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MathGroup Archive 2009

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Re: Logarithmic Plot

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg96490] Re: Logarithmic Plot
  • From: dangerrity at gmail.com
  • Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2009 03:13:28 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <gn11vn$8gi$1@smc.vnet.net> <gn3c0l$q60$1@smc.vnet.net>

If the question simply requires reading the help, I think a simple
RTFM response would be appropriate as it is in many usenet groups.

I will say that as a modestly skilled engineer and an experienced
programmer, I find the Mathematica Help documentation to be obtuse at
times. Thank you to Leonid Shifran for his elucidation of the
differences between a procedural language and Mathematica. Mathematica
7 help is incredibly improved over any previous version, but still I
find it difficult to make sense of things that differ from more
conventional development platforms -- things like upvalues and
downvalues, or when it is appropriate to use AppendTo and when it
isn't, or how to use patterns in a "bug free" manner.  Sometimes the
documentation is technically correct but not helpful technically.

My recommendation to those users who see questions that can be simply
answered in the documentation center is to either a) not respond, or
b) respond with "RTFM."

As far as thinking for someone, I think the sophistication of the
answer should derive from the sophistication of the question.  Whoever
posted that assignment question hadn't done his or her homework, and
it showed clearly in the question.  Not every question deserves an
answer.  When people have wrestled with Mathematica and still don't
have a clear picture on a simple query, I don't think it's wrong to
ask, even if the answer is "technically" in the documentation center.

Everyone wants dense newsfeeds.  No one likes spam.  And no one likes
RTFM questions.  But it's sometimes difficult to determine, a priori,
which questions and answers will be useful to a given reader and which
won't.  I, for one, am extremely grateful for the help I've received
on this forum -- help I don't think I could have received anywhere
else.  For all you contributors out there that have to put up with
RTFM questions let me just say: "Thank you."

Please ignore or respond simply to the RTFM questions.  Please
continue to respond thoughtfully to the thoughtful questions.  Please
don't discourage people from asking questions -- even dumb ones.  It's
valuable to a community that is larger than you might imagine.

Again, thank you to all of you who contribute answers or commentary.
It doesn't go unnoticed.  If I ever ask a question that can be
answered simply by the documentation, please tell me and I can avoid
wasting your time in the future.


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