Wednesday, 09 September 2009 12:00 Hrs
❝ A response to How to get along with geeks: A seven-point guide by Bronwen Clune (@bronwen). A slightly edited version should appear in the comments.

"#2 You’re in the Windows or Mac camp" [0]

Don't know about this one. Where's *nix or BSD?

Windows users are either using a work laptop or require specific Windows software. As for the cult of Mac don't be fooled by these users who are really using higher quality, but over priced hardware with BSD Operating System. [1]

"#1 You can ask stupid questions"

Nothing will generate more heat in geek culture than non-geeks, newbies or other geeks asking a stupid question, then requiring an instant answer. What geeks really mean by stupid is a) "have you looked for the answer in the FAQ, read the HOWTO or searched google, before asking me?" [2] then b) "the answer is obvious" but left out the fact you require a degree in CS/EE or to have been using computers before they could walk to understand the answer.

"#1 'Most do not hold a deeper general knowledge than your average citizen. They appear to know a lot courtesy of Google. Most questions can be answered by a simple Google search.'

Distractions suck. If your geek mates/co-worker appear to be giving you canned responses from Google, they probably are. Maybe because they think the asker of the question should have done some homework in the first place. The statement also mis-represents geeks strengths in knowledge. Geeks strengths are technical depth not pop-culture breadth.

Try searching Google for the finer points of "language compiler optimisations" or solutions to problems "debugging objectiveJ" to understand what I mean. There should be a bit of give and take here. You get to understand things by learning. Learning takes hard work. The mental equivalent of doing push-ups or lifting weights. No pain, no gain. But what happens if you don't have enough knowledge. Where do you start? Google? Ordinary users are probably not used to the mental gymnastics required to absorb the volume and frequency of technical information thrown at them. So stupid questions for geeks/ordinary users is and will be a potential flash point. Are the nerds and geeks, bullied in High School replaying what happened to them at school?

A change in geek culture is needed here. It's happening, but slowly. The "social software" movement is sort-of changing this as geeks liberated from their cubicles get together with ordinary users to build companies. Ordinary users shouldn't be intimidated by geeks when asking questions. It's bullying in another form and shouldn't be tolerated.

"#4 You get South Park and Star Wars quotes"

Everyone knows geeks hang out on alt.nerd.obsessive. [3] [4]


[0] Bronwen Clune, The Punch, 'How to get along with geeks: A seven point guide', [Last accessed Wednesday, 09 September 2009]

[1] Wikibooks, BSD, "The core of the Mac OS-X is really just a BSD [Berkley Systems Daemon] or operating system. So when someone says they are using a Mac they are really using BSD with a very nice GUI."*

[2] A FAQ [Frequently Asked Question], HOWTO [How-to] are all forms of gentle introductions to a particular technical subject. If you don't know where to start, try reading a FAQ or HOWTO first.

[3] Wikipedia, "A picture of 'Comic book guy' checking alt.nerd.obsessive"

[4] Wikipedia, "", "Created in 1990 on Usenet by Gary D. Duzan to discuss the simpsons on the Internet, pre-web [text]."


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