Forum Section for Beginers?

Have something to say about forums.debian.net itself?

Forum Section for Beginers?

Postby Absent Minded » 2009-11-17 01:05

Hi all,
I have been asked by a few people now about creating a forum section for beginners as many here do not wish to answer beginners questions it would then be left to those of us that don't mind giving answers to these types of questions. So, My question is this: How many of you are in support of there being a new section strictly for beginner questions? At this point there is nothing official planned. I am just trying to get an idea of things for future reference.
Serving the community the best way I can.
Spreading the tradition of Community Spirit.
Please read some Basic Forum Philosophy
Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, he eats for life.
Updated Nov. 19, 2012
User avatar
Absent Minded
 
Posts: 3758
Joined: 2006-07-09 08:50
Location: Washington State U.S.A.

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby penpen » 2009-11-17 02:32

This doesn't sound like a bad idea, it would be a nice place to put some stickies that have links to solutions to commonly asked questions (a single thread with a consolidated list would be nice)
User avatar
penpen
 
Posts: 288
Joined: 2007-03-20 13:38

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby jollysnowman » 2009-11-17 03:37

Yes, please. I'm a beginner, and noone reads my threads!
jollysnowman
 
Posts: 134
Joined: 2009-08-29 19:42
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby vrkalak » 2009-11-17 03:46

Although, I seem to be a little torn over this, it is generally a good idea, to have a "Beginners Section"
Even though we may not be new to Linux, we are new to Debian or using CLI or compiling, etc ...

On the one hand, I am kind of a new Linux user (less than a year), but am learning all I can about how Linux/Debian work.
I like many, first tried Ubuntu, then moved up to LinuxMint. I am now working with Debian Squeeze (testing) with Xfce.
I have had many questions along the way and the Forums have been a wealth of knowledge and help for me.
It would be nice to know that there is always a place I can go to, for specific help.

On the other hand, I like it that Debian is not for Linux 'n00bs' -- ie: those that just want it to work, out of the box.
I love the stability of Debian, even of 'testing' and Sid. The system is tried and true.
I remember reading when I first came to this forum, that "the Debian forum was not for user-friendly n00bies"
It is kinda nice not having the whiners here, but we do want to be here to help others learn.

Yes ... a Beginner's Section would be a good idea. :mrgreen: I think?
User avatar
vrkalak
 
Posts: 268
Joined: 2009-10-08 03:43
Location: Santa Fe, NM, USA

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby Raffles10 » 2009-11-17 04:17

One thing it might achieve is to centralize support requests, and the more repetitious threads could be stickied.
Debian Squeeze + KDE 4.4.4 + AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 6000 + nVidia GeForce 8600
User avatar
Raffles10
 
Posts: 192
Joined: 2008-12-09 16:36
Location: London, UK

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby oswaldkelso » 2009-11-17 04:46

One of the problems Debian has is it has a lot of power users. I've noticed them crawl out of the woodwork when a sticky question comes around. To be frank they cant be arsed answering the mundane. RTFM is the cry (or the thought at least) Not all Debian users are or want to be power users.
What do we do all with these new people, send them off to the big brown one and hope they survive the crashes and get annoyed with the bugs and come running back here when there fit and ready to be RDU's? It's what happens now. But does that benefit Debian in the long run? It may, or it may not.

Better I think to ease them into they way of things. People like myself that will never be a power user can then at least contribute something back to the community. When folk feel the need use pm for questions rather than ask them on the forum I think it shows this forum can be an intimidating place for a new user. Maybe that's changing a bit I feel it has over the last year or so.

People that hang about for any length of time soon find out that most of the questions are already answered, If you can find the answers or not is something else :D The fact that the answers are already here can lead to stagnation of the forum, and while chit chat may be frowned on the fact that a troll post is heading for 2000 views show people do want posts to read even though not many contributed to the thread.

