Backchannel: helping people

Update:  the Helping People thread was likely triggered by this post.  I thought the replies O.P. mentioned were clear and intended to help.

In the  We Are Here to Help People thread Bob says:

We Are Here to HELP People I'm going to say it again because it's amazing how easily we forget this simple truth: We Are Here to HELP People

First:  it’s his forum.  If folks don’t like it they can start their own (and they already have).

Second:  this condescending statement indicates Bob thinks there is only one way to help people. That method is the:

give the man a fish method

This rather paternal method has two three steps:

  1. tell them what to do

  2. hold their hand while they do it

  3. tell them how good they did

I find this method counterproductive in the longer term unless one is dealing with someone with cognitive disabilities.

The people he is griping about are generally trying to use the:

teach a man to fish method

This method is more difficult in the beginning but pays off in the longer term.  The teacher lays out the overview and has the student do the homework (figuring out what they want, what they need, etc).  Then the teacher lays out some common courses of action and encourages the student to choose and go forward indepenently as much as possible.

Note that we are all sometimes the teacher and sometimes the student, depending on what topic we are grappling with.

The downside of this method is no one gets to play savior;  everyone saves themselves (with advice from neighbors).

And yes, there are a few folks who use the…

be a dick method

These people (including me, if I am one) should be directly addressed by the mods or owner, rather than blasting the helpers in the forum.  In my experience a wide blast is a net negative:  it discourages the productive helpers and the dicks who need to hear the message lack the social awareness to know they are dicks.

We are NEVER here to blame someone who has asked us for help that they just need to try harder and do their own research

Sometimes people do need to try harder.  And people always need to do a little reading before asking questions, particularly FAQs.  It’s basic respect for the people whose time and energy they want to access.

If your post isn't for the purpose of being helpful because you care about people, don't post it.
It doesn't matter how much of an expert you are, if you aren't a good enough teacher to make it simple and understandable, then don't post. It's better for you to be silent than confuse and frustrate people.
If you aren't willing to take the time to actually be helpful to others, then don't post.

Again with the condescension and the assumption there is a single, dumbed-down, way to interact with newbs. People care about each other in different ways.  Not all of us are techies and not all of us are flower children.

And the newbs are not snowflakes.  Treating them like snowflakes is not going to help them survive in a van in the winter, or in the heat of the desert. The “tyranny of low expectations” is demeaning to adults who intend to buck the trend and live their best life.

/end, rant