On Wednesday 21 March 2007, Simon Budig wrote:
> Shlomi Fish ([EMAIL PROTECTED]) wrote:
> > On Tuesday 20 March 2007, Simon Budig wrote:
> > > Shlomi Fish ([EMAIL PROTECTED]) wrote:
> > > > It took me 10 minutes to write.
> > >
> > > Oh wow. Is it just me or is this really a *lot* of time? Personally I'd
> > > consider answering 6 "lazy questions" per hour a waste of time.
> >
> > Well, a few notes:
> >
> > 1. I didn't measure how much time it took me exactly. It was probably
> > less than 10 minutes. Something like 5 or 7 minutes. Hard for me to tell.
> Ok, granted. I was just surprised that you'd seem to take this as
> something not noteworthy.

Well, I don't believe spending 10 minutes writing an email is a waste. I spend 
more time on most serious emails. When I write emails I invest a lot of 
conscious effort writing them. Most of the time I read the email to which I 
respond to the end before hitting the reply button. And most of my important 
emails are properly-cased, and with as few 
spelling/grammatical/syntactical/etc. problems as I possibly can, with me 
even trying to use the best possible phrasing. All of which subject to the 
fact that English is my second language, and that I have audible perception, 
which makes several ("It sounded so much better in my head" or mispelling 
words, especially of similar sounds) more often than people with visible 

I enjoy writing emails? Would I prefer to write code? Probably. However, even 
code is not the most productive thing. To paraphrase on what an article I 
read said the most productive thing a businessman makes are crucial decisions 
which radically change the way your business operates. The analogy to the 
FOSS world is that people who only write code (even exceptionally good code 
and a lot of it) are not as productive as people who define a better strategy 
for their code and projects. If I have speactacular code which is available 
only from some directory on an obscure FTP server, it would not be as ideal 
as me deciding to have a decent homepage for it with a download link and an 
archive containing the version number in the filename, etc. Most people take 
it for granted, but I've seen many exceptions to even this rule.

Now take it further. Deciding to write a FAQ was a critical decision. Now 
writing it would be the easy and relatively brainless part.

> > 2. I had to find a URL which more experienced developers would know by
> > heart.
> That is a misconception. I personally do know exactly one URL of the
> website by heart: "http://www.gimp.org/";, ok, two:
> "http://www.gimp.org/tutorials/";. Everything else is opening it
> in the browser and search for the appropriate link (which in this case
> is prominently in the menu structure). I do believe that this is the
> same for all developers not actively working with the site itself.

OK, my bad.

> > 3. 10 minutes is much less time consuming that writing a bug-fix or an
> > enhancement patch for the GIMP or for any other program. If it takes me
> > 10 minutes to answer someone in a polite, friendly and encouraging way
> > and he or she later become an active developer, then I may have "wasted"
> > 10 minutes, but subsequently got hours and days of voluntary development
> > in return.
> >
> > Which alternative is better? You decide.
> Well, if it were fun to answer these kind of obvious questions that two
> minutes researching on the gimp homepage would have solved then you'd
> have a real point. It is not fun though. To the contrary.
> And frankly, we put a lot of effort into the source package to make it
> as easy to compile as possible. I firmly believe that the quality of
> GIMPs code is a lot better than that of a lot of other free software
> projects, mostly because especially Mitch and Sven have very strict
> guidelines for patches.
> Then somebody comes and asks if Gimp is written in C/C++? I mean, come
> on. That is like asking "I want to become a computer scientist. How does
> a computer work?". It is just a painful question.

I know it's a stupid question, but believe it many people come to the Technion 
CS/EE/Math/Industry&Management/etc. departments without any seriuos 
programming knowledge. I once helped two people - a guy and a pretty girl - 
who never operated a spreadsheet - not even Excel, which is what we had on 
the Windows network.[1] And they were EE students in their 4th semester with 
decent or better grades. And some of them actually become decent or even very 
decent programmers or engineers. And the vast majority of them get infested 
with a lot of nearly useless knowledge, part of which as far as many EE 
graduates are concerned is understanding how every level of a computer works 
down to the semi-conductors.[2]

Where was I? Yes, I know it was a stupid question. But it does not 
specifically say so on the site very well. Do we have a technologies we use 
page and/or Lines of codes counts page on the site? I don't think we do. We 
should because some people are too lazy to download the source, just to get a 
question answered. 

> > (I'm not saying any people who is friendly will become so, but the fact
> > is we've deterred a great deal of potential contributors due to such
> > behaviour.)
> There are some easy things we can do to improve the communication with
> other people, no doubt about this.

<nod />

> [further good points snipped]
> Bye,
>         Simon


        Shlomi Fish

[1] - Not that I dislike Excel. It's an exceptionally good spreadsheet 
program. At least Excel XP, which has fixed most of Excel 97/2K's bugs, and 
added some nice (but not too critical) usability improvements. I don't know 
about more recent versions. It may have gone downhill. 

Some of MS' Software is actually pretty or even very good. Too bad I cannot 
run it on Linux+KDE without virtualisation hacks. And no - I don't dual-boot. 
I either use OpenOffice.org (also pretty good), and 

I won't comment about other MS Office software here, because it's getting 

[2] - if anyone wants I can give an offhand and highly inaccurate explanation 
how a Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (MOS) transistor works. It'll probably have a 
few minus and plus signs wrong, though, but it doesn't matter. And I don't 
remember any of the formulae.

MOS transistors (a.k.a MOSFETs) are what most of modern CPU/etc. hardware is 
made of. They are cheaper than BJTs, (Bipolar Junction Transistors) consume 
less energy, but are also slower. 

As I said on the IRC. "Been There. [in EE studies] Done That. Forgot a lot. 
Remember too much.".

Shlomi Fish      [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Homepage:        http://www.shlomifish.org/

Chuck Norris wrote a complete Perl 6 implementation in a day but then
destroyed all evidence with his bare hands, so no one will know his secrets.
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