• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
programming forums Java Mobile Certification Databases Caching Books Engineering Micro Controllers OS Languages Paradigms IDEs Build Tools Frameworks Application Servers Open Source This Site Careers Other Pie Elite all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
Marshals:
  • Campbell Ritchie
  • Ron McLeod
  • Rob Spoor
  • Tim Cooke
  • Junilu Lacar
Sheriffs:
  • Henry Wong
  • Liutauras Vilda
  • Jeanne Boyarsky
Saloon Keepers:
  • Jesse Silverman
  • Tim Holloway
  • Stephan van Hulst
  • Tim Moores
  • Carey Brown
Bartenders:
  • Al Hobbs
  • Mikalai Zaikin
  • Piet Souris

Confusion over purpose of this site

 
Master Rancher
Posts: 4465
38
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is the purpose of this site to find problems in students code
or to help students find the problems in their code?
I continually see responses to posted code that says:  "Here is the problem"  or "change this to make it work" without any explanation of how the poster of that response found the problem so that the OP could find the next problem himself
Sort of "Give a man a fish vs teaching a man how to fish"


I have been on this site for years and have continually seen this.  I've often given up at different times and  not logged onto the site for months and months.
I had been prompted to some kind of moderator but had one of the senior staff back it out in frustration over biting my tongue vs wacking some poster for just posting the solution without any explanation.
 
Saloon Keeper
Posts: 13248
291
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The purpose of the site is to help people with their programming problems, and have fun in the process. It seems like you're not having fun.

Helping people with programming strongly depends on the person having the problem. If it's clear that the person is a beginner and the problem stems from them lacking fundamental knowledge, then it's better to give hints and nudge them in the right direction so they can figure it out for themselves.

But sometimes there are also people who know the fundamentals and just made a mistake they missed because they've been staring at the code for a long time. Sometimes the person just doesn't know about a cool method or design pattern. Sometimes a person will be able to understand how to solve a wide range of problems and all they need is an example of one specific case.

I think the appropriate way to help is as diverse as the person who needs help. I think the more experienced users of these forums have a pretty good grip on who needs what kind of help and try to act accordingly, or guide less experienced posters to do the same. Of course, we're all human and sometimes we make a mistake and give out an answer too easily. This will be especially frustrating to another user that had a plan laid out to help a user through a less direct approach. I've both have it happen to me and I have done it to others.

In short, I don't agree that giving out the direct answer is necessarily wrong. I do agree that it happens more often than it should. What do you propose WE do to identify and handle those occasions? And what will YOU do differently so that you will have more fun?
 
Saloon Keeper
Posts: 24287
167
Android Eclipse IDE Tomcat Server Redhat Java Linux
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and get morbidly obese because to actually catch fish, he'll have to buy bait from you, rent tackle and a boat, and pay for access to your private lake for the rest of his life. All paid to you. Which is more how it tends to go in reality.

Or if you prefer Terry Pratchett's version...

Anyway, if you want a direct solution, there's StackOverflow. We actually are more into the "why" than the "how", although sometimes you will get a dose of "how" in the form of suggested or even illustrated Best Practices.

In fact, one of the things we probably do more than just about anything is take a question where someone has conceived a solution and suggest a better one. Since one of the greatest obstacles to solving any problem is locking onto a solution that ignores better possibilities.
 
Norm Radder
Master Rancher
Posts: 4465
38
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's what happens.  An OP posts code with problems. I spend time finding the problems and work on ways to lead the OP to finding them.
Then some hotshot comes along and gives the OP the answer.  The time I have spent is wasted.  The OP is no longer interested in how to find the solution because he has it.
It often seems that there is a race on this forum for who can find and post the fix first.
 
Bartender
Posts: 2880
150
Google Web Toolkit Eclipse IDE Java
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Norm Radder wrote:... I continually see responses to posted code that says:  "Here is the problem"  or "change this to make it work" without any explanation of how the poster of that response found the problem so that the OP could find the next problem himself


Everyone has their own style of answering questions. As long as they're within the rules of coderanch (How To Answer Questions On Java Ranch), I dont think there should be a problem. We have a rule about DontBeACodeMill and LetThemDoTheirOwnHomework, but there's no rule that mentions something about giving an explanation. I don't think there could be a rule since this is a completey subjective topic. If I see an OP pasting a huge code block with a typo like "System.out.prinln", I'd simply point it out. There's no explanation. Let's say an OP posted a loop with a condition that is never satisfied. Some of us might ask the OP why he/she thinks that the condition is met and engage in a conversation. Some of us might directly point it out. I dont see a problem in both solutions. I'd also like to point out that some of us know an OP better (i.e. has actively answered some other posts) and would hence assume OP knows some topics.

Norm Radder wrote:... but had one of the senior staff back it out in frustration over biting my tongue vs wacking some poster for just posting the solution without any explanation.

