[SUMMARY]: [Opinion] What's happening to this list??

From: David Foster (foster@dim.ucsd.edu)
Date: Mon Oct 11 1999 - 16:17:13 CDT

The following is a rough summary of the responses I received regarding my
post to the list last week, in which I commented on the high volume of
questions posted from folks who clearly had not tried other sources first.

The majority of the respondents agreed with me. Many share the view that
this list is becoming more and more a "newbie" list. Most stated that they
regularly send RTFM's and pointers to other resources to help discourage
these kinds of questions.

A few disagreed, feeling that "The only stupid question is the question
not asked." While the quote certainly is true, I would like to remind
these folks that there are plenty of resources available for asking ANY
type of question. This list is reserved for a subset of these questions.

Thanks to everyone for their feedback.

Here are some of the resources I regularly point people to:

    UNIX Mail List (great for beginners)

    Sun Administration Newsgroups
        comp.sys.sun.admin : Sun Solaris sysadmin newsgroup
        comp.unix.solaris : Sun Solaris sysadmin newsgroup
        comp.sys.sun.apps : Sun Applications newsgroup
        comp.sys.sun.hardware : Sun Hardware newsgroup

    Sun Managers List Archive
        http://www.LaTech.edu/sunman-search.html (great search engine!)

    Sun Manager's FAQ

    Sun Documentation

My original post follows.


  First I would like to apologize for including an actual recent question
  in my message; I now regret singling this person out, and as some have
  pointed out, the problem may have been more complicated than it seemed.

  And I hope that noone thought I was trying to dissuade anyone from asking
  questions of their peers, even if they seem elementary. There is always
  going to be a wide range of experience and knowledge, and isn't that the
  point of these resources is in the first place?

  The point I was trying to make was that elementary questions should be
  asked ELSEWHERE, such as in newsgroups. Having your question show up in
  a newsgroup is very different than having it emailed to each and every
  member of the list. If more folks would politely remind people to use
  these resources, I think the questions posted to this list would better
  reflect the list's intended purpose.

  The charter for the Sun Manager's List is very specific about what this
  list is and what it is intended for, and it makes it very clear what
  types of questions are appropriate. If someone disagrees that's fine,
  but if they use the resource they should at least adhere to its rules.

The responses can fit roughtly into four categories, and here are the
number of responses for each:

  (1) Amen brother (actual quote in more than a few!): 18

  (2) Agree, with reservations: 2

  (3) Disagree: 3

  (4) You elitist condescending bastard: 2

Useful Quote:

  "As for solution, I agree with you. (But not with your standard.) The
  charter should just say, "If the query is inappropriate for this mailing
  list (training question, sales pitch or job placement pitch, etc.), do not
  give an informative response. Instruct the querant as to why its an
  inappropriate question, and then tell them to rtfm, take the Sun Ed class,
  or find a new line of work." (Picture hundreds of list-readers telling the
  guy to go get a clue...) This will only be ineffective if some more
  knowledgable but stupid person give these guys the free ride they are
  looking for." -Eugene Choi

My Point Entirely:

  "Seems to me that if all of the more experienced admins simply
  ignore the "newbie"-type questions, those people might get the hint and stop
  asking them..." -Chuck Cox


  "David you are a grade A jerk!" -Tom Cowan


"Reichert, Alan" <aareichert@tasc.com>
"Chad Rytting (Administrative Account)" <ryttinch@sol.slcc.edu>
Wimmer Jeffrey <Wimmer.Jeffrey@LittonDSD.com>
Tim Evans <tkevans@eplrx7.es.dupont.com>
"Kris Briscoe (r8465c)" <r8465c@email.sps.mot.com>
Dan Stromberg <strombrg@nis.acs.uci.edu>
Mark Scannapieco <scann@astrosun.tn.cornell.edu>
"Joseph Kwan" <jkwan@ampersand.jpl.nasa.gov>
"Choi, Eugene" <choi@ftintl.com>
"Darryl C. Price" <darrylp@earthlink.net>
"Arthur J. Byrnes" <abyrnes@stetson.edu>
Chuck Cox <CoxCP@louisville.stortek.com>
"dylan.carlson" <dylan.carlson@mciworld.com>
"Freeman, Jim (PBW-J2Freeman)" <j2freeman@pacbellwireless.com>
"Marco Greene" <mgreene@sympatico.ca>
Tom Cowan <cowan@zoomcom.com>
<dharringt@deq.state.va.us> (David B. Harrington)
Thomas Anders <anders@hmi.de>
Edwards Philip M Ctr AFRL/SNRR <Philip.Edwards@sn.wpafb.af.mil>
Thad MacMillan <thadm@oregonian.com>
Bryan Hodgson <bhodgson@astea.com>
"Z.K. Zachariah" <zac@agorics.com>

> Has anyone else noticed that the signal-to-noise ratio for this list has
> decreased exponentially lately? Just today I've seen questions about how
> to specify a shell in a shell script, other questions that are easily
> answered by looking at the man page or any decent UNIX manual, and this:
> > Given the directory:
> >
> > dr-xr-xr-x 2 root root 2 Oct 8 10:55 /home
> >
> > Why would I not be able to create a subdirctory in it?
> Clearly those asking the questions are not adhering to the intent of
> the list's charter. These questions are not related to time-critical
> system administration questions; folks are using this list to learn UNIX
> system administration. You can't really blame them since it's always faster
> to get someone with experience to answer your question than it is to
> consult the documentation or a book.
> What may not be quite so obvious is that people would stop asking questions
> like this if those on the list, instead of just answering them, would politely
> remind them that (a) this question is not really appropriate for this
> list; and (b) RTFM, perhaps with a pointer (eg. try "man ls").
> Just my .02
> Dave Foster

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