This happens all the time.

The worst thing about being a nice guy is that any time I try to help someone do something on the Internet, two things inevitably happen.

More often than I can count, the person who I’m trying to help figures out how to solve their own problem. This is great, except why the hell ask for help in the first place? Solve your own problems next time, before you ask for help.

Now, I understand people like to say “Man I need help with this” and then immediately decide they don’t want to let themselves down by giving up. I’ve been in that situation many times. The way I’ve found to deal with any confusion that might arise, is to say something along the lines of “Ah I can figure this crap out myself.” This will at least let the people who might have been trying to help know that you’re still committed to solving the problem yourself. It leaves you receptive to commentary. But, they also know not to try too hard, since their efforts may go to waste if you figure it out yourself. The point is, TELL PEOPLE YOU’RE STILL TRYING TO SOLVE YOUR OWN PROBLEM, SO THEY DON’T FEEL LIKE THEY WASTED TIME AND EFFORT ON YOUR DUMB ASS.

Smart and stubborn as I am, if I get hung up on a problem, it must be pretty damn big. So, I usually take a step back, figure out how to ask the right questions, then ask them. Then I stop thinking about it, and I wait for people to respond. None of this operating-in-parallel bullshit. I asked for help, now I have to let help be offered. This would be a perfect time for a snack.

The only other time I try to help people on the Internet, the folks who need help have no ability to actually receive this help. My analogy for this is kind of like teaching a person with no arms how to play baseball. Even if I use the right terms (“swing the bat”), it’s still impossible to actually accomplish that, since the person has no arms. Note that this has only happened with two people: my grandmother, who used typewriters and had no muscle memory for “double-clicking”; and my father, who says “there must be some way to do X” and then expects me to impart enough of my years of computer knowledge in order to somehow let him do X. Instant messaging is quite the neato technology, but it’s not a brain link.

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