Linked by Kevin Russo on Tue 7th Dec 2004 06:19 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi... Geek is defined by as 'A person who is single-minded or accomplished in a scientific or technical pursuit'. Many of us either acknowledge ourselves as computer geeks or are labeled by Friends, Family, and/or Colleagues as the such. This is not a condescending statement and should not be taken in a negative connotative way. It is in fact an admiration of our technical skills and abilities.
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Completely off topic ?.
by t3rmin4t0r on Tue 7th Dec 2004 06:45 UTC

has osnews gone completely off topic recently ?.

Btw, I did sit through this (

Quite interesting to see how the Geek definition translates from an American scenario (as a derisive term) to an Indian scenario (alpha-geek status symbol). (says it all).

Just some boredom filled posts ;)

Learning a Computers Operation isnt being a Geek
by Scott Cabana on Tue 7th Dec 2004 06:47 UTC

No one epects everyone to know how to partition a drive or load Linux. Linux shouldnt be something for a starter or beginning. Reason being is if something doesnt work most regular folks wouldnt know how to fix it. (Hardware dectection mostly.) A Dell computer with Windows preloaded? Dont have time to learn how to save a file? Hire a desk clerk then. I call it shear laziness. I dont have to be a doctor to know how to treat a cut or a bruise. I dont have to be a lawyer to ask for someones insurence at the scene of an accident. Its learning basic life skills. Computers are part of this now. Its in our libaries, schools, place of employment. Learn basic knowledge, they have been around for 20 plus years now. As for virus's I agree, use something simpler than. I recommend a Mac, mine never has virus or spyware like my PC. I still have utlities that scan for them and come up with nothing. Its is easier to learn than Windows. Ive seen people as old as 70 and as young as 4 learn a computer without a book. Are those people geeks? If you still live in the age of the cotton gin and expect people to hold your hand. Go back to the generation you came from, cuz the future is learning technolgy.

by Vesselin Peev on Tue 7th Dec 2004 07:00 UTC

That's a very good article. I'm a programmer and computer-user for more than 20 years, and I have found many times the attitude of knowledgeable "geeks" around me disgusting. Most of us have bloated egos, that's a fact. Honestly, I have helped a lot people with computer problems, but I've been leery of presenting myself as a geek, because I can see this presenting myself as superior -- even in a field that the other person does not know at all, so it is natural that I am superior to him/her in this case -- can impede their understanding and communication, and can impede my communication with them.
I think the bubble of being a geek is going to gradually burst, because as computers become more pervasive, more and more people will realise that there is nothing so unearthly and special about computer skills that isn't part of, albeit in a different form, engineering, medicine, psychology, architecture, music, painting & other sciences and
When was the last time we tried to produce a painting a la Leonardo da Vinci and actually succeeded doing it with our geeky knowledge alone? When was the last time computer knowledge alone made us produce a book about history? Or to perform brain or heart surgery? Isn't it humbling to even think about performing those with computer science alone?

Granted, some jobs have a skill ceiling (cleaning the street, for example, doesn't need a PhD-level of knowledge but more than a bit of knowledge still helps there, too), but there are people at the level of the knowledge of so-called geeks in many other professions, and who themselves have to humble up -- I've seen too many over-proud doctors and lawyers, for example.
By deliberately presenting ourselves superior we are limiting our knowledge for sure, because as I said we fail to communicate with other people, and alienate them as well. By alienating them, we cannot see properly into their field of work and cannot learn whatever otherwise we could have learned from dealing and working with them in an open manner. By not learning "those other irrelevant and inferior things", which have nothing to do with Tux the Penguin or Bill Gates, we eventually limit our computer knowledge, because it is not important to know computers per se, it is important to be able to apply them in different fields, which means we need to strive for understanding of the work other professionals are competent at.

tech support
by AdamW on Tue 7th Dec 2004 07:03 UTC

The reason you write your first response to a 'help me!' post as if the person requesting help is reasonably knowledgeable is simple. It's fast and efficient and avoids the possibility of condescending to the poster. If you say 'just edit the fstab and mount the drive' and they don't know what that means, they will follow up and ask, at which point you knock it down a technical level and explain. If you went down to 'open the console - click on the little black screen - type 'cd /etc', then 'gedit fstab'....' level immediately, you'd a) really annoy someone who already knows what an fstab is and b) waste a heck of a lot of time.

