[Tutor] Civil discourse from a newbie's perspective

boB Stepp robertvstepp at gmail.com
Tue Oct 2 03:34:03 CEST 2012

I have been following the discussions here since middle-May of this
year. I have gathered that the volunteers strongly value precision of
speech and proper formatting of posts and especially making a strong
effort to solve one's problem(s) before bringing it(them) up here for
help. I think I understand the frustrations that can arise when
newcomer after newcomer continue to repeat the same basic posting
errors, seemingly without end (May I never do the same!). However, I
think that extra care may be needed in dealing with newbies who may
only be taking a programming course using Python because of curriculum
requirements. I'm sure I am stating the obvious to most of you, but,
nonetheless, I think it is still worth saying (Again?). How one of you
phrase your meant-to-be-helpful response can inadvertently prove
crushing to someone who is very insecure in their programming
knowledge, and in some instances, apparently, incite them to

In my first post here I inappropriately used the phrase, "begs the
question." I soon was informed of the error of my ways! While
educational (And, I confess, somewhat irritating.), these
clarifications had nothing to do with the actual intent of my post. I
shrugged it off, examined the comments and links about my offending
phrase, and went on to appreciate the valuable helpful comments that I
did receive on what I was really asking about. I only bring this up as
a concrete example of an instance that might have caused a newbie to
go elsewhere in frustration and anger, if I were thin-skinned about

I am hesitant in even bringing these thoughts up, but it seems
recently there has been a rash of anger, profanity and hurt feelings.
Of course this is my subjective impression, which may be colored by my
lack of a thick skin.

But I DO want to say, that I greatly value the efforts of the
volunteers who strive to be so helpful and demonstrate repeatedly
great patience in the face of what clearly must, at times, be
extremely frustrating. But please exercise precision in your
communications with overly sensitive, frustrated or tentative newbies!

boB Stepp

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