Let's Make Robots!

Pig 'rastlin (Or, How to be annoyed...)

They have a saying in southern Iowa:

"Never wrestle(usually they pronounce it "rass-ul")with a pig-you get dirty and the pig likes it."

On the other side of that, John Cleese and Michael Palin of Monty Python had a show before the Flying Circus days called "How to Irritate People."  The secret, it turns out, is to be (or act) completely oblivious to the fact that you are being irritating.

So here's what that has to do with LMR.

It's hard to miss lately that there have been more than the usual amount of "I didn't even try to google it first" forum posts.  And let's face it, we are what we are-geeks and nerds.  That means we react a certain way.  (Generally, it's a spanking.)

I don't know if there's a better way of warning "n00bs" not to risk the thrashing they'll incur if they ask a question that the rest of us get irritated at-it seems like maybe if you can ignore something as obvious as google or the words "search page" above the most popular feature of the site then you'd be able to ignore a giant flashing banner that says "ASK GOOGLE FIRST OR BE PWNED!"  

(An aside-you don't suppose some of the "shout box searches" we get from time to time are the result of people thinking that "Search Page" is a button that executes a search of the page you're on instead of a link to the Site search...?)

Now I know that there is a general guide to "How to be a happy LMR user," and different members have tried to explicate methods for finding information before soliciting pleas for help in the forums, (JAX and Kariloy most recently.)  Of course the problem is that if you're too impatient or lazy to try a search engine to find your answers, you probably can't be bothered to read a helpful post from a more experienced maker on the meta-subject of being a community member.  (In fact, I'd be surprised if more than a few people were reading this blog, and flabbergasted if I didn't know each reader by the photo avatar associated with their user name.)

Unfortunately, I'm not offering a solution here.  We probably can't stop new/infrequent/temporary members from posting inane/thoughtless/obviously answered queries without major restructuring (if at all.)  Maybe we shouldn't even strive to eliminate that kind of thing-after all, we were all beginners at some point and we all probably suffered at least a little bit of hazing to become real LMRtians.  

However, for those of us who do have experience and a measure of personal investment in the site, I'll reveal a strategy that's worked for me a few times in the last few weeks to keep me from tearing my hair out and making rude comments that I'd be embarrassed if better/kinder community members than I read.

I step away.

Basically, if a question or comment irks me, I try to realize it and tell myself not to even touch it.  It's not always easy or obvious-a few times I've started writing the scathing rebukes and belittling responses, but then stopped myself and tried to figure out why I was wasting time and subsequently shook the iPad like an etch-a-sketch to erase everything.  It has the benefit of not making me look foolish by exposing my regrettable lack of knowledge and human cruelty.  Also, it discourages further questions by the same asker in that they don't get as much attention-which is all anyone is looking for by posting anything on line, after all.

So the next time you start to answer a question on the forums and you realize that you have any emotional reaction to it at all, think about not giving into it.  I'm not always successful with this strategy, but I feel better about myself when I realize that I've executed it!

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Yup, ignoring people who ask questions that *you* know how to answer easily is the best way for you not to have to deal with people starting out.

There's a major surge in interest in microelectronics and robotics going on at the moment, and that does mean that you're going to run in with the great unwashed. It happens. The Usenet when WebTV hit and StackOverflow whenever any programming language or system suddenly hits the spotlight are fantastic examples of what you suggest are examples of why you pollute the resource you're preferring the new user to defer to.

StackOverflow is probably the cleanest example: If you search for something that's on the edge of the topic you're working in you'll often find exactly what you're asking, with a reply stating that the question is 'off topic' and has been closed by half a dozen users. The 'kinder' ones tell the questioner to go and post in a different area. They don't. Or at least their asking in 'the proper area' never turns up in the first page of results on Google.

What's far more supportive is where you get the replies saying 'this has already been discussed here, here and here', with links. This enriches the post to make it more search engine friendly and provides the resources requested without the questioner feeling like they've gone and annoyed the elders.

What the head post feels like is is the normal progress for a community. You've got a number of pleople who know each other to some extent, in that they have shared experiences and learned together. Then some more people come along, and they don't know as much as you. Some of your elders will help, some will shoot them down. Then the half realisation that having the elders getting shouty might be a bad thing, and it upsets the other elders to see them wound up this way be people who don't know as much as them. A policy is proposed that the elders should retreat from talking to the little people unless, without the support they themselves had, those little people can at least atain enough knowledge to talk to the elders at their own level.

This murders communities with the death of a thousand cuts. The new members who do need help ( as if googling it hasn't ocurred to them, they *do* need help ), will drift off when they either get shot down or ignored, depending on who was to hand.

Then a couple of years down the line the elders start moaning that their interests aren't being supported by the world at large as their community becomes niche and eventually collapses.

I'm not clued up in robotics; I've got stuff started, but I have a lot of other things in the way, some which I mind getting in the way, some that I don't, that stop me getting into robotics more heavily, and becoming part of this community. I stumbled across it several years back and was impressed with what was being done. This sort of post puts me off having anything to do with the community, which I think is rather the point.

Whining that you don't want the little people to touch you is an indicator of arrogance trumping experience. 

You're good people with knowledge and experience that you don't pick up in passing. Try to make sure your community has at least a couple of mentors in it. That it has enough interested bodies to put together an easy to find primer on 'what camera should I get' with the current options and the pros and cons. 

Everyone started out knowing nothing, and the more widely the use of the net spreads, the average tech savy of anyone starting out on anything drops accordingly, and so the average helping hand needed gets bigger, and the less significant the community is if it doesn't grow.

You've caught me with the wrong statement on a bad morning? Probably. But I've seen this behaviour in groups clubs and communitys time and again, and it invariably hurts that community whether on line, a club or just a group of friends with similar interests.

Get over yourselves.


Well, it took me a while to read that long statement.

If you are a frequent user of this forum you might see how many people are helping here. There is no bad words or whining, just sometimes a bit disappointment about questions which could easy answered by a google search even for beginners. You might have the wrong impression about this posting, maybe not. I am not sure how to respond since we ( I believe that I am speaking for Maxhirez too) does not have to justify ourselfs. 

I am member of various communities and must say that letsmakerobots is the best of all. Here you will find help, even with a thump to refer to Google/Bing/Yahoo if the question such simple nature. 

I see it this way. I read a question and know that it's already answered here but can not remember the URL (who can?). Do I need to search and post the URL or might I ask the people with the qurestion to do that job by themself? Well, it depends what time I have or what mood I am in...worst thing is NO answer because NO answer suggest that we don't care....we care, so we answer the most of the time in a way that everybody is satisfied. 

Well spoken Max! I am also feeling the urge to respond without thinking sometimes but it's getting better. Instead of telling them to use a major search engine before asking questions which could be answered much faster with a google search as you type the question here in a forum post I am ignoring that question. This gives me the time to focus on more important matters :-)

But frankly, I see quewstions in serveral forums which are quite annoying, like "What camera i should buy" without to tell us what kind of pictures they wanna take. It's like going to a bar and tell the bartender "I am thirsty"...what he is going to serve me then?


I used to get that one a lot. My trolling instinct was much higher at the time because for a while I always answered "Get a Phase One" knowing full well that they'd either blow off the answer, or that they'd look into it and find out I'd recommended that they buy a unit that cost more than their SUV-and that without a body, viewfinder, tethered machine or lenses! And that wasn't even anonymous forum questioning, that was face to face opinion solicitation. I hope that this means I've learned to be less of an a-hole as a part of my maturation.

LOL, indeed. However, if you learned something than mission accomplished :-)