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Posting on forums.freebsd.org quite a hassle

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scottro

Daemon

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#76
The other day, making a post, I realized that I was actually working around something to avoid a formatting moderation. (In this case, I used "terminal", because the terminal in question is a port, but for a port tag to be correct, one would have to use x11/<term_name>. Of course, I could have also used man.)

I dislike the thought of coming in and causing trouble -- it's similar, in a way, to visiting a Japanese household and not taking off one's shoes. However, today, I saw a post on a Linux forum with a FreeBSD question, because the person didn't want to post here, because they were worried about being criticized for grammar and formatting.

Therefore, with no criticism intended, I wonder if it would be worthwhile having a poll of sorts, to ask whether the vast majority of members feel that the forums would benefit from much less formatting. (For example, sometimes, when Google brings a link to the forum, the formatting makes it far less readable, because a tag wasn't properly closed, or during the forums' conversion, something didn't get formatted properly.)

For me (and please remember, this is just one person's opinion) the essential tags would be code and frequently, though not always, command. The ports, file (ARGHH -- trying to get full editor to get a list of tags in front of me, I wound up posting prematurely, but anyway) and man tags, should, in my VERY humble opinion, be optional. They don't make a post much more readable to me, and the only use might be a link to a man page. As for English grammar and correction, I would say moderation in moderation. :)

I very much dislike textspeak, and things like u for you, and similar things should be corrected. Non-English speakers -- well, that's an issue that I really don't know. I'm married to one, and sometimes she wants to be correct and other times she doesn't.

I repeat, this is just my opinion, but I do sometimes think a poll might be a good idea to see what the users, the people this forum is meant to serve, think about the whole thing. My own dislike is about the insistence for ports, man, and file. As for grammar and such, I'm always ready to defend my own use of say, ..., but that aspect is just trivial to me. (A native speaker, with confidence in my own English knowledge, though I freely admit I mistype at times.)

I really hate bringing up bikeshed discussions -- naw, I don't hate it, I'm just embarrassed that I'm doing it, but the two things that make me mention it are the two that I've mentioned here -- someone's reluctance to post here because of fear of being corrected, and my own time wasting of working around whether to use command, port, or man, by just avoiding the issue and saying terminal instead of the terminal in question.

Thanks for listening, and hopefully, the moderators realize that I do appreciate their work, and these forums.
 

fonz

Son of Beastie

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#77
scottro said:
The ports, file [snip] and man tags, should, in my VERY humble opinion, be optional.
We're actually not that far off. Use (and correct usage) of the code, cmd and file tags is required, the others much less so. Using those is appreciated and we expect the more experienced forum users to know how they work, but nobody gets told off for not using them. The same goes for the user tag, BTW. If someone fails to use it, I just add it quietly.

Edited to add: come to think of it, I'm inclined to liken the use of tags other than code, cmd and file to stacking plates, gathering cutlery into a bowl etc. at a restaurant after finishing your meal. You don't normally do that, it's the waiter's job (or busboy's, in some countries). But if you're a regular at some place it's just a bit of common courtesy towards familiar staff.

scottro said:
As for English grammar and correction, I would say moderation in moderation. :)
You may or may not have noticed, but it has been decided some time ago already to do that sort of thing as unobtrusively as possible. Spelling and grammar are usually corrected silently (case in point: feel free to look back at your own post and try to see if you can spot what I've "done to it" ;)). Writing style might be a different matter, although it varies from case to case.
 

scottro

Daemon

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#78
That's quite fair in my opinion. Looking at my post, I actually don't see what was corrected, but do feel safe in saying that whatever it was can be put down to typing. :)

Personally, I have no trouble with textspeak being corrected publicly, it annoys me as much as it annoys moderators. Heh -- and I see I missed one, I had
essential tags would be would be code and
which I've now corrected.
 

fonz

Son of Beastie

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#79
scottro said:
I actually don't see what was corrected
It's easy when writing complex sentences, using constructs like this -- or like this (or like this of course) for example -- for instance, it's easy [sic] to lose one's train of thought §e
 

jb_fvwm2

Daemon

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#80
Maybe one of the persons who moderate here could join the forum at simplemachines.org and compare tag usage when posting between SMF and phpBB in case the former is easier to use tags in a post. Better yet, maybe one of the posters at that other forum has a website in their signature that would be interesting to join and participate in its own right, making the determination less likely to be a waste of time.
 