Re: tech support
by Jim on Tue 7th Dec 2004 07:28 UTC

I find in the event I have a question on something and ask someone on the internet either, the question is hard enough that nobody answers it, or the question is not hard enough that they are a jerk about answering it.

The last time I had a question I was trying to get a console connection to my router and I didn't know the bits per second and flow control values, so I asked in #cisco.

I was kicked, then banned for rejoining. Maybe 5 minutes later I figured out the setting, figured out the problem (mem shortage) flashed a new IOS image, reloaded, and was good to go.

If I have a question, it is rare that I bother asking, I find it much easier to simply put fourth the research to figure it out myself.

I find that big egos create short tempers also. Ask someone with a big ego a question they don't know and see how negative their response is.

I'd like to rephrase that
by Anonymous on Tue 7th Dec 2004 07:49 UTC

To me a geek is the average slashdot reader who and the average slashdot reader is hardly admirable...

by Scott Cabana on Tue 7th Dec 2004 08:10 UTC

By reading this post so far I was unaware that some people on FAQ or forums can be so mean. I guess I read more books and knowledge bases than going on forums. People who put down other people for knowing less, those people id classify is just plain old jerks. If someone were to ask me a question and I gave an answer they didnt understand I would explain simpler and simpler untill they do. I dont know how much they know, so I would try to explain it on there terms. I would expsect someone to try and read about what they wanna know via the web or by book. After that then seek out people who know. A couple of my friends are Linux nuts and I learn alot from them. I didnt know what a fstab was either untill reading some articles in a Linux mag. Reading short articles that explain basics are a way to go for me. They dont go on forever and get right to the point. If you wanna explore more than grab a book. A doctor dont need to be a PC expert, he just needs to check e-mail or write a paper in word. To me thats about as complex as using his cell phone or conference call and im sure doctors have time to read there manuals on cell phones. Dont they?

by P-J on Tue 7th Dec 2004 08:25 UTC

...bear in mind that we're not along. Some might consider a 'master plumber' a 'geek'. He'll use his greater knowledge to extort money from unsuspecting victims.

It's not quite the same, but it's not a million miles away.

by P-J on Tue 7th Dec 2004 08:27 UTC

...I liked the article but I don't agree that people will always 'learn' from you.

I've met many people where I've explained a procedure in great detail using simple words whilst explaining the 'how' and the 'why' but in a LOT of cases they won't learn. They'll ask the same question again.

Nerd Geek
by Sander Stoks on Tue 7th Dec 2004 08:35 UTC

It may be partly a "revenge" thing. Most computer geeks (or nerds, if you will) were the kids who were picked last at the football-team-lineup at gym during high school, who sit at parties unnoticed and wondering what the heck everybody's talking about, who simply can't understand how these "other" people lead their lives without ever wondering about anything.

Now, the tables are turned - they have found something they can understand, and nobody else seems to be able to.

Remember: The question "Oh, does formatting my harddisk mean I have lost all my data?!" is quite similar to a "computer geek" as the question "Oh, does saying to a girl that she looks fat in this dress mean I have ruined my chances of getting laid tonight?" to a "social geek". It's just that there are 99 "social geeks" (i.e. "normal people") to every computer geek, so they are the norm.

Re: re
by Jim on Tue 7th Dec 2004 08:38 UTC

"If you wanna explore more than grab a book.

part of the problem with that is that writers and engineers are a very different breed of people. I own tons of technical books, most of them spend a lot of words to say very little or nothing. They are also filled with technical errors. The information they choose to include on any given subject is often rarely of any use.

I could take almost any 10 books I own and make one 200 page book from thaem that says all the same things and is alot more useful as a technical refrence.

An example of this, last I checked Network+ was entirely focused on classful subnetting. Like, where do these people work that they are still not using CIDR? CIDR is not even in the table of contents of a Network+ book I have published in 2002.

