Confucius Say….

Man who stand on hill with mouth open will wait long time for roast duck to drop in.”
— Confucius

If you want something you are going to have to put in some effort to get it, it will not arrive to you exactly as you want it. This is especially true in on-line forums. Many times I see questions from people that just want the answer to their homework. There is no intention to actually understand the problem, they just want something they can hand to their tutor the next morning. This is really frustrating because I spend some of my lunch hour or free time on these forums trying to help people. Most people are genuinely stuck and cannot make sense of the documentation (you will have noticed from other blog entries where I’ve written up a clarification of some documentation because it wasn’t written as I’d have liked) or they’ve been trying various things to get it to work and they’ve got their code in a “richt fankle”* and as a result they’ve lost the thread somewhat. Getting back to the analogy that confucius made, these people have actually attempted to obtain a duck, pluck it and roast it, but somewhere along the way it isn’t working out. These people deserve to get help because they have shown a willingness to learn by themselves.

What about the students that need to get their homework assignments in on time? Well, as it is obvious they’ve not done a jot of work themselves (unless you count copy and pasting their assignment to an online forum) their needs will most likely go unmet.

People get help because they deserve it, not because they need it. Does this sound unfair? Is it fair for me to waste my time helping someone who cannot even help themselves. To use another famous quote “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time“. If I just answer their question I use my time to just give them a fish even although I am trying to teach – I give them my fish that I caught to demonstrate during the lesson. If I can see that they are willing to learn then I know that if I teach them to fish, they will learn and they can then help themselves to as many as are in the sea.

A “richt fankle” is a Scots expression that means to get something in a complete mess. Code that is in a “richt fankle” would be most likely also be described as spaghetti code.

NOTE: This was resuced from the Google Cache. The original date was Wednesday 6th October, 2005.


Original Comments:

I couldn’t have said it better Colin!

10/5/2005 4:00 AM | Rob Manderson

I continually experience co-worker brain death. When they realize that they can ask me for help, their brain stops working and they ask me the stupidest questions, that they could figure out themselves if they didn’t go into “I’ll ask Marc” mode. Sigh.

It is a balance though, to decide how much time to spend figuring out the answer oneself vs. asking someone for help.


10/5/2005 1:57 PM | Marc

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