[kwlug-disc] Posting without subscribing to the KWLUG-Help list

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Wed Jun 2 14:36:46 EDT 2010

John Van Ostrand wrote, On 06/02/2010 2:19 PM:
> ----- Original Message -----
>> I'm just saying, newbs ain't going to sign up to a mailman list.
>> It's 1990's technology. Nobody starts up any sort of community
>> discussion these days using mailman technology. Newbs will go
>> elsewhere, to some more familiar venue.
> Should we shy away from expecting new users to join the community?

Personally, I don't think so. Especially, as it's just not that hard. 
All they have to do is read the screen. Granted - I long ago lost 
count of users asking for help that didn't read the error message 
popup that went flying by.

> If they don't join, will then eventually be disappointed with their
> success with FOSS? Which is easier signing up for a mailing list or
> registering with a forum?

I don't think either is easier. But an e-mail list requires an e-mail 
signup procedure, and a web forum is a web interface. Does that matter 
/ is that 'harder'?

> By having them join a list they join the community. It also acts as
> a very small barrier to asking a question. But it may be enough of
> a barrier to prevent nuisance questions.


 > I mean, lots of people
> need help with FOSS and may litter Internet forums and other lists
> with questions replicated across many sites.

And the nuisance questions are a whole lot easier to ignore on a web 
forum than in e-mail.

 > I think the idea of a
> forum has some merit, since it can be joined and left without the
> day-to-day deluge of messages. For me they are not very helpful
> since I rarely can remember to visit often enough. The push
> technology of mailing lists works way better.

You don't find optional equivalent e-mail / push technology within 
forums today?

I dare say you're different than the average new user. You know to ask 
very specific questions, regardless of the mechanism, and know to 
quickly search the available help facilities before posing a question. 
Presumably not true of the new user, yet.

OTOH, your role here would be as answerer - would the usual forum 
e-mail notification that a question has been posed be sufficient to 
remind you to go to the web? Typically the notification e-mail has the 
link right in it.

> I also know from personal experience that non-subscriber posts to
> mailling lists invariably results in lots of spam to be deleted.

Which is much easier to ignore on the web than in e-mail.

> It's also a role where quick turn-around is expected. I like my
> lists that require membership to post, that way my admin duties
> involve deleting those messages in bulk when they begin to use too
> much disk space.

Does this not all really bring us back to a central question - what 
kind of new user are we trying to provide for? What are their 
characteristics? Mom, who has never used a mouse or e-mail before, or 
the new linux user brave enough to chance having to use a command 
line, or somewhere in between. The latter implies Windows / Internet 
experience, to search, and familiarity with keyboard and mouse use. 
Even better - someone trying a Live CD, or trying a linux vm?

My two biggest challenges with my first Linux install:
- having another machine around when it didn't 'just work' to search 
the web for answers.
- getting the gui up the first time (default resolution chosen ok, but 
refresh rate incompatible with the monitor). I had 'dpkg --reconfigure 
xserver-xorg' on a post-it note on the side of my desk for the longest 

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