Hello everybody,

within the last weeks i’ve faced quite a bunch of posts where users (let’s say not that much experienced) faced a IMHO arrogant attitude when asking for help

From what I can read in the posts this happend mostly because the users didn’t know how to ask properly.
They have had a running system and after e.g. upgrading something didn’t work anymore.
So they are asking for help from the community but sometimes without much knowledge of openhab or linux or java.
They were only able to tell us what happend before the error happened.

(FTR) I’m clearly not takling about threads that tell: “OH lacks of a helpdesk (but which i don’t want to pay for)”

So what i would like ask everybody here:

(Unexperienced) users (or let’s say the people who start a thread):
Please if you know that your thread lacks of information, please tell us that you need assistance to find out more degtails about the problem. Please also search the forum and write that you couldn’t find anything (maybe since you don’t know how to describe your problem). We are glad to post links to tutorials and help you with that.
But if you only write something like “OpenHab binding XYZ isn’t running, please help” without any additional information, it reads for a lot of users that could help.
“I have problems with OpenHab, but i’m too lazy to give you more information. I’d rather just get help without putting effort from my side” And if you got it working, tell it!

People on the support side:
I can imagine that you get really frustrated by such posts. Imagine that the user on the other side got frustrated in a similar way since he hasn’t manually decided to crash something. Just after he - let’s say - flipped a switch something bad happend and his home automation isn’t working anymore. But from his side he only flipped a switch (even if the switch is labeled “upgrade”). He does not know and does not need the technical details in the background of OH because he managed to get everything up and running without knowing this. (which actually is a good thing since in my opinion this tells us that OpenHAB is also usable by newbiesor non-techies).
If we only answer in a short way “RTFM, this has been asked a thousand times, stop bugging us…” this is frustrating and for the user it reads like
“Actually i don’t really want to help - search, google, whatever - help yourself”

This for me is such a great community - please let’s keep it that way. I did find so much help and suggestions that my HA system is growing and growing. And even from time to time my wife appreciates it.

I hope i didn’t offend anybody - that is not my goal with this post. If i did - sorry for that. Tell me what offended you and i’d like to clarify it.



Well, I feel a little bit offended by this statement

We (a couple of ‘supporting people’) chose to compile a manifest and refer to that on any request that is clearly lacking the information that is required to help or that is showing that the poster is lacking to show effort himself.
That’s not as impolite as your “RTFM …” and I believe it hits the sweet spot.
We do expect any user, especially newbies, to show effort and respect. We’re not responsible for software problems because we didn’t write it, and we’re not responsible for situations users maneuvered into themselves despite of warnings given, so they don’t have a right to demand help. But an increasing number of people thinks they do.
And if some answer is written in the docs or there have been threads about it that we remember, yes the bottom line is we do expect users to use the search function and find that before asking.
And yes, the number of people unwilling to search and try for themselves has increased, and these we in fact aren’t willing to spend our time on (we’re also just volunteers).


We do expect any user, especially newbies, to show effort and respect.

For me the post of @Sascha_Billian says, respect goes both ways.
I agree that more information helps to help. yet being un polite to that user does not help either.

And yes, the number of people unwilling to search and try for themselves has increased,

or maybe the information and nr of post go up and makes it harder to find stuff

I know that I usually spend about half an hour searching before asking a question, and in a number of cases being pointed to topics I did not see or find in my search.

It sounds like you assume bad intend, and I think that is not always the case.

I do understand that sometimes you don’t want to help because you feel that this person is not respectful enough.

I try to ask question.
if I feel that I can’t help or that I can’t formulate my need for info nice, I just let it and don’t write anything (or will write an answer later.)

We’re talking about the same thing.
User must and should show that they tried to find any useful information.
The manifest also is very good.

But in some cases they are also doing hard to find the correct question - whether it is the language barrier or just the technical barrier.
I am not saying that telling RTFM is bad. But sometimes users are overwhelmed by the content of examples, ssh commands, karaf commands and so on. But RTFM wasn’t the best example from my side, sorry for that.
I just want to say:
“Try to understand the other side as well”.

I agree with that. But I can imagine that some of those people just don’t understand the concept of open source and this community.

My 5c (apologies for typos - slow fingers:

I wonder if it’s also sometimes the language barrier? I suspect many posters are not
english-first-language types, and if sometimes their entire question is a paste of a Google translate result (in which case our replies are also parsed through Google translate) they may be sounding very different to their intent. No judgement, just an observation.

Also, attitude and context is hard to read in something written at the best of times (hence emoji’s etc). Maybe (if it’s not already in the works or even done; I’ve not checked) (oops, got distracted, forgot the rest and hit submit) the manifest needs translation to other languages. Afraid I can’t help there though- English only here (smattering only of German and others)

I like that statement. I think it catches a lot of cases. Not saying people should not try help themselves first but sometimes don’t have the same mindset as others. Weird, I know :stuck_out_tongue:

A well-toned initial post :slight_smile:

Likely so.
Some native speaker recently called a reply of mine harsh that wasn’t meant like that at all, to me it was just to the point. There’s many Germans here, and “German English” quickly sounds harsh as we don’t all master all the subtleties of that language.

Also written-only communications are lacking mimics, tone etc you have in personal conversations.

But that applies to everybody and any poster should be aware, too.

Language issues are aggravating things for sure but I still believe the core is about the contents of whether some poster is showing effort and respect himself.

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For the last 15 years, I’m working a lot with distributed teams and I see a lot more of these problems between native english and non native speakers, then between two different non-native speakers, even if they are both from a different native language.

Native speakers know many nuances in languages that non-native speakers don’t have, and in the strange sense this helps the understanding between non-native speakers (as they know they might miss nuances, they stick to easier words and have more empathy for the other person.)
Also speaking more than one language helps to understand different strange English phrases.

Because native speakers know, they know the language well, they don’t see the missing nuances because of translations.

Most easy to explain example I had was a person who regularly said on a call:

I don’t listen you.

It took me a while to figure out he ment: I don’t hear you.
Even after I knew that, everytime he said “I don’t listen you”, my body clinched and it could feel anger. (As if he was saying I don’t want to listen to you) it was hard to immediately suppress that anger and check why he could not hear me.

You can say he needs to use the correct word, yet in his language, (I don’t remember anymore, I think spanish, I’m not sure) there is only one word for to hear and to listen. So he literally never learned the difference.

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This is often true, English is hard enough at the best of times, especially when groups of words have very different (subtle) meanings than when used seperately.

I once got very frightened by a group of extremely tall and well built German businessmen at Köln airport.

I failed to buy a ticket before boarding a coach. (School boy error)

The loud and aggressive tones from these ‘gentlemen’ made me very uncomfortable.

When I turned to apologise, the tallest, widest, sternest man stepped forward swiftly and said, in a firm tone…

“We are deciding who will help you best!”

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