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How not to ask for help
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author How not to ask for help
ZZ Ardoz
I'm reposting this pm thread [edited for brevity] as an example of how not to ask for help. I've changed the name to protect the indolent, but this is someone who has only posted here over 4 years to ask for help bailing him out of failed projects, and in several cases didn't bother replying after people asked what his setup was, etc. Not a single post offering to help other people out, or adding anything to the community. This place is a great resource, help is abundant, and most are almost always willing to help where possible. But there's a difference between helping someone learn, and doing it for them, especially when they have responded to suggested learning materials, as this person has here on past help posts, with things such as "too much information to read, can you digest that for me?"

Surely there's a better way to get people to do things for free for you, or am I just being uptight about this?

here's the conversation:

forum member A wrote:
Hey man, I am looking for help flashing some MI builds (2 ubraids and 1 elements) , would you mind meeting up with me and helping me out? I am kinda new to this and could use some help getting started/


ZZ Ardoz wrote:
I noticed in both the ubraids and elements threads people tried to help and you left their inquiries [about your setup] unanswered. Maybe starting there would be a good beginning?


forum member A wrote:
i actually messaged you so i would not have to wait for the forum replies or deal with troubleshooting online. i just want to get my modules working.


ZZ Ardoz wrote:
But people offered their help when you asked. Don't you think it would be cool to respond?

Looking at the kinds of things you are asking [in the forums here], it looks like you are in need of putting in some hours to learn how things work with development environments.

It's difficult to help if you don't have that basic knowledge. There are resources mentioned on the threads that are very helpful. Once you have that knowledge, everything is pretty straightforward, and I'm happy to answer questions in the forum so others who come along have those answers as a resource. For the record, the answers you got [to previous forum questions] came pretty quickly after you asked them.

If you are in a hurry, and just want to play with your stuff, send them to me and I'll flash them and test them.


forum member A wrote:
Look buddy i know you like this forum and you want everyone to have a good experience and what not but i did not ask you to give me your opinion on how i spend my time or resources


ZZ Ardoz wrote:
if you aren't willing to put in the time to learn the foundations, you are essentially asking me to come and do it for you. For free. You've been helped through the process of building these units for months, and not answering followups to questions that people have stopped what they were doing, considered your problem, and then tried to help you with, is acting like that advice was something you are owed. When called on that, you say "Look buddy i know you like this forum and you want everyone to have a good experience and what not but i did not ask you to give me your opinion on how i spend my time". This isn't about a "good experience", this is about common courtesy.


forum member A wrote:
i only asked for your help not your perspective on my post history Go and wag your cyber dick back at the forums.


ZZ Ardoz wrote:
I did help you. By suggesting you need to learn the basics, and then offered to help you more when you did.


forum member A wrote:
get off your high horse. You are not any better than me or any other forum member. It is people like you that maintain the community small. instead of facilitating the learning process you bring up unnecessary hurdles for people that are not there yet.
pulse_divider
What a complete ass.
LoFi Junglist
Not all people learn in the same way. If learning via correspondence was effective for everybody, nobody would need to go to school.

There's been plenty of times when I've given advice in a thread, only to reply to a follow-up question days after it has been posted. While I know it may be useful for future readers of the thread, it probably frustrated the original poster.

The best thing about learning with a tutor, in person, is questions that arise spontaneously can be answered immediately (which I think the wiggler contacting you wanted).

To be honest I think intense 1-1 tutoring is something that needs be payed for, but that's another topic really.
ZZ Ardoz
LoFi Junglist wrote:
Not all people learn in the same way. If learning via correspondence was effective for everybody, nobody would need to go to school.

There's been plenty of times when I've given advice in a thread, only to reply to a follow-up question days after it has been posted. While I know it may be useful for future readers of the thread, it probably frustrated the original poster.

The best thing about learning with a tutor, in person, is questions that arise spontaneously can be answered immediately (which I think the wiggler contacting you wanted).

To be honest I think intense 1-1 tutoring is something that needs be payed for, but that's another topic really.


