Developer Article: "What have you tried?"

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I found this article online today

http://mattgemmell.com/2008/12/08/what-have-you-tried

It illustrates some of the mentality that I have been seeing more and more new developers having. I would be interesting in hearing some other members views on the topic.

Kyle Richter
DragonForged.com
Twitter: @kylerichter
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Hmm... While the 'developers' he refers to in this article can be viewed as shocking, they do make it quite a bit easier to find answers on Google - assuming the experienced developers answer their question rather than just enacting the natural reaction and leaving... Rasp

- Lincoln Green
http://www.binkworks.com/
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Excellent article. I've definitely seen a large number of posts like this, and it seems to have increased dramatically with the iPhone SDK. Any time I answer one of them, I try to give the asker the tools they need to find the answer, rather than giving away the answer itself. If they're able to find a solution with a little guidance, then they have the potential to become a valuable member of the community who can provide the same help to others. If they refuse to even try and expect answers to be handed to them, then they're not worth any of my time whatsoever.

What's unfortunate about this is that the more "how do I do x, give me code plz" posts I see, the more cynical I become about answering. This means that fewer well-formed questions get answered, too. I wonder if the rest of you are finding the same thing about yourselves?
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Interesting article. I've noticed this around here more and more often lately; honestly, it's the reason I've become more of a lurker than a poster on these boards.

Another interesting side effect of posts like the ones mentioned in the article is that they destroy the community feeling of the place. A bit of dialog when trying to solve a problem goes a long ways towards building friendship and respect towards a fellow poster.

I don't know if anyone else here reads Joel On Software (I love the guy, personally Smile), but he's started a forum called stack overflow. The idea is much like yahoo answers, but geared towards programming: you ask a question, people respond, and then other people rate up the answers. When you view the replies, they're sorted by rating, meaning that absolutely no discussion can take place. I refuse to visit the place because it is basically a "community" of people the article mentioned: people seeking for answers without trying anything.

I wonder if there's a solution to this? As ThemsAllTook said, I'm becoming more and more cynical (and bitter, honestly) towards these people; I don't even look in the iPhone forum anymore, even though there are posts there that I can answer, and posts that I could learn from Annoyed

Worlds at War (Current Project) - http://www.awkward-games.com/forum/
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Actually, with the SO comment system, discussions can take place, and they're usually very informative and helpful. I learn a lot just by browsing, even on questions about topics in which I have no background. (I am referring to the comment threads for individual answers. I agree that before those were introduced, it wasn't very good for discussions, but the situation is much improved now.)

Until this past week, I had done nothing but answer and vote on Stack Overflow, but when I finally had to ask a question, I had been Googling for answers for a few hours and made an effort describe my problem in detail and my failed solutions. (Here's my question. It's not about game development.)

Some of you have commented on my "lmgtfy.com as answer" replies on this forum. I do that because of the reasons expressed in the article. I only like to help people who make a reasonable effort to ask a question well, because it means they value my time, which I could easily spend doing other things, like not helping them.

My web site - Games, music, Python stuff
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ah, didn't know they had comment threads now. I haven't really checkout SO since it launched, so........ya Blush

I'll have to check it out again Smile

Worlds at War (Current Project) - http://www.awkward-games.com/forum/
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Stack Overflow is great, I haven't ever asked a question on there but I find that when goggling for problems that hits from Stack Overflow almost always contain if not the answer very helpful information.

Kyle Richter
DragonForged.com
Twitter: @kylerichter
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kodex Wrote:Stack Overflow is great, I haven't ever asked a question on there but I find that when goggling for problems that hits from Stack Overflow almost always contain if not the answer very helpful information.
I've had the same experience when googling: often they have some good answers. (and no, I'm not googling for complete solutions to problems Wink)
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I've seen a lot of that behavior, it bugs me too. I think the internet is a large part of the problem. People think the internet is the place for instant gratification. You can expect to find anything you want for free and within a few Google searches.

I personally really hate using sample code. Possibly to a point where it's a detriment. At least in some cases with Java stuff at my old job I'd looked at some example code, but then spent the next hour reading all the Java Docs for all the classes. At the end I decided that it was a complete waste of time as... well it's the Java class library. Lots of crap that you should never have to care about to do the simplest thing. Just using the example code would have been a much better use of my time.

Personally, I'm much more bothered by the people that ask questions that are easily explained from the introductory paragraph of the documentation. I get this all the time with Chipmunk stuff. It's really obnoxious to be asked the same 5 questions by people that want me to solve their problems when they are asking questions that would have been explained by reading the introductory page! And yes, most of these people are iPhone devs.

