's only about 100 times more non technical users than technical ones. The documentation, especially for free software, is often quite terse, and requires someone to fill in the gaps. Sometimes, it's too verbose, and you need someone to cut through to the meat. Either way, a person should ALWAYS be more helpful than a manual.

    Now, the real problem, is in support forums. It's people who know how to use/configure the software who answer questions from those who don't. Everyone who just says "RTFM" is adding noise to the signal, and providing a bad experience to the user in question, who may at this point simply give up.

    The opinion that "Linux snobs" usually have is "fine don't use it". The problem is that the response is almost always, "OK, fine.". This is why there aren't more Linux users on the desktop.

    Oh, and yes TIVO WILL walk people through recording a show, just like T-Mobile will walk people through turning their phone on and off, etc. etc. Help desks "Help" no matter how stupid the question seems. They might be getting paid, but if free software wants to compete with pay software, it's got to compete with the pay support too.
  • sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) <(saintium) (at) (> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @04:46PM (#15160399)
    I remember the good ol days of hanging out on #linux help. People would join with needs like: how do I add another network card, how do I customize my installation, why can't I get X Windows running...

    One sticks in my mind.
    #n00b: rpm doesn't work
    #sgt_scrub: which distro?
    #n00b: i have redhat
    #sgt_scrub: sounds like 4.1 some of the early install cd's had a broken rpm
    #n00b: how do i fix?
    #sgt_scrub: is this for fun or work?
    #n00b: fun
    #sgt_scrub: i suggest using a different distro for a while. try playing with mandrake. its a cool new distro.
    #n00b: will this fix rpm?
    #sgt_scrub: its a completely different distro.
    #n00b: i would rather fix rpm
    #sgt_scrub: its not easy. if your just playing around to learn...
    #n00b: isn't there a way to fix it?
    #sgt_scrub: download the rpm source and build it manually.
    #n00b: how do i do that.
    #sgt_scrub: go to redhat's site. its a lot of work and i won't talk you through it.
    #n00b: bitch moan complain... ad nausium sgt_scrub is a prick....

    I'm all for being helpful but we all have our limits. When you set them people are disappointed and suddenly your a prick.
  • by Malor ( 3658 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @05:21PM (#15160630) Journal
    Oh please, that's such a strawman. All I said was (approximately, you gotta realize this was 10 years ago): "Linux isn't ready for the enterprise yet, because the filesystem is fragile. If you take a power hit, or lose a power supply, or the machine crashes, the filesystem is VERY likely to take damage, and the machine will take a long time to come back up. NT doesn't have this problem, and it's a glaring hole in Linux's feature set at the moment. It won't really be enterprise-ready until this is fixed." And I got piled on. (it also went to +5, so I don't think it was major flamebait or being rude. It was just stating facts.)

    So MANY times, I've seen a new person ask, "How do I do X?" And if X is hard in Linux, fourteen people will inevitably say, "You don't want to do X." And a lot of them won't even say, "You should do Y instead." They just stop at "don't do X."

    It's not as bad as it used to be, because so many things are so much easier now than they were. But go browse hard questions on Linux fora, and watch... you will inevitably see "Doing X is stupid", or some variant, with no alternative offered.

    That's what I mean by dismissing user's needs; they want to do X, X is hard in Linux. That doesn't mean X is without value.

    Let me give you an example; I remember it clearly because it was me. I was posting on the OpenBSD, um, mailing list or forum, I don't remember now, probably a mailing list. And I asked, "I'd like to do something like a PIX port trigger, where an outbound request opens an inbound port from that machine for a couple of seconds. I don't see a way to do this... am I missing something?" (I wanted this for the ident requests on IRC.) And I was immediately told, "that's stupid, it's no more secure than opening the port to the whole world." "What a dumb idea." (nevermind that Cisco thought it was useful enough to include, and I found it useful enough to want to duplicate.) Now, I'm not a world-class security expert, but it sure seems to me that opening one port briefly to a machine I call is a LOT more secure than opening the port to everyone, all the time, particularly when I'm running Windows. If it wasn't, then why even have stateful inspection firewalls in the first place?

