asheesh at asheesh.org
Mon Oct 22 12:39:06 PDT 2007
On Mon, 22 Oct 2007, Rick Moen wrote:
> However, that conclusion derived from a chain of assumptions, based on
> the somewhat tantalisingly incomplete and doubtful information you
> provided. Rule of thumb: If you hear the people you're trying to
> consult saying things like "You mean IBM machine type 2611?", or "I
> infer" or "I would guess", then you should make sure you're providing
> them with reliable and sufficient information.
Or, at least, when you're not sure something is precise, then say so.
"Someone told me it was IBM Model 2611". Or, another good trick, is that
once you find some technical page on the Web that tells you something,
include a link so that we can sanity-check what you said. "I bought the
machine listed at http://www.recycledgoods.com/item/27224.aspx ." Then if
you happen to summarize it wrong, it's not a big deal. (It's okay to put
those links in footnotes to avoid bloating the main message.)
> In general, you want to provide diagnosticians with _raw data_, and
> carefully avoid providing your interpretations of data (like "i Series
> Type 2611 IBM ThinkPad", instead. This is one of the many points I
> tried to make in a (verbose, not wholly successful) essay on problem-solving
> I once co-wrote: http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
Hear, hear. Raw data is good.
What's in your eye when you have a bee in your hand.
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