Indeed, but this guy was asking me to do it for him, not tutor him, and had showed a reluctance to even read starter guides, on multiple occasions.
mskala
I think I would have simply stopped replying a lot earlier in the conversation, when it was clear my time was being wasted.
keninverse
agreed w/ mskala. His response and the fact that it's MI DIY would preclude me from even entering a dialogue about meeting up to get it working. Not really in the spirit of why Olivier released his work publicly.
ZZ Ardoz
mskala wrote:
I think I would have simply stopped replying a lot earlier in the conversation, when it was clear my time was being wasted.
It was only a few minutes time spent, and I figured I'd give him a chance, as it would be better to end up with him on a path to putting in the time to learn. No big deal on my end
pld
The somewhat sad part is how easily that could have gone in a positive direction...
Maybe I'm high-horsed (?) as well, but generally I tend to think the asker should be doing the heavy lifting, but if they're not going to, it doesn't get much better than "I'll do it for you". And often enough the answer to "How do I X" is "Have you learned A, B, C?" for a reason, if only to save time for the inevitable "How do I Y & Z" smile
ZZ Ardoz
keninverse wrote:
agreed w/ mskala. His response and the fact that it's MI DIY would preclude me from even entering a dialogue about meeting up to get it working. Not really in the spirit of why Olivier released his work publicly.

The ubraids are a bit of a fence sitter, as it is a redesign and needs additional flashing beyond the original unit. I wouldn't have flashed the Elements though. I'd help him learn how to do that for himself, but not do it for him.
SoundPool
I can sympathize with someone preferring in-person to online help if possible - I also find first hand demonstration or face to face explanations much easier as my eyes glaze over on the screen a bit too quickly sometimes. but, that whole thing seemed to go downhill pretty quickly.

I dunno, not to open another can of worms here but personally it doesn't strike me as coincidence this is related to MI DIY modules. Its great they are open source and some people do learn a lot building these things or taking them in new directions either via firmware or other mods/redesigns... but the rate at which I see what look like freshly built modules pop up for sale on facebook groups, PCBs for sale, so on... it really just strikes me as that most people are looking to get pricier modules for cheap. which of course when you do DIY properly (invest in tools, high quality components, so on...) it of course rarely winds up being as "cheap" as one thinks. Building these modules simply to try and flip a quick buck or more likely to save a few dollars is likely to backfire. Seems to me this is someone who clearly have zero interest in learning and are frustrated they didn't get MI modules cheaper than retail (at least not yet), and so it gets taken out on you for not solving that "problem".
ZZ Ardoz
pld wrote:
The somewhat sad part is how easily that could have gone in a positive direction...
Maybe I'm high-horsed (?) as well, but generally I tend to think the asker should be doing the heavy lifting, but if they're not going to, it doesn't get much better than "I'll do it for you". And often enough the answer to "How do I X" is "Have you learned A, B, C?" for a reason, if only to save time for the inevitable "How do I Y & Z" smile


That's what is peculiar, is that he had shown in the past no interest in learning the basics, but ends up here with module after module that isn't working without help. A good pattern to examine and make the effort to change.
ZZ Ardoz
SoundPool wrote:
I can sympathize with someone preferring in-person to online help if possible - I also find first hand demonstration or face to face explanations much easier as my eyes glaze over on the screen a bit too quickly sometimes. but, that whole thing seemed to go downhill pretty quickly.

I dunno, not to open another can of worms here but personally it doesn't strike me as coincidence this is related to MI DIY modules. Its great they are open source and some people do learn a lot building these things or taking them in new directions either via firmware or other mods/redesigns... but the rate at which I see what look like freshly built modules pop up for sale on facebook groups, PCBs for sale, so on... it really just strikes me as that most people are looking to get pricier modules for cheap. which of course when you do DIY properly (invest in tools, high quality components, so on...) it of course rarely winds up being as "cheap" as one thinks. Building these modules simply to try and flip a quick buck or more likely to save a few dollars is likely to backfire. Seems to me this is someone who clearly have zero interest in learning and are frustrated they didn't get MI modules cheaper than retail (at least not yet), and so it gets taken out on you for not solving that "problem".


