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Perceptions of the monolith

Posted By: PastMaster

Perceptions of the monolith - 09/02/04 07:56 AM

Righty, let's get some discussion going grin. I'm going to play devil's advocate here, because I'm interested in people's responses.

I'm sure we've all seen new users who just don't understand that (1) miRC is not IRC, and that (2) IRC is not a single network.

So - how can we make people realise this more quickly? Re-write help files to emphasise the point (are they read anyway)? Change the connect dialog to make it more obvious (perhaps a different 'first use' dialog)? Change mIRC's name to lessen confusion? (Or would it)?

I'm not advocating any of these things, I'd just like to see people's thoughts on dealing with the issue. Or if you think it needs dealing with at all. grin

PM
Posted By: Raccoon

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 09/02/04 09:31 AM

And I'll play the Devil's Advocate Advocate, and suggest we blur the lines even more... allowing users to believe that mIRC is the heart and soul of IRC, just as Microsoft did with Internet Explorer and AOL did with their service. This tactic does wonders for sales and product loyalty.

Ooh, how about "mIRC High Speed", new with popup-blocker.

- Raccoon
Posted By: CtrlAltDel

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 09/02/04 05:01 PM

Quote:
Ooh, how about "mIRC High Speed", new with popup-blocker.


got MY vote grin
Posted By: Mentality

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 09/02/04 06:05 PM

"Re-write help files to emphasise the point (are they read anyway)?"

Nope, they're not read....90% of people do not make an effort to help themselves, 5% are helpers and *generally* don't need help with most topics, and 5% do help themselves. People do not use the search feature, can't be bothered to read the other threads or so much as glance at the other topics on the first page of a Forum. People can't be bothered to make the effort to clean their computers of viruses or protect their computers at all. Yes, admittedly, many do not know about the viruses, or HOW to protect their computers, which is how I treat all the people that come here - as people who do not know, rather than people who cannot be bothered. However, I suppose you could go back to the point about not bothering to read the other posts...that's nothing to do with being a newbie lost in the crazy world of IRC, that's just related to common sense. People can't be bothered, period.

Until they can be, which is unlikely seeing as technology keeps moving towards making everything easier and more automatic for people (even doors open themselves nowadays), we're just going to have to repeat ourselves. Point is though, you're still helping people out at very little cost to your own life, and that's worth it IMO.

Happy helpin' smile

Regards,
Posted By: LocutusofBorg

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 10/02/04 06:24 AM

Although it's totally beyond me how people can not know about viruses.... They may not know all the latest variants, but they have to be familiar with the concept. I hope.
Posted By: Watchdog

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 10/02/04 06:49 AM

So - how can we make people realise this more quickly?

It won't happen, regardless of what people try to do. What you are discussing is a valid point but it's called human nature. It brings me back about ten years to when Australia started adopting 8 digit phone numbers. Here in Sydney some had a 9 added to the front and others had an 8 added. Once when giving out my work number which started with an 8 the chap asked me if the number needed the 9 added as well for it to work, despite me giving him all 8 digits and the fact that he seems to be an intelligent person. Debate that last point as you will but at the end of the day some people just can't be told anything.

Getting back to IRC the phrase "mIRC != IRC" has been quoted 10,000 times and people still ask "Why can't I connect to mIRC?"

There are some things to remember:

1. Some people are intelligent and may even know a bit about computers. Most of the world's population hasn't even heard of IRC though. As people find out about chat rooms they may hear of "IRC" and later on about "mIRC". The names are too closely spelt for some to differentiate until both names are explained to them.

2. Some people are stubborn and call the lot mIRC even though they know it's not, regardless of how many times they are corrected they either won't listen or don't really care.

3. Some people will never understand about computers and therefore will never understand the difference between server and client. They will simply accept that the two go hand in hand providing they are correctly configured and take advantage of point-click user-friendliness. To me this is fine - no-one is good at everything.

