Forums > MaxMSP

new forum for the newbies?

September 20, 2009 | 6:34 pm

I’ll bet this has been discussed before Wink.

When I wander through the forum, I see a regular happening where a young, enthusiastic recent max initiate (a "newbie") will place their rather innocent query in the DEV forum, or find out their query was a ‘FAQ’ and answered in the main MAX/MSP forum as recently as "the last page"…how wasteful, how personally embarrassing, when it did not have to be!

Both these errors might well be eliminated by having a self-advertised ‘newbie’ forum: the common questions, separated from the more advanced user’s questions will be easier for the newbies to find, and the ‘frozen’ threads could hold additional tutorials, links to such, and FAQ info as people develop it.

The idea is good for providing the beginner with a starting place, & pulling the simple , repeating questions out of the more advanced user’s way.

And I think we’re a good enough community that our users would take time to help the newbies come up to speed: perhaps even faster for their often simple questions having been pulled away from a great cloud of advanced questions.

Toss in a possibly less intimidating atmosphere in a self proclaimed ‘newbie questions’ forum, and I think such a forum would be a clear winner for the community…

just my tuppence
l&k
j2k


September 21, 2009 | 10:06 am

Nice idea, but given the number of newbies who post newbie Max questions to the Dev list, despite advertisement that makes it pretty clear that’s the wrong place… given that, well, one could give it a try anyway.


September 21, 2009 | 10:14 am

Don’t really think the forum is big enough for that. Also, it’s hard to decide who’s a noob and who’s not. According to the standard of some, there would only be about 100 non-newbies. I don’t mind the way it is now, it’s not like you’re having to sift out decent threads, most of them are ok…Maybe a ‘rate the level of this thread’ button would be better?


September 21, 2009 | 12:15 pm

All good points!
Understand, it is providing the beginner with a simple, reliable & clear source of info that is my driving motivation here: perhaps a little "good info for beginners" button is all we need.

Perhaps not…
I just wonder how many starting users would turn to the "DEV" forum if there was a clearly labeled "FAQ" or "Getting Started" Forum…?

again, I am not married to the idea, just wanted to have folk think about having such common knowledge marked as common and frequent, and therefore easy to locate.

ymmv
l&k
j2k


September 21, 2009 | 3:40 pm

the number of "newbies" grew significant after the windows
version came out.

sooner or later i also had this idea about splitting up the
forums.
it is like you said, there are enough here who would read it
and help here and there, just for fun.

but the big problem with two forums is that intermediate
users will have to read both and never know which question
has to be asked where.

what we would need first in line is a place for FAQs.
poly voicing is discussed daily here, and about every two
weeks somebody starts to learn biquad or how to make nice
GUIs.
telling them to rtfm is not an option, and pointing to old
threads sucks because you have to search them yourself in
order to do so.

i like beginners questions a lot, i learn myself from answering
and helping more than you could think, it can sometimes make
you try out things you have not done yourself before.


September 21, 2009 | 4:34 pm
Quote:
…telling them to rtfm is not an option, and pointing to old
threads sucks because you have to search them yourself in
order to do so.

Another tiresome source of wisdom that some persons will tell you is worth reading is "How to Ask Questions"

http://catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

In particular, I was reminded of this bit:

Quote:
There is an ancient and hallowed tradition: if you get a reply that reads "RTFM", the person who sent it thinks you should have Read The Fucking Manual. He or she is almost certainly right. Go read it.

RTFM has a younger relative. If you get a reply that reads "STFW", the person who sent it thinks you should have Searched The Fucking Web. He or she is almost certainly right. Go search it. (The milder version of this is when you are told "Google is your friend!")

In Web forums, you may also be told to search the forum archives. In fact, someone may even be so kind as to provide a pointer to the previous thread where this problem was solved. But do not rely on this consideration; do your archive-searching before asking.

Often, the person telling you to do a search has the manual or the web page with the information you need open, and is looking at it as he or she types. These replies mean that he thinks (a) the information you need is easy to find, and (b) you will learn more if you seek out the information than if you have it spoon-fed to you."

Of course, this certainly doesn’t cover those situations where the matter in question is NOT answered – in fact, it’s great to have a way to keep track of that information when it comes to updating and correcting the documents that you feel that people shouldn’t be told to read.

Do feel free to answer the same questions over and over again as well as encouraging new users to not make use of the resources a fair number of us have spent time and effort on, and to ignore the large number of people besides yourself who’ve already spent *their* time answering the question the last time it came up. We all appreciate the vote of confidence.


