Thursday, February 12, 1998 at 4:03:57 AM Pacific
Helping NewbiesHere's the edited text of a series of messages I've been writing for the Frontier-work list, explaining to the core members of our community how to field questions from people who are new to Frontier.
I thought these comments deserve a broader discussion.
Dave Winer on Helping Newbies
OK -- we can't handle all the questions the Newbies are asking!
I want to open a brief discussion here on how to approach questions by Newbies.
This will make it easy for anyone who wants to pitch in and help to know what's expected, to avoid problems.
- If you're sure you know the answer, answer it immediately. If you don't see a way to do it, don't say "there's no way to do it" or suggest that they could write their own code to do it. Let us be the ones to say there's no way. That way it will end up on a bug list or a feature request list. It also makes it impossible for us to have to correct you. That's embarassing. We're supposed to be on the same side here. This is different from a "community" list like Frontier-central, where the possibility of respectful disagreement is part of what makes it work.
- No announcements on the Newbies list. Assume that they're watching Scripting News and the Frontier 5 home page. Watch the log digest. Do you see what's going on here? Scripting.com is rapidly becoming the Frontier Support Center, according to the traffic. You reach a lot more people by working with us. We assume that's your goal?
- Before clicking on the Send button, read the message. Try to imagine that you're new to Frontier. Does it make sense? Can you delete some parts that were about your process, that helped you arrive at the conclusion, but don't help a reader understand the solution? I just wrote a four paragraph message that I shrunk to one paragraph. The last paragraph contained the info the reader needed. The first three paragraphs were for me, they helped me state the problem so I could arrive at the best way to explain it.
- Be aware that they may be using a different version of the software than you are, may not have installed all the things you've installed, might be using a Mac when you're using Windows, or vice versa. All these things might effect the answer.
- If you're pointing them to some code you've written, be sure to include the disclaimer that you wrote it. Only suggest using add-ons if it's really necessary. This is not a forum for building market share. It's a help list.
- If you have any questions on how to proceed, raise the questions on the Frontier-work list. I want to learn not only from the newbies, but from the oldbies too.
- Professionalism and respect at all times. Imagine you're wearing a blue suit and a red tie. You're looking sharp. These people want us to be confident and positive. *I* want you to be confident and positive. Wearing a nice suit makes it possible to have a little fun too. But never at another person's expense.
- Don't assume no one from UserLand is listening, in fact, assume the opposite, assume everyone is listening. Bob, Doug, Brent, Wes, pay attention here. Part of Thea's job is to read every message and try to find someone who can answer the question. If she thinks I should see it, she'll make sure I do.
- To people who say "But Dave you kicked us out of this place!" I say, that was the right thing to do then, now the right thing to do is to carefully add the community back to the world of the Newbies.
This page was last built on 3/1/98; 5:14:05 AM by Dave Winer. firstname.lastname@example.org