How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

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How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby foggytown on Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:25 pm

Most of those with ties to GNU/Linux want to see usage expand. Many are the reasons that folks make the switch, and rarely is it easy--folks must give up the familiar and take a step into the unknown to make the switch. This is never comfortable and boards such as this one exist to give these new (or potential) users a hand.

Choosing an OS is not just about choosing an OS--there is an entirely different ecosystem that is built around each OS and the entire ecosystem may have to be changed. Hardware peripherals may or may not work with the new ecosystem, familiar applications may have to be replaced with unfamiliar ones, procedures for getting stuff done may have to be replaced with new ones, in general switching OS's is rarely as easy as inserting a CD and rebooting.

Many in the Windows world have outdated views of Linux--how often do we hear "it is too hard", or "Linux is only for geeks", or other such views that may have been true 5 years ago but are not true now. (Many in the GNU/Linux world promote these outdated stereotypes in an attempt to maintain their own [self-perceived] elite status--but that is another rant...)

Windows users have major investments in their computing ecosystem, monetary, temporal, emotional, etc... Rarely can you get them to give up this investment and embark on a new journey by running them down. Using terms like Windoze, Microshaft, M$, etc...is not the way to win converts. This sort of attitude only makes the Windows user more entrenched in their world, these attacks may not be meant as personal, the user of such terminology may not even be aware that they are attacks, but they do nothing to win over users and may even do harm.

Earlier I mentioned that many Windows users have outdated views of Linux, in the same way, many Linux users have outdated views of Windows. You can see this when they use terms like MICROS~1 (how long has it been since Windows used Dos naming conventions?) and talk of BSOD's as if they are still common. The average Windows user is probably no less intelligent than the average Linux user, running down these users with outdated stereotypes that the user knows to be untrue is not doing anything to help win them over.

Some may say that they do not want to win over new users, they fear that if the masses adopt Linux it will become just like Windows or they fear that they may lose their (self-perceived) elite status. As for me, I want new users. When I switched to Linux I had to give up the Amazon MP3 store, Amazon movie rentals, and Movielink rentals. I would like access to these things, but I know it won't happen until Linux reaches some critical mass. I don't know what that critical mass is...if I had to make a guess, I would put it at 10% or better.

So I titled this rant, "How to win friends and influence users", so I should give my take on how to make that happen. Respect. Nothing more, nothing less. People can be enabled to make different choices without running them down. Search these forums for terms like "windoze" and you will see that a lot of the times it is some of the board's most prolific users doing the name calling. The front page of the Mint Planet currently has a post titled "Microsoft Sucks". I have no way of knowing what motivates people to such behavior, but as a recent convert myself, I can guarantee you that this only serves to entrench Windows users with a bunker mentality. If you really want to win friends and influence users, try a little respect.
</rant>
--john
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby npap on Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:44 pm

Hello Foggytown,
I don't think there's anybody that would disagree with you here. There is too much disrespect towards others who have different preferences shown by many Linux enthusiasts, and vice-versa.
Linux is based on democratic principles and its advocates should not forget that.

Cheers,
npap
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby foggytown on Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:17 pm

Hi npap,
Thanks for your words of encouragement. Re-reading my rant, I see that I should have been more diplomatic in my execution.
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby deadguy on Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:41 am

foggytown wrote:try a little respect.


for windows?

not me :twisted:

for other user's right to choose?

absolutely :D
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby belovedmonster on Fri Jan 11, 2008 6:08 am

The one flaw in this post is it mentions people having outdated views of Linux. Fact is most people have never even heard of Linux.
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby foggytown on Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:16 pm

belovedmonster wrote:The one flaw in this post is it mentions people having outdated views of Linux. Fact is most people have never even heard of Linux.


(Great user name)

That's an interesting perspective. I am mostly surrounded by tech savvy people, so my perspective probably is not a generalized one.

I recently set my father up with his first computer, it is running Mint. I would bet that if I called him and asked if he ever heard of Linux, he would probably say no. I will take an informal poll of my less tech savvy friends and see just what the "brand" recognition is for Linux.
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby exploder on Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:43 pm

foggytown makes some valid points and has given me something to think about.
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby Chi on Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:34 am

Hi foggytown

I find nothing wrong with the execution. The wonderful thing about forums, open source, debate, opinions is that they open minds. Whether one agrees with another or not is irrelevant, the chance to process thoughts from another's point of view widens ones own view.

So I thought, am I bad for using M$ or Windoze? Does this offend people who use the software?

