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Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 6:02 AM
SSCertifiable

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I didn't catch the thread you referenced, but I've seen enough of those behaviors to appreciate the challenge! I'll add a few miscellaneous thoughts - none of which excuse bad behavior on the part of the poster, but might help to bucket them and evolve a strategy for dealing with them.

First, I wonder how often those "bad" posters are just agents of anarchy, those who just enjoy starting a fight in which they really have no interest in winning, just prolonging. I've long made it a practice to just disengage if I have any sense the the person isn't real in any aspect.

Related to these are the ones that have all the signs of having been run through a translation engine - nothing wrong with not having English as a language, but things do get lost in the translation.

Next, most people are pretty shy about posting their first question, and shyness often leads to awkwardness, especially if it wasn't an especially good question. I'd bet those who post more questions later or those that end up answering questions probably had a great first experience.

One behavior I saw recently at a Code Camp was someone wanting behavior from a product based on what seemed to be at first listen fairly absurd constraints. The speaker clearly thought so too, and tried to answer and then move on - because it was a hard problem either way, convince them to remove constraints or truly figure out a work around, but the person kept insisting on more, more. It wasn't that the person came across as bad, more of a frustration of "I know you can answer this and you're the expert, tell me!"

Food for thought on those answering posts - one of my sayings is that "you have to be in the right place in life to lesson some lessons", and after you've learned your own, it's often hard to be patient with those that havent.

I rarely participate in the daily conversations due to other demands on my time these days, but I still appreciate the ongoing and ever changing cast that does so much of the work in forums - I still send people here because I know they are highly likely to both get an answer and to be treated well. I'd hate to see that change because of a few knuckleheads (or a few more knuckleheads than a year ago), and sometimes that may require Steve to be the bad guy with those that won't try to work within the system. For those of you participating in the threads, I say give them what you can, but don't let them ruin it for you, and sometimes that will mean just unsubscribing.

Steve, on a side note, it would be really interesting to see if you can't find a way to identify/flag what those posts/posters might have in common. Are they all first time posters? All from the same geographic area? Poor grammar? Probably more subtle.



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Post #690918
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 6:14 AM
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It is always important to be civil on forums and in life. However, I feel the frustration that develops when you simply cannot solve a problem. I am one of those developers who has spent the last six years trying to be a DBA -- not because I want to but because there are no DBAs where I work. I try and learn as much as I can when I get the opportunity, but there are some things that just go beyond my understanding, and I will not be able to solve those problems without a lot of research. The difficulty is knowing where to look and knowing what you are looking for. Try Googling something that has about 10 words in it and you're not exactly sure what you're asking for. You typically find a ton of completely unrelated junk and a mix of forum entries. Thank you to those who spend their time helping people like me on the forums.

In these tough economic times when companies begin to tighten their budgets by reducing their payroll, those of us left have a greater responsibility and with that comes a greater workload. We still want to get home to see the wife and kids and we have our other responsibilities outside of work like mowing the grass, changing light bulbs, etc., so working more hours is often not an option. When we can't solve a problem quickly and our productivity starts to slip, we worry that we could be the next ones to go. Sometimes you really want to learn what went wrong, but other times, you just want to fix it and get it behind you.

I guess what I'm saying, is that while it is never OK to use profanity or bite the hand of someone who is trying to help you, it is also nice to have a little more understanding when helping out. I completely understand that it is unfair to ask someone to spend a lot of time giving you a solution for free. I've also read threads on here about how to post questions to the forum -- what information to give, what examples to use, etc. They are great reads. However, sending that link to someone when they don't follow that advice is also curt. Maybe these threads should be required reading before someone can post a question. It would certainly reduce the frustration of those trying to help and maybe it would make those who are posting questions understand a little more about what is required to get help. There are no free handouts in life, you've got to fill out the proper paperwork (in triplicate) first.
Post #690927
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 6:18 AM


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I am not sure I fully agree with you... Yes, I acknowledge that "do unto others as you would have them do to you" is a good axiom to live by, but you seem to have completely ignored the other side to this discussion.

