Good reason to avoid forums

I'm not the greatest of programmers, so on occasion I go to a forum for the odd bit of help. However, that's where things can go a bit pear shaped.

Let's get the good stuff out of the way first
Forums can be good places to interact with similar minded people. A place where you can have a kind of chat about whatever the topic is. For the most part they are okay. Coding forums are a bit of a different animal.

For some time, when I was picking up Perl, I received some really outstanding advice and aid from a now closed forum run by a consultancy. I even spoke at one of their conferences about visual design in relationship to programming. I learned a lot and the last couple years found someone of the same quality on another forum that's part of a huge network. Again some really good ideas and clean, short to the point code that works very well.

Perl is a programming language, where if there is one way to do something—there's a hundred. For some that is too much, but once you find your niche and settle in you can take it from there.

JavaScript is something I use on occasion, but rarely cold code in it. I can alter bits to suit my requirements and that's fine. It's not a language I use a lot because it can really bog down a browser, but it is handy sometimes. I have found some worthwhile help, but not from forums.

Now the crunch
I know I am not alone in this and many have suffered at the hands of these kind of so called experts.
  • Have you thought about...
    No. I don't want to think, I just need an answer.
  • It must be done exactly like this or it's bad coding...
    Usually dozens or hundreds of line of code and later you realize it could have been done in 3.
  • You must use the very latest version of Perl...
    Bull! You're the only one in the world who uses it. Most web host's use 5.8 or earlier and there's an awful lot of earlier (5.002 is the lowest common denominator)—so give 'em some slack.
  • You could try this..
    If I want to try, I can have a very trying time—walking down a crowded city street. Do you have a solution or not?
  • blah ad infinitum, blah.......

Recently I had the experience of experiences on a JavaScript forum. It was supposed to be one that had the "real" experts on.

The JavaScript problem wasn't, and still is not, major. I just needed do a very tiny little thing that any expert would have known (most amateurs could have handled it, just that I'd never really run across it before).

I can explain things pretty well (most of the time) and 95% of the rest of the script was assigned to very specific functions. So I gave the declaration bit without thinking. I was in for a bit of an eye opener. A guy responded, called himself Super whateverthingy.

He said he could not understand and needed code. But I'd given him the code, because for that request there was nothing else. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt. No, he didn't like that. He wanted all the code, all the scripts, all the CSS, all the images, all the HTML—hey wait minute! The alarm bells were ringing and the red flags flying.

I held off and, after contacting someone else, found the bug had nothing whatsoever to do with JavaScript—but a specific HTML bug in some browsers. Another thing, he said that I had used a reserved word. So again, some outside consultation (with—"watch out for this guy", warnings), turned out he didn't have a clue. The word was not reserved at all. I had come across a code thief (the warnings), pretending to be a so called expert. I let loose and departed the forum, wrote it down as bad news. I also noticed on the same forum other dodgy answers (weak ones, several didn't work at all—and the one in need of help had given them all their code—most of it irrelevant to the question and answer). I'll not waste my time on another JavaScript forum. Turns out the corporation behind the forum, has all kinds of court judgments and fines against them.

The lesson (and how to find a good forum)
I usually do this, but didn't that time (my dumb).

Maybe you need an answer to some kind of programming code and have a bit to work with. Do not join the forum until you have read through a lot of answers to see what the regular contributors are like.
  • Will they insist you have to do things their way only?
  • Does the "expert" require that you give them all your code, when only a few lines are all that's needed?
  • Are people with questions blasted because they don't know as much as the so called "expert".
Get out, don't waste your time.

Getting a 'feel' of a forum is key. If you like what you see, then register. If not, just go somewhere else.

Look for a forum that deals specifically with what you have. For WordPress queries, use their forums—not some quirky other thing, it'll save you a lot of grief.

Don't add new stuff to the thread, stick to the specific query. If you do need something else (as a result), begin a new thread. Afterwards say thank you and be on your way.

If they get stupid (like the guy above did), then lay into 'em hard. You will get (if you ever go back) all kinds of rubbish responses, proving that those who answered like that, are total idiots and you did the right thing by trashing them. Following that, go into your profile and rubbish everything you can—especially your name (if possible), email address and password. Then never dirty your fingers with the filthy URL again.

Personally I find most forums, especially coding ones, more trouble than they are worth and avoid them like the plague. My friend, a world class JavaScript programmer, never joins forums (I should've asked him first).

There is one major set of forums that is almost impossible to use (never could find the thread again). They're "a little bit different".... They certainly are—it's a total mess. Once was enough for me. I'll just give the guy, who had the only answer that worked, a mention in my package credits.
Feb 15, 2015

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