lonestar

Member

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#81
scottro said:
today, I saw a post on a Linux forum with a FreeBSD question, because the person didn't want to post here, because they were worried about being criticized for grammar and formatting.
That post was made by me. :h

My reluctance to post a question here had nothing to do with a fear of criticism, but rather the unlikelihood of a worthwhile answer. A question about how to add FreeBSD to the 'foo' bootloader sharing a disk with the 'bar' operating system typically gets responses like "read the handbook/man pages." If the manual pages and the handbook are sufficient to cover everything, then this forum serves no purpose.

As for grammar and formatting, I don't need anyone schooling me on proper use of the English language. While I can appreciate the importance of proper communication, this forum's obsessive administrator takes it to a level that is annoying and counterproductive. It's even more obtrusive than weeding through poorly written posts.

Don't make the mistake of thinking this behavior only weeds out noobs or morons; they're the people who are too clueless for such deterrents. :stud
 

scottro

Daemon

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#82
As far as that part goes, I can only speak from my personal experience. Maybe it's the type of questions I ask, but I've never gotten that sort of response here. There are times when a response like: "Have you looked at the man page?" is an appropriate answer, but honestly, I feel that if you grabbed ten threads at random, it's quite possible that none of them would have such a response.
 

fonz

Son of Beastie

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#83
lonestar said:
A question about how to add FreeBSD to the 'foo' bootloader sharing a disk with the 'bar' operating system typically gets responses like "read the handbook/man pages."
I don't think that's an accurate perception. Sure, when the answer to a question is quite literally in the Handbook or a man page there's little point in regurgitating that verbatim, so one is told where to find the answer. But beyond that, there's really not a whole lot of RTFM being yelled here. I think your comment is rather unfair to those here who spend a lot of time and effort trying to help others. And that does mean really helping, not just posting URLs or yelling RTFM.

lonestar said:
As for grammar and formatting, I don't need anyone schooling me on proper use of the English language. While I can appreciate the importance of proper communication, this forum's obsessive administrator takes it to a level that is annoying and counterproductive. It's even more obtrusive than weeding through poorly written posts.
Yet again this is not accurate. For starters, as already stated above, spelling and grammar are usually corrected silently(*), there's no schooling involved. As for writing style and forum formatting, essentially all we're asking is that people produce something legible by using normal words, sentences and paragraphs and by highlighting some things that are not prose. When moderators edit messages for that reason, they might leave a comment under the post or in some cases use a bit of visual correction to get the user's attention. However, while you matter-of-factly state that such is counter-productive and more obtrusive than weeding through poorly written posts, the actual truth is that opinions on that vary. Quite considerably, in fact.

Ad (*): Granted, I myself occasionally humour people who I know actually appreciate the corrections or who I know will "get" a pun.
 

lonestar

Member

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#84
fonz said:
I don't think that's an accurate perception. Sure, when the answer to a question is quite literally in the Handbook or a man page there's little point in regurgitating that verbatim, so one is told where to find the answer. But beyond that, there's really not a whole lot of RTFM being yelled here. I think your comment is rather unfair to those here who spend a lot of time and effort trying to help others. And that does mean really helping, not just posting URLs or yelling RTFM.
Granted, we could find examples to back up both of our assertions. But here's an an example in defense of my prejudice on the point of responses:
viewtopic.php?&t=26463

... spelling and grammar are usually corrected silently(*), there's no schooling involved. As for writing style and forum formatting, essentially all we're asking is that people produce something legible by using normal words, sentences and paragraphs and by highlighting some things that are not prose. When moderators edit messages for that reason, they might leave a comment under the post or in some cases use a bit of visual correction to get the user's attention.
@fonz, you're not the administrator I was referrring to. I have no desire to make this personal, so I'll leave it at that.

In case it appears that I'm here for a drive-by complaint, I'll add that my "other forum post" also had some good things to say about the FreeBSD operating system itself, as well as the philosophy of its community.
 
