When I was running the Helix Community IRC channel, I would get mildly frustrated with people who would show up and say “can I ask a question?” or something to that effect.

Apparently, the phenonena isn’t unique to Helix, and the frustration isn’t unique to me. I’ve seen lots of topic lines on Freenode stating “don’t ask if you can ask, just ask”. That lead me to think “hey, there should be a term for this”, so that when someone says that, you can reply with something short and sweet.

There may already be a term for this, which would be great. Please let me know. Otherwise, the most obvious thing is to acronymify it. So, here goes: daiycaja. “don’t ask if you can ask, just ask”. I’d love to see the following exchange on IRC someday:

  • <newbie> can I ask a question?
  • <grouch> daiycaja
  • <newbie> diacaja?
  • <grouch> google it
  • time passes
  • <newbie> i can’t find it
  • <grouch> you spelled it wrong
  • time passes
  • <newbie> oh

Of course, they’d probably be pretty ticked off for getting the runaround, but they’d learn. Of course, if you’re in the grouch’s shoes, you could say “just ask” up front, but that just makes it look like you’re the only grouch in the world. Responding this way makes it a little more obvious that they’ve just violated some basic IRC ettiquette that they should learn a little more about.

This category of my blog isn’t called “nerd” for nuthin.

2 thoughts on “daiycaja

  1. Freenode doesn’t encourage that “don’t ask to ask” business, though there are channels there that do it anyway. The reason we don’t encourage it is, it’s a waste of time and energy. It takes much longer to to answer “May I ask a question?” with, “Please look at the topic,” or, “Please read the channel guidelines on http://follow.this.long.list.of.arbitrary.rules.precisely.com/,” or even, “Please google for daicaja,” than it does to say: “Sure. What’s up?”

    It’s not as if that extra bit of courtesy of asking first is a bad thing. Courtesy greases the wheels. An extra bit of courtesy given back may be a little tiring, but it greases the wheels, too. And it’s not as if telling people to read the FAQ reduces the number of people who will ask if they can ask. Newbies come in all the time. They won’t have seen the FAQ. Some of them will ask to ask.

    The real issue is, do you want to be talking to newbies that day? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you should skip answering those questions when it gets too frustrating. As it says in the freenode channel guidelines, nobody is a superhuman support machine. We all have to know when to walk away if we’re going to keep on doing volunteer support.

    –Rob Levin

  2. These are all really good points. Normally, I’m not that anti-social, but I can understand why people got a little tired of it. There are times when I’d be happy to help with something quick, but didn’t want to dive in if it was involved. Here’s the conversation I was trying to avoid:

    <newbie> can I ask a question?
    <robla> if it’s quick….
    <newbie> I think it is
    time passes
    <robla> ok….
    <newbie> how do I compile the player
    <robla> sorry gotta run

    It’s really a problem if you are trying to multitask and have the IRC window in the background. I don’t want to feel obligated to keep checking the window, but if you engage someone, you sorta feel obligated to keep track of the conversation. You’re “on the hook” at that point.

    If I had a lot of time to configure my IRC client “just right”, I could make it so that I got flashing or blinking or whatever for only the one or two channels I’m really trying to keep track of. However, what I’m using (gaim), it seems like it’s all channels or none, which means “none” as far as I’m concerned.

    But I agree, obscure acronyms aren’t a good substitute for a little civility.

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