Ryan Bigg

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01 Feb 2011

A scene that plays out in every single programming languages' (oh, and let's not forget the glorious #gentoo) IRC channel I've come across:

<new_guy> How do I do x?
<old_hat> omg noob RTFM plz

Or something to that degree.

As Yehuda Katz wrote nearly a year ago:

... the "noob" can stare at "the f***ing manual" all day and simply fail to find something staring him in the face. Importantly, this does not reflect a failing on the part of the new developer.

When a person enters a channel and asks a question, our immediate reaction should not be one to shout at them to "RTFM", but to point them to the specific point in the manual where they may find their answers. If they don't happen to find the answer there, then either spend some time helping them or, if you're thinking of something nasty to say, do nothing. Go surreptitiously tweet about it or something (but if you do that, you're still a dick). Whatever you do, abusing the person who is coming to you, who is respecting your opinion on the topic, for no apparent reason is just not on.

Ridiculing them will only lead them to hate you, hate the language that they're trying so darn hard to learn and they will abandon it. They will tell their friends that the people in the channel are arrogant and unhelpful.

In the Ruby channels, we must be better than #gentoo, better than ##php. We must strive to rise above being "holier-than-thou" and instead of getting on our high horse because we know everything we should share that knowledge with those who do not yet possess it.

How else do you expect them to learn?

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