Newbies


(YvesHanoulle) #21

derogatory

what comments are derogatory ?


(Vincent Regaud) #22

Some newbies might get offended by what we are saying in here but if you guys feel otherwise I’ll put this topic public, no problems. It was just a feeling. Let’s put it to a vote.


(YvesHanoulle) #23

For me, we discuss why newbies don’t get answers.

I understand their frustration and I understand why they don’t sometimes don’t get answers, for me this discussion is about making the two sites understand eachother more.


(Vincent Regaud) #24

OK out and about at the moment. I’ll do it when I get home


(Vincent Regaud) #25

(Angelos) #26

because they don’t help themselves.

many times they don’t even post basic info that are needed for the introductory troubleshooting (not to mention that they don’t search at all… most of troubleshooting steps are repeated 100 times across several posts)


(YvesHanoulle) #27

many times they don’t even post basic info that are needed for the introductory troubleshooting

Newbies usually don’t know what is needed and when they do they don’t know where to get it.
after 3 years I still don’t know how to answer half of the questions asked as intro for a new topic.

not to mention that they don’t search at all…

How do you know?
You seems to mix “not finding” with not searching.

most of troubleshooting steps are repeated 100 times across several posts)

and if you don’t know what you are looking for, you might miss the clues even if they are right in front of you. I know I do.

the problem with newbies is not knowing what you don’t know and thus not being able to ask the right questions. Are some of them lazy? yes
Are all of them lazy? I don’t believe that.

I have done 3 years of telephonic software support on what I thought was a very easy piece of dos software. yet I found it easy because I had daily face to face interaction with the team that build it. And even on my last day at work, I found out new stuff, that I did not knew I did not knew.


(Angelos) #28

in my opinion, many of them don’t make the effort to search with keywords describing their problem.
I don’t want to believe that they don’t know how to perform a basic search on the internet (Google, not this forum)… they want to get involved with Home Automation software… that’s not computers 101…

basic computer literacy skills would provide a starting point… a first search result. From there, you start reading and go deeper.

Not all… some.
Most of the newbies are “in a hurry”… they want to do things fast without the trouble of investing time to search, read examples and then document their failure (the steps they took until they got stuck) when they ask for help.

The root-cause in many cases is: “let’s do this fast… who cares about reading other people’s experiences… and when I get stuck… I will also ask fast and dirty… no need to search for solutions or to explain the steps that I took”

In these cases: I only help people who help themselves :slight_smile:


(anonymous.one) #29

To throw two more cents to this thread, I started with openHAB 1.5 years ago now give or take some months; I read countless things before I made decisions on what to do. Personally I hate asking a question for something simple, rules for example I will test things out and unless I run into an issue with official doco or example code doesn’t work in my system at which point I would post and verify if others have a similar issue. Last issue that I took me a couple of weeks of researching was being able to put my item label into HABpanel as almost all forum posts go with item name or a group list, and at the moment I’m on the look out for a fix/solution on to why I can’t pull battery % on just my zwave door sensors and secretly hoping 2.4 stable will resolve the issue.

As far as not reading some of the wonderful doco that has been posted, I don’t know how you can download openHAB when the download link and documentation link are side by side in the top bar? If folks are in a hurry to setup home automation they should purchase an already done package like the smartthings hub, if they don’t want to pay for the fast way then they should be prepared to read over a lot of information.

Also something to consider, sometimes folks who do post something for others to follow isn’t viewed all that often as not every scenario is useful to others or similar in setup. (look for a write up I did on phone detection using SNMP as an example, super low view count compared to my tasker openHAB cloud example) :slight_smile:


(Angelos) #30

ditto !

We do live in crazy times and people have very limited free time.
but they should approach the Home Automation topic as a hobby… spend some quality time with it :slight_smile:


(Rich Koshak) #31

Someone threw a party and I’m the last to arrive. :slight_smile:

Every forum like this has a problem dealing with new users. It’s a hard balance to strike. I recently joined another open source project’s “forum” (its a closed Facebook page actually) and I can say we have them beat in the effort that we take to make new users feel welcome and help them get off the ground.

