On May 30, 2006, at 4:10 AM, Nuralanur / aol.com wrote:

> Dear Matthew,
>
> I realise that  people are trying to help, but I'd also like to
> suggest that unless  people are familiar with a platform, they hold
> back on giving advice  about it.
>
> Trying to help was my intention and you're right that a MAC  OSX  
> expert
> could have given better advice. So I'll refrain from talking about  
> Mac  OSX
> from now, since there are experts available , which is a good  
> thing  ;-)
> I've been using a Mac at home and Linux in on a PC at work.
> The reason for buying a Mac in the first place was that it claims
> to be so simple. However, when I bought a new computer  four  years
> later, it was not a Mac.
> The reason for this was the fact that I could not get hold
> of any usable reference or a competent seller to turn me really
> productive on this platform.
> I am using Linux in parallel to Cygwin on Windows. That latter
> platform also sometimes has unexpected behaviour.
> So just at the beginning of May, I ran into a problem that
> seemed to be in relation with some extension library of Ruby
> and I posted about it. The post was special enough to
> reduce the amount of self-assessed experts to 0.
>
> I did not get any response, and I was stuck for ten days.
>
> Then, I produced some other error, got an advice, which didn't
> fit 100 percent, either, but I learnt enough from it to solve the
> problem.
> So there is a danger from not getting good responses, but also
> one from not getting any responses at all to a question one has.
> Maybe a little critical distance from what other people tell you
> can help to solve the problem.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Axel
>
>
>
>
>
> My  reasoning for this request is this: not-quite-right advice is
> actually a fair bit more dangerous than flat-out wrong advice for
> novice users (who are the kind of users who need and ask for  advice).
>
> Wrong advice is obviously wrong, it gets tried and discarded  right  
> away.
>
> Not-quite-wrong advice costs people a lot of time and  effort before
> they realise that they've been led down the garden  path, or can lead
> people into some bad practices and  habits.
>
> matthew smillie.
>
>

If I may throw in my two cents,

Slightly wrong advice is ok as long as it's vague. "Make a directory  
for your ruby projects under your home directory." instead of
1) cd /home/<your username>
2) mkdir ruby


Or if it uses something that's "guaranteed" to work, I've been on  
systems besides OS X where /home was not /home so to speak, so you  
can say something like
   mkdir $HOME/ruby

If $HOME is set, its probably right. If it isn't, it shouldn't work  
anyway (Unless of course someone told you to su in the previous  
step ;) ). Still, in general, I would suggest making one's advice  
portable. If the receiver of the advice doesn't understand your vague  
advice, since you haven't given them any specific instructions its  
harder for them to do the wrong thing without asking more questions  
which will hopefully clear up the situation. I guess what I'm saying  
is the what is more important than the how. I realize "how" is  
usually what people are asking but you can tell someone how by  
telling them what as I hope I've demonstrated.