Chatroom Etiquette

I’ve spent a great deal of time helping others learn about computers. Whether it’s the large number of posts to various PHP lists/discussion boards, or the hours I spend trolling #debian on I’ve recently had two experiences in chatrooms that have soured my outlook on helping others.

First off an experience I had in #e – the chatroom that is devoted to the window manager Enlightenment. Apparently it’s not the place to ask questions about the window manager, despite being listed in various incarnations of their website as a place to go seek help. I asked a question about e17, which has yet to be released. The answer was simple (as I later found out on my own), but was answered with a barrage of RTFM’s and “u r dumb lam3r”. This leads me into a whole other argument that Open Source developers, in general, could care less about what the users of their software want (a clear case where demand does not alter supply). I’ll save that rant for another time. My only question is this: would it have been so difficult to simply be nice? Possibly just say “This isn’t a help chatroom – check out the lists, etc.”? *Sigh*

My second experience had me on the other side. I run a small chatroom called #zebulon on that is basically a room for my close friends to come in and chat about whatever fits our fancy. It is, by no means, a QA or HOWTO room. Evidently a new kid in the room didn’t know this and kept asking inflammatory questions in our room – like “Don’t you think ASP kicks ass all over PHP?” (not a good question to ask in the middle of an Open Source focused chatroom). Or better yet “Doesn’t it make sense to program EVERYTHING in JavaScript?” – um no. Anyways, I ended up banning the kid. I guess the fact that the room went totally silent when he showed up wasn’t a big enough clue (or the multiple times I kicked him for asking dumb questions). Usually I’d just smile and hold hands, but the simple fact is it was the wrong place and the wrong time.

I guess I should think differently about scenario one after being on the other side, but in reality I had read #e as being a source of help. They should probably promote that it’s not a little more to the public.

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