With new users mostly just lurking in trepidation :) rather than posting shows there IMO needs to be a place for them to get their feet wet. (And the middle of the Pacific it not it) I would have liked a beginner section still maybe need one :mrgreen: so thumbs up from me.
Last edited by oswaldkelso on 2009-11-17 05:24, edited 1 time in total.
Black Lives Matter
Ash init durbatulûk, ash init gimbatul,
Ash init thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.
User avatar
oswaldkelso
 
Posts: 1289
Joined: 2005-07-26 23:20
Location: UK

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby Absent Minded » 2009-11-17 05:09

I am defiantly glad to see this thread getting some responses. I hope to have a good majority of the active users responses listed here. Thank you everyone that has commented so far.

AM
Serving the community the best way I can.
Spreading the tradition of Community Spirit.
Please read some Basic Forum Philosophy
Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, he eats for life.
Updated Nov. 19, 2012
User avatar
Absent Minded
 
Posts: 3758
Joined: 2006-07-09 08:50
Location: Washington State U.S.A.

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby roseway » 2009-11-17 07:18

I'll add my name to the Yes list. It sounds like a good idea, and will give newcomers some separation from the more aggressive elements in the forum.
Eric
User avatar
roseway
 
Posts: 1519
Joined: 2007-12-31 22:50
Location: Kent, UK

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby julian67 » 2009-11-17 08:19

Maybe there could be a section headed "Beginners" which is cunningly just a link to the forum search.

A huge proportion of the (apparently) beginner questions are ones which have been asked (and resolved) uncountable times. It's obvious that people don't care to do the sensible thing i.e. check if someone already asked the same question.

It seems to me that an essential aspect of using any OS is to be able to help oneself, at least to some degree. Debian isn't one of those distros which aims to cater specially to absolute beginners, but it's certainly accessible enough to anyone who has a modicum of initiative.

How about a sticky at the top of each support section which points to the Debian wiki? It could also encourage people to search the forum before posing a question and offer some advice about how to present a question and what can be reasonably expected.

I am a very long way from being any kind of expert but I have some experience in some areas and have been visiting these forums for a reasonable time. I don't avoid beginners questions (everybody is a novice in some areas) but I have pretty much stopped feeling even slightly interested in answering questions from people who can't be bothered to do anything for themselves. They can't be bothered and nor can I. Debian is one of those distros which does require that people are willing to read docs, read the man pages, use the wiki, try stuff for themselves etc. Whether people feel that's a good thing or a bad thing is neither here nor there, that's the nature of Debian and doesn't look like changing any time soon. I think it would be a mistake to have a special hand holding section for beginners because the most important lesson is the one that teaches you how to find and use the numerous resources that are already available.

Think how many questions are already fully answered (complete with step by step guides!) simply by a visit to the wiki. Wireless drivers and firmware come to mind here (I used to answer a lot of questions about wireless set up, now only do so very occasionally) but I'm sure the same applies in many areas. I think the forums should push use of the wiki very very strongly. It often contains exactly what people need and is a useful illustration to new users of the fact that help comes in many forms. This seems to me a much more useful tactic than a beginners section.
Wisdom from my inbox: "do not mock at your pottenocy"
User avatar
julian67
 
Posts: 4648
Joined: 2007-04-06 14:39
Location: Just hanging around

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby roseway » 2009-11-17 10:16

The search facilities on web forums aren't very good, and it can be quite difficult to specify a search sufficiently narrowly that one doesn't get a zillion hits to look through. Telling newcomers to search the forum or read the (out of date) wiki isn't really very friendly. As Absent Minded said, only those who want to be more friendly towards newcomers need post in the suggested new section, and indeed it would be good if the less tolerant stayed out of it.
Eric
User avatar
roseway
 
Posts: 1519
Joined: 2007-12-31 22:50
Location: Kent, UK

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby nadir » 2009-11-17 11:10

Yes.
its a very good idea imo.

and it should be strictly "forbidden" to post RTFM, "search the board", "search google" over there. as correct as it might be as an answer. if you got nothing to offer, dont answer.


