Using namedtuples field names for column indices in a list of lists

Deborah Swanson python at
Thu Jan 12 04:26:38 EST 2017

Antoon Pardon wrote, on January 12, 2017 12:49 AM
> Op 11-01-17 om 23:57 schreef Deborah Swanson:
> >
> >> What are we supposed to do when somebody asks a question based on
> >> obvious mistake? Assume that they're a quick learner who has
> >> already worked out their mistake and doesn't need an answer? That 
> >> would certainly make our life easier: we can just ignore
> >> questions.
> > No, of course not. My advice to people who want to help is to not 
> > assume that you know what the question asker does and doesn't know, 
> > and just answer the questions without obsessing about what 
> they know.
> With all respect, such an answer betrays not much experience 
> on this list. Half the time answering in this way would mean 
> making very little progress in actually helping the person. 
> There is an important difference in trying to help someone 
> and just answering his questions. And your advice may be the 
> best way to help someone like you but not everyone is like 
> you. A lot of people have been helped by a remark that didn't 
> answer the question.

It's true, I've only been on this list a few weeks, although I've seen
and been on the receiving end of the kind of "help" that feels more like
being sneered at than help. Not on this list, but on Linux and similar
lists. There does seem to be a "tough love" approach to "helping"
people, and I haven't seen that it really helped that much, in other
places that I've seen it in action over a period of time.  I'm willing
though to just see how it works on this list. Since I've been here, I
haven't seen people come back who get that kind of approach, but a few
weeks is too short a time to draw conclusions. Still, when people who
need help don't come right back, that should be a first clue that they
didn't get it.
> >  If that's
> > impossible because they have something so wrong that you don't know 
> > what they're asking, that would be a good time to point it out and 
> > give them a chance to correct it.
> It is rarely a question of impossibility. It often enough is 
> a sense that the person asking the question is approaching 
> the problem from the wrong side. Often enough that sense is 
> correct, often enough that sense is wrong. All the 
> participants can do is take a clue from the question and then 
> guess what respons would help this person best.

This sounds right to me. Any list or forum that fields questions has the
problem of understanding the questioner who's writing in. Any strategy
that briges that gap seems like a good one to me.

> Nobody can expect that this list will treat their questions 
> in a way that suits their personal style.
> -- 
> Antoon Pardon
Oh, I'm sure that's true, though I do think more direct question asking
and answering is always helpful. Communication in lists and forums is
somewhat in the dark, because there's so little context in many of the
conversations. Questions (and waiting for the answers before responding)
are an excellent way to fill in some of the dark spaces.

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