The CIDR RFC was published in 1993, 11 1/2 years ago!

by roel on Tue 7th Dec 2004 08:44 UTC

your != you're

RE: Tech Support
by nonamenobody on Tue 7th Dec 2004 09:12 UTC

The reason you write your first response to a 'help me!' post as if the person requesting help is reasonably knowledgeable is simple. It's fast and efficient and avoids the possibility of condescending to the poster. If you say 'just edit the fstab and mount the drive' and they don't know what that means, they will follow up and ask, at which point you knock it down a technical level and explain.

That is a fair point; forums and message boards support dialogue, so why not make use of it. However, if I saw a question like the one in the article, my first response would be to ask for a better question and probably point them in the direction of Eric S Raymonds 'How to ask questions the smart way'. I would probably also prompt them for the info, I felt might be of most use (make/model, whether it has been formatted, which distro, etc.).

My favourite topic
by Alastair Stevens on Tue 7th Dec 2004 09:43 UTC

I've always been fascinated how people just absolutely *will not* learn about computers, even when that makes their own lives hugely more difficult. I have countless friends, family and co-workers who all use computers every day, at work and at home, but they still struggle with the most incredibly basic things like managing files and moving icons around.

They would rather struggle and fumble around for *10 years* - yes, I'm still answering the same questions as in 1993 with Windows 3.1 - than spend one afternoon learning the basics and getting themselves comfortable. I know I should be patient, but I'm not; I get immensely frustrated because it consumes a lot of my time answering silly questions.

People have an irrational fear with computers, which they don't have with anything else in life. These people have all learned how to drive cars, choose mortgages, manage their careers, and program their VCRs; but when it comes to the PC, panic ensues.

by AdamW on Tue 7th Dec 2004 09:50 UTC

Welcome to 1980's Stereotype Night. You just had the 'Smart but Socially Inept Geek'. Next up, we have incredibly smart Asian kids, a cool-talking black guy, an efficient but humourless German and a prostitute with a heart of gold...

by mojo on Tue 7th Dec 2004 09:50 UTC

I myself am guilty of some of the ignorance the author writes about.

I am usually very patient with whoever I help with computer problems, but there are times when I am extremely tired or just simply irritated by something, that is when I snap at people who ask me questions about trivial computer tasks. I don't feel good about it, neither do I have a bloated ego, it's something I cannot help many a time.

Also, the manner in which the question is asked also influences my response. Some novice computer users *expect* you to help them, while they themselves don't want to do anything, such as reading a simple two line FAQ answer on some website. Getting fed by a spoon is what they want, that is when I tell them to "RTFM."

Suffice to say, the "mood" of the geek is also a factor.

RE: Ignorance of the Geek
by The flying boolaboola on Tue 7th Dec 2004 10:03 UTC

Some questions asked by the technically challenged are to do with stuff that's in the manual. It's not always easy to be patient with people who want you to tell them what they could have found out in ten seconds reading the fantastic manual.

On the other hand, computers and their software have grown to be so vast and complex that quite often you have to know something about the history to really understand what is going on and why. The manual is not going to tell you that. And some things need a lot of words to explain the issue.

I work tech support. Sometimes people ask me questions which show me they don't know what it is they're asking. Any answer, even to something as basic as cut/copy/paste, will baffle these people. They have no idea how some structures work or why [try explaining to the totally ignorant why IE ties into Windows and how it's causing massive security flaws in their system].

That doesn't mean they can't be successful in their own fields of endeavor, and many of them indeed are. To these people, the computer is just a tool, like a car is. You use your car to go to work or to go shopping. They don't know how many valves are in the engine and they couldn't care less. But maybe they're great teachers and I'm not.
Same thing for computer knowledgeable people [not to say: geek]. Many people don't care about their operating system or their application. They need to get the letter out by close of business, anything else is just a headache.

I can explain most things quite easily to the novice user. The hard part is when they lie to you about how the paper got stuck in the disk drive, or when they ask you how the paper goes down the fax line to the correct machine at the other end [sorry, Marc ;) ] or when you give them the answer and they don't believe you and they argue about it [sound familiar to anyone out there?].