    Admittedly, the OpenBSD people know a _lot_ more about security than I do. But just telling me that it was a stupid idea, when I was hoping to duplicate the functionality I already had in my existing firewall, strikes me as more than a bit counter-productive. I asked if there was another way to get ident working, without opening the port to everyone 24x7. I think the only response I got was, "If you were running a decent operating system, you wouldn't have to worry about opening the port."

    I've seen that over and over... if X is hard, there will inevitably be a batch of people who always say not to do it, and that it's a dumb idea in the first place, even if it really isn't. They invalidate the need, rather than address it in any meaningful way.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @07:00PM (#15161161) Homepage

    One of the main differences between Debian and RedHat is the level of documentation. Debian is the second best documented Unix system after FreeBSD. RedHat does not even come close. Granted, it has gotten better with ES4/WS4 but it still has a long way to go.

    Debian policy specifies that every executable, every config file has to have a man page. Even if the manpage says "look elsewhere" this is still better than the scarce and sporadic upstream manpages you get with RedHat. In addition to that 99%+ of packages that requires configuration by hand (like mailman) has some examples in the /usr/share/doc/package-name directory. Once again, RedHat is pretty scarce on this point.

    You are correct that debian is "hard". It is. For people who do not want to read. If you do not mind reading it is a much better starting point for a newbee than RedHat. While I have not played with Ubuntu I suspect that it has inherited this from it.

    As far as RTF* is concerned I think the major problem is the overall cultural difference. As noted in one of the old essays by Eric S. Raymond the Unix (and Linux) culture is the culture of verbal and written expression. It is not a good place for people who do not like reading (and writing for that matter). The Windows culture is a culture of visual expression. In order top perform an action it has to be visible. An object ot text must be selectible, its color has to visually change, etc for the action to commence.

    As a result of these cultural differences, a person which is incapable of accepting a RTFM answer will not convert to Unix (at least long term). He/she does not fit the culture. Similarly, a person accustomed to verbal/written expression will never be at home with Windows once he/she has seen an alternative. In either case there is no point to try to force the issue.

    I have hat to support both categories over the years and I have learned that forcing the issue never helps. Different people have different mindsets and forcing a person to adopt a way of working which contradicts their mindset is always a bad idea.

    People complain that RTFM is a snobbish answer. Well, for that matter, "click with right button, select properties, select Advanced, change ..." seems even more snobbish for a person who is accustomed to a verbal expression. It is a matter of culture, get over it. People who cannot get over a polite RTFM (with a pointer where to start) do not belong in Unix land. People who cannot get over a 3-4 right button clicks sequence do not belong in Windows land.

    It is time to burry the hatchet and not try to force either one of these castes to pray on the others altars. It does not work.

  • Re:duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @07:14PM (#15161222) Journal
    No odder than tying your choice in clothing to your identity. We're pretty strange.
  • by SpacePunk ( 17960 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @07:36PM (#15161336) Homepage
    "Most people want everything handed to them,"

    No, they just want their shit to work. They want to hit the power button on the computer and have it jut work. When they install a sofware package they just want to run the installer and have it ready to use in a few minutes instead of untaring a file, configuring, and making the software.

    Yeah, Linux is superior to Windows, but untill it 'just works' even to the extent that windows software 'just works' then it'll still be just a tinkerers operating system. Nothing more than a hobbyists wet nightmare.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Elad Alon ( 835764 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @08:11PM (#15161502)
    When you don't even know how to edit a simple text file, because the one you've got installed in VIM, whose interface is nothing like anything you've encountered so far; when [insert some more examples of the most rudimentary tasks becoming colossal undertakings]...

