[OS X TeX] FAQ or Archive

Alain Schremmer Schremmer.Alain at verizon.net
Fri Jul 16 07:43:14 CEST 2004

After my last post and before this appeared, I was going to add the 
following but got interrupted.

Slater is right in (at least) one thing, laziness: I recently caught 
myself just before going to the list and before having checked FAQ.
It's like you don't know what you did with your glasses and you ask 
"anyone seen my glasses?' instead of going looking for them yourself.
But then, as one of my grandsons said, "How can you look for your 
glasses when you don't have them?"
So, yes, it's a lot easier to ask a question here than to look around 
for it. And, in fact, someone recently responded to one of my questions 
by giving me the relevant url. I thought that it was a pretty good 
response but didn't get the hint until today.
So, I will now be a good boy and do my homework before jumping for the 
list. As far as that goes, Slater is quite right.

This being said, this was not at all what I was pleading for.

You once wrote to me that you couldn't remember how it felt at the 
beginning. And now you are saying "I'd much rather turn off a novice 
than cause any of the many gracious contributers to get turned off." 
The novices are whom I am pleading for.

As for the rest, I am sorry that it is most likely that I will never be 
able to repay the contributors who have helped me here any more than I 
have never been able to repay those who had taught me what little 
mathematics I know. As it happens, it is only because I try to help 
others learn some mathematics too that I allow myself to pick the 
brains on this list.


On Jul 15, 2004, at 9:07 PM, Joseph C. Slater wrote:

> On Jul 15, 2004, at 6:18 PM, Alain Schremmer wrote:
>> Disclosure: I am a little bit allergic to blaming the learner.
>> In mathematics, it is normal to give a definition and immediately 
>> thereafter use the defined term. In my experience, both as the 
>> graduate student I was a long time ago and as the instructor of 
>> Two-Year College students I still am today, this does not often work. 
>> You can blame it on stupidity or on anxiety. If you blame it on 
>> stupidity, then you just flunk the student. If you blame it on 
>> anxiety, you just don't use the defined term cold. What you do 
>> depends on the circumstances. You may give a reference to the 
>> previous page or point at the definition that you refrained from 
>> erasing from the board or you say/write something like "in other 
>> words xxxx" or a hint or whatever will do. Then you wean the student. 
>> With the next definition, the weaning might go faster and eventually 
>> you will be able to use definitions cold.
>> You will say, correctly, that you can't do that sort of things in the 
>> footer. But you can't avoid the issue.
> No, we can't. It's like a migraine that I thought we got rid of months 
> ago.
>> It's like everything when dealing with anxious people. You try what 
>> you can. You can use the ultra short solution, you can use the 
>> modified solution including FAQ, maybe other solutions. As I said, 
>> here, I have no idea what would work better. Note that I said better 
>> as of course nothing will work perfectly. But you try until something 
>> works. And you have at least a couple of people who told you that it 
>> didn't.
> We had an entire iteration discussion a while back. After much debate, 
> we settled on this. In all honesty, I believe that it actually has 
> worked very well. I think the simple solution was to respond to Robert 
> that the list has a web page, not to go into a debate of why he didn't 
> notice it.
>> I started from scratch, not out of love with beautiful typesetting. I 
>> don't think of myself as an entirely lazy, irresponsible, irrational 
>> person. When I first wrote to this list, it was in desperation. 
>> Truly.
> Wonderful! That's the way al questions should be posted (maybe just 
> shy of desperation).
>> And you want me to have read the fine print.
> What fine print? Nothing is in a smaller font. I know, you didn't 
> literally mean 'small font', but we didn't literally mean ' you don't 
> have to pay attention to this'. It has been suggested before that the 
> list be split in a variety of ways: conformers - non-conformers, 
> novice-advanced, senior-newbee. Most of this we find distasteful, but 
> may eventually become necessary as it is with other large groups. The 
> best way to keep this to one list is to have everybody play by the 
> posted rules.
>> Look, I had a problem and NO time and NO idea of what most of what I 
>> found and read meant.
>>  (With the sole exception of the install instructions in the TeXshop 
>> page which is what got me started.)
> That's not true. You criticized my introduction some, but with 
> significant compliments (don't make me dig up compliments!).
>> So, please.
> Hopefully I've made some improvement in the introduction. However, if 
> I recall, you did indeed find the majority of the resources on your 
> own, even if you had difficulty understanding them. That's what this 
> debate has been about. Should people find them? Can people FIND them? 
> DO people find them? Well, they agreed to know where they were when 
> they signed up.  "Do people understand the posted resources"- well, at 
> that point, they should post away. But, also, do people have a 
> responsibility when they sign up on this list to read their 
> responsibilities (which was also another very long discussion). They 
> do. Many on this list give very freely on valuable time. It propagates 
> into a great personal cost. I can't fathom putting in the time that 
> many do. They make me feel like quite the slacker. Instead of myself 
> and others charging money for our efforts, we charge in 
> responsibility. That responsibility is simply: "read the 
> responsibilities and understand them before posting to the list". When 
> receiving free service, one has to consider that someone else is 
> paying some cost, and one has to take some personal effort to mitigate 
> that by spending at least a few minutes looking for a  solution. Why 
> is a posters time more valuable than anybody else on the list. I'm 
> quite amazed that the patience that some show responding with 'look at 
> this manual on this page' where the manual is a standard posted, and 
> primary, reference. I think it's wonderful, but I also think that a 
> novice has a responsibility to spend money like I have to buy the 
> books (at least one!), and download the free references posted on the 
> web site, searching each of these first.
> Further, one should also attempt to give back to that community. 
> That's what makes it work. When Gary, Marteen, or Gerben ask a 
> question ( to mention only a few), people jump to answer their 
> questions because they know that a) significant sources have been 
> consulted fist, and b) all three deserve every effort to reward their 
> service to the community. The best thing that a novice can do is a) 
> continue to consult resources before posting, and b) take some 
> responsibility for interception posted novice questions and answering 
> them for the rest of the community.
> In reality, I'd much rather turn off a novice than cause any of the 
> many gracious contributers to get turned off.
> Respectfully,
> Joe
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