Good communication skills and an open mind will solve a heck of a lot of problems. But we're people in an ever increasingly complex world. The argument that people are catching up only goes sofar. People will gain a slightly broader understanding but the technology will become vastly more complex [I'm looking forward to quantum computing *grin*]. The geek will always know more because knowledge works.

the geek shall inherit
by Bill on Tue 7th Dec 2004 10:25 UTC

“Blessed are the geek: for they shall inherit the earth”

"And just a little while longer and the wicked one will be no more, and you shall give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the geek ones themselves will inherit the earth and they will find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace."

So there!

by Kalle Vahlman on Tue 7th Dec 2004 12:30 UTC

"I am not talking about the Old Man down the street or your five year old Daughter. People such as Surgeons, Lawyers, Financial advisors. These are people with Master degrees and Ph.D's. They are very educated Men and Women, They simply don't have the time or the inclination to take a basic computer class or read a manual. I believe this is how it should be, to a point."

At least in Finland it has been impossible to go through (almost) any kind of education without touching the basics of computing after the mid 90's. True, this still leaves lots of people currently working outside of the "forced" education.

If the "educated Men and Women" don't have time to learn their gadgets, where do they get the time to use them?

Also, I think the "helping someone by explaining how things work" model is very case-to-case matter. Examples:

For my father, it usually works because like me (it's actually the other way around, of course ;) , he _wants_ to know how and why things work the way they do. Sometimes he gets it, sometimes he doesn't.

On the other hand, my wife has no intention of learning how things work. Explaining details to her just irritates her. Some of my relatives are even worse, they will respond with saying "plop plop plop plop" (no, it's not finnish for "I see" ;) if I start explaining _any_ aspect of the current problem other than "where to click to get it fixed/done". With that they indicate that they have no idea what I'm talking about and they care even less.

However, they all have succesfully used different email solutions, burned DVD:s and so on, even though they have no knowledge of the details.

Based on this, I believe that the most beneficial scenario for all parties involved is to make the basic usage of programs as easy and simple as possible, but leave the details of the setup, hardware stuff and situations when things go wrong for the geeks to handle. That is what happens with me and my relatives, I set up and fix things for them so they don't need to know anything more than how they can accomplish their desired tasks. The only downside of this is that I don't get money for it... ;)

The model works for cars, it should work for computers and software too.

re:My favourite topic
by peragrin on Tue 7th Dec 2004 12:57 UTC

Actually you can expand the whole topic to people in general.

I work in a supply house for electricians. The stories I have heard of the home owner, who tries to replace a light switch on his own, screws it up and then lies about it.

Somethings are really simple, yet if you don't know what you are doig you can get seriously hurt. People don't want to admint they don't know something because they believe that makes them appear weak, and under educated.

Good reminder
by Jeremy on Tue 7th Dec 2004 13:50 UTC

Good article, but please proofread more, there are lots
of errors.

I heard somewhere that the human brain operates at
about 1 Petahertz (mega -> giga -> tera -> peta). I
have found this fact helpful in reminding myself that even
a less educated person with below-average intelligence is
of much greater worth than the computers I spend so much
time with.

Think of the 'computation' involved in the human brain just
for what we call common sense.

Also, while I'm no expert in human-computer interface, what
little I've read makes it seem as though most UI designs are
really very poor. Why do they seem obvious to us then? I
think it's because all computer geeks share a certain
oddness in their personality that allows them to "get it",
when most "normal" people flounder helplessly.

Anyway, my point is that this article, while OT in the
strict OSNews sense, is on topic in that *human* geeks that
must interact with *human* non-geeks (at least with regard
to computers) read OSNews.

Treating people like morons because they don't yet
understand a (probably) poorly designed interface does not
make the world a better place, having some empathy does.

re: Good reminder @ Jeremy
by robert renling on Tue 7th Dec 2004 14:18 UTC

>Also, while I'm no expert in human-computer interface, what
>little I've read makes it seem as though most UI designs are
>really very poor.

Oh indeed they are. the sad thing is that most of the expertice isnt used. Today, in the IT business, a programmer is expected to know HCI, IxD, IA and all other disciplines, not to mention these are _very_ broad disciplines. not to denote anyone but it really is like letting the greasemonkey do everything from designing the car to assembling it.
which should never happen.

>Why do they seem obvious to us then?

probably we /us/ are more apt at using enviroment zyx and therefore feel at home in it, but there's also the aspect of talent for understanding. normally you try to do whatever you can, lowering interface complexity in favour of ease of use, to stay under the 10 minute rule.

