Ayende @ Rahien

Refunds available at head office

I don’t do errors, and my name isn’t Google

image

For some reason, a lot of people come to me with a phrase that is like fingernails on a blackboard to me: “I have an error".

I try hard to be polite, so I usually don’t say what comes to mind immediately. Usually a variation on any of the following:

  • Good for you
  • That is nice
  • So do I, let get them together and see if we can breed them
  • And what do you want me to do about it?
  • ARGH!

The main problem is that this is usually all that is said. So it is a declaration of totally useless information.

Something that I find almost as offensive is asking me for information that is easily findable in Google.

Here is an example that demonstrate both of those issues:

image

I am not going to actually comment further. Suffice to say that this post is my way of taking out the frustration of having to do this yet again. And don’t get to gung ho on the actual example, that isn’t actually that important.

I wonder if I can get a title of Chief Google Searcher or something like that.

Comments

Jay
03/23/2009 12:07 AM by
Jay

It sounds like you need "Let me Google that for you."

http://www.lmgtfy.com

It may come off a bit rude, but it gets the point across while answering the [inane] question.

Phillip
03/23/2009 12:32 AM by
Phillip

Damn you Jay, i was about to post that url. :(

But it is fustrating when people ask you before trying to work it out for themselves or googling it.

?
03/23/2009 12:34 AM by
?

have you considered ignoring these upsetting requests?

Corey
03/23/2009 12:44 AM by
Corey

To play devil's advocate. They could be on a support call with Microsoft support on an issue of not being able to open a connection using the Entity Framework. Maybe you could open up your own paid support line for NHibernate. You could make some money and get even less sleep than you already do.

Levin
03/23/2009 05:51 AM by
Levin

@Ayende,

I'm coming to say sorry to you here,sincerely. Everyone here can treat me as a god damn idiot,but only my God knows that i've googled and tried a lot before writing that help request~

Anyway,i learn the lesson.

Good day.
Rafal
03/23/2009 07:46 AM by
Rafal

Ayende, I don't understand why you feel obliged to answer basic questions and get frustrated with having to help lazy beginners. Leave it to someone else, without help they will have to learn to use Google.

cowgaR
03/23/2009 09:20 AM by
cowgaR

__"Chief Google Searcher"

thanks, you made my day =D

UserX
03/23/2009 12:12 PM by
UserX

I think you're being a bit hard on the user. If you are setting yourself up as someone that can assist with NHibernate then stop complaining. If you're not don't answer the question. Sure the user should have tried to find the answer himself/herself, but maybe nHibernate should be more helpful in dealing with lower level errors.

How is 'an error occured in the logion process' helpful?

Ayende Rahien
03/23/2009 12:18 PM by
Ayende Rahien

@Levin,

I specifically did not mention any names, and, as I said in the post, I don't care about the specific example, I can about the numerous instances that I run into that.

@UserX,

Um, the same way I did? You put it in Google.

Sheraz
03/23/2009 01:39 PM by
Sheraz

Ayende,

       I face this situation almost on daily basis. As soon as any of my friends have any problem, they dial my number right away and ask me the questions which most of the times are very very easy to get answers of from googling. In fact very recently I ended up telling my friend to first google before asking me the question. Even worse, my team partner when working on the app, comes to me to tell that it broke. When I ask why, he says he does not know. When I ask, did you try to find out why... his answer is no. 

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Henning
03/23/2009 04:11 PM by
Henning

Well, I have to take a stand for the lazy beginners. Even though I do e tremendous amount of google-ing before asking a forum/list, sometimes I'm stuck. To someone, who's deeply involved in NHibernate for example the actual problem might seem easy, but for someone else it might not. And some low-level technical description of pipes and endpoints doesn't actually help to solve the problem if you need a pragmatic answer.

Paco
03/23/2009 07:49 PM by
Paco

Why don't you just ignore them? Just press the archive button when you get mail like that.

Defn
03/23/2009 10:34 PM by
Defn

Apologies in advance if this seems rude but this is the nature of the beast. Developers build software. The good ones support it, and the bad ones make it someone else's problem. The good ones write documentation, and the bad ones tell you to read the code.

I can sympathize with your situation. I go through something similar nearly every day at work, but I am not the kind of person who will tell someone to fuck off because they don't know how to search for errors in Google.

Searching for errors with google is strange at first for everyone I think. The best thing to do is to both answer the question directly and refer them to a google search that would give them the same answer (with the keywords you used, and perhaps WHY you chose those keywords). I know it sucks, but I remember being a greenhorn and not knowing how to search for some syntax-laden error, which parts of that error would help me in Google, and so on. Some of it was brute force, and some of it was learning by example.

