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Old 03-02-2012, 01:25 PM   #1
Mazoonist
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Default Endless parade of newbies

I don't know why it took me so long to notice it, or maybe I always did, and it only recently moved from the subconscious mind to the conscious. I read the forums here fairly regularly, mostly the AS3 forum. I notice that a huge majority of the threads posted there come from people with fewer than 10 posts. If you take 20 posts as your number, then it's almost everyone! Where are all the people that hang around for awhile?

Go to the AS3 forum right now (or any given time). Start reading the threads. You will usually be hard pressed to find a thread posted from someone with more than 10 posts. And they almost always say up front that they are new to Flash and Actionscript 3 (and to please excuse them for it).

It seems as though people must join the forum just to get some help on a project or a school assignment. Apparently they move on after that. I always assume someone has a long term interest in Flash (I guess just because I do), but lately I get the sneaking suspicion that's probably not the case with the majority of them.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:51 PM   #2
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You're right, but I think that's pretty normal. I can only speak for myself, but that's how I got started: by asking for help on things. Everyone was new to programming at some point and veterans may forget how confusing it can be when you're just starting out. Having a helpful community that takes the time to politely answer questions, even seemingly easy ones, can be the difference between someone wanting to stick with programming or getting frustrated and quitting.

Some may stick around, maybe most do not, but that's ok too. I know for me that it took quite a long while to get comfortable enough with AS3 to start answering questions and even now I may be absent from the boards for long stretches. You just kind of get busy and it slips your mind for a while.

Either way, at least it means there are still new people interested in picking up Flash and ActionScript. I'll take that as a good sign.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:54 PM   #3
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I joined back in 2007 and to date I have less that 50 posts here. For the most part I try to help folks. But I find that there are tonnes of other great forums, blogs etc. to distract me. Plus I have other interests outside of flash. So it may not be all newbies.
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Old 03-05-2012, 06:12 PM   #4
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I've noticed it myself, but not recently, just over time.

I kinda see it like this; the vast majority of people here tend to be looking for help on a single project they were handed off at the office, or it's simply their homework. These type of people are obviously never going to come back, as they never had any interest in Flash dev in the first place.

The other segment seems to be people just learning development/programming, and this just happens to be their first language/IDE. I think this is responsible for a huge loss in regulars, as a lot of dudes I know believe they have "evolved" beyond Flash and would never look back.

Then you have lifers like ourselves that legitamitely love Actionscript, and come back to keep ourselves current and help the community that helped us. Trick with that is (at least from my perspective), that over time my life has gotten more complicated, I have a lot less free time, and I do so much damn programming for money these days, that I'm not all that keen on plopping back down in front of my PC after working all day, just to talk about code.

It's kinda sad, but the truth of this place is, we're not all that social or OT of a group, so once people have gotten what they needed from being here, there's not a ton of reasons to come back... I'm sure it's just the nature of an educational environment. If you think you've learned what you can, and have no desire to teach others, then of course you're interest is going to wane.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:57 AM   #5
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I am personally bored and even sometimes irritated by the continuous flow of random and many times quite incompetent and offensive human beings who repeat the same ( and most of the time extremely simple ) questions and problems all over again and again and again ( instead of first trying to use a minimal amount of brain power and maybe give the Search mechanism a chance "to prove itself" )... Being here is extremely rarely challenging in any way ( I especially dislike the lack of discussion on somewhat more advanced topics... But of course, since 90% of the people posting are either beginners or "one timers" and the more senior developers are mostly busy with their own problems, the there is obviously little hope to ever see more advanced / interesting discussions occurring around here ).

It is sad, but these are the cruel facts... This forum is yet alive purely because there are still quite a few experienced and helpful people lurking around who are "feeding the newbie masses". Once ( eventually ) these people stop helping out newbies the the forum will slowly but completely die out...

Almost everyone helping out here has been around for ages... But when the experienced crowd starts to stop posting ( for whatever reason ), there will not be much "fresh and experienced blood" remaining in the system to continue keeping things running...

I agree with Noct, the forum has little to no social aspect and everything just seems like a place where people can come and post their homework problems and wait for someone to just magically appear and do it for them ( 90% of the time when you try pointing them to some articles, books, etc. then chances are they will respond quite offensively / irritated because you didn't just sit down and do their work for them... "How dare you expect them to read any of your links or books! Blasphemy..." )
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:39 PM   #6
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Times and Flash are changing. This forum might now be caught between not being high level enough and not being low level enough and a bunch of people are turning away from it. I'm certainly still interested about learning new things about AS3 but this rarely happens here ,and as for helping others I still try to do it but I often have to deal with the type of code and setup I was doing myself 10 years ago and I don't always have the heart to go back and deal with that kind of stuff.
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:37 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful and insightful replies!