Well, mostly I use these terms to express my frustration not to offend. I have a view and it's mine. I have to use Windows & a lot of Windows software during the day to earn a living. Really I am forced to and I have no choice. Many uses don't pass a second thought, some do. If a person makes a decision then I respect that decision, even if I personally disagree (who am I to judge). I just think that if anyone does choose deliberately then that's a bit more thought out than most.

To me the best way to win friends and influence is to help those who ask and share success with others. I still remember the butterflies in my stomach when I first re-partitioned a hard drive. I couldn't ask for internet help back then only the leet in the country could access at the time. Not having the right assistance set me back years.

So I say encouragement and a willingness to help another who has gathered up the courage to finally ask a total stranger for help is a way. There are others.
Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once.
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby foggytown on Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:40 pm

Chi wrote:
So I say encouragement and a willingness to help another who has gathered up the courage to finally ask a total stranger for help is a way.



Hi Chi,
I can't argue with that. Enjoy your day.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby Fred on Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:42 pm

I find all of the above comments very insightful. It is refreshing to hear/see so many people actually thinking and expressing rational thoughts. :-) That seems to be rather uncommon on many internet forums.

If I may ramble a bit, I tend to think much of the friction between the Linux community and the Windows world is due to a clash of expectations related to cultural issues.

FOSS was built on users "scratching an itch" making them developers as well. Users/developers, being one in the same, gained respect, power, and notoriety in the community based on the quality and quantity of their work. I guess this is where I kind of disagree with npap. FOSS is not very democratic in my view. FOSS has traditionally been a meritocracy. Those with the most knowledge and do the most and the best work rise to the top in the community. There is no one man one vote system. The people with the power earned it with their work. They make decisions that ultimately affect others based on their better judgment, not on consensus or majority opinion.

The FOSS community has always been inclusive, welcoming and encouraging anybody that wanted to learn and contribute. As the community has grown, there is more and more difference between users and developers. They are no longer both the same people. We now have pure users, pure developers, and everything in between. This in itself is a source of friction as these different groups at times have different goals and expectations.

I have a few thoughts on the Windows world that play into this but I will leave that for another post on another day. :-)

Have a nice day,

Fred
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Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on the menu. Liberty is an armed lamb protesting the electoral outcome. A Republic negates the need for an armed protest.
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby yamawho on Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:55 pm

foggytown wrote:Many in the Windows world have outdated views of Linux--how often do we hear "it is too hard", or "Linux is only for geeks", or other such views that may have been true 5 years ago but are not true now.


You know ... I have been using Linux on and off over the last 5 years and I feel that Linux is still too hard and if one needs to resort to the command line then it is only for geeks. Granted, it has greatly improved from when I first started using suse 8.2 but come on. Take printers in windows for example, I haven't had issues printing anything since windows 98. In Linux if the printer is a local printer and is from a supported company like HP, yes it works. If the printer is connected to another Linux system on the network that works as well. In most cases it prints but not with all the functionality like in windows. However, if the printer is connected to a windows system on network or you are trying to print to a networked windows printer, good luck ! I read about others that have it working and I can only envy them ...

Since VISTA has come out, I have realized that as a business owner and a computer user, I need to have a plan B. I am not going to bend over and take it any longer. I have become more determined to learn.

Linux forums are to only way for most to learn. I have found that the attitude in forums is extremely important. New users should be encouraged and not made fun of or worst ... ignored. There should be no post left unanswered.
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Re: How to win friends and influence users--a rant.

Postby foggytown on Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:06 pm

Fred wrote:FOSS has traditionally been a meritocracy. Those with the most knowledge and do the most and the best work rise to the top in the community. There is no one man one vote system. The people with the power earned it with their work. They make decisions that ultimately affect others based on their better judgment, not on consensus or majority opinion.

The FOSS community has always been inclusive, welcoming and encouraging anybody that wanted to learn and contribute. As the community has grown, there is more and more difference between users and developers. They are no longer both the same people. We now have pure users, pure developers, and everything in between. This in itself is a source of friction as these different groups at times have different goals and expectations.


Hi Fred,

I realize that you too are relatively new to these forums, but your comments are always courteous and usually insightful. So--in your estimation--as the gulf between users and developers widens, is a benign dictatorship the best that we have to hope for? And if we are careful where we place our allegiances, is that a bad thing?

Just curious on your thoughts...

yamawho wrote:Linux forums are to only way for most to learn. I have found that the attitude in forums is extremely important. New users should be encouraged and not made fun of or worst ... ignored. There should be no post left unanswered.


Hi yamawho,
I agree with what you state. Not being a developer, or an artist, or having huge reserves of cash--checking the forums for easy problems that I may be able to offer a little insight into is pretty much all that I have to offer.

And you are correct in stating that some things are still to hard...but you have to admit that they get easier with every release.

--john
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
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