In short, don't be so quick to assume someone is lazy. Don't be so quick to assume someone is stupid because they haven't been Googling compiler errors for 10 years. Google has a simple website design, but that doesn't mean the construction of queries is equal in its ease. I think most people need a refresher on Boolean search. Google has pretty much put that in their black box to the detriment of a lot of new netizens.

Cheers,

D

nym
03/23/2009 11:36 PM by
nym

Four wonderful words:

"That's a google question!"

Taz
03/24/2009 12:12 AM by
Taz

I completely agree with @Defn

Ivo
03/24/2009 06:46 AM by
Ivo

I think people actually use Google, but simply cannot figure out which search results hold useful solutions. This is not because they are dumb or unwilling, but because they are, and I mean this in a non-demeaning way, ignorant. They have never consciously thought through what is happening when you perform a query. They do not dinstinguish between a failure due to wrong credentials, a failing network connection, a database daemon that is down, a query that is wrong, etc.

This ignorance especially displays itself when the error message isn't understood. There is a vast amount of developers out there that simply do not know what a 'pipe' is. If someone cannot comprehend an error message, they tend to go into 'blank stare mode'.

After explaining it to them, they may show a sharp understanding of the different possible failure modes and respond to the problem like you are me. Of course there are hopeless cases, but I think most people simply need to have it explained to them once. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people and new ones are constantly created. Perhaps a basic 'Troubleshooting Guide' would help?

Nathan
03/25/2009 07:14 AM by
Nathan

Every six months or so you post some question someone asked you all marked up with MS word and froth at the mouth. I hope it makes you feel much, much better, because it is really very distasteful, and always breaks my heart to think about the poor naive sap, lazy or not, seeing themselves publicly (if anonymously) humiliated. And they always read your blog and end up apologizing, most likely feeling like a steaming pile of dog @$&! Really it would be so much better, if the particular example really doesn't matter, to give a generic rant if it so pleases you and forgoe the personal attack on the straw that broke the camels back, because lazy or not there is a real human on the other end of your disproportionate anger that didn't deserve to have an industry leader scream "you are a moron" at him at the top of his lungs, which is what posting an actual email on this very widely read blog amounts to. You are such an influential person in this community I feel it is probably time to consider growing out of these temper tantrums, which are quite easily as disrespectful to the accused and your readers alike as a lazy question or violation of your code of ettiquete.

Ayende Rahien
03/25/2009 11:02 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Nathan,

a) I always make sure to strip personal information from those message. Precisely because it is not that one post or email that caused this post, but a flood of them.

b) A generic rant wouldn't work without having something to point to and show what I mean.

c) ayende.com/.../...to-commentors-it-is-my-blog.aspx

Ivo
03/25/2009 11:56 AM by
Ivo

Nathan isn't saying that you can't post such rants; he's arguing that you shouldn't. Saying "it's my blog and I can do what I want here" misses point: Nathan is questioning the 'what' that you might reasonably want to do here.

Nathan
03/25/2009 04:11 PM by
Nathan

a) I 'm aware, not part of my point

b) Well, then maybe it could have been skipped this time

c) heh yeah I get it - you're also an extremely prominent community member that has a very wide audience. Do what you please, of course, it is your blog, as long as you know that it is completely inconsistent with your immense, relentless contribution of value to this community, and that for the most part these insensitive rants makes you seem like like a complete dick that traded his sense of human compassion for wicked computer hacker skillz :) I'm not trying to tell you what to put in your blog, just giving you some feedback about how it makes you look to at least some of your audience, and how it may make some other people feel terrible out of proportion to the crime they committed. As with all comments on all blogs, take it or leave it, but pointing towards the "This is My Blog" sign on the wall probably doesn't help.

Lars-Erik
03/26/2009 06:58 AM by
Lars-Erik

I have a yellow sticker over my table saying "Don't ask me, ask google!"... It doesn't help. ;)

Jeff
03/27/2009 05:56 PM by
Jeff

It's a bitch being a well respected, read expert in the field. While, I understand your frustration, it kinda of reminds me of a celebrity complaining about the paparazzi....

Matthew Martin
03/29/2009 09:05 PM by
Matthew Martin

Hmm, that gave me a feature idea. Embed a google query URL into every error message. Or a query URL that points to stackoverflow's question website if it is an API error.

Comments have been closed on this topic.