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Savagedlight

Well-Known Member

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#85
lonestar said:
Granted, we could find examples to back up both of our assertions. But here's an an example in defense of my prejudice on the point of responses:
viewtopic.php?&t=26463
I think we have very different opinions on what an "RTFM" culture is and isn't. IMO, one person saying "RTFM" in a thread isn't by any means a sign of an RTFM culture. That post even provided some steps for what to do if reading the manual didn't help. And if you read further down the thread and see how people are actually helping diagnose and solve the problem, I'm sure you'll agree this isn't an example of an "RTFM culture".

I'll agree that one person could definitely have worded things in a less hostile fashion, however.
 

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

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#86
Savagedlight said:
I think we have very different opinions on what a "RTFM" culture is and isn't. IMO, one person saying "RTFM" in a thread isn't by any means a sign of a RTFM culture. That post even provided some steps for what to do if reading the manual didn't help. And if you read further down the thread and see how people are actually helping diagnose and solve the problem, I'm sure you'll agree this isn't an example of a "RTFM culture".

I'll agree that one person could definitely have worded things in a less hostile fashion, however.
RTFM interspersed with a lot of replies of "It's in the manual" can give that impression. Especially if a lot of people don't realize that FreeBSD has a manual page. There are many types of people: one type will take time to research and read everything they can, including forums and responses. Another likes to jump into the middle of everything and learn from the fallout, and another can be combination of the two - which I think I'm guilty of. With that foundation laid, I can see how person number two can come to that conclusion.

Even though we all have opinions, to truly understand the other person we need to step outside ourselves and at least attempt to see from the other person's perspective before we can start saying they're wrong. A great example is a how a person of wealth sees the world and how a poor person sees the world.
 

hitest

Well-Known Member

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#87
lonestar said:
fonz, you're not the administrator I was referrring to. I have no desire to make this personal, so I'll leave it at that.
I have also found the admin/moderating team here at the FreeBSD Forums to be first rate for the most part. Most moderators here (@fonz included) do their job very well indeed.
 
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lonestar

Member

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#88
tzoi516 said:
There are many types of people: one type will take time to research and read everything they can, including forums and responses. Another likes to jump into the middle of everything and learn from the fallout, and another can be combination of the two - which I think I'm guilty of.
When thinking about it that way, I'm probably a combination of the two, and may even lean toward the "learn from the fallout" group. The reason is simple - because handbooks and manual pages often suffer from the same perfect-world perspective as tenured college professors.

Technical documentation can't feasibly account for all specific combinations of hardware, disk partition layout, other existing operating systems, experience of the reader, or any number of unknown variables. As good as the FreeBSD handbook is -- and I think it's good -- it's still a handbook. It can't tell you that its instructions don't apply to a certain BIOS (or bootloader version, etc.) that didn't even exist at the time of writing.

I view a discussion forum as a place to benefit from the knowledge of people with practical experience, and the different perspectives that naturally come from group discussions. I also recognize the frustration in trying to help someone who obviously wants to be spoon-fed, so indeed I believe there's an appropriate time for RTFM.
 

lonestar

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#89
hitest said:
I have also found the admin/moderating team here at the FreeBSD Forums to be first rate for the most part. Most moderators here (fonz included) do their job very well indeed.
In the sense that I don't even know who they are, I agree they are excellent. :beer
 

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

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#90
lonestar said:
When thinking about it that way, I'm probably a combination of the two, and may even lean toward the "learn from the fallout" group. The reason is simple - because handbooks and manual pages often suffer from the same perfect-world perspective as tenured college professors.

Technical documentation can't feasibly account for all specific combinations of hardware, disk partition layout, other existing operating systems, experience of the reader, or any number of unknown variables. As good as the FreeBSD handbook is -- and I think it's good -- it's still a handbook. It can't tell you that its instructions don't apply to a certain BIOS (or bootloader version, etc.) that didn't even exist at the time of writing.