Scott Lembcke - Howling Moon Software
Author of Chipmunk Physics - A fast and simple rigid body physics library in C.
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I don't mind the young members asking seemingly lazy questions, especially if it isn't for iPhone. I remember how hard it was back then, so I don't mind throwing out free bones; they have enough on their plate to learn as it is. Admittedly though, it's hard not to be cynical with the recent swell of nuttiness, but I'm trying to stay focused on iDG being a developer forum, and helping out is what we do here.

OTOH, about that cynicism, yeah, the iPhone free-loaders... I've been ignoring most iPhone questions lately (just rolled my eyes at one this morning), partly because I'm bitter about finding a significant chunk of my code, which was posted here, being claimed as a solution by someone else on another forum. It made me so mad that I don't even want to open source things anymore, and I definitely do not feel like offering free code or resources to iPhone developers anymore. The lazy iPhone questions I typically ignore at first glance, but it highly depends on my mood at that instant.

No thanks at all to Apple for providing such a reckless get-rich-quick psychology. I'd like to add a lot more of my thoughts on this, but they aren't nice, so I shall digress...
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AnotherJake Wrote:OTOH, about that cynicism, yeah, the iPhone free-loaders... I've been ignoring most iPhone questions lately (just rolled my eyes at one this morning), partly because I'm bitter about finding a significant chunk of my code, which was posted here, being claimed as a solution by someone else on another forum. It made me so mad that I don't even want to open source things anymore, and I definitely do not feel like offering free code or resources to iPhone developers anymore. The lazy iPhone questions I typically ignore at first glance, but it highly depends on my mood at that instant.

This is one of the reason I do very little true open source. There is a lot of code that I will give out if someone ask me for it but I am cautious posting it online. For one I dont have the time to provide tech support to something that doesn't have income attached to it, this is my full time job and I have to make the most of my time. Second I like to know where the code ends up and insure that I retain credit for the solution. Third my primary income these days is from contract work and it is frustrating to be underbid by someone who then uses your code to fulfill the contract they outbid you on and bothers you to help them make it work.

I have been unbid way to many times now by people who obviously are using Google and forums like this one to complete the projects. When you just string random chunks of code together you dont get a stable polished product.

Since all these people are out there bidding super low, even if their results are sub-par I still have to lower my rates to be competitive on contracts. So it really bothers me to see these kind of people looking for help. At this point I ignore anyone who is obviously putting no effort into development. We all need help but you can at least look at the docs.

</rant>

Kyle Richter
DragonForged.com
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I hear you loud and clear on that kodex! Nowadays when I'm throwing out code samples I sometimes feel like I'm cutting my own throat -- my own charitable contribution essentially used against my very own basic effort to earn a living. Things didn't feel like this before iPhone came along, although perhaps I was being naive. It certainly didn't seem like feeding blood-suckers last year, like it does now.
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Post: #13
AnotherJake Wrote:No thanks at all to Apple for providing such a reckless get-rich-quick psychology. I'd like to add a lot more of my thoughts on this, but they aren't nice, so I shall digress...

This.

I don't know what it is about iPhone developers, but some of the questions asked here, on the official developer forums, and elsewhere make me weep for humanity.

If you have a problem or don't know how to do something, and the first thing you do is ask a question on a forum then YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
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Bachus Wrote:This.

I don't know what it is about iPhone developers, but some of the questions asked here, on the official developer forums, and elsewhere make me weep for humanity.

If you have a problem or don't know how to do something, and the first thing you do is ask a question on a forum then YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Yes, that is one of the myriad thoughts I have on it. It makes me wonder why so many of us bother answering in the first place. Some questions absolutely need to be asked, and the answers to those questions are why I came here in the first place, and hung around afterwards. I've been here for like ten years now. I can honestly say that I've probably answered several hundred questions here (many incorrectly Blush), and blabbered for probably two thousand posts (this being yet another). In all that time, I've probably only started six threads asking questions of my own, and it was always as my last resort before giving up. Something is definitely backwards. Maybe we *should* be more critical of lazy questions, especially iPhone-related?
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Post: #15
kodex Wrote:I found this article online today

http://mattgemmell.com/2008/12/08/what-have-you-tried

It illustrates some of the mentality that I have been seeing more and more new developers having. I would be interesting in hearing some other members views on the topic.

My only thought is: anyone who has this type of problem, will not read this type of article/post. All they've done is successfully make us waste more of our time by us distracting ourselves by talking about how lazy and distracting they are. Smile
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