    There's a certain level of expertise you need to get to before you can start crawling on your own. Show me a manual and a distro you think any intelligent person could make do with, and I'll show you five(*) places he couldn't have worked around without either a human's help or prior knowledge, acquired from watching a human interacting with a computer.

    That is not to say that none of my questions are plain dumb; don't go digging up logs.

    (*) I'm not a busy man, but I do have _some_ things I need to do.
    (**) Alright, alright - add "in a reasonable amount of time" to all of the points I made in this post.
  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @08:40PM (#15161624) Homepage Journal
    Post after post here is missing the point. A Microsoft or Apple tech employee, who, asked "why doesnot my f***ing XYZ work", who responded with "RTFM, jackass!", would be fired on the spot.

    And I agree -- if you bought SUSE Linux, and called them up for help, they would reply to a "Why can't I fucking print?". The same goes for most of the other commercial distros. SUSE help desk is remarkably nice. Caldera was as well (many years ago, back when they were their own company). I've called both when I used their distros and they were very helpful.

    This is akin to walking up to a group of people talking about computers at a local coffeehouse and saying "Why can't I fucking print?". Can you see the difference?


  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:19PM (#15161791) Journal
    But what I see day to day in the IRC, very few new people do these very simple things.
    This is why we go off on them, they dont even try to find the answer on there own.

    No, you "go off on them" because you have no social skills or tact. I might be marked down because of this but it's true.

    *shakes* Where to begin with the problem in your attitude.

    First of all when computers aren't a hobby or a job, it doesn't take much to experience a problem that's outside of your field of experience, and then the technical documentation can become unintelligble.

    Lets try a concrete (though artificial example). A printer driver you have to install from source doesn't compile quite right. You've never had to compile something from scratch, and don't even know what a compiler is. You read that you need to upgrade your version of GCC. You've never heard of GCC and don't realise what it does but you do see gcc come up on the screen when you follow the instructions and type make. So you try to upgrade and you're not quite sure if you've done that right because you're not use to apt-get or yum or whatever variant of the same damn concept your particular installer uses. If you're really smart and take a few days with it you might learn enough to struggle through, but fat lot of good that's gonna do if you need to print something for work the next day. The steps under windows for getting your printer working were simple so you didn't expect any of this. So you try and post to a message board and someone abuses you for not understanding what a compiler if every user has to have done a comp. sci. or info tech degree. Is this going to encourage you to learn, or is it going to make you swear back and walk away from Linux all together?

    My example brings me to my next point. Often the solution to a problem with less mature, or new software is that the fixes require other parts of the system to be fixed or patched. That makes it really hard to learn because you keep getting side-tracked on the sub fixes. Your fix is all or nothing and must include all the sub-fixes. It's often easier to learn one thing at a time and as you encounter sub-problems ask other people about them so you're not overwhelmed. There's nothing wrong with this technique. Again if you find people are being unfriendly and you have better things to do you're quire likely to just go do them and drop Linux.

    Finally getting back to your attitude. If you've got nothing constructive to say why on earth would you not just ignore the question? Why hurl abuse? Are you really so socially inept you need to take revenge on every newbie that makes you take 5 minutes to read their question? There really is no excuse for abusing someone who asks for your help when you can just walk away.
  • My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mistshadow2k4 ( 748958 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:52AM (#15162655) Journal

    I've found this to be absolutely true. The *only* answer I received when I asked a question in 2003 was "RTFM", which is both rude and offensive. Well, sometimes the answers weren't in TFM and if the snob answering the question had RTFM himself he would have known that. Sometimes I had to hunt through 4 pages of results on google to find what I needed. There used to be a Linux newbies forum that was a recommended link at - they deleted posts with questions in them under the assumption that you hadn't searched And yet they advertised their site as the place to go to ask questions! I love my Linux but I don't like the Linux community much because of this attitude even now. When I get asked a question, I try to answer it if I know the answer, although I will add that you can find out more in the man pages if it sounds like the person hasn't read them.