-----------------
-----------------
explanation (you may skip this part without being tortured ):
a)
As a beginner i sometimes got very easy questions.
Say: how to format a floppy? The answer is a bunch of simple commands. When i search for it on the net it takes a while...more than a while. Someone might answer that within the blink of an eye.
But when does this problem with the floppy occur? Usually when i dont need it. When i m doing other things and want to use the floppy as a tool to reach something else. So i tend to panic and cant think straight no more. A wee bit of help is nice in such a case.
Its getting better now: if a problem occurs i think "well, i cant solve it now, perhaps in the future...". Is that buddhism?
http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/koans.html#id3141171

b)
We beginners sometimes simply dont know what to search for. yesterday i searched for three hours for "compiz", "compiz + 845", "compiz + intel " etc, etc, etc. No result yet. (I guess i could get help here, but it aint a debian, and julian67 wrote in one thread that the buntu-driver is badly patched).
You also need to learn to search.

c)
over here it seems to be un-manly to ask. if you go in the discounter you dont ask. you make 12 rounds thru the market to find your six-pack. it takes you half an hour. if you ask you will get the answer within half a minute, 27 seconds of it to find the person to ask. But you are no real man no more. i can live with that, as i got my six-pack to forget.

d)
because i want it. :lol:
i dont want to think during every quesiton i got if its allowed to post it or not.
(i want to know why i allways write ques-i-tion instead of question.)

e)
where i come from (germany, rhineland, cologne) people like to talk. to share their experiences, to get info or just for the fun of it (at northern germany people think its too much of a chat if one says "hello" when entering a room).
you better dont ask one of us what time it is if you aint got enough.

thats it.

edit: the contrary point of view is "valid" too. its just not mine
"I am not fine with it, so there is nothing for me to do but stand aside." M.D.
User avatar
nadir
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: 2009-10-05 22:06
Location: away

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby mdevour » 2009-11-17 11:47

julian67 wrote:I think it would be a mistake to have a special hand holding section for beginners because the most important lesson is the one that teaches you how to find and use the numerous resources that are already available.

... [illustrate] to new users ... the fact that help comes in many forms. This seems to me a much more useful tactic than a beginners section.

Julian expresses well the very attitude that separates those weary of dealing with utter n00bs from the ones who are still game to try. :D

And I think he describes exactly the lessons that need to be taught every step of the way, especially in the beginners' section of the board. Help using the search function, references to the wiki and other resources, lessons on how to document system status and ask questions... are all the kind of hand-holding raw newbies need, even while we help them figure out where that new app they just installed with synaptics (sic) went!? :roll:

That they can handle it with cheerfulness and a friendly, patient attitude is the mark of the members who are qualified to be there. It's not that our goals need to be any different than Julian's -- we're trying to teach them to help themselves, no matter what -- it's just that the starting line gets drawn in a different place.
roseway wrote:The search facilities on web forums aren't very good, and it can be quite difficult to specify a search sufficiently narrowly that one doesn't get a zillion hits to look through. Telling newcomers to search the forum or read the (out of date) wiki isn't really very friendly. As Absent Minded said, only those who want to be more friendly towards newcomers need post in the suggested new section, and indeed it would be good if the less tolerant stayed out of it.

Exactly right!

I say yes. It will probably rival the Off Topic section for signal to noise ratio. Nine tenths of the threads may fit in the baby-steps category. I think the old hands who are willing to make the effort will be rewarded with (at least some!) competent new users willing and able to help those that come after.

Mike D.
mdevour
 
Posts: 342
Joined: 2006-03-05 17:55

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby craigevil » 2009-11-17 12:04

Go for it. Too many complain about the same questions getting answered again and again.

The very first thread should have links to the various debian sites like debian.org, wiki.debian.org, http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages#search_packages ,
http://www.debian.org/Bugs/ , Then things like http://www.google.com/linux and perhaps any other helpful sites.

Followed by multimedia plugins, ie. flash, java, playing dvds, compiz, etc. Since these are asked repeatedly.
Raspberry PI 400 Distro: Raspberry Pi OS (Unstable) Kernel: 5.10.31-v8+ aarch64 DE: LXDE Ram 4GB
Debian - "If you can't apt-get something, it isn't useful or doesn't exist"
User avatar
craigevil
 
Posts: 5212
Joined: 2006-09-17 03:17
Location: Oz

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby julian67 » 2009-11-17 12:05

roseway wrote:The search facilities on web forums aren't very good, and it can be quite difficult to specify a search sufficiently narrowly that one doesn't get a zillion hits to look through. Telling newcomers to search the forum or read the (out of date) wiki isn't really very friendly.