>I think it's because all computer geeks share a certain
>oddness in their personality that allows them to "get it",
>when most "normal" people flounder helplessly.

yes, but the UI guys are always the first ones out the door.

Good article.
by AnthonyC on Tue 7th Dec 2004 14:56 UTC

I totally agree with the points made toward users who know little or nothing about computers.

To: When someone replies "RTFM".
Though I don't agree with that kind of reply --I'm usually the one giving the short answers (...edit fstab).-- it's almost always directed at the person who has decided to take the time to learn something new but now wants others to hold their hand through the whole process. It's not so much that he doesn't know, its that he doesn't take the time to figure it out on his own. Which would be the reason to take up the project in the first place.


by Vesselin Peev on Tue 7th Dec 2004 15:34 UTC

The human brain operates at a frequency from a few hertz to a few tens of hertz. I don't know what petahertz are you talking about here. Despite that slow speed, we are massively parallel, because all neurons work simultaneously.

Huh ...
by Jack on Tue 7th Dec 2004 15:56 UTC

First of all fsck the advert clad Try using better resources for instance: - -

And secondly there are several types of `geeks', as you would call them. Not all of them are good at computers some are movie afficionados [sp?], electronic fanatics, literature nuts, anime otakus, etc ... Some are able to crossover to other aspects of life such as computers or electronics, but not all are good at all things.

Lastly computers aren't `easy' they are "bicycles for the mind" and it takes time to get acustomed to them. Remember when you were young? Bet you couldn't do as much with computers as you can now. Like anything else it takes time, and dedication.

by Scott Cabana on Tue 7th Dec 2004 16:47 UTC

"They are also filled with technical errors. The information they choose to include on any given subject is often rarely of any use."

Jim this is painfully true as Ive seen errors in books as well. I guess thats what a field test is for or of course asking someone that has done it a hundred times. A book could be just as useless as a person who "thinks" the know too. Ive met my share of them, but the fact is I always try to listen to everyone and see if it pans out when I hit someother source that tells me otherwise. I buy books mostly from 0'Riley or Que books a more trusted source. The fact that im mostly talking about is basic computer operation. Its something that anyone can try and explore. A beginner should familarize themselves with the interferce and how it behaves and go from there. I get irrated when people buy things and tell me they have no time to learn how to use it. I tell people who buy a computer that dont wanna learn anything about it either to hire a desk clerk or use a typewriter. If you wont go forward than go back, cuz 1-10yrs from now there is gonna be computers everywhere you go. Cars, TVs,DVR, maybe our toaster or even in our clothes. Now is the time to become familar.

by moidib on Tue 7th Dec 2004 17:58 UTC

The reply "RTFM" should be removed from your vocabulary. This is a wholy demeaning and inappropriate response. ANYONE using that sort of reply needs to re-evaluate themselves as human beings. I would NEVER say such a thing. PERIOD.

The reason you write your first response to a 'help me!' post as if the person requesting help is reasonably knowledgeable is simple. It's fast and efficient and avoids the possibility of condescending to the poster. If you say 'just edit the fstab and mount the drive' and they don't know what that means, they will follow up and ask, at which point you knock it down a technical level and explain.

I have to dissagree here too. I think it does depend somewhat on the question. However, why would you assume that someone that doesn't know TO edit fstab would magically understand HOW? I know we could debate the best ediguite till the cows come home, but it seems obvious to me that if they didn't know what to edit, they probibly don't know how to either. I would not be offended if you gave me more knowledge than I needed to say, change the delay on my win2k startup menu, or enroll a server in PKI. but if you give me what is obviously too little, such as "oh just edit the boot.ini" I would be frustrated and insulted.

In the same respect, I have noticed that this problem is partcularly bad amongst the Linux community. I am a very capable windows engineer, and have often heard the types of frustrating questions you are talking about. But any time I ask a question on a linux forum I am almost immediatly bombarded with "RTFM" or Read the forums, or Check the docs. That's Great guys, What Am I looking for? I never ask a question unless I have already spent HOURS trying to answer it myself. How nice it would be if people could just say... "Here is your answer, and here is where I got it." Not only would I thank them for thier time, but I eventually I would become acclimated to how the linux community thinks, and be able to answer more of my own questions.

