[Tutor] Civil discourse from a newbie's perspective

Alan Gauld alan.gauld at btinternet.com
Tue Oct 2 10:08:42 CEST 2012

On 02/10/12 02:34, boB Stepp wrote:
> 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.

That's true although of late we seem to have become a tad over zealous 
in the policing of such things as top posting and formatting of context.
This has not always been the case and we do need to remember that this 
is not Usenet and the audience include many newcomers to computing and 
programming and mailing lists, as well as newcomers to python. It's good 
to teach best practice in such things but we need to remember our main 
objective is teaching Python not netiquette.

> 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

Indeed, but we are dealing with a multitude of cultures and not all of 
us speak English as a first language so inadvertent clashes are 
inevitable. A thick skin and a generous helping of graciousness go a 
long way, as does the assumption that people are genuinely trying to 
help (ie. presumed innocence!).

> In my first post here I inappropriately used the phrase, "begs the
> question." I soon was informed of the error of my ways!

It begs the question what that had to do with Python...
(sorry, I couldn't resist :-)

> 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
> it.

Exactly so and if that were to happen we would have failed in our 
mission as a mailing list community. We are here to help and if we put 
people off asking genuine questions for fear of being flamed then we are 
missing the purpose.

> 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.

I am glad you brought the subject up. I had been thinking of posting 
something similar. There have been a few outbursts of late, and we have 
seen some posts where the content was entirely aimed at improving the 
format of the message rather than trying to address the Python aspects 
of the question. The intent of this list is to provide a friendly and 
encouraging place where beginners can ask for and receive help with 
Python. Almost by definition beginners will not all know the preferred 
internet posting idioms, especially since business standards encourage 
many of the bad habits we prefer to avoid! Gentle reminders are valid
but they should be accompanied by help on the actual issue being raised too!


Alan G
Tutor list moderator

More information about the Tutor mailing list