One of the best parts — arguably the best part — about being a CrunchBang user are the answers that are readily available in the CrunchBang forums, whether they’re already there (a search usually brings up a question you might have that has been discussed and answered already) or whether you’re asking it for the first time to an enthused group of forum folks ready and willing to answer your unasked question.
And now you’re expecting me to say, “But,” or “However . . . .” Surprise: I’m not. The reason I bring up the CrunchBang forums and how well they work is to raise one of my personal quests in the FOSS realm that, if I were to succeed, I think it would make things a lot easier for everyone on several levels.
You could ask, “What might that be?” And I would answer, “asking questions better and answering them more civilly.”
Eric Raymond and Rick Moen wrote a treatise about this many years ago that’s required reading at Felton LUG. It’s called “How to Ask Questions the Smart Way” and it is a remarkable guide regarding how to ask questions that will outline your problem efficiently for those who have to answer it. At the same time, it also has a guide for those who have been around the FOSS/Linux block — OK, for some, around the FOSS/Linux world — a few times regarding how to answer questions as well.
Bear in mind that I don’t bring this up because I think there’s a problem in this regard in the CrunchBang forums. Far from it; I think that questions and answers are handled quite well there. In fact, I’ll go one step further: I think the way the CrunchBang community works, as shown in the forums, is a textbook case of how FOSS communities should work.
I bring it up only as a reminder that I think everyone should give “How to Ask Questions the Smart Way” a read — from the newest Linux user to the most seasoned veteran — because there’s something in it for everyone.
(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)