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Why do so most contributors to MATLAB Answers have a similar condescending attitude to the "Comic Book Store Guy" from the Simpsons? That is, an utter disdain for beginners. If anyone would like to provide some ACTUAL help, I'd be forever grateful.

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If you're reading this, then you're prepared to spend a couple of minutes tailoring a response (even just slightly) to my question. Almost every "answer" I have received on this forum has been a link to documentation or answer threads I've already read and tried, or are barely relevant, if at all.
I wasn't born knowing everything like everyone else here ...
Peter Beringer
Peter Beringer on 14 Oct 2020
Thanks for the great link. Wish I'd managed to see it earlier. When I went looking for a help guide on questions, I only came across the Community Participation Guidelines and thought that was the extent of it, it didn't occur to me to look at the forum itself. That is a FAR more comprehensive guide. Cheers.

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Answers (1)

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 13 Oct 2020
That people would come to MATLAB Answers first, before reading and attempting themselves, wasn't something that occurred to me. Perhaps they're in some kind of rush.
Having answered... several... questions here, I can unfortunately report that rather a lot of people come here and post their homework assignments without even asking a question, let alone saying anything about what aspect it is they would like assistance with.
We get called... unpleasant things... by people whom we refuse to write complete honors projects for... seldom with more than 5 days notice before it is due. And I do mean complete -- documentation and all, with the person contributing little more than the general topic of the question, and providing no ideas. Some of them specifically say that they want us to invent new techniques that haven't been published before.
We get some many questions where the person does not tell us anything about what they have tried, that we just throw a FAQ at a lot of questions, cf .
  • a lot of people have not tried anything and do not seem to have any intention of trying anything. Some of them have said explicitly that there is no point in them bothering to do any part of the question when they can just post the question and someone will (or at least might) answer it for them.
  • a lot of people have no idea how to approach the question. Some of them it is because they do not understand much of anything about the application topic; others of them it is because they are quite weak on programming. The people who do not understand the application topic... they tend to hope that we will, in a few paragraphs, explain to them what they did not understand from a month or more of university-level lectures.
  • It is not uncommon for people who are struggling to understand a topic, to believe that what they really need to understand the topic, is for us to post a complete solution to that particular assignment. Not for us to explain concepts and show examples to work through the ideas to provide the basis for them putting the last parts together themselves, but instead for us to solve the whole thing. The claim being that at after having seen it all worked out, that they will understand it well enough to be able to go away and write their own version without copying ours. We have... doubts.
Our experience has, by and large, been that the people with experience who have taken the time to read through past material, tend to start by explaining why the previous material does not meet their needs.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 13 Oct 2020
Edited: Walter Roberson on 14 Oct 2020
Peter Beringer:
You are not the first person who has wanted to place requirements on how the volunteers answer queries.
There has, for example, been a portion of people who have felt strongly that the volunteers should restrict themselves to posting complete solutions to the questions asked, and that volunteers should never ever try to explain better methods or make recommendations about why what the user is asking to do is a good idea. Those people have often said that we should assume that the posters Have A Good Reason, and that we should do what they asked instead of lecturing them.
That, for example, if someone asks how to automatically make all variables global and generate variable references on the fly, that the role of the volunteers should never be to talk about the numerous ways either of those ideas lead to problems -- that instead the rule of the volunteers should be to write code to pre-process MATLAB files to detect all variables (including dynamically generated ones) and automatically make them global. Without ever questioning why. Because we should always assume that the person knows what they are doing... even though the person did not take any time to explain their reasons and gave no indication that they have ever read the previously posted material on the topic.
There have been other posters who felt strongly that everyone should get a substantive reply within 20 minutes, no matter what time of day they post. That they had a right to a fast personally explained answer, because they paid for the software. Well, because somebody paid for the software. And that the software should be free since Python is free, but that even if it were free they would still have a right to a fast answer, because Mathworks is a commercial company.
My mental response to those posters has often been along the lines of "So... who is going to bell the cat?"
The existing volunteers are already overloaded. I, for example, am making more than 40 posts per day, and I already often stay up all night helping people. My family thinks I should cut back to about 10% of what I do now.
Where exactly are we going to get those new volunteers to provide those individually crafted responses (within 20 minutes, covering all time zones) ?
MATLAB Answers is not a service bureau. People volunteer here largely to have a feeling of contributing to helping other people understand things, not to do other people's work for them, on demand. The volunteers largely prefer a teaching role, rather than to be unpaid flunkies. The people who explain their situation and express specific questions about what they do not understand, get more attention from the volunteers.
Peter Beringer
Peter Beringer on 14 Oct 2020
I feel like I'm still being misunderstood. I'm extremely grateful for any answer given; I was just shocked by how badly people looking for a slightly deeper explanation were being treated - and I don't mean people clearly looking for people to "do their work for them", but very basic elaboration on an answer. I'm new to MATLAB Answers because I finally came up against something I couldn't figure out for myself ... so, I'm still very much learning the "culture" of the forum. People don't HAVE to answer questions, so I thought that the people who did, did so because they had the interest/time/etc., so to just get a link without another word of explanation can seem dismissive (maybe I'm too sensitive), especially when some effort has been put in by the person asking the question (again ... I'm NOT referring to questions I've asked). I'm not saying links to other threads aren't helpful either - it's how I've found most of the information helpful to me. And I agree that a "lazy" question is deserving of a "lazy" response.
I don't "expect" replies at all, let alone within some arbitrary and impossible timeframe - that's just ridiculous, and I resent your implication that I share that attitude. I thought people would reply because they wanted to, or enjoy it, I never thought there would be contributors who felt obliged to answer questions.
I certainly don't have "demands" on how questions should be answered, that's completely unreasonable. But having a preference for helpfully commented code (which I've found on many threads) that can save me venturing down a rabbit warren of often distracting information is not a "demand".
Again, I'm still learning ... and this thread has taught me A LOT about how to avoid writing a question that will be received badly.
I really appreciate the insights. Thank you.

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