Ask a Newbie Question - Get Flamed

I'm somewhat of a newbie when it comes to using Javascript - I can usually implement other people's scripts, but am pretty limited when it comes to customizing them or writing my own.

The other day I had a question about hiding the DOMTab script from IE5/Mac which I posted on the Tek-Tips Javascript forum.

Bacuse the problem occurs in IE5/Mac when you try to click on a tab I mistakenly thought the problem was because it doesn't support 'onlick' (like I said, I'm a Javascript novice). In actual fact (I'm pretty sure) it's because IE5/Mac doesn't support 'addevent' (among other functions), which is used by the script.

Not surprisingly this was pointed out to me, but check out the final post when I responded to try and clarify what I meant:

Me: Sorry about the 'onclick' comment - I think I meant 'addEvent' is not supported by IE5/Mac.

Him: You "think" you meant? So what you're saying is your original post was misleading, and you still aren't actually sure what you are saying.

Me: ah, how I love to support the 0.8% of our site visitors who still choose to use IE5/Mac!

Him: How I love to help out people who can't actually tell us what their problem is!

Ouch. I don't know how many people I've helped out with CSS and HTML problems that weren't exactly sure how to describe what the issue was.

Imagine how easy it would be to learn new things if we only asked questions when we had a crystal clear idea of what the problem was.

Didn't someone once write that "there are no dumb questions"?

Posted on: March 27, 2006 | 2 Comments

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2 Comments Posted

Geez, it's people like that that can make a forum intolerable to post in. Most mature forum members simply say something like, "Could you please clarify?" or "I think what you're asking is this...Is that correct?" I think this person's response shows immaturity above all else, not to mention an annoying arrogance. I wonder if others in the forum have chastised him for his arrogance?

It would seem that if you knew what the problem was or how to describe it, you'd find a solution and wouldn't need to ask on a forum. Things would be awfully quiet... If I ran a forum, I'd institute temporary bans. If somebody flames, ban them for a week.

You can experience the same effect if you're asking linux questions in support forums or irc channels.

Although I have to admit that asking about 'onlick' is rather funny - but I guess that's just a typo in this posting ;)

I feel your pain. One of the most important attributes for anyone in tech support to have is approachability. People shouldn't be afraid of asking for tech support help. Unfortunately, your type of experience is all too common.

All - thanks for the moral support! Fortunately I have pretty thick skin; especially with my previous experience when a post made it onto Digg.com - boy, did I ever get flayed alive in the comments.

It seems to me that there are two ways to deal with 'dumb' questions - (1) belittle the poster, or (2) get them to clarify what they mean so that you can help them. I'll take #2 every time, thanks.

I totally get where you're coming from - I avoid a lot of forums just because of the fear that I'd get flamed. I hate it when those who are more knowledgeable don't cut those of us who don't know much (and are trying to learn) some slack.

Glad you let it bounce off you. :)

not all forums are like that, but I started to avoid it because this l337 p30pl3. They have forgotten that like as someone i can't remeber said "Someone who never makes mistakes, has never tried something new". Error and willingness to learn are the path to success.

I've actually stopped subscribing to Digg for just that reason - noise to signal has dropped through the floor, to the point where it is really just a waste of time now. Blowhards pontificating, running down anything they think is below their self-appointed expertise level.

Whenever I get a response like that I take some heart in knowing that those that find it necessary to do this are the ones that have the lowest amount of self-esteem, and aren't worth the effort of a response.

And I get a certain amount of satisfaction in deleting those kinds of responses from my own site. It's usually the best way to respond - no response, or delete.

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