General discussion


Self Help

By Mike Jones ·
I have noticed that a lot of questions posted to the Technical Q & A could be solved by the user themselves, if they just performed a search on the Internet or the manufacturers website. Eg:

How much help would you give ifthe person asking for the help had not even tried to help themselves?

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It's Obvious...

by jschein In reply to Self Help

Obviously as you can see from the # of NO REPLYS that these are indeed those sort of posts. If people can't speak english, nor type it, then maybe I will post a simple reply to an easy question, otherwise let them be and maybe the forum heads will remove their posts after maybe 2 weeks or a month.

If users can find this forum, easily, they should be able to find their solution via a web search. Some are tricky, but personal webpages and manufacturer sites have almost all info needed.

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by Mike Jones In reply to It's Obvious...

This is what I can't understand. The sheer amount of questions posted where the poster obviously hasn't tried.

Some of the questions are from people with little knowledge, but a few are asking questions about servers and mentioning that they arethe administrators for their organisation.

Someone should produce a white paper on how to solve problems in methods form not in specifics.

I once read a Microsoft Document on how to troubleshoot problems, but it wasn't written geared to Microsoft products but a more general viewpoint. I cannot for the life of me find this document again. It also wasn't just limited to software, the same technique could be applied to hardware or fixing your car. It was one of several documents in a series, the others were related to setting up helpdesks in large organisation and the like.

Anyway, I think I've had a bad day at work and am probably just letting some steam off. You try getting a crappy old dot matrix printer to print off mainframeprints correctly when the programmer who wrote the job still works for the company and cannot be bothered to tell you how it works until after you've spent fours hour playing guessing games.

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Self help experiences

by generalist In reply to Self Help

I would determine the amount of help needed based on the person's experiences with self help.

Knowing that you can look up information on the Internet is not something that people are born knowing. You have to learn it from somewhere.

Once you learn it, you then have to figure out how to use it. Unfortunately, even with search engines, you can waste a lot of time trying to come up with the right combination of search words to find what you want.

If you have a really bad experience with a search, you may want to avoid the pain by seeking the help of others.

Then you add in the 'assumed knowledge' factor that lots of self help documentation has. A lot of self help documentation assumes that you know the jargon they use to describe things. They then use that jargon for their keywords, ignoring the fact that some words have multiple meanings and that some meanings have multiple words and phrases describing them.

Unfortunately, not everybody knows all the jargon. They are then handicapped by the need to know the right keywords to search for the knowledge they are lacking.

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by JackOfAllTech In reply to Self Help

Many, many (...) years ago when I started out as an assistant programmer, there was a guy in Tech. Support who literally knew EVERYTHING about our mainframes. Any time ANY one asked him a question the first thing he said was "Did you look in the manual?" If you said no, he told you to try that first. If you said yes (even if you didn't) he would ask questions about the material to see if you were bluffing. Only if you had made the effort and still didn't understand would he help you.

NowI do the same thing ;-)


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depends on the manual

by Deadly Ernest In reply to RTFM

I often use the system that you mentioned above, but it does have its pitfalls.

Some years ago I was working with a specially made piece of software, developed for international use by all the members of the group. I had a problem trying to change some data in one of the data bases. I went to the support specialist and he ask if I looked in the manual, I said yes and that I did not understand a word of it. He looked at me strange, so I handed him the manual. He opened it and laughed, helped me and then placed an order for the English version as the system had been shipped with a French version of the manual.

But what frightens me is when I open a technical manual for something in a technical area that I know, the manual is in Englishand I don't understand anything after the contents page due to the thing being full of acronyms that could have multiple meanings.

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by djent In reply to Self Help

The posts like "My computer wont boot" with no more information are ignored for good reason. If the poster wants help they need to offer some relevant info like hardware config, OS, recent changes or some clue. If you cant find the power switch get an abacus or take off your socks.

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Self Help is a learned skill

by Rabbit_Runner In reply to Self Help

I have been on both sides of the issue under discussion. There were times (back then) when I did not know much about computers, software, networking, etc. One of the ways I learned was to 'ask' questions of the persons who could know. Then through time, I learned to do some research from manuals, websites, plus seek answers from others.

Also I learned that there is a definite skill in asking a question. Like what steps had I followed to resolve a particular issue, what detailed information could I supply which would help another person 'help' me find the answer.

Through it all, it becomes a learning process. 1)Learning how to research an issue to find the solution, 2) learning how to ask a question with all the pertinent information, and 3) learning how to give an answer when someone asks for help.

Plus, there is a wide range of experience of IT persons. Some are just starting, others have had years. The ones just starting need guidance and those whith the experience need to give appropriate guidance.

So do not get frustrated when questions are asked, maybe they are simply learning.

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Good answer

by maddiuex In reply to Self Help is a learned sk ...

Thanks,I also had to start somewheres, as he did. The best place to start is at Tech Repubic. if they need to vent though.. would be better

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