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Oh, Really, Guys? A Small Rant.


Randal6393
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I know it is hard to do your own work. Every so often, some one puts up a "tell me what fountain pen I need" topic. Or has a problem such as, "My pen is broken, how do I fix it?" So, such topics are a request for help. Without enough information for FPN'ers to reply. Then, the new member gets the impression that FPN isn't very helpful.

 

Not true, many of our members are great at helping with a problem. If they can see what the problem is. Or if it's apparent that the questioner is aware enough to understand the answer. So please, questioners, give us questionees a break. Do some research on the threads. Read a few reviews. And ask well-formulated questions.

 

Love having you here, hope you contribute often. And, if properly formulated, that question you ask -- and the answer -- may help you and many another member.

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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Thank you, Randal. I see this, a lot. Some well meaning newb will ask for help and not give any sort of info that would help us to help them.

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I suspect that sometimes it's the case that they don't know the questions to ask. Or that they're so new that they don't know what they don't know.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I suspect that sometimes it's the case that they don't know the questions to ask. Or that they're so new that they don't know what they don't know.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

The bad part, is you're exactly right. It's almost a vicious. Circle
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The deficiency in communication skill is not limited to verbal. It is also literal. I hope the newbie can tolerate "probing" questions. Conversely, a novice, asking for suggestions toward a beginner pen, should not be taken as an invitation to boast about one's "premium-level" possessions. When the newbie learns that the lovely pen that is suggested will cost him (No, I did NOT say "them".) hundreds of dollars, he is easily alienated.

Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn.
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen:
Verweile doch, du bist so schön !

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The bad part, is you're exactly right. It's almost a vicious. Circle

It might be worth starting a pinned thread called "My Pen Doesn't Work" which describes the kinds of things we'd like to know in order to help out.

 

Also, perhaps a "What Pen Do I Have Here?" thread listing the same sorts of things (including exciting new concepts like photographs, the name on the clip, and what it says on the nib).

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Wait...is this the thread where I ask how to fix my broken pen? It's the kind that uses bottled ink, about yay big.

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Wait...is this the thread where I ask how to fix my broken pen? It's the kind that uses bottled ink, about yay big.

That was very funny. Are you saying your pen is yay big, or yay, it's big? hehehe

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I have seen the sort of non-specific cry for help to which Randal referred, but I think Ruth's observation is pertinent.

 

I once had a meeting with an expert in statistics and data analysis, looking for advice about what statistics to use to analyze some rather complex data. I had a really hard time describing the critical features of my data set. I finally apologized for not being able to clearly express what I needed. To my surprise, the consultant responded that it was part of his job to help me define my needs, and he proceeded to ask me questions that really helped me get a handle on what it was I needed from him.

 

That was a valuable lesson for me.

 

David

Edited by dms525
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People new to the fountain pen experience can be properly guided with questions from the experienced. It's more helpful than making fun of them with jokes and other less than helpful behavior.

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I work in a field where I often have to help people with complex, difficult to define problems.

Not all people possess good communication skills. When trying to help these people you have to be patient, and be ready to endure long Q&A sessions. If you are not prepared to deal with that, then simply do not offer your assistance. Nobody would blame you for opting out.

 

What's really frustrating is running into the occasional person that wants instant answers, yet doesn't have the patience to reply to necessary questions. Some younger people these days are like this, and they seem to carry it with them as they age. But that's just a personal observation on my part.

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I suspect we need a good dose of patience too. It's easy to become frustrated with the same repetitive questions over and over, but it's power for the course on a forum such as this. I see the same frustration on other hobby forums, but it is best to keep in mind that those annoyingly repetitive questions always represent new blood that will keep the hobby alive.

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To a greater or lesser degree I have used fountain pens for over 50 years. Despite that my knowledge was really very limited. My father believed Parker were best so I thought the same. Then, as a teenager, I rebelled and decided Sheaffer were better. Later I stopped rebelling and went back to Parker.

 

About four years ago I set out to research a couple of old pens and found the wonderful resource which is FPN. Searching in the forums (fora, plural?) I have learned a huge amount including many new ways of spending money! Occasionally I have asked questions and always been amazed at the speedy, knowledgeable replies.

