Eternal September

All ESP8266 boards running MicroPython.
Official boards are the Adafruit Huzzah and Feather boards.
Target audience: MicroPython users with an ESP8266 board.
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Eternal September

Post by deshipu » Mon May 16, 2016 1:59 pm

As more and more people are getting interested in using Micropython on the ESP8266, we are going to be seeing a lot of new people on the forums, IRC channels (there is a #micropython IRC channel on Freenode, by the way, as well as #esp8266 one) and every other means of communication. If we want this community to grow and be healthy, we need to do some work on our part, as the ones who welcome new users, to set the right tone and make the interactions friendly and pleasant. I will list a few rules of thumb that I try to follow (not always successfully), hoping that they may also work for you, or at least inspire you in some way.
  • You may be familiar with the "Assume stupidity, not malice" aphorism. I think that in a technical help forum, like this, it's even better to "assume confusion, not stupidity". Most people are not permanently stupid. We are being stupid sometimes -- also clumsy, distracted, angry at something not working, tired, etc. When someone asks a stupid question, I find it's best to not assume the person is stupid, but that they are confused -- and the question itself gives us a hint to the nature of that confusion, so that we can correct it.
  • Don't feel obliged to give an answer, any answer, when you are not sure of it, didn't have time to carefully read what the user is asking about, are angry or tired, etc. A misleading or rude answer is worse than no answer at all. Remember that you are not alone here, and if you don't answer, someone else eventually will. Be especially careful about sending the user on errands reading this or that fragment of documentation, when in fact it has nothing to do with their problem.
  • There is a lot of documentation on the ESP8266 and on Micropython itself. It takes time to digest it all, and it takes some experience and practice to actually understand some of it. Don't attack users for not reading a particular part of the documentation, and certainly don't just tell them to "go read the docs". If the answer to their question is indeed contained in the documentation, simply point to it (you can link to individual headings in the docs), with a few words of explanation how it pertains to their case.
  • Remember that there is still a lot of folk knowledge about the ESP8266 and Micropython, and that things that are obvious to you are not necessarily that obvious to the general population. In particular, remember that large parts of the Micropython documentation are completely irrelevant to the ESP8266 port, and in some places even completely misleading and wrong. It is obvious for you which parts those are -- you can tell by just looking at them -- but that's not true for everyone.
  • Let people do it their way. If you think a particular activity or project of someone else doesn't make sense or is done in inefficient way -- don't tell them what they should do. Instead, point out the problems, give your advice, but be prepared to having that advice completely rejected and ignored. People are free to experiment with things in their own way, and to contribute to the project and the community in their own ways. As long as nobody is getting attacked, it's all good.
  • When attacked verbally on the forum or IRC, don't defend yourself. Just ignore the attack and do your thing. As soon as you start defending yourself, it turns into a duel, and everyone will just stand back and watch. On the other hand, if you just ignore the attacker, the rest of the community is more likely to defend you, and the attacker simply will lose their credibility.
  • No amount of documentation, FAQs and tutorials is going to replace human interaction with the members of the community. Being pointed to the right place can sometimes save hours of frustration. Even just writing down the question often helps to clear your head and see the obvious answer. So don't frown at people asking silly questions that can be easily answered by reading the docs -- just point them politely to the right place in the docs.
  • People have different priorities, different amounts of free time, and different willingness to experiment. When your ask someone to do an experiment to clarify some issue, to report a bug, to provide more information, and *especially* to "prove" anything -- please remember that they are not your employees and that you can't order them around. All their involvement is voluntary and they are completely free to stop at any point -- and come back after a while or not, doing what you asked them to, or not. And that's totally fine, and you shouldn't get angry at them.
  • People also have different interests. A topic that you find trivial and boring may be fascinating to a different group. Don't step on their discussion or try to change the topic just because you don't like what is being discussed, or how it is being discussed. The forum is large enough for everyone, and if you don't like a particular topic, simply don't read it.
Note that this is not supposed to be patronizing, and I'm not trying to put myself in shoes of any kind of a moral authority. Most of what I wrote above is obvious and works across the whole of Internet and even beyond. I just wanted to try and set a little gentler tone here.

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Re: Eternal September

Post by platforma » Mon May 16, 2016 6:20 pm

This is a relevant topic with the recent growth of new users and I would agree with the points already made. I would also like to add that all the same points can be successfully applied to behaviour and etiquette between the contributors, new developers and people who are trying to help by devoting their time to help the community grow in general.

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Re: Eternal September

Post by mianos » Mon May 16, 2016 9:34 pm

Totally agree. Nuff said.

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Re: Eternal September

Post by kfricke » Tue May 17, 2016 2:21 pm

Great call to arms!!!

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Re: Eternal September

Post by akaihola » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:55 pm

I can wholeheartedly agree with this plea. I've lived through similar changes in coder communities, but this time I'm on the newbie side having just started tinkering with Arduinos and ESP8266 boards. I just got MicroPython running on an ESP-12E for the first time and it kinda feels like my first steps with the VIC-20 in the early 80s...

Exciting times!

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