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Re: Proposed Mailing List Page Reorg (was: RE: No stderr output)

On 10 Jan 2002 at 20:55, Gary R. Van Sickle wrote:

[cgf wrote:]
> > If this doesn't do it, then I think the best plan is to find help from
> > another mailing list.  Basic shell questions are not really appropriate
> > here -- especially given the recent volume we've been experiencing.

> I've been cogitating for a while that it could be mutually beneficial to
> inexperienced users and regulars' blood pressures alike if the Cygwin
> mailing list page listed a few concrete URLs to such "newbie"
> lists/newsgroups/FAQs etc, and at the same time reworked the wording on the
> description of this particular list.

Oh yes. I can tell you from a semi-novice POV that this is a correct 
insight. The wording (on that page at the RedHat Cygwin WWW site) that 
describes and therefore implicitly invites and directs towards the Cygwin 
mailing list could be re-written to important benefit for all, including 
both the tired veterans and the clooless noobies who think they are reading 
"ask us anything at all here about using Cygwin, we'll get you fixed up":

> Currently it says, "If you have questions about how to use Cygwin, or
> any of its tools (bash, gcc, make, etc.), this is the list for you." 
> That means: "If you have any question whatsoever regarding anything you
> can associate somehow with Cygwin, post it here." 

"can associate" being the most significant phrase in this point. The 
trouble is that experts' notions of *where* the boundary between OT for 
Cygwin lies and the noobie notions of where it lies (or that such a thing 
might exist, more to the point), is potentially extremely different, and 
whole sets (myriads, hecatomes) of assumptions need to be examined for 
correctness, which apparently aren't:

 - can one safely assume that a noobie who finds Cygwin grasps that the 
tools that are packed with cygwin (bash, login, man, for example) aren't 
specific to Cygwin at all but long predate it, and
 - can one safely assume that noobies will think "these tools that i am 
given with Cygwin run the same 'on cygwin' as they do on any Uni* -like 
platform (and therefore general documentation 'out there' will apply too), 
 - can one safely assume that noobies who might even guess at the first two 
points might not think anyway that "maybe I'll find friendlier, more 
sympathetic folks to hold my trembling timorous hand here, than I would if 
I ventured onto onto the Wierd Wild Web in search of generalized help on 
these tools"? (Point of this last is not to characterize the cygwin list as 
"nasty" or to propose that it self-characterize this way, but to suggest 
that a LITTLE warning of a slightly stern-sounding nature at the "front 
door" might be expeditious and appropriate given that folks on this list 
BAL [By And Large] clearly DON'T want anymore to answer questions like 
"what does man do" or "how do I login to bash").

It may be that In The Ancient Past most people who installed Cygwin were 
experienced Uni* users who longed for familiar tools in some kind of 
circumstantial Windoze exile they were enduring, but this also may not be a 
safe assumption anymore, if it ever was (IMO is not, since I knew little 
about Uni* when I began using Cygwin several years ago). So this means an 
entire philosophical framework (i.e., the Uni* Way -- small user-
configurable tools chained together in innumerable combinations to 
accomplish novel tasks, rather than Monolithic User Interfaces from one 
company where all the parts are considered more-or-less to be the Operating 
System itself... and only "conventional" tasks are allowed to 'exist') may 
be lacking for noobies of this description.

Yep, assumptions lie near the root of cygwin List unhappiness.

> That's simply not the intention of the list (at least since I've been
> around), nor should it be, but the description simply gives no
> indication of the true intent, i.e. "Cygwin-specific questions only
> need apply". 

> Now as for where best to send people, I have no idea (maybe some can just
> point into the appropriate section of the FAQ).  But here's a rough outline
> of what I'm thinking:

Unless there is one single extremely knowledgeable and encyclopedically-
oriented person who knows where to send people (and such people do exist I 
think, but whether one will care to undertake this is another question) 
then I think that a little project (or a little "coordinated multi-person 
collaboration", for lovers of ornate terminology!) needs to be created to 
develop and verify a list of 
resources to send such visitors to.

The task (of writing up re-directions for some of these categories or 
inquiries) can be done once, -- to set up more precise explanations and 
info at the site; or it can be done as its been done, repeated over and 
over again as similar questions appear on the list and are answered one at 
a time.

     Soren Andersen

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