September 21, 2009 | 5:46 pm

Mr. Taylor,
you are correct. RTFM and "Search the forum archive " are almost always the best response to "overly basic" questions,

except:
I think that we are fated to have a steady stream of folk to whom such resources are opaque : after all, they did not use them before bothering the community at large, did they? The simpler the path to them, the more obvious the availability..well, you see my point.

My only desire is to make the existing deep fonts of wisdom
as transparent as possible to the "information-ally challenged" masses among us: primarily for the time honored internet value of forum "signal to noise ratio", a metric I am very sensitive to, having too often violated the mimetic space with insufficiently correlated signal.

whatever, i’m easy ’bout this, it’s fine as is….

l&kj2k

PS GT yr voiceband jilt ‘remix/recontext’ album is lovely, on my personal high rotation playlist.


September 21, 2009 | 6:43 pm

I’d say that I’m generally of the opinion that balancing the signal-to-noise is an important matter and that separating out a newbie-only list would pretty much mean that quite a number of regular readers wouldn’t hang out there (it’ll be interesting to see how traffic on the Max list changes when Max for Live appears, since there will be a Max-for-Live mailing list I expect to be overwhelmingly noobish on the Ableton site). It’s certainly an arguable proposition, but I think that anything we can do to get new users accustomed to the resources already available to them is a general long-term good. When the time came to completely redo the Max tutorials, the list of commonly asked questions was sitting there on the table, and no small number of the common questions are – in fact – answered in the new tutorials. The same is going to be true for the redo of the MSP tutorials, which is ongoing. In a similar fashion, the vastly expanded examples that come with Max were also done with that list of common questions sitting nearby.

I know that there are some people who think that popping off a random question without bothering to see if an answer is already out there constitutes an assumption that the questioner’s time is more important than the persons who are supposed to answer every random query. I don’t think that one should ascribe to arrogance what can be explained by a simple lack of mindfulness. The question, for me, involves how to encourage some kind of mindfulness on the part of new users. Your mileage may vary from mine, of course. Smile

One reason to answer a question with a reference rather than a patch isn’t only to discourage the culture of the passive sequential patch grovel, but also to reinforce the notion that it’s usually the case that there is an answer out there. There are simply very few new questions. In those cases where there the materials we provide simply doesn’t have an answer, we try to provide it.

P.S. Thanks for your kind words about my work. There’s quite a lot of work which is every bit as boring and quiet etc. available here: http://www.rtqe.net/downloads.html

gregory


September 21, 2009 | 7:39 pm

My initial thought on this was: We have those two stickies up at the top of the list that explain about searching the archive, checking the manual, etc.

Perhaps immediately after registering and then logging in the first time, a newly registered forum goer is sent directly to a ‘Welcome to the Forums’ page, with a list of commonly asked questions (and the answers), and nudging people to exhaust all other avenues before querying the community.


September 21, 2009 | 9:26 pm

if people reading this thread wish to offer content for a FAQ sticky, i’d be happy to add it with the others (assuming my superiors don’t object).

my thought is a FAQ list with either links to forum posts, or simple inline patches as answers would be quite useful. could be left unlocked, so people could add to it, with the requirement that each reply be a FAQ and the answer (no un-answered questions).

i was planning to do the same for the jitter list at some point, but would not know where to begin with the max list.


September 21, 2009 | 10:25 pm

we can discuss if it makes sense to answer things which are in the manual.

but you can not convince me that telling someone to rtfm would create less
noise than answering his question.

one can NOT answer dumb questions, that i admit.

but rtfm is never an option.

or lets make an rtfm sticky asking people not to ask questions before they
checked the manual and used the web. Smile

aber max4live:
somehow i was assuming that you`ll transform the pluggo forum into a max4live
forum one day?


September 21, 2009 | 10:36 pm

Perhaps having an Ableton Max for Live forum and a Cycling74 Max For Live forum is overkill?
And spreading the info sources about unnecessarily.


September 22, 2009 | 12:29 am

Since Max for Live is an Ableton product that they see in a light similar to Operator or Tension, they will host a forum on their site, which seems completely appropriate. Your mileage may vary.


September 22, 2009 | 2:35 am

This is the beauty of some forums (well, this one at least). You can start as a newbie, be helped by more advanced users, and gradually be able to help when you feel it’s time. And beginners get to learn (sometimes the hard way) what’s expected behavior on this forum: the learning experience is also a good thing. I don’t think the creation of a newbie forum would be a good thing, for any user.
J-F


September 22, 2009 | 9:39 pm
Quote:
…forums are NOT manuals(they are forums for people to interact with each other in) so no one needs to remember where everything is on a forum EXCEPT for the self-absorbed people who wrote it all in the first place(ya, that’s right! i said it!… oh wait, that also makes ME self-absorbed… sheeit…).