4. People's ability to understand English varies. To Anglo-Saxons, Europeans who learned English at school and most who have shifted to English-Speaking nations this isn't a problem. To the rest it will be a problem even though a fair chunk of English actually comprises words, phrases and acronyms based on other languages.

5. Like it or not - in most cases, people do not read tutorials or help files unless expressly YELLED AT to do it and even then they will only read what is absolutely necessary.

Will changing mIRC's name fix things? No. Instead of the current confusion you would have "Why isn't mIRC made anymore?"
Posted By: ParaBrat

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 10/02/04 07:17 AM

helper: please type /help <insert about anything here> for a very helpful and detailed explanation of that.

user: I DONT WANNA READ, just *&(^%$ TELL me

*sigh* if i had a pb cookie for every time i've seen that. like we're going to pick up the phone and call them? go to their house and explain face to face? and lets not forget:
-help file? oh, i deleted that, i dont read them
-i dont have time to go read/search for something, im lazy. you know it, just tell me
-oh. i knew that, i just forgot i knew. never mind.
-i know you cant do anything about that, but cant you go talk to them for me anyway?

The intro, help file, faq, mIRC's website and assorted links all explain very well what IRC is and what mIRC is. A simple look at all the networks represented in the connect dialog should be a huge clue there are lots of networks. Many ppl simply dont read all those things. Granted, lots of the m's in rtfm are so useless and confusing that ppl dont want to read anything that looks like one, but we're talking human nature here. What more could be done short of a huge screen opening the first time they open mIRC saying in caps "this is software. this is mIRC. We arent IRC etc and you cant close this window until you sit right there and read every dang word" i think ppl really have to work hard at missing that there is a diff between mIRC and IRC frown

Dont get me wrong, obviously i like helping ppl and there are some ppl who just dont have any idea what that big word HELP up there actually represents. Some are easily overwhelmed by the sheer volume of info presented. Some get more benefit from one on one help.

To reply to your central question: the info on the diff between IRC and mIRC is abundant. How important is it that new users immediately grasp the difference if they refuse to read whats right in front of them? Whats the likelihood that putting the diff in yet another place/way would be read? imo, not very and slim to none.

yes, we often have to explain the diff here when replying. Saying the same things over and over is an unavoidable part of helping. Helping == educating. Explaining the diff between IRC and mIRC within the context of their question is perhaps the best way for some to grasp the concept as it relates to them. Before it effects them, they prolly dont really care there is a diff and it isnt harmful to not know.
Posted By: ParaBrat

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 10/02/04 07:32 AM

*chuckle* case in point Watchdog:
When 911 (the phone number to get emergency help fast) was first started, the powers that be decided ppl might have a hard time remembering nine-one-one. to make it easier, the audio ad campaigns said "dial nine-eleven". You got it, LOTS of ppl calling police/hospitals/operators etc wanting to know if they had to get new phones and wth was the eleven on the dial? I had several ppl tell me they would have called sooner for help, but they didnt have a phone with an eleven on it. Ad campaigns promptly were changed to say nine-one-one, followed by numerous ppl stating it was a good thing they got rid of that stupid nine-eleven system and put the nine-one-one system in place instead. Were they stupid? nope. well, mostly nope...just very literal minded <grin>

Now, before anyone decides to poke fun at us southerners, i have to add this was a common occurance all over the country :tongue:
Posted By: Watchdog

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 10/02/04 07:38 AM

Reminds me of Hymee (the robot in Maxwell Smart) He seemed to take everything at face-value. blush
Posted By: LocutusofBorg

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 10/02/04 01:10 PM

HOMER
(reading from computer screen)

To start press any key

PAUSE

HOMER

Where's the ANY key? I see 'Esk', 'Catarl', and 'Pig-Up'. There doesn't seem to be any ANY key. Woo! All this computer hacking is making me thirsty.
Posted By: Mentality

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 10/02/04 05:44 PM

"Although it's totally beyond me how people can not know about viruses.... They may not know all the latest variants, but they have to be familiar with the concept. I hope."

