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LinuxWorld: Users: How stupid are they, really?

Aug 08, 2000, 22:03 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by J.S. Kelly)

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"There seem to be but two schools of thought on the subject of users in the Linux (and general, all-purpose geek) community. One of these schools concludes, from the number of "any key" queries that there are in the world, that all users are idiots. They say, "Linux is a server environment. Let the stupid users run sissy operating systems like Mac or Windows. And if they really do want to try Linux, then they'll have to learn the hard way, like I did."

"The other school of thought is made up of people who claim to like users and would like to welcome them to the Linux fold. Unfortunately, these same people seem to be under the mistaken impression that the word nonexpert is equivalent to idiot. They often resort to speaking baby-talk to users, spoon-feeding them with GUIs that "simplify" (and dumb down) the whole environment to "protect" the idiot user."

"It is unfortunate that both schools believe that users are basically stupid."

"The first school postulates that only the smartest users -- those who can manage to bootstrap themselves to a certain level of expertise -- may be awarded a junior membership in the Linux clubhouse (which has a sign reading "Super sekrit, no lusers allowed" posted on the door)."

"The second school of thought believes that you shouldn't have to be a quasiexpert just to use a Linux-based computer (or any other computer, for that matter). This latter attitude would appear to be the opposite of the first school, but it is not. For these developers will good-naturedly go around creating padded-cell GUIs to protect the idiots from themselves, making it "easy" and "safe" for the dummies to use a computer. Simply stated, this school believes that users are just too stupid to be given any real control over their environment, or any responsibility for learning or for figuring things out for themselves."

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