It's really inaccurate and misleading to say "the (out of date) wiki". There is a huge amount of up to date information there and changes and additions are made every day. Many articles offer suitable advice for Lenny and Squeeze/Sid. Some entries may be old (not necessarily the same thing as being out of date though) but so what?

And what on earth does "isn't really very friendly" mean when describing a wiki article??? I've found wiki articles invaluable, especially in areas where I have little or no knowledge. Example: wake on lan: http://wiki.debian.org/WakeOnLan Clear, concise, accurate and with useful examples. Or setting up my rt73 based wireless adapter http://wiki.debian.org/WiFi/rt73 It offers step by step guide for Etch, Lenny and Squeeze and even shows how an Etch user can set up backports, and provides a walk through for using module assistant. The wiki is a fantastic resource. I'm not saying it's perfect but to dismiss it as "the (out of date) wiki" is myopic and foolish. edit: worst of it all it dismisses an incredibly useful resource which many beginners will find invaluable!

As for the forum search being less than ideal, that may be true. But it's simple enough to show people how to use google with site:forums.debian.net, or how to install the Debian Forums and/or Debian Wiki search addon in Iceweasel/Firefox, or even IE7 http://mycroft.mozdev.org/search-engines.html?name=debian (The forums search add-on uses google, not the forums's own search, so it does work really well).

roseway wrote:As Absent Minded said, only those who want to be more friendly towards newcomers need post in the suggested new section, and indeed it would be good if the less tolerant stayed out of it.


To start characterising people as friendly vs less tolerant is spurious. Let me guess...people you disagree with are intolerant and people you agree with are friendly...... I guess by using pejorative terms when addressing points I made you are characterising me as "less tolerant" and less "friendly towards newcomers" but this is spurious as well. It's very woolly thinking, and hardly accurate.

Absent Minded actually used the terms "many here do not wish to answer beginners questions" and "those of us that don't mind giving answers to these types of questions" but you have represented this as "friendly" vs "less tolerant"! And you're one of the friendly types????

Speaking for myself I regularly answer questions from new users/beginners. Checking my profile http://forums.debian.net/search.php?author_id=9517&sr=posts I can see several examples just in the last couple of days. So there's a conundrum; I think a beginner section is a mistake yet I'm happy to answer questions posed by beginners. Also there are some very established members here who ask such ill considered/loaded/lazy questions that I don't feel inclined to reply. And there are very experienced *nix people here who, when dealing with something outside their experience, ask the same valid questions that a new user might ask i.e. http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=46877 So is that experienced person a beginner by virtue of asking a question often asked by beginners? Should it be in a special section where it should only be answered by people who feel they are really nice people but who disdainfully characterise other people as intolerant or unfriendly?

The idea of setting up a special section for beginners is one thing (I can see why it appeals), but the idea of discouraging people who are able and willing to answer beginners' questions from doing so is truly dismal. There is a very well known forum which has a beginner section. Please check it out and consider the quality and usefulness of the advice offered. If a beginner section is set up here then to do it properly requires a lot more work than creating some space. If it's to work it means carefully monitoring the quality and accuracy of the advice offered (because beginners are less able to discriminate between good advice and bad advice, and find it almost impossible to know when opinion is presented as fact....all the kde vs gnome and similar hubris). That's quite a task, and one that will never end.
Wisdom from my inbox: "do not mock at your pottenocy"
User avatar
julian67
 
Posts: 4648
Joined: 2007-04-06 14:39
Location: Just hanging around

Re: Forum Section for Beginers

Postby fasisi » 2009-11-17 14:06

sure!!!

if we think that linux/debian is good, we surely want more people use it. so why not help beginners?
fasisi
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 2009-03-20 06:02
Location: Bogor

Next

Return to Forum stuff & feedback

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests

fashionable