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Noob index of a posting
Johan Halmén
Member #1,550
September 2001

We all know the situation when someone posts a question to a forum and the text clearly shows that the writer is asking advice for a detail of a bigger project, which is way too complicated for him to manage. And the discussion usually leads to the point where the writer thinks everybody just acts like arseholes, when they try to tell him to kindly step back a few steps and learn the basics.

I just read such a posting on an Arduino forum. It was about a colour sensor and creating a database of items and their colours on a computer using an attached Arduino microcontroller with an attached colour sensor. Not very complicated, but not exactly a noob project. But the writer's question was about how to fix the values from the sensor so that they wouldn't exceed 255.

The thread has so far only one answer, but my educated guess is that the "noob index" of the OP implies that frustration will enter the thread. So, instead of trying to help someone asking for crumbs by giving him crumbs, when he actually needs a whole loaf which he needs to be able to bake himself, one could just start with "I think the noob index in your writing and your question is rather high, but anyway, multiply the readings from your sensor by 255 and divide with the biggest reading you think your sensor can give".

The noob index would not tell how noob the writer is, but how relevant the question is and how realistic expectations the writer has. When the noob asks the right question, the noob index would be 1, he'd get just the right answers which will help him on his way.

Now we only need a simple definition of "noob index", feel free to suggest a better name for it, and a wikipedia page to link to every time we encounter postings on forums, postings with too high noob indices.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Years of thorough research have revealed that the red "x" that closes a window, really isn't red, but white on red background.

Years of thorough research have revealed that what people find beautiful about the Mandelbrot set is not the set itself, but all the rest.

Chris Katko
Member #1,881
January 2002
avatar

Interesting premise...

What I hate is... in general, I only ask strange/oddball questions (because normal questions I GOOGLE first.). So on places like Stack Overflow and it pisses me off when even though I say "I understand I could do it X way, but I WANT TO DO IT Y WAY." I get the answer, "You shouldn't do it that way." They always reject the premise and suggest I should do it the "easy" way that everyone else is doing--even if that way doesn't actually satisfy my unique requirements or my specific learning application.

Like, "Is it possible to SECURELY run a web server on an old operating system like Windows 95 laptop." Almost everyone just whined about "use Linux instead" as-if drivers existed for my 30 year old laptop, or that modern flavors of Linux would easily run on my 8/16MB on RAM.

Another one is, using Powershell/WMI, I retrieve the per-process CPU/RAM/disk/IO usage statistics. The problem is, while CPU shows up, DISK USAGE is always reported to be zero. Even though, Task Manager in Windows 10 does report disk usage. (I thought Win7 might not report it but no, I still get it in Win10.) I tried to "help" them understand by coming up with a potential project "to graph per-process usage. This is for RESEARCH/LEARNING PURPOSES for powershell/wmi." And they go, "There are plenty of graphing utilities. Just use Process Explorer/Resource Monitor/etc." You idiots. That's not what I asked. And I even tried to spoonfeed them that it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to know why WMI is broken.

My guess is, answering my specific questions require actual niche knowledge and most of the posters are only capable of providing general knowledge so they transform my question into one they can actually solve by assuming I'm stupid.

[edit] So I wish there was a word or phrase that could easily say. I'M NOT STUPID. I believe I did my research. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REDUCE MY PROBLEM. No Reductio Problema?</edit>

As for your specific issue. I'm not aware of any term, except simply saying (as nicely as possible) that the poster doesn't appear to be experienced enough to tackle this problem. Or, "your programming experience doesn't appear to meet the prerequisites to explain this properly."

Kind of reminds me of, "Is it Monday already?" (because of the huge influx of "I'm going to make a [project too complex for my ability or attention span]" project announcements we used to get here.) "All I need is a programmer, musician, artist, and idea guy... without pay. Any takers?"

One last thing. The Arduino and Raspberry Pi forums... woah man. Be careful there. They're FULL of people who talk out of their butts. I actually saw a legit post telling a guy that overclocking a raspberry pi (and HEAT) doesn't hurt it, but the FREQUENCY affects the "mean-time before failure" which reduces the amount of TIMES that the transistors CAN SWITCH before failing. Like they're some sort of mechanical relays falling apart. W. T. F.

-----sig:
“Programs should be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.” - Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

Samuel Henderson
Member #3,757
August 2003
avatar

My guess is, answering my specific questions require actual niche knowledge and most of the posters are only capable of providing general knowledge so they transform my question into one they can actually solve by assuming I'm stupid.

That's a very interesting hypothesis Chris. Would you say that it's related to the concept of 'bikeshedding' where people feel the need to assert their opinions on a subject they perceive themselves of having knowledge in?

=================================================
Paul whoknows: Why is this thread still open?
Onewing: Because it is a pthread: a thread for me to pee on.

Johan Halmén
Member #1,550
September 2001

My guess is, answering my specific questions require actual niche knowledge and most of the posters are only capable of providing general knowledge so they transform my question into one they can actually solve by assuming I'm stupid.

"Brilliant" politicians use this technique in interviews.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Years of thorough research have revealed that the red "x" that closes a window, really isn't red, but white on red background.

Years of thorough research have revealed that what people find beautiful about the Mandelbrot set is not the set itself, but all the rest.

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
avatar

Like, "Is it possible to SECURELY run a web server on an old operating system like Windows 95 laptop." Almost everyone just whined about "use Linux instead" as-if drivers existed for my 30 year old laptop, or that modern flavors of Linux would easily run on my 8/16MB on RAM.

The short answer is probably no simply because there's probably no feasible way to secure Windows 95, period. :) I'd be surprised too if there was no Linux distribution that would run on that ~30 year old laptop or 8 MB of RAM. Also, I'd be curious WTH 30 year old laptop you'd even want to run a Web server on in 2017 or earlier.

The problem with asking such difficult questions is that there is no short, simple solution to the problem. It's not a very useful question to ask on a site like SO because there isn't really an answer (other than "no"). That would probably belong better on a hacker mailing list, but they'd probably only help you if you had already proven yourself to them as fitting in (in which case, you probably wouldn't ask at all, you'd simply show them how you did this). :D

Neil Roy
Member #2,229
April 2002
avatar

I still recall back in the day, chatting with someone on IRC, they used Windows 95 and I was able to shut his computer down remotely with some software that was easily obtained at the time once I knew his IP address. :)

Definitely not server material. ;)

Chris Katko
Member #1,881
January 2002
avatar

bamccaig said:

The short answer is probably no simply because there's probably no feasible way to secure Windows 95, period. :) I'd be surprised too if there was no Linux distribution that would run on that ~30 year old laptop or 8 MB of RAM.

Yes, I know that. And I wanted to know why. Basically, the real answer was, because you'd have to secure the entire TCP/IP stack (impossible with binary, non-FOSS Windows), and write your own HTTP server to be sure it was safe.

The issue was that many posters took a single line in my comment ("I can't run linux on it.") and spent all of their comments and answers proclaiming "YOU CAN RUN LINUX ON 8MB OF RAM. OMFG.~@$!$#@!@" Likely because they had no idea about the security question. They also didn't bother to consider that Linux drivers used to be complete crap, and still don't exist for many proprietary systems. The mouse. The SVGA card. The 8-bit PCMCIA ethernet card. And last of all, throwing Linux on it changes the problem! It's not a Win95 laptop hosting a webserver. It's just some really old hardware running modern Linux. Half of the cool factor disappears.

Quote:

Also, I'd be curious WTH 30 year old laptop you'd even want to run a Web server on in 2017 or earlier.

The why is the same reason I ask any question. To learn. I use insane projects to learn depth in topics. Likewise, why does anyone run a Commodore 64 web server? Or build their own custom CPU.

-----sig:
“Programs should be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.” - Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

Samuel Henderson
Member #3,757
August 2003
avatar

The why is the same reason I ask any question. To learn. I use insane projects to learn depth in topics. Likewise, why does anyone run a Commodore 64 web server? Or build their own custom CPU.

There's a certain charm in resurrecting old hardware and software to do things far beyond their original intended purpose. There's also a certain charm resurrecting old hardware and software just for nostalgia's sake.

=================================================
Paul whoknows: Why is this thread still open?
Onewing: Because it is a pthread: a thread for me to pee on.

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
avatar

That kind of work falls more under the umbrella of hacker culture than software development. It doesn't really fit into SO and I don't think any existing SE site fits either. I really think that a hacker community would exist where that would be far more interesting to discuss, if you can convince them that you're worth their time. Odds are the best such communities are off the grid and invite only. :)

Gideon Weems
Member #3,925
October 2003

"Noob index" is the perfect term for what this describes. If Johan were as good at babbling on social media as he is at programming or playing tuba, the phrase "noob index" would already be in our vernacular. "Noob index" describes something nobody realized needed describing.

I definitely see where Chris is coming from, however. The phrase "doing it wrong" is used far too often and--in a sweet twist of irony--by the same people who complain "doesn't work" isn't a valid description of a problem! They are both invalid for the same reason.

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