But it is sooooo tiring. And we all have grumpy days where the tone or something else about a post sets us off and we end up replying aggressively. I have many threads I wish I could go back and delete or rewrite because I clearly come across as an asshole. I usually don’t mean it but my frustration sneaks in. It’s a dangerous path because it can quickly set the tone of the whole forum and suddenly we start scaring away more users than we are helping.

It’s faster than writing the answer out over and over again. I probably wrote the instructions for how to use code fences 100 times before I created a new thread I could link to. Same goes for clear the cache.

I tend to go ahead and answer with the links where I see a posting like this that hasn’t been answered. Why? Largely because I know some other new user is going to come, perform a search and find the unanswered post instead of the posts that have the answer. It is a kind of book keeping to preserve the integrity of the forum.

Not many can make that claim, including myself. My newbee days are all on the old Google Forums site and I would have quickly abandoned OH if I hadn’t been help way back then.

I didn’t see this answered. It stands for Original Poster or sometimes Original Post.

I will give you that. But when you create a new post in most of the Setup Configuration and Use categories the message gets prepopulated with

  • Platform information:
  • Hardware: CPUArchitecture/RAM/storage
  • OS: what OS is used and which version
  • Java Runtime Environment: which java platform is used and what version
  • openHAB version:
  • Issue of the topic: please be detailed explaining your issue
  • Please post configurations (if applicable):
  • Items configuration related to the issue
  • Sitemap configuration related to the issue
  • Rules code related to the issue
  • Services configuration related to the issue
  • If logs where generated please post these here using code fences:

It seems to be the exception rather than the Rule that users actually provide half of this information. I’m certainly open to suggestions for what more we can do to hold their hand and get them to give us the information we need to help.

But I still try to help when I can. I usually don’t answer threads when:

  • someone is already answering it, though if I have time I might review what has been said to see if there is something I can add, or possibly learn something new if I’m not in a hurry
  • there is not enough information to figure out what is being asked
  • it deals with a binding I’m not familiar with and the questions appears to be specific to that binding
  • I’m in a hurry that day and I don’t immediately know the answer
  • I will stop answering a questions, unless I am grumpy in which case I press on out of spite, when the information I’ve asked for in response to the original question remains unanswered or is answered with “you don’t need to know that.” Who’s the one in a better position to know that I need to know?
  • I will also stop answer a question, or come close to a flame war, when suggestions I make are simply dismissed or ignored because “I don’t want to do it that way.”

(Jürgen Baginski) #32

Me too!
I did come in here with a long history in learning a programming language just by reading and replying on a forum. My signature there used to be “I don’t do your homework”.
The baseline for me is, I like helping, but I’m a human as well. So my post migth have a “subjective” part.


(YvesHanoulle) #33

I agree it’s tiring, yet it’s the only way to teach new people.
And yes the links do help.
I understand the problem of people needed to search with keyword like @Dim says.
Yet newbies don’t know the keywords, and they don’t even know there are keywords.

About the questions ,I understand the questions, yet I don’t know the answers.
And that is after 3 years of using openhab.

  • Hardware: CPUArchitecture/RAM/storage
    I’m using pine 6’. I have no idea what architectur it has and I don’t know if I have a 1 or 2 gb memory, I can’t find it back.

  • OS: what OS is used and which version
    I use the installation from pine64 and I don’t know which OS it is.
    I don’t know enough of linux to even know where to find it.

  • Java Runtime Environment: I have no idea which one is installed and how to check this.

I have always developer on windows, I started to work on a mac in 2013 or so and I’m still trying to find my way around. I started looking into Openhab still on the old system and I on purpose decide to use a linux platform to learn about it, and show my kids there is more then windows.
yet buiding a new house is stressy and asks a lot of attention, after 3 years of activly working with openhab, I still don’t know things that most people consider basic knowledge.
For most things I am able to understand the questions if I have a similar setup. And I think for most questions I don’t need these things answered.

When I did software support, asking the hard question at the start before the customer could talk about the problem, never helped. it frustrated them because it gave them the impression there are stupid for not knowing basic info.

