[texhax] Was Re: pagestyle{empty}; Now is LaTeX documentation

David C. Walden dave at walden-family.com
Fri Mar 31 14:38:09 CEST 2006

>   Then how about making a new list, "tex-questions", where all the FAQs
    could go, and get answered by people that know and accept that what gets
    asked on that list will most likely be a FAQ? Then "texhax" could be 
the place
    for more advanced and clever questions.

Or maybe just let texhax participants who don't mind answering unsophisticated
questions from unsophisticated users answer those and people who do mind
answer the more informed questions.

[Stop here if you are not interested in a polemic]

>   Anyway, here's another allegory.  There are two ways to learn how to 
> drive a
>   car: 1. pay for and take driving leassons; 2. just jump in and have a go.
>   Which is the most expensive in the end?

I'm not sure that so many people would pay for a driving course if there
were not state regulations, formal licensing requirements, etc.  I suspect
a minority of people are thinking about the path of maximum long-term cost
efficiency when they learn something new.  My suspicion is that a majority of
people just want the quickest path to actually using something and learn to do
most things without reading a manual or taking a formal lesson: not for the
TV, microwave oven, Windows XP, cell phone, Word, Excel, table saw, a new car,
new recreational vehicle, etc.  Rather, they maybe ask a friend for a
few start-up pointers, find a few things that work, and then keep doing that
until one day they may want to do something more sophisticated; then their
first step is to ask if a friend (or anyone nearby) can tell them what to do,
and reading a manual (if they still can find it or understand it) remains the
course of last resort.  In a world where there are likely few people one
knows personally that one can ask about using LaTeX, texhax may seem to some
people like a surrogate friend they can ask.   (And TeX/LaTeX may be only
one of many powerful or complicated software packages someone finds 
trying to use in relatively unknowledgeable ways to get some basic work done,
e.g., LaTeX, WinEdt, Acrobat, Illustrator, Photoshop, epstopdf, cygwin, 
Windows XP, Eudora, ...)


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