[thelist] was whitespace around form in firefox now OT rant

Christian Heilmann codepo8 at gmail.com
Thu Jul 20 02:18:05 CDT 2006

> Btw it's amazing how much I have seen the list change in the last 5 years I
> have been lurking, back in those days there were hardly ever any digs at
> people who posted code which wasn't cutting edge or silly newbie questions.
> Just useful help written in a friendly helpful way.  There are some posters
> on this list who reply in such a high and mighty manner that I think I am
> probably not the only one who thinks twice before posting because of the
> flack, the lectures and the tirades that a simple question then brings forth
> and then having to spend the whole night, the precious little time I have to
> work, writing email to defend myself.

First of all, Matt's mail was out of line, but didn't attack you
personally, but the style of the work you had done. This is a
difference, and I blame the impersonal style of email communication
for that. Human communication is about 80% visual and audial, then
about information. The leftover 20% lead to a lot of assumptions. I
had grand email battles with PPK for example, but in real life, we go
along quite well. It also made me a much better developer listening to
his advice and "high and mighty" attitude.

The other side to this story is that the message archive is a great
place to find answers to these questions and the people who were happy
to answer them five years ago are not really in the mood to answer
them again and again. Even more frustrating, new list members who do
normally have more time than the old ones don't take up the torch
pointing people to the collated information (older threads, wiki
archive of CSS Discuss) but instead use lists as a means to show off
their (sometimes half-true) solutions and drive traffic to their site
that way spreading even more muddled information.

Matt's answer was out of line but showed frustration at mailinglists
and forums running in circles because of this attitude of "the new
developer is always right in asking and should be protected". No, new
developers are not giant pandas or whales, they are new developers and
we learn more by being challenged than by being overly protected.
There is a right way to ask and a wrong way, and it should be obvious
(if it isn't it should be in the footer!) that the basics should be
covered before asking, which are:

- Make sure you use a standards DOCTYPE - as anything in Quirksmode is guesswork
- Check the list archives / The CSS discuss archives if the problem
was answered already

It is unfortunate that your answer got this out of line reply as you
at least had the decency to write a great subject explaining what you
need to know. This is not common practice either and adds to the
build-up of frustration in people who participate a lot on this list.
The "high and mighty" attitude might just be utter frustration in
seeing the learning process of the list as a whole stalling -
something people say about the W3C aswell. Personally I can understand
the W3C not pushing the upcoming recommendations further when the
developer community still thinks webdevelopment is cobbling something
together, then blaming the standards and browsers for being inaccurate
or asking for advice and tell the advisor not to be arrogant about it.

The people answering are normally (well hopefully) knowledgeable
people in the subject matter which normally (or hopefully, depends on
how they sell themselves) are in jobs that don't give them much
freetime themselves so the argument of not having much time to learn
or follow the instructions doesn't hold up. If you don't have time to
learn about web development, use some tried and tested out-of-the-box
solutions like for example the Yahoo! CSS grids:

There is no shame in that, and it helps a new developer avoiding
repeating the same mistakes others have done before her. The problem
about learning material on the web is that people allow it to
deteriorate and don't delete outdated material which makes new
developers learn things they don't need to learn any longer but stick
to it as it is their first discovery and they are mighty proud about
their first table layouts. I tried to offer a chance to remedy that (
http://icant.co.uk/of/ ) but got no support whatsoever ( the same way
I tried to help people show off that CSS can be used in CMS and
enterprise environments and not only blogs and for image replacement -
http://csstoolshed.com/). I learnt my lesson and will shut down the
both of them soon - a shame about the time spent on the ideas.

So, before anyone claims anyone else is high and mighty it might be a
good idea to simply wonder what frustrates that person that much that
warrants a snappy reply. If you go to other communities like Linux
forums, RTFM answers are common - which i don't want the webdev
community to get to.

Chris Heilmann
Book: http://www.beginningjavascript.com
Blog: http://www.wait-till-i.com
Writing: http://icant.co.uk/

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