Asking a question on some open source support forums is sort of like this example where I will substitute asking directions to make a point. Although I support open source software, generally when you get a commercial product you don’t get the kind of attitude that you get in some free software discussion lists. This is often similar to what it’s like.
Q. Excuse me, can you give me directions to the Tech Museum in San Jose?
A. You don’t want to go there. The Exploratorium in San Francisco is much better.
Q. But I’m meeting a group of people and we already have tickets to go there. Can you give me directions?
A. Well, that was a mistake. You all would have had a much better time at the Exploratorium instead. Maybe you all can sell your tickets and go to the Exploratorium?
Q. Maybe that would have been better but we have Tech Museum tickets and the rest of the group is waiting there for me and I just need directions to get there.
A. Well, did you look it up on Google maps?
Q. No – perhaps I should have, but I didn’t. I just need to know how to get there. Can you give me directions?
A. Well if you had looked it up on Google maps you wouldn’t need to be here asking for directions.
Q. I know that. But I didn’t look it up, I don’t have a computer with me, and I just need directions about how to get there.
A. You know if you had a Palm cell phone you can download Google Maps and then you would know how to get there without having to burden people like me with your questions about asking directions. You have a responsibility to at least try to figure it out on your own before you pull over to ask directions. And if you had decided to go to the Exploratoruim in the first place you wouldn’t need to know how to get to the Tech Museum. It’s people like you who go to the wrong museums and don’t look up where you are going on Google maps, and don’t have a PDA cell phone that ruin life for everyone else. I have deemed you unworthy of an answer.
Q. Thanks for NOTHING! All I wanted was an answer about how to get somewhere and all I get is a lecture.
A. Hey, I’m just trying to help! It seems to me that the “burden of humility” should be on the person asking for assistance, not the person providing it. I think that your response above is actually more arrogant than what you are complaining about. I’ve been to both places and I don’t think it’s wise to go to the Tech Museum. You should get offended when someone who has been down that road before tries to tell you that the premise behind your question is ill founded. If it’s not, can’t you simply ignore the response instead of arguing with it? If you don’t want my help you shouldn’t have asked for it.