    Oh, and I've found that this [] works too.

  • Re:duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @07:24AM (#15163653) Journal
    Ah well said. In addition to the importance of being polite it is equally important to not say much if you really don't know about a topic.

    That said, I am a Linux user and, my tongue in cheek statement about us being right aside, I would say the majority of us behave in a similar manner. My first working experience with Linux came after I spent a lot of time messing with it at home and I thought I was pretty good. The guy who ended up being my boss was a Unix guy from way back and wrote drivers for the telecomm solutions we were creating at the time. He was, in every sense of the word, a guru. But he was a nice, well mannered guy and he had a lot of patience and respect for my willingness to learn. He tought me so much about Linux and Unix in general, more in a few months then I had learned spending over a year on my own.

    The best way I can repay him is to extend that same courtesy to others...
  • Yep, I'm a snob (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rfisher ( 6491 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:04PM (#15165485) Homepage
    Personally, I think everyone should take the time & hard road to really understand computers the way you only can with an open source operating system. I mean, these machines are amazing, but it takes time to understand them & learn how to use them to their fullest. Heck, I figure I'll be doing that the rest of my life.

    But, I recognize that I'm weird & that lots of other people--for some reason--don't really want to do that. To them I say, "Don't bother with Linux or FreeBSD." It's not that I don't think they're smart enough or good enough--I think they are. But they've told me they don't want to go down that path.

    So, I heartily recommend they get a Mac.

    (Unless they have a particular use for a computer that is particularly well suited to something else.)

    Plus, the great thing about the modern Mac is its Unix underpinnings. While its user experience is great for my wife & my kids, it also will allow my kids to--should they want to--make meaningful explorations into the deeper realms on the same machine they use for everyday tasks. It's, ssh client, & X server will allow them full access to their account on the Linux boxen at the house, too.
  • by TheWormThatFlies ( 788009 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:47PM (#15165907) Homepage

    Post after post here is missing the point. A Microsoft or Apple tech employee, who, asked "why doesnot my f***ing XYZ work", who responded with "RTFM, jackass!", would be fired on the spot.

    What, and we're supposed to bemoan the fact that in our community we have the freedom to ignore or respond brusquely to rude people, instead of having to suck it up and coddle them, because the customer is always right, and we have jobs depending on it?

    You are not "the Linux Community"'s customer. You are not paying "us" money to ensure that you, Joe Individual, are completely satisfied with "our" software, and that it works exactly the way you want it to, and does everything that you want it to do perfectly. (OK, if you bought a distro in a box from a shop, lured by the promise of tech support, then sure, you have the right to expect support from the people you paid. Random forum users who use the same distro are not, however, these people.)

    I think that Linux could potentially be useful to lots of people who don't know a lot about computers, and I personally don't mind helping complete n00bs with their first steps in setting it up, because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to help someone discover what I think is nice and useful software. However, the essential element that will make me inclined to help someone is a willingness to learn.

    Linux is not Windows. It was not designed to be Windows, and it will never be Windows. That means that it will never work in exactly the same way that Windows works, no matter how much you scream and stamp your feet, and that means that if you really want to use it, you will have to learn something. At some point you will have to look things up on Google, read written instructions and understand them, because finding someone to help you and finding someone to hold your hand are two very different things.

    If I tell you how to do something once, and you don't bother to take note of it because you assume that you don't need to remember because I won't mind explaining it all again the next time you want to do it, I will rapidly lose interest in helping you. If you come onto a forum with a sense of entitlement the size of Antarctica, screaming that some vaguely described element is "broken" and you want it fixed "now, now, yesterday", having done no prior investigation by yourself and obviously unwilling to learn anything or put in any work, you should really not be surprised when you get ignored or flamed. You're acting like a jerk. And you're not paying anyone on the forum to put up with you acting like a jerk.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.