Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful and insightful replies!
Good points about people getting help with things when they are just getting started, finding a polite and helpful community when they do, and the steady flow of new people being a good
sign. That's how it should
Unfortunately, I have seen newbies asking for help on a tutorial they watched, or a template they bought (for maybe $15). Usually they say "I have some code..." meaning that they are taking a cut, copy and paste approach. They have a vague idea about how their borrowed code works, but they actually have no code of their own. Maybe they tried to modify the code and botched it, and then they come here for help fixing it (I always think perhaps they ought to track down the tutorial maker or the template maker and ask them
to fix it). These are the people who ought to have to pay for any help they get. Yeah, they probably have very little interest in Flash or Actionscript themselves. They have a short term interest in just getting some effect to work the way they want.
Aggravating as these people are, though, I don't think we ought to treat them rudely. I can't tell you how many times I have composed replies that were reactionary in that way, and I backed out before I hit the submit button. I just hesitate to post any negativity.
Yeah, I know you try to help people. I have seen your replies, and it seems like you are doing a good job.
Helping people is one of the things that helped me learn Flash, AS2 and now AS3. Even when I didn't know much, I tried to answer the questions I did know. Sometimes I wouldn't know an answer, but felt like maybe I could research it on Google and find out. Of course, this is nothing that the original poster couldn't have done, so it didn't always make sense, but many times I found the answer by doing the digging for them.
I found I was likely to help if the question they were asking intrigued me or was something I wanted to know as well. Like, "yeah, how would
you do that?" It's always good to hit the nail on the head and get appreciative replies for finding the answer to a problem. And I have debugged countless projects by saying "send me your files." But other times, setting yourself up as someone who supposedly knows a lot can backfire. Like the time I wrote a complicated 30-40 line block of code for someone, and Senocular also replied and solved the problem with about two lines of code using the Date class. But I am willing to look like an idiot temporarily in order to learn new things.
I am sure we all have at least some other interests besides Flash. And if I did programming full time for a living, I would no doubt feel like you do and hesitate to come here and look at more code. For me, Flash is my getaway, my side pursuit, which is working out pretty good. Sitting in a chair in front of a computer for too long of a stretch on a regular basis would get old fast, but for short stretches of 2, 3, or 4 hours is not too bad. With intermittent naps, of course.
As far as evolving beyond Flash, sure, that's likely to happen. But the things that Flash allows you to do, like delivering content in many different forms, and being creative with display elements (like tweens, animations, text, video, etc), are likely to be skills you carry with you wherever you go.
I had to look up the acronym OT. I think you mean "off topic." The social aspects here are not that strong, I guess, but that's like most of the Internet. There are real people behind the usernames, though.
I appreciate your thoughtful and honest reply too.
Sorry, but I don't classify people the way you do. If someone doesn't know much about programming, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are incompetent in other ways too. I see you qualified it by "many times" but still... someone has to go pretty darned far before I will label them an "offensive human being." As aggravating as it can be for people to ask the same questions over and over without searching up the answers, I am sure they are not colluding with one another, even though it might seem like it. So I try to remember that and not lash out at any one person. The aggravation can accumulate, but it isn't any one person's fault.
Also, a lot of times you can tell that someone's first language is not English. I try to remind myself that these people are not necessarily stupid, even though it looks like they can't even compose a coherent post. How are they going to write a computer program?
But even newbies sometimes come up with some incredibly imaginative suggestions and questions. Someone might not know the language, but that doesn't mean their imagination is stunted. They might have some fantastic ideas, but just not have the slightest idea how to make them happen. And those of us with some knowhow often censor out our good ideas because we immediately get all hung up on the "how to."
I have often thought we need some kind of "top ten" or even "top twenty" list of mistakes newbies make, along with the standard answers. Things like declaring a variable inside a function and then trying to use it elsewhere. Or declaring a tween variable inside a function and wondering why the tween behaves erratically. There are many more that I can't think of right now, but if we had such a thing, we could tell new users "look here first."
I thought you had a good point about the lack of more advanced discussion here. The "best practices" forum seems way underused to me compared to the AS3 forum.
Also, I sometimes wonder if it is not really a good thing to continually read bad code, and try to see where it went wrong. It is probably better for one's own advancement to read good
code, and try to emulate it. Unfortunately, this forum is not usually a good place to read good code. You can't even get people to format it using the AS tags. I rarely help out with posts where the code isn't formatted, because to me it's unreadable. I have to paste it into Flash and format it if I am going to help. I will only do that if the idea intrigues me enough.
I know you help out a lot here, I have seen it. And I appreciate your tutorials and the effort you put into them. I know what you mean about moving on with your code setup, and the way we did things ten years ago. I find myself rarely answering an AS2 question, for example. I have kind of moved on from mostly coding on the timeline and keeping everything in the fla file, to working with FlashDevelop, writing classes, and usually setting up and thinking in terms of projects (and folders) instead of the small experimental files I used to crank out.