These are a few of my recent musings upon reading the forum. I'm not interested in engaging in flame wars or arguments; I am, as the kids say today, "Jus' sayin'."
We were all Max noobs once. The more experienced one becomes, the harder it is to put oneself back in the place of a noob, but it's worth trying.
Gregory Taylor once pointed out to me (and I think I'm remembering correctly that it was his wife who pointed it out to him) that "kids today" simply have a different way of learning than people of previous generations. Reading lengthy documents (and I dare say these days that means anything longer than a text message or a terse email) is less popular than it once was. Research is often replaced by just asking. On the internet (and especially when there are focused interest groups in online fora) one can easily toss a question into the ether and receive a plethora of responses (albeit of varying correctness). One feels part of a social group, and saves oneself the work of searching, so it has some advantages. It appears to be today's most popular method of research.
If someone asks an obvious question, especially one for which the answer is well documented, we "clever" people may have the urge to show our cleverness by simply putting that person down with some dig to the effect of RTFM, or these days -- because we might as well accept that many (most?) people will never RTFM -- some more friendly (but arguably still slightly supercilious) version of that such as GIYF. (I get a chuckle out of the idea of, but never actually use myself, LMGTFY
I try to be a bit more "enlightened" than that by pointing that person to one or more specific places where the answer is already well documented. If I have a spare couple of minutes (as this post indicates that I do), I will whip up an example that I hope is instructive of not only the answer to the question but also a generalizable technique or idea. (I come from a family of teachers, who all like to demonstrate how clever we are.)
My philosophy with regard to people who ask for help (including people who want help with their homework) is that I try to give help generously without expecting thanks and without begrudging that person my time and energy. I believe in karma, in the simplified popular urban dictionary
-level sense of the word.
As a teacher of Max, it's pretty easy to tell when a student has cut and pasted someone else's work. (Tip: At least change the font, for crying out loud!) I try not to abet cheating, but I don't object to helping someone find the right answer just because it's for a class. The Max forum is, after all, one of many "research" sources.
FWIW, I hark back to Patcher version 1a, so I remember a 9" 512x342 screen with 1-bit pixels and a patcher window with a palette containing about six objects, no documentation nor help, blah, blah, blah. So I guess I'm truly an old fart in the Max world, and a pretty curmudgeonly one at that. To give you an example of just how curmudgeonly, when someone on the Max Usenet newsgroup (that's right, I just said that) proposed that a loadmess object would be useful, I wondered, "Why do we need a specialized object for that? Loadbang sends a bang on load, and message sends a message when banged. That's not good enough for you?" Pfft, loadmess! What a trivial extravagance! I now am not above using loadmess. But I make sure to feel guilty when I do so. :)
If you have years or even decades of patching habits and muscle memory developed, any new patching feature will initially be awkward. When Mac OS X forced Cycling 74 to move the lock icon out of the title bar, I can't tell you how many times I clicked on the zoom or minimize button thinking I was locking the patcher before I learned to lose that habit. So I'm willing to give the new Max 6 features a try (for more than a day or two!) before I reject them as backward steps.
The Max 6 wheel doesn't bother me, because I'm usually mousing fairly quickly and I don't spend much time hovering over the left edge of objects, so the wheel's brief appearance barely registers in my consciousness. As popup help goes, it seems pretty clever and useful, and I predict that any noob (who bothers to find out what it is) will find it a big help. I would suggest an option or preference that allows the user either to toggle direction of the shift-key-shows/hides-the-wheel feature or to hide the wheel entirely. I always turned off the New Object List in older versions, and would not have liked to go through all those years being forced to see it, even though it did permit the user to continue typing and ignore it. I'll save my comments about other new patching features (auto-completion, patching from inlet to outlet, Object Explorer, etc.) for separate posts.
I have anger and aggression issues as much as the next person, but I don't like being in angry aggressive environments, even virtual ones, and am mystified by people for whom that appears to be the default (preferred?) mode of communication. "Smart-*ss" is another mode I try to eschew, although those who know me know that I usually can't resist the temptation to indulge.