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 Post subject: What are the most common new developer and RTFM questions?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:19 pm 
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Sometimes these threads get deleted so I want to know what you've personally seen and/or gotten tired of answering. Also include questions asked repeatedly in IRC or other sources. For each subject, is the problem really RTF(wiki) or is the wiki lacking?

Examples:

Boot loaders: Wiki coverage - okay but not great
Toolchain/Cross Compilers: Wiki coverage - lacking


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 Post subject: Re: What are the most common new developer and RTFM question
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:30 pm 
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Its often RTF[MW]

Other than that, its mainly about the 101 variants of my kernel doesn't compile/boot/work, none of it actually traceable to the wiki as people use different tutorials or don't follow the instructions.

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 Post subject: Re: What are the most common new developer and RTFM question
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:07 pm 
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There's quite a few problems related to linker errors as well. It's most common with the 101 variants of "my kernel doesn't compile/boot/work", but it's a more specific example. I've seen seasoned developers make this mistake as well however.


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 Post subject: Re: What are the most common new developer and RTFM question
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:13 pm 
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In general I'd say they come in a few primary flavors. Problems compiling tutorials, which almost always involves someone using cygwin instead of a cross compiler(well documented, rarely followed). The generic "help this crashes!" post, usually the structure of these posts violates general forum rules with asking for help (no emulator log, no source, no real problem description) or it's due to code just being copy and pasted together in a non functional way due to the poster having no understanding underlying it all (rtfm/lack of effort). "What does this code do?", tends to go back to the copy paste thing, I've seen a growing trend in people who basically want to look at a few lines of source code and gain a full understanding, without a good comprehension of the underlying hardware(rtfm/lack of effort). Sometimes though that last question can be innocent enough too, I've seen a few people asking because they might not have the best English skills and the terminology can throw them a bit.

Though it wasn't asked directly I think it's relevant to bring up that there are some other posts that don't fall into either category, but tend to be naive or bold enough to evoke some flaming, some are clearly mentioned in the beginner mistakes section of the wiki too. These tend to either be grandiose statements like "I'm going to make an OS with a 3D interface, Windows compatibility and it'll run an iphone", which show a total lack of understanding of both the complexity and often the technical limitations of doing certain things. They're few and very far apart but almost always result in a massive amount of flaming.

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 Post subject: Re: What are the most common new developer and RTFM question
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:49 am 
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Technically speaking, every question could be answered with RTFM, since there are manuals/tutorials/wikis covering most everything imaginable. RTFM, isn't your problem here. That is merely the result of your members coming to the end of their rope. And, they have reached that point due mainly to the confusing nature of the combined wiki and forum. The slogan is impossible and confusing. And, the wiki is mostly written like a tutorial. Any sane person will ultimately come to the conclusion that the forum must be for my questions. Then in the forum you have many confusing descriptions and forum labels.

OS Development wrote:
Question about which tools to use, bugs, the best way to implement a function, etc should go here. Don't forget to see if your question is answered in the wiki first! When in doubt post here.

All of those reasons to post sound very newcomer friendly, then your last statement sounds too inviting to non-searchers. Basically, "It's OK if you didn't find it in the wiki, just post your questions here anyway."

General Programming wrote:
Programming, for all ages and all languages.

I don't know, that entire thing sounds really newcomer friendly.

Now, my question to the community: In which forums do most newcomer questions get asked?

My most humble suggestion: Plan to enforce friendlier behavior, clean up the wording and create a beginner's area, and focus more on further developing the wiki.

My most humble advice: Newcomers equal growth.

thank you


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 Post subject: Re: What are the most common new developer and RTFM question
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:01 am 
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(A final tossing-in of opinion, since I have the feeling chase is going somewhere with this question.)

Toolchain problems. Inability of the poster to figure out what the heck he's doing, usually because he's copy-pasting even the command line from somewhere without checking what the options actually mean.

Especially when followed up by statements making it clear the person doesn't have an idea on basic problem-solving strategies, or what tools are available beyond gcc and ld themselves.

Some examples:

  • getting an "undefined reference", and not checking the object files with 'objdump'.
  • getting an "unsupported object format", and not checking the object files with 'file' or the list of supported formats with e.g. 'gcc -v'.
  • getting a triple fault, and not pinpointing the core of the problem by adding log output / infinite loops in critical locations.

We don't have much Wiki coverage on those things, and I don't think we should, because it's Required Knowledge. Someone who can't do the above without being led by the hand has no business in writing kernel-space code.

All of these issues could easily be answered by linking to StackOverflow because they have nothing to do with OS development in the narrower sense.

Yes, newcomers equal growth, but not all growth is healthy. I don't think we'd be doing anyone a favor if we dumb down OS Dev to cater for raw programming beginners.

Parting note: Yes, I was angry. Right now, I'm only depressed. I wish the community all the best, and will keep an eye on the proceedings, but please understand that I don't have the energy to spare to put into the discussion (or the doing).

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 Post subject: Re: What are the most common new developer and RTFM question
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:05 am 
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What if... we were to create a forum link (I don't know exactly how they call it, it's one of those redirect thingies that looks like a subforum) that says "Got issues getting your kernel running" (or something alike) and then redirect to the wiki or the truobleshooting page or something. Or perhaps we could point it to a forum post (sticky) that links to all these pages and possibly gives a "what to include" if your problem doesn't fall under the given link topics.

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