Same as a doctor asking me what bloodtype I have at the start of a consultancy that has nothing to do with blood or heart. I don’t know what blood type I have. I think I know where to find it when it’s needed. My friends who are working in medical environments don’t understand I don’t know my bloodtype.
I’m not the smartest person and I for sure am not good with remembering stuff, so I have learned early on to forget stuff I know I can find. Not knowing these things and sometimes even not knowing where to find them (because I don’t have the same skills as others) makes me stupid, not lazy.


(Markus Storm) #34

Don’t worry, you aren’t :wink:

Sorry for being politically incorrect here, but if people don’t know the basic info they ARE somewhat stupid (or lazy or both) if they post a question, choose to ignore filling out the info they’re asked for and still expect “someone” to help them (for free, on a free SW) [sic - sorry].
And this isn’t a job or with a company to be dependent on their customers, so I feel it is ok to tell them (as long as we remain acceptably polite in doing so).

I think it might help to
a) give a link to a docs page that tells people the basic-most things they need to know to fill out the data “questionnaire” they’re presented with. Such as how to find out the OS version, the OH branch (snapshot?),
and links to basic docs pages such as how to enable proper logging and the like.

b) make this questionnaire the default on even more categories/posts (not sure if that’s possible but maybe make that appear as well if there’s a “beginners” tag ?).
I guess not everyone’s deliberately ignoring the questionnaire, some may really not have seen it because they post in the “wrong” category. Or they ignore the initial forum tutorial (most of us do if you’re honest, no ?) and don’t ever get pointed at it again after registration.

c) Maybe put more pointer to the forum tutorial (how to search before asking etc.) and enhance that one more. We should define/set a clearer/tighter scope (what conditions are you expected to fulfill to ask questions, when are you expected to raise a Github issue instead, what’s questions you can’t expect to get an answer to.
We need to give examples specific to Home Automation and OH (e.g. what would it mean to “be specific” in asking, to use code fence) and not just the generic defaults included with the forum SW (“be polite”, “stay on topic” etc).

Now if these pages were of reasonable conciseness and politeness, we should answer stupid/lazy/incomprehensive/otherwise inacceptable posts with a simple pointer to these and nothing more.
That should be giving us some headroom to spend more time on where it’s needed and more adequate.
I might try giving this “template” page a first shot but would want you to work on it together.
I feel though it would be better if some native English speaker did that ?
Suggestions welcome.


(YvesHanoulle) #35

but if people don’t know the basic info they ARE somewhat stupid (or lazy or both)
it was my job to help people to learn to use a system. Most of them it was the very first time they used a computer. Most of them were not stupid (they studied more then I did) yet they were told to use a program that helped doing their job, better and faster, yet DOS computers really were not user friendly. My job was helping people new to computer figuring out jumper settings on printers etc. They were not stupid or lazy , yet they drew me crazy with doing thing I did not forsee.Mostly beause I used words they did not understand.
like : Q: are you using windows?
I don’t, yet I have a colleague sitting next to the window and it’s working there, can that really be related?

using a real world word like windows as a brand is confusing for people who don’t know they don’t know.
And that is how it works for most newbies using new technology.

initial forum tutorial
eh, nice example, I didn’t even know that exist. Where can I find that?

A page explains people how to find help, will help,
forcing people to only ask for help in a certain way, I doubt will help.


(Rich Koshak) #36

And as a new user if you just said exactly what you did above you have basically give us enough information to answer those questions. When new users just leave them blank or remove them we know nothing and have to play 20 questions on each and every newbee post.

Though I might also say that if a user is so much of a newbee that they don’t even know what OS they are running then OH might not be a good choice for them. As you will know, OH does require technical knowledge outside of OH itself to be used successfully.

But we are not paid to do this. We donate our very limited time supporting new users on this forum. To have the biggest impact and help the largest number of users possible we need to be carful with or time.

Frankly, going back and forth with a new user asking a bunch of questions is a waist of it time. Maybe if we had more than half a dozen or so users who cosistantly help the new users it would be a different story.