Definition of Geek
by Ronald on Tue 7th Dec 2004 18:31 UTC

A Geek = A person who believes that computers are easy to use.

Well I am a computer engineer (MSc) myself but the first thing I'll admit is that computers are absolutely *not* user friendly! I'm supposed to sit a few minutes waiting till the bloody thing is finally usable ('booted'). I have to know a gazillion things to simply write a small electronic letter to a friend. And then some geeks dare to call these dumb machines user-friendly? Hey slide down the staircase and out of the door, get some fresh air. Maybe reality will get back to you. ;)

by KadyMae on Tue 7th Dec 2004 18:31 UTC

Some novice computer users *expect* you to help them, while they themselves don't want to do anything, such as reading a simple two line FAQ answer on some website. Getting fed by a spoon is what they want, that is when I tell them to "RTFM.>>

But many times, TFM is written by a geek for a geek and makes no sense to a layperson. I mean, I can pull up some humdinger instructions and manuals. (Anybody remember manuals on how to set up your VCR from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s? Hell, in my house I was the person who could figure that out [through trial and error and making my own notes in the margins.])

Where I work I had to write a manual on how to use OmniPagePro to scan microforms and a staff "how to" sheet explaining how to unjam the Xerox machines.

Everybody who uses them thinks they're fantastic. Why? Because I assume that you've no experience at all and write it accordingly. I worked hard to avoid technical jargon or explain it in context. I made sure that all pictures illustrating a step matched what the text said to do.

Both OPP and the Xerox came with manuals which I could read and understand (and I was greatful for), but if you didn't know the technical jargon, you'd be lost on several key steps. Don't get me wrong, both manuals were well done, but assumed an intermediate level of experience.

I honestly think that anybody earning a scientific or technical degree should have to take 2 semesters of technical writing, with an emphasis on understanding how to write for different audiences.

I work with some of the most amazing and intellegent people in my state. Some of them have no interest or inclination to learn more than the bare basics about computers.

(Then again, I have no interest or talent beyond the basics in accounting, hospitality, chemestry, physics, or gaming regulations.)

And, given the horrible things that a misplaced keystroke, malware, and viruses do to computers, and the frustration and heartache they bring, I completely understand why these otherwise brilliant and learned PhDs view computers with fear and loathing.

a little observation on the article
by Admiral Big Hat on Tue 7th Dec 2004 19:00 UTC

The author uses the example of the person trying to use a usb hard disk under linux, but neglects to mention that on the whole linux users are some of the least helpful people on earth, until recent times at least, mainly due to lack of knowledge. thats my theroy at least.

what i mean is that when the one person replied "edit your fstab, and mount the drive" he/she said that because they didnt really know the answer to the question and so they, being the uber leet haxors they are, spouted off something they heard one of their more knowledgable friends say.

im not trying to piss anyone off, its just been my observation that, until recently, linux forums were the last place to go for concise and genuine answers.

google first; questions later.

by Chris on Tue 7th Dec 2004 19:10 UTC

I don't want to explain these things not because I think they should know them; but because I know the explanation will take 5 hours to truly explain and will be followed by 10 more hours of questions.

Definition of Today's Geek!
by Adam Levinstein on Tue 7th Dec 2004 19:35 UTC

What is a Geek?:

By: Adam & Terry Levinstein

This document has been created for those who do not have a clear definition of "today's geek". So if you are a geek, or think you may be a geek, sit back, relax, grab your bottle of Bawls and your Tux pillow and join us on this ride. For everyone else, please pay attention so we can embrace the geek in you.

Please set aside any and all existing notions and prejudices you may have about geeks. Put down your 1975 edition of Webster's Dictionary. We are not "carnival performers whose shows consist of bizarre acts..." Although the term "geek" originated from 19th century circus acts, "today's geek" is very different.