It's equally beyond me. Unless it's blasted over the news and radio like the Novarg virus has been recently (in the UK anyway) and printed up on microsoft.com on the front page, and every subsequent page thereafter, then the "general public" just aren't aware. Even then a lot of people will forget in a few months time...I bet a lot of the "general public" can't even remember what the Blaster worm was, or at least they'd only remember it vaguely.

They say experience is the best teacher, and I think it's true in this case. Until someone has actually been infected with a virus that's actually harmed *their* computers (many couldn't care less about the fact they might be loading bots that are being used to attack others), then they don't make any effort to be aware of viruses. If they're forced to reformat because of a particularly bad one, or lose an essay they've been working on for days, they suddenly become safety concious.

However, they also say prevention is better than cure wink

Regards,
Posted By: Watchdog

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 11/02/04 07:45 AM

However, they also say prevention is better than cure

Yep, quite true. One of the most useful functions that I have seen in an IRCd is Conference Room's newsflash command. On our network is it mainly used to offer advice or warnings about things, new virii being one. It's hard to believe that some people request that these be turned off. blush They are the same people that don't care much about what they pass onto others.
Posted By: Ecks

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 12/02/04 09:46 AM

I'm the head tech support for a fairly popular piece of software, so I can sympathize with you all. The problem, as Parabrat and Watchdog have pointed out, is that the general populace is either ignorant (I use that in a literal sense and not the degrading one) of how to use a computer or they're too lazy to figure it out themselves. It bothered me so much that I put a link to this in my signature. The irony of course, is that the people it is intended for won't read it either.

So what have I tried to do that I think works best? The same thing I do to a fellow student that is having trouble with their latest assignment: point them in the right direction, but don't tell them what to do. That way, they can get used to looking at the faq or reading the manual for pertinent information on the topic they're curious about instead of just getting an answer. That is, of course, for the people who don't like to help themselves first.

Honestly, we're fighting a losing war. As computers become more and more commodities, people aren't going to learn more about them; people will just expect things to work without having to fix something. As a for instance, my parents tend to have difficulties doing anything with their computer, so I occasionally get phone calls asking how to do things. Most of the time it's just something they can change in the options of whatever particular program they're using at the moment, but they don't think to look there and try it themselves. They just get flustered, and I think that's how a lot of people view computers and more broadly, electronics in general. Think: setting the time on the VCR. How many people do you know that don't do that because they're either too lazy or get frustrated doing it?

Well, that was much longer than I had intended it. I just thought I'd throw my two cents in (as well as that nice link).

-Ecks
Posted By: LocutusofBorg

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 12/02/04 04:35 PM

"The same thing I do to a fellow student that is having trouble with their latest assignment: point them in the right direction, but don't tell them what to do."

In my experience - there is only one problem with this:

* people start cussing at you for not helping them (helping them to them means doing it for them)
* people start whining, flooding, yelling, making a fool of themselves and then complain when you forcibly remove them from an IRC channel
* people start complaining to others about you and your channel

And that's all if you're lucky. Wouldn't be the first time they'd start nuking you offline as well.
Posted By: Raccoon

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 12/02/04 11:37 PM

The inharent problem with your Smart Questions FAQ, is that it's written like a support manual.

Kill the revisions and the links and any other destractions. In fact, the only text that should be visible upon loading the page is the title, so there's no confusion as to what they're reading.

<br>
<br>
<br>
<center><h1>How To Ask Questions The Smart Way</h1></center>
<br>
<br>
... etc

It should be read completely inline without any chance of escape.

But then again, i'm sure you didn't write this document.
Posted By: Ecks

Re: Perceptions of the monolith - 13/02/04 12:19 AM

Nah, I didn't. ESR (Eric Steven Raymond) is a fairly famous figurehead of the tech community. I just hope that by linking to it, it shows some people how us support personel like to receive questions. Personally, I like the format, but you're probably right about the layperson not taking to it too much.

-Ecks
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