[Techtalk] Proposal: A beginner's list.

Conor Daly conor.daly at oceanfree.net
Sun Oct 28 10:08:20 EST 2001

On Sat, Oct 27, 2001 at 11:19:48AM +1000 or so it is rumoured hereabouts, 
Mary Gardiner thought:
> Hi techtalk,
> Eli made a suggestion on grrltalk this morning that a beginners list be
> made.
> techtalk has been growing in traffic and diversity and it has been
> suggested that beginners would feel more comfortable having their own
> list. We expect that experienced Linux users will be welcome to join and
> answer questions, but that the list will exist to help people with those
> first hard weeks/months of using Linux, and for anyone who has a really
> 'simple' question to ask.
> Jenn just wants us to determine the level of need. People who have
> thoughts should reply to this mail. I've set Reply-To to grrltalk.

I don't want to put a damper on the idea but there are dangers in an
exclusive newbie list.  Quoting Rick Moen [1]:

:  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. 
:  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.

There is a bit of a danger of newbies getting isolated and being fearful
of "moving up" to the "experienced" list(s).  As it is, the experts who
aren't interested in answering newbie questions [2] can just ignore them
while there are experts around to correct answers like 

"You had to reinstall Windows and now linux won't boot?  Just reinstall
linux and all will be fine"

So long as a newbie doesn't feel intimidated [3], they will post and be


[1]  Those of us who know [4] and love (or otherwise) Rick
     (http://linuxmafia.com) will know that, despite his often lofty,
     condescending and irritating style, he does talk quite a deal of sense.
[2]  I'm not suggesting that *all* the experts here don't like newbie
     questions but I'm sure some don't.
[3]  The tone of conversation around here is anything but intimidating!  I
     really enjoy being here..
[4]  Through the lists in my case, I haven't met him.
Conor Daly <conor.daly at oceanfree.net>

Domestic Sysadmin :-)
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