 

Yes, you do see people asking questions along the lines of "I am new to this, my question is probably stupid, but . . .?" and the replies always seem courteous and helpful.

 

What you also see, and what I do find annoying, is people asking questions which have already been answered many times elsewhere. The first replies are usually "follow this link", "follow that link" and you do see members asking why the OP does not do their own research. How many times have I read the comment "Google is your friend"?

 

On FPN, as in other walks of life, if you make your own efforts and then ask politely, people are glad to help. If you simply want someone else to do your work for you, you will get a less helpful response.

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As a (retired) teacher, I used to tell my students that a) the only stupid question is the one you didn't ask, and B) some questions may sound stupid because you don't know what you don't know, so you don't know what to ask.

 

I suspect that a lot of incomplete requests for help are from people, both newbies and old hands, who genuinely don't know the subject, topic or technical term well, and therefore don't know how to phrase the question correctly.

 

About people asking questions which have already been answered: I agree with martinbir that it sounds annoying, but from my own experiences, if you don't know what to ask for, you can often not find a previous answer because you can't use search facilities productively. The link/Google suggestions from members are often the answer needed!

 

And as others have said, I'm always impressed at how FPNers respond patiently, asking questions to prompt the right information.

 

Owen

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You know, in the pen site that I admin, we have a whole section dedicated to newbies, where they can ask questions without feeling embarassed. Maybe FPN should do the same.

http://s26.postimg.org/fp30mhy6x/signature.jpg

In punta di penna.....

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The search feature is so useful, and leads to so much other learning. Even if I don't know the exact search terms to use, it's possible to arrive at better understanding and context behind an answer, and to learn about the people who have come to the same question previously.

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Just an aside, when I first came to FPN I found the search engine feature pretty much useless. It took a long learning curve before I figured out how to use it properly, therefore some of my first questions were undoubtedly ones that had been asked many times in the past. I have to admit the responses I got were all genuinely helpful (still are) and I was treated very well by other FPN members. I'm still here because of that treatment. I've learned so much as a result of my time on the network. People have been so good to me. I try to return the good will to others starting out.

"You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling.” "Forever optimistic with a theme and purpose." "My other pen is oblique and dippy."

 

 

 

 

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I suspect that sometimes it's the case that they don't know the questions to ask. Or that they're so new that they don't know what they don't know.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

This.

The deficiency in communication skill is not limited to verbal. It is also literal. I hope the newbie can tolerate "probing" questions. Conversely, a novice, asking for suggestions toward a beginner pen, should not be taken as an invitation to boast about one's "premium-level" possessions. When the newbie learns that the lovely pen that is suggested will cost him (No, I did NOT say "them".) hundreds of dollars, he is easily alienated.

Also: this.

 

The point about the search function's shortcomings is also well advised.

 

(It's nice to see a thread like this that's largely free of complaints about stupid newbies wasting people who are more important and better informed than them's time, isn't it?)

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When I first came across this site, I read an enormous amount as fast as I could. It was amazing how much knowledge has been accumulated here. I have never bothered to start a thread. The rest of you do a good enough job!

 

That is my recommendation to any of these people.

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The asking of questions that have been asked many times before is inevitable on Internet forums. Why let it get to you? As others have pointed out above, it's not always laziness, although it can be. People don't know what to search for exactly, or how to do so effectively. In any case, it's incredibly easy to ignore a post that you don't feel like answering. Or you can take a moment to link to information on replacing a sac in a lever filler (for the thousandth time) and let your fellow FPNers get the same query the next twenty-seven times it comes up.

 

As for answering poorly thought out questions, or ones that don't give enough information, I tend to avoid these if the manner of asking is positively incoherent. Otherwise, I don't mind being helpful where I can, even if I have to ask some follow up questions to be sure what the issue is. Frequently I'd rather wait for someone with more knowledge to step in, of course, but if we share the responsibility, then eventually these questions will get answered.

 

When I've sought information on FPN, I've encountered some snarkiness, impatience, and downright unhelpfulness, but not really that much. On the whole, people here seem to enjoy sharing their knowledge.

"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."

 

- Benjamin Franklin

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