*plonk*


September 22, 2009 | 10:02 pm

Thanks for the recommendation! It is truely wondeful book, I read it some twentyfive/thirty years ago. Reading/Studying the Blue Cliff Records now. Someone (else) ended up with my copy of ZenMind,BeginnersMind, odd that.

My only desire is to reduce the very rare (but upsetting to me) petty cruelty that just seems to be unavoidable when busy folk answer the same basic question over and over while the facts are clearly available within arms reach.
Cruelty, Like many of us are all too often prone to.

And to see if there wasn’t some other organizational trick we can have to provide easy(-ier) access to the well crafted FAQs and forum shares/tricks/warnings.

A nice wiki like best practice repository (w/favorite shared items placed there by forum vote )? All the more available as being on the main site? Oh, I *do* dream, don’t I…but I really want to
Encourage patch study and shared experience rather than questions , which we know are often quite blind/lost and limiting in their very being (e.g: uh, How do I make a vocoder?")…

ok… I just wanna help people, not bash "noobs".
I wannabe a noob, also, in the sense that
I strive to be introduced to something new all the time… my current fascination is advanced tricks/recipes to enhance SQL efficiency in large DB2 databases…the powerful heuristics coded into the DB2 SQL "planner" just blow my ever-loving mind. Wow. Oh, and there’s my lifetime study: how to communicate with people with out triggering their defenses and angers…that one just kills me, huh?
l&k
cb/j2k


September 22, 2009 | 11:17 pm

but greg, it is called max4live and not live4max.

(max5 with live scheduler and silly techno loop option?)

-110


September 23, 2009 | 12:15 am
Roman Thilenius wrote on Tue, 22 September 2009 17:17
(max5 with live scheduler and silly techno loop option?)

i’d quite like a non silly techno loop option


September 23, 2009 | 2:07 am

—>

I think, though, a better suggestion would be a FORUM-topic based FAQ about Max(in other words, not an FAQ about how to ask questions or where to go, we have that already or can even tell by the mere title of a list… but rather, an FAQ based on forum-questions that explain or even point to threads and docs that explain the most frequently asked questions on the list(one for Max, one for MSP, one for Jitter, one for M4L, etc.).

—>

I second that wholeheartedly. Maybe we could create a brainstorming thread where people put in their two cents about certain topics that are addressed over and over (that would be great to have in the FAQ), then as a group organize/prioritize the list and search out the best threads for answers.

Wouldn’t have to be comprehensive by any means, maybe 40-50 or so of the most-asked problems, with a short list of relevant threads ready-to-go for people to check out. Similar to what they *might* find by searching, but this would have been filtered by the list already. There could also be a short paragraph describing the main concept of how to solve the problem, then a thread or two where it gets discussed more in-depth. Who writes the paragraph might be tricky to decide… but hey, Wikipedia excels in this regard, so it’s certainly possible.

It would also be a good way to highlight some of the really stellar example patches that are all over the forums, but often get buried over time and gather dust… a real shame!


September 23, 2009 | 2:29 am

what are the top 10 FAQs for a newbie wiki?

– whats a cool audio filter?

– how do i use arguments to patcher?

– how do i adress messages to a poly~ instance?

– how do i scale a range of numbers, how do i do exp or log to a range?

– …

there is also a lot of talk about authorisation, audio midi setup,
overdrive, list operations, send~ and receive~, click-free looping,
but i am not able to say what was the main question behind it.

also very frequently are posts like "help i need a 100-track recorder
with built-in mastering comporessors and unique video effects the
deadline is until tomorrow night", for that one we could set up a
random patch generator which creates a complex unique application
online depending on how much money they paid to the site.

-110



ash
September 23, 2009 | 3:56 am

I’d like to see a mini-video tutorials section.

Quicktime X in Snow Leopard makes screen recording trivial. (No more 3rd party software needed.)

Twitter is great because of the 140 character limit. Constraints drive focus. I think each video tutorial should be capped at 1, 2, or 5 mins.

Each video should concentrate on 1 object and some aspect of using it.

I’m thinking fine-grained, easily digestible stuff here. We can have a category for each object, and a list of video links underneath.

The community could help write scripts (via a wiki?). Somebody could follow the script while recording their actions and upload the video. And to make it pro, we could get a female voice actor like the one used in the tutorial zero vid to read the script. (http://cycling74.s3.amazonaws.com/download/tutorialzero.mov).

Finally, we could package it all up and make it an iPhone app, so you could learn during the commute to work.

Thoughts?


