Same old conundrum (was Re: telnet & ftp client)

Bill Maltby LFS Related lfsbill at
Sun Sep 22 15:11:53 PDT 2002

On Sun, 22 Sep 2002, Matthias Benkmann wrote:

> On Sun, 22 Sep 2002 12:27:47 -0600 Rob Park <rbpark at> wrote:
> > What happened to your crusade against "lazy people"? I mean, the blfs
> > <snip>

> I'm not on a crusade and I do not promote and have never promoted personal
> attacks. I suggested changes to the book to motivate more self education
> and keep people away who refuse to read for themselves. But as the book
> currently is, we can't really blame people for posting FAQs. We have to
> blame the book.

I agree the book is to blame to *some* degree. But I also understand the
inclusion of additional information to help ease the way for
"intermediate-to-advanced" users. These are *very* imprecise terms and
the drawing the lines of demarcation is not an easy task when the goal
is (partly/mostly/somewhat) educational in nature.

Having said that, the list itself must bear some of the responsibility.
And, from what I've heard, with some pride IMO. Several folks have
commented about the speed of response, the (mostly) friendly and helpful
attitude and some have commented on the knowldgeability of the list.

Those attributes, in and of themselves, will tend to draw less experienced
users as well as more knowledgeable ones (hopefully) *regardless* of the
contents of the book(s). And it seems to me that we don't want to discour-
age that, even just for our own interests. The "bad" things brought by
less-experienced users may be offset by the good things brought by some
percentage of them as their experience matures. This is good for all of

The problem with the list is the same as the problem with the book - where
is the line drawn. And it has another that the book possesses in only a
semi-static way - how is the line enforced.

The book can enforce whatever line it draws by the fact that it is not
interactive. The list, being interactive, has a more difficult time of
doing that job if it wishes to remain courteous, helpful, friendly and
gain new members. And that is assuming that a "line" can be drawn!

If you are not "expert" in shell scripting, are you too ignorant to be
accepted and supported by the list? No? Well, if you don't know what the
bash construct $(AB##[][agh]*]) means, are you too new? If you don't have
a basic perl scripting ability... you can see where this goes. At *any*
level of experience in some area of Linux/GNU use, I can find another area
touched upon by the LFS activities in which an individual may not have
"enough" experience. Maybe lilo, maybe CDs, maybe SCSI, maybe modules and
on and on. I myself am *very* ignorant in *many* areas. But I take *great*
pride in "doing my homework" before asking for help even though that costs
me time, effort and aggravation. Not everbody has that same attitude. And
I do not *expect* everyone to have the same attitude, although I wish they
would. Anyway, before enforcement of a line can be considered, there must
be a line. And it needs to be fairly *unambiguous* (that statement is
itself ambiguous).

And *then* one must decide how it is enforced and at what cost and if it
really ought to be enforced at all, considering the costs (whatever they

There have been many suggestions as to new sub-groups (newbies), higher-
level book content, dynamically generated books and so forth. But we
always come bumping into the same darn wall - it is apparently *not* the
basic nature of most of us to *not* be helpful to others! And for that we
pay the price until we can discover a solution that minimizes the bad
effects of all the good attributes of the list and maximizes the good ef-

BTW: I consider one of the bad effects to be that people are constantly
addressing this topic and *not* solving it. *That* is against my nature
much more than helping people who are too new, lazy or just plain ...?
You would think that with all this brain power, somebody would have
started a working group or something to come up with some good analysis of
the problem, several good solutions... oh well.

As for me, I will continue doing what I do most of the time. Helping where
I might, *trying* to be considerate in all cases and suggesting,
suggesting, suggesting references to docs. And sometimes, I just shut up.

Awright - quit that laughing out there!  :)

> In any case, posting misinformation is the wrong way to
> deal with these people. If you want to be impolite, simply reply with
> "RTFM". If you want to be more helpful, provide a URL. But don't simply
> post junk. You're making the problem of redundancy on (b)lfs-support worse
> not better.

Essentially, I agree. But I took it as humor that I felt would be easily
recognizable. So my reaction was considerably different than yours. How-
ever, in the non-humorous intellectual sense, I think you are right. What
I would be interested in hearing is how the OP took it. That seems to me
to be more significant.


Bill Maltby
billm at

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