Pretty much what it was, I guess. I think when people think "ooh 60 dollar Clouds!", it makes them want to rush into the process of how to build them. ubraids is a different deal and Olivier is not bothered by them(as far as I can tell). He just doesn't want people pumping out Elements and selling them, especially if they have his name and logo on them. I'm kind of surprised at the alarming amounts you see sold daily on facebook, with no controls or suggestions that's not cool.

As far as the other part, I would have been happy to meet up and guide this guy if he didn't reject my suggestions of putting in some groundwork, but unfortunately, I think he took it as an insult on his abilities, and got nasty really quickly
spaceludes
Just for the record, this is helpful to me, as I'm not only new to DIY electronics, I'm also not used to asking for help on forums.

I've found this site invaluable so far, couldn't have come to understand many things without you folks.
livefreela
i was approached by a guy with a startlingly similar manner to this dude - if it's the same dude, his urgency comes from the fact that he builds the modules to sell on bst..
ZZ Ardoz
spaceludes wrote:
Just for the record, this is helpful to me, as I'm not only new to DIY electronics, I'm also not used to asking for help on forums.

I've found this site invaluable so far, couldn't have come to understand many things without you folks.


I personally get so much info daily from people. It's a great thing. I haven't encountered anyone who isn't helpful to those trying to learn. A rare thing!
ZZ Ardoz
livefreela wrote:
i was approached by a guy with a startlingly similar manner to this dude - if it's the same dude, his urgency comes from the fact that he builds the modules to sell on bst..


Not sure if it is the same guy as this one has been trying to get his modules working for months, but doesn't want to take the time to follow anyone's advice. Is your guy there selling multiple MI modules on bst?
pre55ure
livefreela wrote:
i was approached by a guy with a startlingly similar manner to this dude - if it's the same dude, his urgency comes from the fact that he builds the modules to sell on bst..


Ughh.

I would like to think that anyone selling something that they personally built, would have at least built it and verified that it works correctly before posting it.
Guess I'm just old fashioned like that.
ZZ Ardoz
pre55ure wrote:
livefreela wrote:
i was approached by a guy with a startlingly similar manner to this dude - if it's the same dude, his urgency comes from the fact that he builds the modules to sell on bst..


Ughh.

I would like to think that anyone selling something that they personally built, would have at least built it and verified that it works correctly before posting it.
Guess I'm just old fashioned like that.

These impossible standards!!!
whoop_john
ZZ Ardoz wrote:
…am I just being uptight about this?

No. This person is outrageously rude. Amazingly so.

I have had similar experiences with a few people in other fora (forums). People who suck up free help and generosity greedily and get mad and rude exceedingly quickly as soon as their needs are no longer fulfilled.

It hurts and damages any pursuit - people become more circumspect in offering help in future. I have friends who are so tired of time-wasters they won't offer help of any kind to strangers.

I've noticed a few slightly unhelpful initial comments when I have asked for advice here, but I have learned that this may be a test: 'Does this person really want to learn or simply want someone to do it for him or her?'
latigid on
Forums seem to be on the wane anyway. Sure they still have a lot of hardcorers onboard, but I think people are increasingly moving to more streamlined media e.g. Fbook.

Let's "face" it: the forum interface is clunky and requires time to go through the various pages, the notifications are not necessarily informative, the search function is obtuse etc. Contrast that with a single page with all of your favourites delivering your content in real-time on your mobile device where you can give Internet Points to what you like. (Please don't take this as criticism; I'm just trying to understand the perspective of others.)

This is apparent here, where people advocate using the FB B/S/T before they hit 100 posts, and I see fewer DIY projects in the pipeline. Communities seem to fade out over time; I wonder why that is?

The Moog Music forum, where I learned about electronic musical instruments since 2004-ish, is now practically dead. People come to ask about their old broken Prodigies and Sources and never reply when thoughtful help is given. MIDIbox is also very quiet, possibly owing to poor historical perceptions. Is it just a lack of time that people can't be bothered anymore?