September 23, 2009 | 4:00 am

I’m a noob–been doing the tutorials–some repeatedly. Also have hired a tutor when I can afford it. Doing my best to learn this software–I am a professional composer/producer/session musician–over 20 yrs. in the biz, blah, blah. My major in college was electronic music–and this was in 1979! But alas, I dropped out to go on tour with a freakin’ southern rock band . . .
Anyhow, I don’t care what it’s(the forum) called, as long as I can go someplace here and ask questions and be treated respectfully, and hopefully the experts will frequent it from time to time and put in their two cents. I just wanna learn. I guess, if I ask a stupid question, just ignore it–perhaps that’s the simplest approach.


September 24, 2009 | 8:50 pm

I was thinking some more about this and would love to see another kind of sharing venue: a repository of screenshots of patches. These would help in a number of ways:

– No problems with compatibility between Max 4 and 5, or across platforms with certain objects.
– You can see and understand what’s going on (especially if they’re commented well) without running Max, so you can browse on any computer.
– You can see and learn from various patching techniques which may be unrelated to the main focus of the patch.
– They’re a great way to see new uses of familiar objects or UI elements.
– They don’t have to be in their own thread on the Forum, or in some other thread, they can just be "here’s something I made that’s interesting or useful"… in other words, they don’t need a special reason to be posted, and they don’t have to be in response to another thread.
– If there are really neat effects created with Jitter in them, these can be shown off in the image.
– With enough cool UI elements from Max 5 in them, Max 4 users will just HAVE to upgrade…. Smile

So, I’m envisioning a storehouse somewhere (Flickr?) with tons of these screenshots, broadly organized into categories or tagged based upon the main problems or techniques in them: timing, sample-accuracy, order of operations, list processing, randomization, optimization, UI trickery, etc… pretty endless, but hopefully some general ones develop that are useful.

One issue might be a way to have the patch text accompany the image (if the storage place doesn’t allow text to be posted), but hopefully that could be worked out somehow. Lots of these might be simple enough that the patch isn’t necessary, the viewer will get the ideas just from looking, then use the techniques in their own patches.

I love trying out new patches from the Forum, and will continue to do so. But a lot of times I’d just like to check out how other people work and what their patches look like without needing to run Max… often I don’t need the actual patch, as it might not have any specific parts that I want to use (or if it does, they’re quick to re-create)… but they’re often interesting just to look at for the above reasons.

Videos would also be very cool, of course, but they’re more of a pain to deal with, so I’d imagine a lot fewer would get created and posted. Images are totally simple and can say a lot—again, especially with some well-placed comments in the patch.

Anyway, just a thought… being able to quickly get some new ideas or tricks by browsing patch images would be great, I think. And people would have a central place to show off their hard work.

CJ


October 7, 2009 | 7:06 am

I don’t think it would help the newbies at all. First they would not get my answers, second when I read some threads started by a newbie and answered by newbies, they still don’t get the real point. You miss the most valuable answers and get a lot of misconceptions on top. Personally I don’t mind getting newbie answers, even if in most cases the answer is "Do the tutorials" Which is actually the getting started you just demanded. It doesn’t need more! really!
If you get stuck in the tutorials everybody is happy to help. That is the real strength of this community…
And asking embarrassing questions is not a newbie issue its something even the old garde has to face. It happens to me as well. Look at it as practicing life. Everybody will still love you…

Stefan


October 7, 2009 | 7:28 am
Roman Thilenius wrote on Tue, 22 September 2009 00:25
but you can not convince me that telling someone to rtfm would create less noise than answering his question.

It does, really.
If you answer her question direct, you steal her the experience of finding out herself. If she finds out herself, she learned a lot which she didn’t need to ask again in her old mind.
If you answer "Do the tutorial" Questions direct, you get more of these questions which are answered already a hundred times…

Your own practice of answering questions is actually often much more confusing than simply saying what you mean: RTFM…

Though manuals are boring, but the Max tutorials are entertaining…;-)
These rules of asking the smart way would apply to a newbie forum as well. I am a newbie for Ablton Live now for example.
I don’t want a newbie forum there, I want real answers of experienced users…
I have to do my homework though to get them…

Stefan


October 7, 2009 | 7:48 am
RabidRaja wrote on Tue, 22 September 2009 22:52
THE ONLY SERIOUS POINT I HAVE TO MAKE HERE:
If you haven’t yet, i highly recommend reading, "Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki.

Wondering why it hasen’t been mentioned yet:

This is the beginners forum.

I am not interested in an experts forum so much, not enough traffic to recognize its existence in my inbox (I am still reading the forum in my mail program…)


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