I view a discussion forum as a place to benefit from the knowledge of people with practical experience, and the different perspectives that naturally come from group discussions. I also recognize the frustration in trying to help someone who obviously wants to be spoon-fed, so indeed I believe there's an appropriate time for RTFM.
I agree, the FreeBSD Handbook is great, and I refer to it to anyone who wants to learn about computers. However, I do have to caveat it at times. For example, like when partitioning the disk was different in one section than another. Just like new users are a little sensitive, I do think contributors fall into the sensitive group as well. Like when someone makes a suggestion and replies come back like, "Don't like it then do it yourself; these people give up their free time..." My query for clarification yielded mixed results, usually frustration or understanding. I understand hearing criticism from people who haven't given part of their life to what others enjoy is hard.

I also agree with you as to the purpose of the forum: people with various backgrounds getting together and helping one another, if I may paraphrase. It's been said many times in past threads that people should use the mailing list for technical stuff because that's where the developers regularly check. So why get all technical if this isn't a mailing list? The life of FreeBSD not only rests on the shoulders of the developers but also on the new crop of people getting involved who might shoulder the responsibilities left behind by the people doing it today.

Coming full circle, because of the various backgrounds what might appear one way to someone will be different to another. I think people either need to grow a thick skin or be understanding all around because it's a two-way street.

I hate being long winded.
 

Terry_Kennedy

Aspiring Daemon

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#91
scottro said:
I repeat, this is just my opinion, but I do sometimes think a poll might be a good idea to see what the users, the people this forum is meant to serve, think about the whole thing. My own dislike is about the insistence for ports, man, and file. As for grammar and such, I'm always ready to defend my own use of say, ..., but that aspect is just trivial to me. (A native speaker, with confidence in my own English knowledge, though I freely admit I mistype at times.)
I find the tags useful, and I try to use all of them appropriately. Some changes seem nit-picky (the space between numbers and the unit name comes to mind), but on the other hand I definitely appreciate that there are moderators here who care enough to read every post, clear out the spam, and try to render posts intelligible for the rest of us.

In my opinion, I'm happier with getting a snarky answer that's both correct and helpful, than I am with posting something and then watching the tumbleweeds roll by as nobody answers it. Years ago, I purchased a multi-thousand-dollar software product and annual maintenance from a commercial vendor (for the VMS operating system, not FreeBSD). Support questions sent to that vendor often got answers starting with "What idiot had you configure it that way?" but went on to answer my question and solve the problem. By the way, the person doing that is an author of many IETF RFC's. So I've developed a tolerance for a level of rudeness way beyond what happens here in the forums.

The posts here that seem to irritate the moderators most are when someone posts an entire message in "leet speak"; when someone posts something that is unintelligible (in the "someone's off their medication again" sense of unintelligible, not someone with a poor command of English); or when someone seems to have misplaced their Caps Lock key. And those seem to be the people who go away upset about the "unfriendliness" of this forum.

I haven't seen rude replies/edits to people who legitimately try to post here who do not speak English as a primary language. As I answer when someone emails me and prefaces their message with "Please excuse my English", "Your English is much better than my Elbonian" (or whatever language they speak natively).
 

hitest

Well-Known Member

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#92
This thread is very useful indeed. This good conversation between members and moderators has resulted in a better understanding of rights and responsibilities. I have experienced less intrusive editing as of late. Keep up the great work, moderating team :)
 

Whattteva

Member

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#93
Just don't take it personal. I suppose a part of it is human nature. I find that people, in general (not the entire population), do not like to be corrected even if it is constructive. I myself was quite surprised at first as all other forums I've visited are managed mostly in a very ad-hoc unruly manner. It didn't take very long for me to get accustomed to it though.

I personally like and appreciate what the moderators do here. It makes the reading experience much more pleasant and consistent. It makes reading the forums more enjoyable and natural as if I was reading the FreeBSD Handbook itself.

The next time you question the edits, just ask yourself this question: "Do you think you have the time and patience to keep the forums orderly and organized yourself as if you were the moderator?"
I think that question would help turn that "nagging annoyance" feeling into more of appreciation.
 

DutchDaemon

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator

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#94
[post removed, user banned]

A word to the wise: do not play the "Nazi card" anywhere on these forums. If you don't want to post by our rules, which have served us (staff and users) well since the beginning, make your own forums with no rules elsewhere, and see how that works. You are not entitled to do as you please here. Be a rebel in your own playground.

Moreover, this topic has run its course. Closed.
 
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