Re: [NTLK] Got a question? Check the FAQ (or somewhere else) - Anywhere other than here.

From: Jon Glass (
Date: Thu Mar 28 2002 - 07:34:24 EST

on 3/28/02 12:54 AM, Victor Rehorst at wrote:

> Uh-oh. This is not what I wanted to happen. Look slike I'll have to look
> at re-writing that (in my copious amounts of spare time between burning
> UNNA CDs, doing my four pending assignments, and ordering t-shirts...)


It's not so much what you said, but the fact that the FAQ exists in the
first place. In the end, the faq ends up becoming a beating stick to whip
those poor, hapless newbies into shape. :-) It becomes the easy-out. "Don't
ask here--check the FAQ, and no, I'm not going to answer your question."

It's nobody's fault, and no one person is to blame for it. It is the nature
of the FAQ. The problem is, a newbie doesn't know how to ask, where to look,
or even where to start. That is why they are a newbie. The key is for those
longer-term members to be patient with the newbie. In my experience on
lists, when a newbie comes, he knows nothing. He needs the help. The key for
us members is to be patient with him.

I liken our list to the following situation: Those who know more (the
sophmores, so to speak) help him, and show him the way. The Juniors help
with the harder problems, and the Seniors sit around and talk about those
esoteric topics that are way over the head of everybody else (and the more
advanced go into advanced areas of specialization--such as Paul G. and the
ATA driver, or Steve and Sean w/ Waba). In a real sense, they should be left
alone to their discussions, and they shouldn't have to bother wasting their
time answering newbie questions. :-) (Our task is to listen in on their
conversations, and learn from their acquired and applied knowledge.)

As a newbie matures, he becomes a sophomore, and begins helping. Through
time, he advances to the next level, and then to the next. However, since a
mailing list is not really an educational institution, there will be many,
if not most, people who will never advance beyond that sophomore/junior
level, because their needs don't extend beyond that, and definitely fewer
will advance to the senior and graduate levels. This means that the
sophomore and junior levels tends to get crowded, and often, the same people
end up answering all the same questions over and over. Part of the key here,
is to know when to let somebody else answer the questions, and to ignore
them--or at least wait a day or so to see who answers and how, and then
speak up only when you feel your particular knowledge or experience is

Yes, the FAQ can serve its role, but it rather than being the first place
people turn, it should be considered a complementary or even supplementary
part of NewtonTalk, with most questions being answered her, or at least
covered here, with references made to the FAQ. And yes, the FAQ should be
the student handbook that all newbies should be required to read--but like
in real life, seldom do. :-)

After reading the above, I realized I kind of forgot what I wanted to say!,
but since I like it, I'll send it anyway. :-)

-Jon Glass
Krakow, Poland
"[T]he law . . . dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in
obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries,
and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this."
--Alexander Hamilton, signer of the Constitution

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