In parallel, another issue is the current insta-culture of wanting everything now and for free. Newcomers are interested but don't have the time or money to understand the nuanced history behind everything.
wiggy81
Thing is people are giving guys & girls the benefit of their advice and experience for free. What in the past they would have either had to research from manuals, ezines, mailing lists, magazines or god forbid actually paid someone for a consultation lol. If you couldn't find any joy it would be a 2 - 4 week wait till the next user group meeting and perhaps you might find someone who had an idea what you wanted. (as an aside, part of the reason I stopped going to microcomputer usergroups back in the day was people were just using them as a free way to get tech support. Guys had stopped coming to learn or demo interesting projects.)

What blows me away is the entitlement many people have now, these resources are available to everyone who can use a computer. And people give advice for free, that can save hours if not days of frustration and heart ache. Especially when things are poorly documented or the Querent is doing something left-field.

Especially with electronics DIY, you rush a project its just rolling the dice as to how many errors are going to happen. Not having patience to wait a few days is not a good sign. Probably his next move is to beg the fellas at his local RS or Maplin/Music techs to help him - then get all salty when being told to pound sand when expecting it for free.
basicbasic
I feel like it should be made clear - DIY is not a way to get things quickly or cheaply, it's a way to learn stuff - usually the hard way.

The benefit of problems being solved openly in a forum is that then others can benefit.
flts
whoop_john wrote:
No. This person is outrageously rude. Amazingly so.

I have had similar experiences with a few people in other fora (forums). People who suck up free help and generosity greedily and get mad and rude exceedingly quickly as soon as their needs are no longer fulfilled.


I think this is the main point. It's never wrong to ask for help - or even ask someone to do something for you - but you should always remember that then you're the one asking something without giving anything in exchange. It's perfectly understandable that the person asked may then either offer kind of good advice you didn't specifically want (as in this case), or simply say "sorry, can't help, best of luck finding someone else" (which might have ended the discussion in this case).

It's the entitled kind of "fuck you if you aren't giving exactly the help I asked for free" type attitude that rubs me entirely wrong way. I see this a lot online these days as well - people seem to get genuinely angry when they aren't getting something that nobody's in any obligation of delivering to them anyway. I really wouldn't mind people having even basic manners, courtesy and respect towards others.

latigid on wrote:
Let's "face" it: the forum interface is clunky and requires time to go through the various pages, the notifications are not necessarily informative, the search function is obtuse etc. Contrast that with a single page with all of your favourites delivering your content in real-time on your mobile device where you can give Internet Points to what you like. (Please don't take this as criticism; I'm just trying to understand the perspective of others.)


FWIW Facebook group search is (even more) a joke, the "two level" thread format means context is lost very easily, even less people bother to read the previous posts before commenting, and the notifications sometimes take you to the right place and sometimes not.

This is not to say FB groups / pages would not be suitable for prolonged or serious discussion (eg. about synth DIY), for a "shorter format" it's pretty awesome, and the fact that it works nicely on mobile is a plus. It's just that IME it's "sucks in a different way" rather than "better".
Zube
Wow, pretty ridiculous, would like to avoid this crazy person's BST.
Bodo1967
ZZ Ardoz wrote:
forum member A wrote:
i actually messaged you so i would not have to wait for the forum replies or deal with troubleshooting online. i just want to get my modules working.


I think I'd probably have stopped the conversation at this point...

ZZ Ardoz wrote:
forum member A wrote:
Look buddy i know you like this forum and you want everyone to have a good experience and what not but i did not ask you to give me your opinion on how i spend my time or resources


... and definitely here. Why should you deal with such an impudent person?

That having said, I have asked for and received some info (during my TTSH build) by PM in a German synth forum myself - from the guy who sold me the rare parts kit, and who is/was very closely involved with the TTSH project as such (and who's also an active and highly esteemed forum member here).

However, that took place in a totally friendly, kind and polite manner on both sides. And it was a few questions in the style of "It says 1 µF in the BOM, and 10 µF on the PCB for a certain capacitor, do you know which one is correct?", not asking someone else to do my work for me.

I'd actually put "forum member A" on ignore and stop wasting my time with such persons. It's not worth it.
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