Rhuno:
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 work.

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.

Xegnma:
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.

Noct
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.

Barna Biro
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.

ASWC
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.
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:21 AM   #8
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@Mazoonist: Sorry, I think I did not express myself correctly. I did not want to say that I categorize people as incompetent and aggressive just because they repeat questions that have already been answered. I categorize people as such after I kindly try to point them into a direction ( by giving links to articles, examples, tutorials, etc. or by simply telling them to perform a simple search on the forum because the question has been answered quite a few times before ) and then they come back really offended that I was actually 'naive' enough to expect that they are willing to put any effort into solving their problem... and that their problems is URGENT and how do I dare replying without providing a complete solution instead of asking them to learn something ( since many times that is the only thing they consider as "help" ).

Maybe I am just unlucky to respond to the topics of such people. I am sacrificing my own time to try to help someone, but not only that the person is not willing to put a minimum amount of effort into reading and trying to understand my links, he/she seldom comes back with a quite offensive reply ( of course, I am not expecting everyone to be perfect and know everything out of the box )... as if he is all-knowing and in fact I was the one asking for help and not him. It's sometimes even funny how these guys try to prove that you are in fact the one lacking knowledge and although they've failed ( continue failing at ) solving their problem, they surely know that your suggestion is wrong ( without actually trying it ).

I do consider such people incompetent and aggressive and when I am using the word "incompetent", I was actually trying to use the most gentle word that comes to my mind. It is really frustrating to try to help someone who doesn't give a damn about the technology or the actual problem, except that he wants to get things done ASAP so he can cash out as soon as possible from his client or get a good grade at school, etc.

I am not asking anyone to agree with my opinion, it is what I've experienced on this forum ( and not only on this forum ) and it is how I see things. These are the reasons for why I am not really vising this forum too often anymore ( better said, I kinda stopped visiting forums in general ) and even if I do, I avoid the ActionScript 3.0 and Flex forum as much as possible ( except if I want to have a good laugh ). I do read the Best Practices forum quite often, but unfortunately there is not much to see there...

Of course, I am not blaming those guys completely for whatever has happened... there are most likely many things I could have done better myself, but in the end, I have better things to do than babysit such people, but the few who actually show interest in the technology and are clearly willing to put at least a minimal effort into getting somewhere I try to help out as much as possible ( sending eBooks, explaining programming principles, OOP, best practices, etc. ).
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:51 PM   #9
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I probably did not express myself that well either. What I should say is I totally understand your frustration at such people. If someone won't research their problem and do a bit of the work themselves, then the problem just kind of takes care of itself, doesn't it?

A lot of the tutorial pages I have written have been partially in response to questions asked here, so that I can just point people to the page that answers their question. It makes more sense to have a "canned" answer, especially when 50 or 100 people ask the same question.

And if you help out, but you don't get anything out of it at all, then why keep doing it? For a long time now, helping out others has helped me at the same time, while I am still learning. And I guess I really live for helping someone have an "aha" moment about something, or see something clearly for the first time.

But at some point, if I stop learning by helping, maybe I will stop helping. Or maybe I am actually hurting my learning by continually reading bad code, like I said earlier.

Anyway, the endless stream of newbies is a fact, verifiable by a short visit to the AS3 forum, and I just thought I'd make the observation and see what others thought. I appreciate your thoughts and opinions as much as anyone's, and your thoughts are nothing that I don't think, too, sometimes.
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:17 PM   #10
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There is another aspect to this that I didn't think of at first: Because almost everyone coming through the front door is new to the forum, new to Flash, new to Actionscript, someone who's even good to intermediate at Flash and Actionscript programming can come here and field questions, and feel like an absolute genius by comparison.

I would like to think that we come here and help out others to be nice (and perhaps learn something ourselves in the process!), and not just to get an ego boost, but it is something to think about [looks deeply into soul].

And does anyone else *cringe* when they see someone getting "help" that is just totally off the mark? I usually have to restrain myself from replying when I see bad advice being handed out as "help." What we have here is a system where anyone can ask a question, and anyone else can answer, whether or not they are qualified to field the question or know what they are talking about.

And when someone gets one or more crappy answers, they are doubly non-plussed, as other people might perceive the thread as "answered" just because it has replies.

I shy away from questions that I don't feel qualified to answer, but if I am intrigued by the question, I will research it myself.
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