What's on your Brain. Objectivity affects what force, before Subjectivity is manifest?

4Nov/050

Post-Classroom Excitement

I just wanted to say quickly here that I had a great time getting back in front of the classroom at Juniata College yesterday! (yes, the session was delayed one week!).

my css web page is also coming together very nicely. if you are a CSS enthusiast, please take a look and give me some feedback!

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1Nov/050

Egomania: Perpetuated as the “HAQSWay Document”

or, as an Alt-title for this article:

"A (rather lengthy) Attempt to Rationalize Ego-mania"

the following text is a copy, republished, as borrowed from http://novicenotes.net


The type of rhetoric pervasive throughout HAQSWay, stylistically speaking, has its place. It is an integral part in establishing, and maintaining defined, hierarchical levels in a social system, or community (i.e. the oppression of women; blacks in America is propagated through subversive rhetoric, not unlike the HAQSWay Document.) HAQSWay serves as a viable example for analysis, or scholarly study of the rhetoric of subservience. On the other hand, it makes for an entertaining read, and provides insight into historical hacker culture.

Have you ever participated in a "public help" Forum in which one or many of the "Guru" or Senior Members have indicated in their signatures a link to How to Ask Questions the Smart Way? Chances are, if you've sought help via "the forums", you have encountered this, or at least belong to a forum in which some such member or moderator exists. Let me save you the time you're going to waste, should you decide to follow one of those signature URL's. To be clear, I'm citing the popular HTML-based, typically PHP-powered web forums, known by name-brand as phpbb2, vBulletin, envision, simple-machines, to name a few of those in common circulation, from which Users are encouraged to read the HAQSWAY document.

Think before you Link!

Don't be fooled: the text of “How to ask Questions the Smart Way”, as users are directed to read (as described above) does not issue the rules governing forum participation. It is not the mission of HAQSWay to address rules respective to web forums, as would be implied where new users are urged to first read the HAQSWay Document before further participating. The observant user will discover straight away that HAQSWay is irrelevant to the forum in which he or she wants to participate. To be clear, it is good practice to read the Rules of the Forum at registration, before participating. If you see "How to Ask Questions the Smart Way" written in a user's signature, and you are tempted to investigate that information, you should instead find the Rules specific to the forum where you encountered that user with the off-site link in his signature.

Be confident in knowing that you needn't be concerned with the technique of your inquiry, as long as you respect the wishes of the Forum administrator / creator, and follow the guidelines for Forum conduct. Look for those guidelines which are usually set forth in the Announcements section of these forums, or provided as a disclaimer upon registration. Those are the rules with which you should be concerned when wishing to abide by the etiquette and recommended conduct of each unique Forum-- Rules which can certainly be quite dissimilar to the Rules of the next forum, and the next, and so on-- after all, if every discussion Forum were dry and serious, or outlandish or humorous, then the needs of its members might not be satisfied in such a way that a cohesive "community" might be bound to foster growth and learning, and overall, good natured rapport.

Consider that the HAQSWay Document, a Text originally authored by Eric Raymond, a prominent member of the Hacker community (and now co-authored and edited by Rick Moen) -- no doubt may have originally been written for an exclusive audience-- to be read by fellow Hackers as a sort of inside joke, or cerebral stab at the conduct of casual users outside of their apparently exclusive community. If you keep that in mind above all else when reading it, then by all means have a go at it, and you'll learn something about their preferred community conduct, and how you should expect to be treated.

A Deeper Look at the HAQSWay Document

It is no stretch to suggest that HAQSWay is nearly as irrelevant to contemporary web communication, as would be to instruct an e-mail user to look for e-mail addresses in a local telephone book. If the HAQSWayDocument ever truly had an era of relevance, then surely the epoch is history, as a new generation of users-- moreover, technology-- surpasses it, and renders it obsolete; references to it are archaic, and senseless at best.

The original Text addresses "List" subscribers; e-mail mailing-list participants. The Lists from 1990's-- and even Newsgroups-- have little relevance to the WWW of 2010, or 1999 for that matter. In contrast to its continued presentation on the HTTP protocol, in HTML for Web Client software, urging the visitors to Public Forum web sites, HAQSWay provides a suggested method for sending electronic mail, HTML MIME-type vs the preferred plain-text. Very little of HAQSWay might be said to address modern Network communication practices. We tend to describe such a text as obsolete, archaic, irrelevant, or historical. Continue reading for more specific dissection of various issues of HAQSWay which are both culturally obtuse, and downright offensive.

