Have you ever noticed that people's progress in using, supporting,
writing bug reports for, and sometimes even developing for, writing
documentation for, or translating for open source software is paralleled
by their progress from top-posting to bottom posting to interlinear
posting, to intelligent elision with interlinear posting? I see it on
the gimp, and on other lists all the time.
Beginners don't know what top posting is. They don't understand that
there's no business to bitch too about open source software. They don't
understand how few people keep open software going. They're completely
ignorant about our culture. They don't know how happy people will be if
they write intelligent bugs, or offer to make documentation better.
They don't understand that the people providing support for them are
I guess the point is that it's easy to be annoyed by an ignorant
beginner, (definitely speaking from experience), and they make
themselves even more annoying by top posting when responding to
messages, not knowing that it looks like they are deliberately making it
harder to follow the conversation. If we kindly educate them instead of
attacking them, (and when appropriate, privately, instead of
embarrassing them publicly on the list), we might over time convert some
of them to useful human beings.
I really like the way Sven invites people to contribute. For people not
used to open source it's startling, and sometimes his invitation to be
part of the solution is mistaken for an unwillingness to help. They've
got this strange sense of learned helplessness. Even though few of
those invited will ever contribute, some do, and some of those who don't
contribute right away, have been started thinking about it by Sven and
eventually will contribute. On the lilypond list, it's Graham the
curmudgeon that keeps inviting people. It works.
If instead we attack them, we make of ourselves boors, and drive away
people that might have been of great help eventually. Some of those
driven away are lurkers not even involved in the communication. I know
that some have more patience than others, but if you can't stand
beginners acting like beginners, it's only necessary to ignore them.
One of my favorite proverbs is, "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace,
is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of
understanding", or the more modern proverb "Better to be thought a fool
than to open your mouth and remove all doubt";)
People that are going to insist on being idiots go away pretty quickly
if ignored. I know people that have been around for years already know
all this, but there might be one or two on this list who need a gentle
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