But you as there person asking the question have all the time in the world to look that information up before posting. When we lack that information we go from: “Oh, I know that problem, here’s a link to someone who solved it” = 2-5 minutes, to an exchange of hand a dozen questions and answers before we can even understand what the problem is = 20-30 minutes sometimes stretched over a couple of days.

It’s a waist of our precious time and totally unrewarding. Rarely are the new users grateful. We are not making any measurable impact on the other users or the OH project as a whole.

If someone wanted to volunteer to be first level tech support and all all these questions then tag the experts (e.g. opus for rrd4j, Udo for knx, Chris for zwave zigbee, Yannick for habpanel, me, Vincent, h101,etc. for rules, etc) this could work. But I don’t see anyone stepping up to do that and I’m not sure how effective that would be.

But one thing to realize here is if it takes too much time to help new users, we will lose some of the people who volunteer their time to help new users. I personally could easily and happily change my efforts to building bindings and coding for oh instead.

Thom Dietrich set the template up in the first place. I don’t see any way to do it myself as only a moderator. We probably need an admin to do it. I do like the idea. I think it came up to add links when we initially discussed this and I don’t remember why it was decided not to.

There’s a forum tutorial?! :wink:

Sounds like a good idea. We should probably start a new thread to discuss it.


(YvesHanoulle) #37

As you will know, OH does require technical knowledge outside of OH itself to be used successfully.

So and because I don’t know OS, I can’t use OH on linux?
I personally learn stuff by using it.I like to be the most stupid person in the room/forum. that’s how I grow.

My 11 year old daughter co-wrote the manual of our house, she is learning linux, OH and a lot of other stuff. because I was not afraid to learn OH in an environment I don’t understand.

I understand that it’s much easier to have experts on the OH forum, yet I think OH community is growing beyond experts and I consider that a good thing.
not everyone might want to invest in growing them. I do.
I learn faster by learning from others.


(Rich Koshak) #38

No, but if you don’t even know you are running on Linux then yes. Successful configuration and use of OH requires at least knowing that much.

Plus you should know how you installed OH, how you installed the OS, where you download the OS from, and some of the basics for accessing and navigating the directory structure of said OS. All f these things are necessary skills and outside the scope of what we are able to help with here.

Well, like I said above, everyone in this forum is a volunteer. We are all going to do as much it as little as we choose to do. If you see a gap in how we support be users, to use the idiom, “step up or shut up.”

I don’t literally mean we don’t want to hear you or have theses sorts of conversations, but also realize that conversations like these are unlikely to change anyone’s behavior. We will all continue to answer the posts that we find interesting and ignore the rest. It’s our time and we will spend it how we wish. If you want to see a change, you need to be that change.

Take on this role for yourself. We certainly won’t stop you and would welcome the help. We really are overwhelmed and need all the help we can get.


(YvesHanoulle) #39

Plus you should know how you installed OH, how you installed the OS, where you download the OS from, and some of the basics for accessing and navigating the directory structure of said OS. All f these things are necessary skills and outside the scope of what we are able to help with here.

All of these I learned by using OH. I a mean literally all and more.

Ignore the rest.

What I see is not ignoring yet also not always being nice to newbies.
and ignoring is then the better thing

It’s our time and we will spend it how we wish.

I understand I lead a few volunteering communities

I disagree that because people are volunteers they should not have respect for the people that ask for help. Realizing people ask for help and are not giving info because they are new is for me part of respect.

If you want to see a change, you need to be that change.

I have and I have since the day I started using OH.

This conversation is for me part in asking respect for newbies.
I have been asking a lot of question to newbies to see if we can find more info.

Anyway, i said what I can say about it . I’ll leave it here


(CM6.5 H102) #40

Did a search and couldn’t find h101.:rofl:

I posted a suggestion the other day to have everyone add their platform info, OH version, OS used and maybe a couple things about the devices used to their profile. This way we can click their icon, see what the poster has and forgo the basic questions. It also eliminates having to retype this on each new topic. I know when creating a topic the questions are asked, but lots of help me questions come from topics already created and you find yourself asking the basics again.

Not sure if Discourse allows adding the above info to a profile mandatory before posting but it would be time saving for all.:crossed_fingers: