Open source teaches people how to fish

Open source teaches people how to fish
Image credits: peterlozano
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One of the things I love most about the open source communities I’m a part of is that when I ask a question, I just don’t get the answer, I get taught how to find the answer.

A few weeks after I started as executive director of the GNOME Foundation, I asked Dave Neary for someone’s contact information. Actually, it might have been the third or fourth time I asked him for someone’s contact information. He sent me back an email with the contact info I wanted. And a detailed explanation of how he found it. So the next time, I was able to find info like that myself.

I love that when you ask someone in open source a question, they not only answer it, but explain how they found the answer. (I realize some people find that annoying. I really appreciate “learning how to fish.”)

It’s the same empowering attitude that drives people to blog about a problem and how they solved it or found the answer. They are teaching others how to fish.

Original appearance on Stormy's Corner and re-posted with permission.


Autodidacte's picture

I agree, yet I have to say that it takes a lot of time to teach someone to fish, and sometimes providing the guidelines as it happened through your experience is not sufficient enough.

Also I can notice that it was the 3rd or 4rth time you were asking for something; thus that either you didn't try *at all* to find the information for yourself, or that you couldn't find it. In both cases, you ask until you get a response.

The point I'm trying to make here is that I don't particularly think this story relates to merely Open Source. A few years back, Open Source was even associated with "RTFM" for me, as I had to struggle to build my packets reading FAQs, HOW-TOs and other MANs.

Of course, this is still a nice and happy story you're telling us, and I hope people stumble over this kind of behavior more often than none ;-)

Best regards,

Apprentissage solo et e-learning

Troy Dawson's picture

This reminds me of Scientific Linux's How-To article "How to answer your own question"