LinuxWorld: Users: How stupid are they, really?
Aug 08, 2000, 22:03 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by J.S. Kelly)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
"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
"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
"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."