I'm quite sorry you feel that way. Maybe you can point out a particular post that absolutely needed explanation and the poster didn't provide one ?
 
Trailboss
Posts: 23370
IntelliJ IDE Firefox Browser Java
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I created these forums because I wanted a place to discuss software engineering.    In a large part because wherever I worked, people did NOT want to discuss software engineering.   They wanted to beat on their keyboards and get paid.  

Later, stackoverflow showed up and it facilitated the people that wanted to beat on their keyboards and get paid.   Put the error code in google, go to stack overflow and see what you do to MAKE IT GO!

I worked a contract and had a little note to myself in my cube.   It was the number "671".   I needed to move an API from a server onto a mobile device.   I ended up just rewriting the whole API.  My API was 671 times smaller.  As an added bonus, it was about a hundred times faster.   The others in the office didn't seem to care.  Management didn't care.  But the people here did care.  

I feel like this is a group of people that wish to deeply understand what "good" means to them.  To be able to be the superstar engineer because of an understanding of how to write magnificent code.  Code that is lean and easy to understand.  
 
After this ability comes triple pay from the people that just beat on their keyboards and get paid.  



 
Sheriff
Posts: 7111
184
Eclipse IDE Postgres Database VI Editor Chrome Java Ubuntu
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Norm Radder wrote:Here's what happens.  An OP posts code with problems. I spend time finding the problems and work on ways to lead the OP to finding them.
Then some hotshot comes along and gives the OP the answer.  The time I have spent is wasted.  The OP is no longer interested in how to find the solution because he has it.
It often seems that there is a race on this forum for who can find and post the fix first.


This sounds frustrating.  When I see a poster trying to guide the OP in the right direction, I try to steer clear.  But I've probably failed on some occasions to pick up on this.

We're not a code mill, but we definitely post code when appropriate.  It's "when appropriate" that is in question.  I have seen moderators post hints for pages that the OP is not getting.  I would call that too far, and just post some code.  Not all the code, just enough to illustrate the problem.  Then there are people that like to post code right away.  I too can find this frustrating at times, but if there's no policy broken, I just shrug it off.  There's nothing to stop you from PMing the poster and saying that you were working with the OP to find the solution, or even make that a post.  But at some point you have to decide what is the level of frustration you are willing to deal with.  When it's not fun, stop.
 
Marshal
Posts: 16591
277
Mac Android IntelliJ IDE Eclipse IDE Spring Debian Java Ubuntu Linux
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

paul wheaton wrote:I feel like this is a group of people that wish to deeply understand what "good" means to them.  To be able to be the superstar engineer because of an understanding of how to write magnificent code.  Code that is lean and easy to understand.


Good to see that written down because that's exactly how I feel, too.
 
Junilu Lacar
Marshal
Posts: 16591
277
Mac Android IntelliJ IDE Eclipse IDE Spring Debian Java Ubuntu Linux
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For what it's worth, here are some of the rules of thumb that I generally try to follow:

If it's a topic in Beginning Java or if it's obvious the OP is a student:
1. Definitely try to guide rather than give a solution.
2. Use your judgement to decide when an example that demonstrates similar concepts is appropriate
3. Wait a while, maybe somebody will chime in and give a good example
4. On the rare occasion that all else fails and only after OP has given it a good old college try, maybe part of the solution or the whole solution will be more helpful.

If it's a topic anywhere other than the Certification forums and where OP is obviously not a student:
1. Ask if OP wants to see what you've tried.
2. If OP is game, share your solution and discuss with OP.

I don't go there much but I treat posts in the Certification forums very similarly to how I treat Beginning Java and student posts.
 
Sheriff
Posts: 8064
569
Mac OS X VI Editor BSD Linux
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Norm Radder wrote:Then some hotshot comes along and gives the OP the answer.  The time I have spent is wasted.  The OP is no longer interested in how to find the solution because he has it.


I don't think the time is wasted (or at least 'completely'). To me seems that problem is more in such OP who is no longer interested.

I believe there are a lot engineers who are actually interested to read over the threads and read carefully in order to absorb the thought process. However, different people have different ways of absorbing information. Some enough one or two clues, some need a complete example (maybe just with different values).

Sometimes probably is better to derive to an answer (complete), than not derive at all during long lasting thread.

And sometimes yes, things go in different way than most of us expected. But since these forums are so mature and for so long, it seems something we all do - is 'right'. No doubt we have a lot to improve.
 
Marshal
Posts: 73981
332
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Norm Radder wrote:. . . Then some hotshot comes along and gives the OP the answer. . . .

I agree with Norm on that point. If you think the OP is nearly there, all the work is undone if somebody posts a complete solution (and you can't delete it). I prefer to leave at least twenty‑four hours before posting a solution, or post it ten minutes after hand‑in time.
 
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic