Since when???

Story: Welcoming Newcomers to Linux and FOSS, or, the Least You Can Do is Not Chase Noobs AwayTotal Replies: 8
Author Content

Aug 01, 2006
1:10 PM EDT
In the first place, my halo happens to be really polished in this area: I just wrote a lengthly blog articles to a Linux noob See? I didn't attack him or belittle him, but both explained Linux to the noobies, and at the same time, even more so, I've been explaining the noobie to the Linux crowd. My theory is that Microsoft imposes a Prisoner Mentality, in that they're used to being kept in one place, told what to do, ahving everything they do resticted, etc. And so they burst into FOSS being much like an ex-con trying to re-orient to society after twenty years of being 'on the inside'.

Then it occured to me on reading this article; the whole thing of hostile Linux users is, pardon me, a myth. I, too, was once a Linux newbie, and never had so much encouragement and helpful advice as when I went to a Linux forum. I spend quite a bit of my time *defending* the stance of occasionally saying "RTFM" and yet in real life I have never once found somebody actually saying "RTFM". The FOSS community, in fact, really bends over backwards to help new users. When was the last time you saw Windows or MacIntosh people swoop in with advice? Hey, that's what their "paid tech support" is for!

You can't just take the word of some Microshill forum troll for it. If you believe the worst of what the world has to say about Linux users, we're all elitist eggheads who sadistically wrote deliberately hard-to-use programs that only run from the command line with documentation in geek code so we can enforce our communist hippy anti-capitalist agenda on the world (did I get all the adjectives, guys?).

In truth, Linux people are ordinary home users like myself, my not-at-all technical wife, and my grade-school-aged kids. And we neither plant flaming Tux's in Window's users lawns nor drive-by forums shooting up noobie threads. The myth of a hostile user-base is beneficial for Microsoft to point at as "one more thing to hate about Linux".

Although I wouldn't mind keeping a *little* of my bad-boy image.

Aug 01, 2006
1:52 PM EDT

Excellent post. I couldn't agree more and believe the author needs to get over it and move on to bigger issues. How in the world can one even begin to evaluate the state of the free software community with that of the windows community when there IS no windows community. Unless of course we are talking about the group of people who promised not to share information with each other when they did a spouse install of their OS and clicked "I agree" to the EULA that was designed to put such boundaries in place.

And with regards to RTFM, There's nothing wrong with that. Have these people lost appreciation for the fact that an "M" actually exists to "R" in the first place? RTFMing is skill and should be advocated in many situations since it saves everyone time (some short term, some long term). Again, comparing the millions of resources a newcomer to GNU/Linux has at their disposal with the combined offerings of a dancing paperclip and a wide eyed, tail wagging dog is just rediculous.

Great post.

Aug 01, 2006
3:47 PM EDT

> the whole thing of hostile Linux users is, pardon me, a myth.

Exaggerated, yes. A myth, no. When my wife and I first took a look at Linux (SLS) we had problems getting it to install. Our ISP only carried a handful of Linux related newsgroups. She posted a question to the one which seemed most relevant. She was flamed unmercifully for posting to the wrong list. Our ISP did not carry the correct one. It delayed my usage of Linux by almost 2 years, and her personal usage by almost 10 years. I never did go back to the Linux newsgroups. When I found Slackware, I helped out some on its newsgroups, but not the general ones.

I've seen the same thing in other places, and experienced it first hand on Linux Questions (which normally tends to be highly regarded), which is why I do not try to answer questions there.

As with any community of sufficient size, you will find all types in the Linux community. Some (usually most) will be helpful, some (usually a small minority) will not. Encountering the wrong one can put someone off Linux permanently. Tuxchick's concerns are valid.


> And with regards to RTFM, There's nothing wrong with that.

You do know what the F in RTFM stands for don't you? RTFM is not a term which should be used in polite company. One correct way to explain to someone that they need to read the manual would be as follows:

(1) Quote the appropriate section of the manual (2) Provide a clickable link to said section (3) Explain how they could have found this information themselves.

This gives the user the answer to their question, allows them to read about it in more detail if they want or need, and helps them to solve such problems on their own in the future. RTFM does none of these.

Aug 01, 2006
6:45 PM EDT
I have seen a mixture of reactions. I have always been treated fairly well because I first learned the rules of usenet before venturing out too far. That was one good thing about signing up with CompuServ before they were bought out by AOL. They had the netiquette info, along with other "Internet tutorials" in an easy-to-find place. I read before I did.

The problem is that some people don't have the patience for those who did not read before leaping. I accidentally sent a private e-mail to another user on one of the SUSE lists, and got blasted for not posting it to the list, or duping it. I thought the guy was pretty strong, but in reality, he was kind of nice compared to others. I did not realize you had to click Reply All, delete the user, and paste the list address into the To box. I caught on quickly enough, but still irked a few folks occasionally until I switched to an e-mail client that understood listservs. ;-)


Aug 01, 2006
7:52 PM EDT

"You do know what the F in RTFM stands for don't you? RTFM is not a term which should be used in polite company."

That depends on the company in question. In my circles, the "F" (obviously) stands for "fine".

Aug 01, 2006
8:06 PM EDT
wind0wsr3fund>>> That depends on the company in question. In my circles, the "F" (obviously) stands for "fine".

So, you do work for MicroSoft!!! Makers of Fine software!

Aug 01, 2006
8:36 PM EDT

eh? I don't get it

Aug 02, 2006
5:48 AM EDT
> That depends on the company in question. In my circles, the "F" (obviously) stands for "fine".

The expectation on the Net at large, which is where is would be posting your RTFM response, is otherwise.

Aug 02, 2006
6:04 AM EDT
Read The Fine/Free Manual is a polite interpretation, but it usually comes out a bit harsher.

There are times when RTFM is the appropriate response, but far too often it's used to cover the deliverer's lack of information or to cause the recipient to feel inferior. If the question would require the one being asked to read the manual to the questioner, a polite RTFM is a proper response.

I think most of the people who 'got into Linux' just to feel superior to those who don't use it have moved on to the next l33t thing. It was an inevitable stage, before GNU/Linux was developed far enough for kindergartners to use.

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