[linux-elitists] Request-for-Comments: The "How to Get Help Online (2013)" Document

Shlomi Fish shlomif at shlomifish.org
Sat Nov 2 00:32:48 PDT 2013

Hi Don,

thanks for your comments. See below for my response.

On Fri, 1 Nov 2013 13:00:34 -0700
Don Marti <dmarti at zgp.org> wrote:

> begin Shlomi Fish quotation of Fri, Nov 01, 2013 at 07:13:56PM +0200:
> > I welcome comments about a document I wrote titled “How to Get Help Online
> > (2013)”, which can be found here:
> > 
> > http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/computers/how-to-get-help-online/2013.html
> IRC has channels--how do you find the helpful people
> channel and not the troll channel?

You are right that perhaps I should give some guidelines for finding the right
channel on IRC. Of course, there can always be one or two trolls even in helpful
channels, and one should realise they should ignore them. 

> Why recommend a third-party site ahead of the
> relevant project mailing list?  Some projects have
> active mailing lists that could turn out to be a
> better place to ask than the Stack Exchange sites.
> (Maybe mention that the Stack Exchange questions and
> answers are CC-licensed so that projects can pick
> them up and use them, which is a good thing.)

Well, the document I wrote does not only cover questions that relate to
open-source projects, but rather any question that one wishes to get help for
(with a focus on software-related questions). Anyway, perhaps I should
restructure the document so that to not imply a certain set-in-stone order for
the various resources I mention.

Anyway, one thing I noticed is that some people post a question on a Stack
Exchange site and then mention it on IRC or on mailing posts, so people who are
interested in increasing their Stack Exchange reputation can post an answer

> How about mentioning the local user group mailing
> list?  Some of the LUG lists are pretty good places
> to start if you don't know which exact thing is
> responsible for your problem.   Good batch of
> questions and answers on the SVLUG list recently...
>   http://lists.svlug.org/archives/svlug/2013-October/thread.html

Well, I can mention it, but IRC can serve a similar purpose in finding where to
ask, and like I said, the questions may not be Linux/FOSS-related.

> Also, if the software that you're trying to get to
> work has web-editable documentation, just edit the
> documentation to describe the way you _want_ it to
> work, and see if they take your change:
>   https://github.com/coreos/etcd/pull/272

Well, the target audience of “How to Get Help Online (2013)” is people who
lack the experience and know-how to know where to get help, so I think assuming
they are confident or knowledgeable enough to send pull requests/etc. would be
quite a stretch. It is very likely that they are doing something wrong, and if
not, then someone more experienced than them should tell them it's a bug.


Thanks again for the commentary. I'll take it into account as I work on the
next draft.


	Shlomi Fish

Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/
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