First, there are many sites on the web that purport to be "experts" who in fact, seem more to be people who want others to think they are experts. There is one particular site (whose name I will not besmirch here) that deals with Excel that is almost laughable. They call themselves "the Excel experts" and yet every time any of us go to that site, loaded with MVP's, they cannot answer much at all. Instead, they simply throw the "did you try this" question back at you. If they are experts, where are the answers (instead of suggestions to do constant hit or miss, did you try this).

Second, too many sites are populated by posters who want the world to know how deep their knowledge is. Ask them a simple question about something and you get either a terse response, as though your an idiot, or you get a response so laden with leading edge techno-speak that gleaning any help is almost impossible.

Third, too many sites offer help, and then either don't want to provide it, or do not actually have the knowledge to provide it. In this I am thinking again of a very particular site for a very popular product where my crew spends more time educating the "help people" than they do getting any answers!

SSC is a very good site and I have recommended it to associates, but I think you need some balance in this discussion - if you open a site and allow people to post questions, I don't think its wrong of those people to want good answers - not more questions, not ego-flexing, not marketing in help disguise. (Not suggesting SSC does any of this, but many sites do).

I also think its understandable when people get frustrated and fire off angry posts and emails. That is, there must be some responsibility with the site founders that you represented something, and someone feels you are not delivering. If they misread what you represented, fine, that needs to be clarified. But if you offer help, and then start complaining that people didn't 'do this first' or 'do that first', I don't think that is really fair. They may have misconstrued what help you were offering, but that is the site's fault for not making that clear.

Manners ARE important yes, but living up to what any site represents is equally important - and if that cannot be lived up to, or if that has some special definition, then it should clearly posted on the site. Otherwise, its all subjective and to the user, it is likely also frustrating as all-get-out, so its not that hard to understand where the frustration comes from.



There's no such thing as dumb questions, only poorly thought-out answers...
Post #690932
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 6:25 AM


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Steve, first thank you, thank you, thank you - for the best SQL Server online resource to help this newish DBA get up to speed on the myriad features, capabilities and idiosyncracies of SQL Server. In fact, scratch "online": this site has answered more questions than any book I've purchased, and I have several.

I think the vast preponderance of posts to this site are genuine, respectful, and courteous. Online, it's easy and even encouraged to do something that is squelched in person: lose your temper. Be a brat. Hey, who's really looking, right?

As a reader of the occasionally juvenile whining, I can say I have less patience with them than you experts seem to have when you actually respond to them, which speaks highly of your professionalism. Frankly, even if I'm reading a thread I'm keenly interested in, I tend to click off to somewhere else when I get to "Hey, your stupid code didn't fix my oh-so-important problem!!!" I just don't have time in my day to read rants.

So here's a suggestion, worth nothing maybe: if all you SQL Experts out there simply stopped replying when things turn nasty - stop trying to help, stop attempting to civilize them, stop doing what you are passionate to do (solve problems) - just walk away, I think the problems will resolve themselves.

I can assure you most of us out here won't mind a bit!

Thanks again,
Rich Mechaber
Post #690938
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 6:44 AM


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rmechaber (4/6/2009)
Steve, first thank you, thank you, thank you - for the best SQL Server online resource to help this newish DBA get up to speed on the myriad features, capabilities and idiosyncracies of SQL Server. In fact, scratch "online": this site has answered more questions than any book I've purchased, and I have several.

I think the vast preponderance of posts to this site are genuine, respectful, and courteous. Online, it's easy and even encouraged to do something that is squelched in person: lose your temper. Be a brat. Hey, who's really looking, right?

As a reader of the occasionally juvenile whining, I can say I have less patience with them than you experts seem to have when you actually respond to them, which speaks highly of your professionalism. Frankly, even if I'm reading a thread I'm keenly interested in, I tend to click off to somewhere else when I get to "Hey, your stupid code didn't fix my oh-so-important problem!!!" I just don't have time in my day to read rants.

