Discussions and developing

Brad Bollenbach bbollenbach at homenospam.com
Sat Jun 30 21:02:49 CEST 2001


"Eric Merritt" <cyberlync at yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:mailman.993918166.28645.python-list at python.org...
> Mr. Bollenbach
>
>    your basic assumption here seems to be that python
> does not need to worry about newbies, or that this
> list is not the proper forum for their questions. The
> first case not really feasible in the long term. As
> you must realize Python needs new blood to grow and
> mature, that is, unless you want it to become stagnant

Of course...and that means that it's ok for the topic of compiling Python
(and other far-to-FAQ questions) to come up daily in this newsgroup?

I whole-heartedly disagree.

The mere fact that one knows how to post to newsgroups implies at least a
small degree of technical competency. Within that same degree of competency
should be the understanding that one should at least make an attempt to find
the FAQ for the relevant newsgroup before posting questions that have been
asked over and over...and over. How many people would say "I learn much
better from having somebody answer my questions -- even if they're often the
same as what I've already asked --
than I do from actually trying to learn on my own and /understand/ why
something works (or doesn't work) the way it does (or doesn't)."

Nobody that I know.

Even when one makes the argument (a bad one, to say the least) that "I was
too lazy to search the FAQ", one should realize that this, in fact, is only
false laziness. Since you actually will end up waiting longer for your
answer, and encourage others to respond to topics whose answers are
smattered all over the net (groups.google.com, The Python FAQ, etc).
Promoting the idea that one should search the FAQ (and other relevant
documentation) before asking very simple, very very commonly asked questions
is a Good Thing. Also, it avoids insulting those who have done the thankless
task of /writing/ the documentation to begin with.

A google search for "compiling Python" brings up pages and pages and pages
of answers.

The argument that "it gives newbies confidence when they're able to answer
simple questions like these" isn't enough either. It's just as gratifying to
have a question and look in the FAQ and realize "cool! So THAT'S why Guido
uses whitespace instead of {}'s!", the latter alternative alleviating more
experienced users from having to even skim their eyes across the same topics
day in and day out. My eyes and brain are too lazy to keep wanting to see
the same topic daily.

> like Common Lisp is now. The second case may be true,
> the solution there may be that there needs to be a
> python newbies list or some such, this seems to be a
> common solution. In any case, you cannot just decide

There already is, and has been for a long time. Go here:

http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/tutor

to sign up for it.

> that new users ask stupid questions and they need to
> go away.

Hmmm...you're the only one who uses the terms "stupid questions" and "go
away". My (relevant to this topic) posts encourage the reader to take the
small effort required to search the FAQ to find their answer before asking
again. It allows them to be lazier, finding their answers much quicker. It's
certainly hard to prove that it's actually /better/ to encourage them to ask
FAQ questions in the newsgroup forum.

> Are these types questions unproductive? it depends on
> how you are looking at it. If the list is dedicated to
> development of the python language, yes absolutely
> they are unproductive. If the lists are dedicated to
> python, then these questions, that help incubate new
> users, are very productive. They help newbies get
> familiar with python and get past the newbie stage to
> the point that these once-newbies can start
> contributing to the language. Ensuring pythons future
> developer base is not counter productive.

Questions that are already answered in the FAQ are rarely productive when
asked again and again in comp.lang.python. For the compilation issue (the
most repetitious thread in this newsgroup), question 6.13 of the FAQ (and
it's answer of course :):

http://python.org/doc/FAQ.html#6.13

give the reader as good an answer as any as to why it's difficult to compile
Python and even goes into some detail about what python does to your source
file so that it can interpret it, and why it isn't likely that you'll get
that much quicker performance from compilation. As well (and in other parts
of the FAQ) it points you to tools that show you how this is done. In fact,
this answer is more complete than almost any answer that's usually posted in
comp.lang.python everytime the thread comes up.





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