Settled 4 red convertible
Hammer, Shoe, or Bottle?
Old, old, blog post: Pounding A Nail: Old Shoe or Glass Bottle?
A gem from the blog comments section:
"A client has asked me to build and install a custom shelving system. I'm at the point where I need to nail it, but I'm not sure what to use to pound the nails in. Should I use an old shoe or a glass bottle?
How would you answer the question?
I'm glad there are a few "smack-downers" here amongst us. We should, however, probably be careful about *all* responding that way.
...every good programming forum needs someone who is willing to put the smack-down on time sinks, help vampires and idiots. More than one or two such people can make the forum into a battlefield, but without *some*one like that, the emperor will keep walking around naked, oblivious to why he's always feeling a draft.
I think that it depends. For example, suppose someone asked for help on implementing say, a simple sorting algorithm of the variety commonly found in introductory textbooks. In a professional environment, such a question is absurd: the programmer should be using a library function since no special sort is required; coding your own solution is an error prone waste of time. However, for a student who is just starting out on the path of learning how to implement algorithms, using a library function does not help achieve the learning objective.
But now, you get those instructors who come up with silly ideas for assignments. Then what? There's no proper learning objective to begin with, or if there was one, the assignment doesn't actually lead to it. Nonetheless, the student has to do it or fail the assignment. So, what do you do? You can help the student along, or just point out that the required solution is inherently stupid and throw your hands in the air asking why a more reasonable solution is artificially forbidden.
Settled 4 red convertible
Good thoughts. You also bring up a good point --- to wit, if I'm understanding correctly, we need to know something about the user's reason for asking a question before we can decide whether or not to answer in "smack-down" mode.
Not all users will give us enough to allow an understanding of their reason for asking.
What I'm wondering, to some extent at least, is if we have the right mix of "helpful at most junctures" vs. "smack-down" answers/answerers, and what our reputation is in the PHP help world at large. Secondarily, if we should nominate some smack-downers and the rest of us covenant to try and always be helpful.
Not that it's *that* important, I suppose. I have been wondering, as others have I'm sure, why the site seems to be low-trafficked nowdays.
If we go too far into the elitist "smack-down" response mode, we could always become a Perl community instead.
As a slightly more serious on-topic reply...
I'll be the first to admit I myself have stepped over the line more than once in the past. I try to sprinkle in helpful bits every now and then (for a fun read, I (still) shamelessly present: What the @#$% is a URL?). Is it still wrong? Sure. Should I feel ashamed/embarrassed? Probably. Do I? Not even close. I'm way too human and way too underpaid to coddle and hold hands and smile all day here.
High Energy Magic Dept.
If I find myself typing something "snarky" in response, I apply Craig Ferguson's three questions:
1. Does this need to be said?
2. Does this need to be said by me?
3. Does this need to be said by me right now?
This leads to a fair number of replies that never get posted.
Settled 4 red convertible
Actually, Brad, you're a very skilled programmer by all appearances, and I would probably volunteer you and Weedpacket to be the Hammers here.
Nog: nice. Really.
I'll provide this as a reminder. Craig-Flow-Chart.jpg
sometimes (and in that case specifically) it isn't a matter of coddling or hand-holding; it really is a "shoe or bottle?" question.
Originally Posted by bradgrafelman
Originally Posted by dalecosp
<glyph> For example - if you came in here asking "how do I use a jackhammer" we might ask "why do you need to use a jackhammer"
<glyph> If the answer to the latter question is "to knock my grandmother's head off to let out the evil spirits that gave her cancer", then maybe the problem is actually unrelated to jackhammers
Originally Posted by Weedpacket
<Hostility> so let me get this
<Hostility> ur in a room with ur comp
<Hostility> typing on a keyboard... not with ur fingers
<Hostility> but with ur face
<Hostility> with nothing on but a hat?
I'll have you know you just ruined hours of productivity
Un Re Member
It has to be said - there is one person who can be very obnoxious on a bad day - sure he knows a vast amount but there's no excuse for shouting insults at users.
I actually PMed a recipient to say he shouldn't take it personally and that said guy really did know a lot.
But the dude really shouldn't think it's his personal fiefdom or that he's some kind of god patronisingly handing out nuggets that he has control over. It just becomes a power trip.
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