[ILUG] Holding newbies by the willie^H^H^H^H^H^H hand
rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Sep 27 18:03:46 IST 2001
begin Wynne, Conor quotation:
> I can just see the point from both sides. Personally I had an awful
> time getting to grips with man pages - at the beginning
It's a very common mistake to try to use manpages as tutorials. They're
not tutorials; they're quick-references. Tutorials and references are
(and should be) very different things.
Best tutorial book for Linux I know of:
Running Linux, 3rd Edition
By Matt Welsh, Matthias Kalle Dalheimer & Lar Kaufman
3rd Edition August 1999
Best reference book for Linux I know of:
Linux in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition
By Ellen Siever, Stephen Spainhour, Jessica P. Hekman, & Stephen Figgins
3rd Edition August 2000
> With regards to linux, there really is everything you could ever wan't on
> the net or online docs - man/even howt-o's in some distros, etc etc.,
> finding its another matter.
In my view, the biggest long-term problem is a bootstrapping one: When
you don't know a subject, how can you tell which teaching resources are
good, and which are crud? This is not an easy problem. To quote USA
19th C. journalist Artemus Ward, "It ain't so much the things we don't
know that gets us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so."
One heuristic that many try, which generally gives dismal results, is to
look for something easy (and "friendly"), and simply hope that it's also
good. Another poster pointed to the "Newbieised Help Files", for
example. Let me tell you about NHFs:
A number of years back, I came across an NHF (it might have been about
modems, but I'm not sure) containing a large number of elementary
errors. So, I sent a polite but thorough listing of all the errors I'd
found, addressed to the "feedback" mechanism. I put quite a few hours
into going carefully through the text. After sending, on a sudden
suspicion, I checked and found that "feedbacks" were not posted at all,
and simply vanished somewhere in private, into the site. So, I wrote
directly to the NHF's author, saying pardon if this is a duplicate, but
I wasn't sure you would get this otherwise. No reply, no revision.
About a week later, I made sure SMTP was getting through, inquired
again. No reply, no revision. Six months later, the same.
And I checked in on the linuxnewbie.org Web-based discussion forums.
The social dynamic there involved a horde of fearful new users and a
small number of rather smug, less-than-half-clued people giving out
dribbles of often quite bad "help" with a professorial air. Among them
was the author of that NHF.
The local "experts" didn't really have much idea what they were talking
about, but they got the personal satisfaction of being big fish in a
very small pond. The newbies were grateful; the "help" they got was
often quite wrong, but there was nobody present to tell them that. And,
indeed, being "negative" was very strongly frowned on, so correcting the
process was basically forbidden.
This disease sometimes overcomes (and renders useless) LUG mailing
lists, too. Cf: http://linuxmafia.com/bale/#svlug
> What ya mean expect better from me? Are you mad, don't listen to me, I talk
> bollox :)
Me too. Don't believe a word I say. It's all lies. (Take my word for
Rick Moen "vi is my shepherd; I shall not font."
rick at linuxmafia.com -- Psalm 0.1 beta
More information about the ILUG