Open source teaches people how to fish

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open source question and answers

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.

Stormy Peters leads the Community Leads team at Red Hat. Stormy is passionate about open source software and educates companies and communities on how open source software is changing the software industry. She is a compelling speaker who engages her audiences during and after her presentations.


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,

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

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