The text seems to be directed toward "outsiders" who are attempting to participate in Hacker-specific mailing-lists-- in which case, if this is the audience that the document most often reaches, then it makes perfect sense to have it in place as a reference so, as the Text states, "...Hackers blow off questions that are inappropriately targeted in order to try to protect their communications channels from being drowned in irrelevance...". If this is the purpose of How to Ask Questions the Smart Way, then not only do i accept it, but i endorse the use of it. There should be a place for members of such distinguished communities as "the Hackers" to communicate without the signal to noise ratio being disturbed by poorly constructed inquiries originating from the static of under-studied computer users who's purpose is not to contribute to the community by providing new, interesting, or well-educated substance, but instead to find the answers to their immediate problems. Hackers shouldn't be expected to hand out Band-Aids® to "Newbies" while they are in the middle of performing brain-surgery on some advanced programming concept.

I find it difficult to believe, however, that the true Hacker community-- those who communicate in mailing lists or newsgroups, would with much honesty truly consider their "communications channels" to be synonymous with the highly-styled HTML intensive, advertisement-ridden, Web-Based forums which invite "Newbies" by having "Newbie"-specific Forum-categories. It is paradoxical that that the authors of How to Ask Questions the Smart Way have any true interest in helping, when they are so focused on resentment, and exhibiting indignant "behavior" through their rhetoric that they have gone as far as to author this manifesto! If we are to believe that this "tutorial" on inquiry is indeed meant to be read by passers by, and registered members of these newer web-based community forums, then surely it must be considered humor, for if meant to be taken seriously, then only as seriously counter-intuitive. Enjoy the following excerpt which illustrates the counter-intuitive rhetoric of subordination pervasive throughout HAQSWAY:

When asking your question, it is best to write as though you assume you are doing something wrong, even if you are privately pretty sure you have found an actual bug. If there really is a bug, you will hear about it in the answer. Play it so the maintainers will want to apologize to you if the bug is real, rather than so that you will owe them an apology if you have messed up.

The document seems to instruct to reader that the opposite is preferred, only a few lines beneath the preceding, stating as follows:

Some people who get that they shouldn't behave rudely or arrogantly, demanding an answer, retreat to the opposite extreme of grovelling. “I know I'm just a pathetic newbie loser, but...”. This is distracting and unhelpful. It's especially annoying when it's coupled with vagueness about the actual problem.

Don't waste your time, or ours, on crude primate politics. Instead, present the background facts and your question as clearly as you can. That is a better way to position yourself than by grovelling.

Fact or Fiction? Humorous or Serious?

Some of the main points of the HAQSWay document are the following:

  • You will find a few insightful suggestions, which in most cases, are there for two reasons
    1. it's there to teach you how to phrase your inquiry in a logical, concise, and sensible manner, so that the person on the receiving end has a greater liklihood of understanding your question the way you meant for it to be interpreted.
    2. intended to help the receiver filter your inquiry
  • Overall, you'll be introduced to a lot of Hacker-culture specific Etiquette, most of which has little to do with helping one another, and a lot to do with genuflecting to the superior knowledge and nature of the Hacker community-- after all, you're a "Newbie", and you've dared venture into "their" domain.
  • It is meant to teach you how to mind you manners as a subservient while engaging discourse on Hacker turf.

The point here, albeit convoluted and divergent in parts, is basically that, from my perspective, "How to Ask Questions the Smart Way" is a Constitution which, although once relevant to Internet technology newcommers, has seen its day and becomes increasingly less relevant because we have entered a new era of newcommers-- a period in which even less technical knowledge is required to participate in so many technical discussion Forums. The very title seems to predate the more contemporary way of thought which focuses not on PC Tech Etiquette and technological prerequisite, but instead challenges the Hackers and Internet Community leaders to develop for increased accessibility and equal treatment. I mention rhetoric because of the powerful nature of well formed rhetoric to disseminate meaning and to create a global viewpoint, after all the title of the document in focus here implies that if you have been assigned to read it, you've already been deemed as owning the oppostite meaning-- as in, [I already know] How to Ask Questions the Stupid/ Uneducated Way, so i've come here to leave only better educated on the topic of proper inquiry itself.

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