Webster's also defines geeks as people who are single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but are felt to be socially inept." Well, we've got news for Webster. We are not single-minded nor are we socially inept. We may be intensely focused and outrageously passionate about a single thing, like overclocking our pc's, or getting the most frags, but certainly not single-minded! It may seem at times that we are "socially inept", but in fact we are quite the opposite. We relate better through devices such as keyboards and gamepads, but this doesn't make us socially inept. We have our own culture. We relate to each other at gaming clubs, raves, and trek extravaganzas. But just because we take pleasure in these activities it does not mean we exile ourselves from the rest of society. All social beings have an intensity and passion about something.

Some may say "geeky" activities are strange. Well according to the unofficial geek credo, "Originality and strangeness are good, blind conformity and stupidity are unforgivable." While comfort can be tempting, be unique and gain comfort in your "strangeness."

So, what is a geek? Perhaps a little strange, perhaps unique, and yes, very intense. Today's geek is a person who is passionate and/or accomplished in his or her pursuits.

"We proliferate the world, connected by strands of telephone and network cable. We communicate wirelessly through cellular and satellite networks. We collect comics, sports cards, and figurines. We modify cars, build models and mix music. We are ravers, gamers, trekkies, programmers and techies. Do not fear us, but instead, embrace us. Listen to those who are passionate and accomplished in their pursuits no matter what they may be. Share your passions with them. There is a little geek in all of us. What are you geek for?"
Tell us what you are "Geek For" at !

RE: Definition
by tc on Tue 7th Dec 2004 22:44 UTC

I must object to your mentioning anything resembling mobile telephony as a geek's trait.

Mobile phones are for people who lack the skill to make appointments, and instead have to move to within five kilometers of each other, then start calling to create the contact. "I am now at spot x. Where are you? Can you see me waving?"

My point being, people can use technology to increase their stupidity, by relying on it without understanding it. Whereas my geeky desire for understanding has prevented me from passing my driving exam, I could never understand what I was doing there.

I fix their computers, they drive me around, and all is well.

by AdamW on Wed 8th Dec 2004 00:36 UTC

Sorry, you're working on a false assumption. You assume that if the user doesn't know that to do X they need to edit X, Y and Z that means they don't know what X, Y and Z are. This simply isn't true. To take a random example, I had no idea how to set up bluetooth under Linux when I first got a bluetooth usb adapter. I needed to install rfcomm and a few other utilities and edit some configuration files under /etc. If someone simply says to me 'install rfcomm, edit X Y and Z config files' that is enough to get the job done (and in fact the instructions I eventually used were very much in that style). I don't *need* to be told 'go to a console, type 'urpmi rfcomm', then type cd /etc and then gedit blahblah.conf'...

As I said, IMO it's reasonable to start off working as if the user you are helping is of this type (unless the question is so basic that it's obvious the user must be at a lower level). If it transpires that they can't understand this high level form of assistance, use a lower level one.

by matej.barac on Wed 8th Dec 2004 03:21 UTC

I can't remember who it was that said, the definition of the geek is "A person who talks about telephones, across a telephone."

by John Nilsson on Wed 8th Dec 2004 20:58 UTC

"I can't get my USB external hard drive to work under Linux. Please help"

Either you...

...are a user: Call tech support.
...are a developer: You should be shot for writing such a bad bug report.
...are a wannabegeek: Don't wast other people's time if you're not prepared to teach yourself how to learn from research. RTFM.
..are a geek: You should be shot for writing such a bad bug report.

The wannabegeek is the most annoying. While it's fun to teach people who urge for knowledge it is really frustrating to try to teach people who don't.

The rational of giving the dumbed down answer.
by Storm on Sun 12th Dec 2004 06:06 UTC

Because the whole concept behind the message board is that OTHER people dont have to ask the question again if they can find a real reply. There are plenty of times that I look up brain dead trivial stuff and get answers that are way out of my skillset. Telling someone to change a HKEY_LOCAL_USERS_SOFTWARE_MICROSOFT_WINDOWS_RUN: and add the appropriate flag to the run line is just dumb.
If their question was "How do change quicktime to not bug me when I log in."

Where as a,(
Press Start
press run
type in regedit
press ok
scroll to the top and click HKEY_LOCAL_USERS
would answer the question well for everyone. An advanced user would just find the reg key she was looking for, while a novice would be able to follow step by step. And novices wouldnt need to press back in google because they found another "Geek-only" answer..

I'll take a dumbed down ANSWER any day,