So here's a suggestion, worth nothing maybe: if all you SQL Experts out there simply stopped replying when things turn nasty - stop trying to help, stop attempting to civilize them, stop doing what you are passionate to do (solve problems) - just walk away, I think the problems will resolve themselves.

I can assure you most of us out here won't mind a bit!

Thanks again,
Rich Mechaber


Up until a week or two ago, I'd have agreed with you wholeheartedly. However, in the "T-SQL Rant" thread that was mentioned in Friday's editorial, I saw something I never expected. Someone who started off on a rant and then became more and more aggressive through the frustration of thinking himself misunderstood was turned around completely by the patience of some of the forum's most knowledgeable and prolific posters. The poster found, and had the decency to publicly admit, that he'd finally been shown some of his fundamental assumptions about working with sets were flawed and that there was a better way to do things. Personally, I didn't see the potential for the original poster's opinion changing, saw little to think any attempt to do so was worthwhile and would never have had the patience to get anywhere near success. I was evidently wrong.

Now all I'll admit is that I've just as much to learn about the best way to moderate the SSC forums as I have about the product on which they're based.


Semper in excretia, sumus solum profundum variat
Post #690953
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 6:49 AM


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I liked the podcast even more than the editorial.

I don't think you were only pointing at those asking questions when you suggested we needed to treat others as we wanted to be treated. That's directed at those who try to answer the questions too. I think most people who answer questions around here, or at least those who post frequently, say the top 10, really do know that as well. And yes, getting a more complete answer for each question you post would be nice, but far to frequently the questions being asked are similar to, if not identical to questions that were asked earlier that day or earlier that week. That's why some of the top posters, such as Gail, write nice long detailed blog posts describing some behavior or other and the simply point the people questioning to that post. Did she "answer" their question? No. Did she provide them information to solve their problem? Yes. Since the top posters are all doing this for free, I don't think it's even remotely unreasonable for them to ask those posting questions to meet them half way. Or at least a 1/4 of the way. Further, I think they should absolutely be able to expect to be treated with respect. When I see people getting nasty, I generally stop posting on the thread (I slipped up & engaged once. I regret it). I think a lot of others do as well.

So, if you really want help and you're not just trying to kick up some mud, to get maximum eyeballs, be nice.


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Post #690958
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 6:57 AM
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What’s amazing to me is how often I feel that I'm babysitting someone on this site in trying to lead them to an answer. I feel like I'm trying to teach 5 year olds about SQL Server some days.


Welcome to my world! I wear a lot of hat's but I have clients and coworkers asking the same questions day after day, when the answer is in the training material, in the online documents, in the FAQ, easily Googled for, or printed on my forehead. I'm always polite, but I'm beginning to understand why my grey-bearded mentors asked; "Have you Read The Friendly Manual?" in a gruff tone of voice.

Give it time, we'll all be like the folks at comp.lang.lisp

Post #690967
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 6:58 AM


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You are right, we should just walk away. There are several heavy hitters here that would agree with you. The problem, however, is that it isn't easy for some of us to do that. We are passionate about what we do and we try very hard to help. It could be an OP that just wants the answer to a problem/question getting frustrated or it could be a language barrier. But some of us, still want to reach out help where we can.

Also, for each person we help, it makes up for the several rude ones we deal with. Seeing the light bulb turn on when someone figures out what was wrong and how to fix it makes the dificult times worth it.




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Post #690968
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 7:14 AM
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Take a look at this article. http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html.

OK now I've blown Eric's servers out of the water, when someone asks a question that clearly indicates they have not tried even the simplest Google query - if you are motivated to ask the question for them then you can send them the result like this... as a kind of gentle hint.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=why+didn%27t+you+just+google+it%3F
Post #690981
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 7:16 AM
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just a comment on the bit about feeling like your baby sitting, leading people to the answers.

i'm the sort of person that does like to do my own homework and find the answers for myself. rather than getting the answer straight awya. i feel that being able to find an answer to a problem by myself is just as big a part of being a good developer as the actual answer itself.

so i do agree that it is frustrating when someone just wants the answer on a plate.
Post #690985
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