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Help Vampires: A Spotters Guide -- Why I Like OpenBSD and Its Community



I found this practical blog entry by Amy Hoy on her blog, slash7.com <http://www.slash7.com/pages/vampires>.In the post Amy describes how to identify Help Vampires how to reform yourself if you are one, and how to quit enabling them if they show up in your community. She writes:

"It's so regular you could set your watch by it. The decay of a community is just as predictable as the decay of certain stable nuclear isotopes. As soon as an open source project, language, or what-have-you achieves a certain notorietyits half-life, if you will*they* swarm in, seemingly draining the very life out of the community itself.

"*They* are the Help Vampires. And I'm here to stop them."

Amy offers the following tips for identifying Help Vampires:

   * Does he ask the same, tired questions others ask (at a rate of
     once or more per minute)?
   * Does he clearly lack the ability or inclination to ask the
     almighty Google?
   * Does he refuse to take the time to ask coherent, specific questions?
   * Does he think helping him must be the high point of your day?
   * Does he get offensive, as if *you* need to prove to *him* why he
     should use Ruby on Rails?
   * Is he obviously just waiting for some poor, well-intentioned
     person to do all his thinking for him?
   * Can you tell he really isn't interested in having his question
     answered, so much as getting someone else to do his work?

Rather than advocating putting a stake through the heart of Help Vampires, she offers practical guidance for helping them reform. What I found particularly interesting about her advice is how this community already practices what she suggests:

  1. Create resources for Help Vampires (and regular folks) to help
     themselves.
  2. Cease all behavior which enables Help Vampires' vampy behavior.
  3. Meet Help Vampires head-on.

Which brings me to what I like about OpenBSD. I've recently switched
to OpenBSD. Despite a fare amount of experience with Linux, OS X and
Windows like anything I've had to find my legs with OpenBSD. The OS
and the community have made that almost painless. The man pages are up-to-date and useful. The online FAQ address practically everything a new user will run into or ask. And the mailing lists are mature forums for serious folks to learn about and/or help others learn about this powerful system.


I mentioned Amy's post because I've noticed several others who've
joined the community around the same time I did are having some trouble
acclimating themselves to such a serious and professional community. I suggest all new members take a few minutes to read Amy's post,
especially focusing on the self-help section. I think we all will find that the terse answers and sharply pointed requests to fead the FAQ, use google or provide useful debugging information is the reasonable
request of helpful but busy people helping us help ourselves to become
self-reliant and perhaps even expert users of this awesome OS. And
if that's too much to ask then perhaps we should be looking for a
different OS and community to participate in.


Thanks to everyone who make OpenBSD and the community a joy to use and participate in!

--Aaron



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