[sf-lug] Private mail support
rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Sep 28 11:25:33 PDT 2007
Offlist private mail resulting from my being on a Linux mailing list
(Hey, I should consider forwarding these observations to those two guys
who co-wrote "How to Ask Questions the Smart Way".)
----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2007 11:21:48 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Hi, [name]. If you're writing to me just to chat or to reach a
sympathetic ear, that's gladly granted. ;->
If you're seeking technical help in any way, that's just not going to
work. Here's why:
o Wrong recipient. You need to post diagnostic information about
your problems consistently into public technical forums, if you're
seeking free-of-charge technical help from the committee. Seeking
help via private e-mail, especially sent to strangers, is considered
to be unclear on the importance of that process remaining _public_.
If that is actually unclear, consider for a moment what's in it for
the people helping you, as opposed to just for yourself. We assist
people as part of the Linux and open source community in order to
build a body of public knowledge and understanding. Solving common
technical problems in public ends up helping vast numbers of people,
present and future, especially when you consider others searching
Web search engines for answers to problems similar to yours.
Solving those same problems in private mail, by contrast, helps only
one person, ever -- and is indistiguishable from you, a stranger,
getting free-of-charge personal technical support from professional
technonogists. And most of us just aren't into doing thankless
work in private for strangers and not even getting paid. ;->
o Vague. You didn't say what distro release number, nor did you
says which disk (desktop or alternate) you were using. Also, the
entirety of your account was extremely non-specific.
o Consisted of a recounting of your interpretations, rather than the
raw diagnostic data. This was actually the most serious problem,
and is also the most common reason why people fail to get their
problems solved. The syndrome is notorious among diagnosticians
forced to deal with the public, as it is _the_ key problem with
bug reports / trouble tickets that prevents them from doing their jobs.
E.g., you claim "it failed when creating the partition",
but you say nothing at all about _what you observed_ that lead you
to that conclusion. Your observation that "it failed when creating
the partition" is utterly useless to diagnosticians, because it
gives them absolutely no idea what _really_ happened. They know
only your interpretation of the outcome, and, to be blunt, if you
were that good at interpretation of diagnostic data, wouldn't the
technical community be seeking help from you, rather than the
other way around?
Most often, the latter problem happens because people encounter problems
while _not_ thinking to take notes -- which is perfectly understandable,
of course -- and then are obliged to describe what happened after the
fact, from memory. It's then inevitable that your account will end
up being fuzzy and interpretive rather than specific and descriptive.
Again, that's understandable and not blameworthy. _But_, when that
happens, it's in your interest not to rush immediately to your e-mail
client, but rather go back and try again, _this_ time taking
contemporaneous, specific notes so you can say _specifically_ what
happened in chronological order.
I hope this helps you.
----- End forwarded message -----
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