Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Answer Attack

I really like questions. I think. I'm not actually 100% sure about that fact because I question it so much. Not that I really need an answer, it's all about thinking of the answer.

It sometimes bothers me when I'm doing a problem and someone comes along and tells me exactly how to get to  the answer when I didn't ask for it. Hell even if I ask I normally rather have just slight hints rather than the full solution. Not to say I don't appreciate the help, but I just wish the difference between "help me" and "load up a rifle with answers and shoot me" had more of a distinct line.

I never liked being taught procedures, it made no sense. This is probably why I never bothered to memorize my multiplication tables back in grade 4; I saw no reason to multiple. Then they gave us problems to solve with the multiplication... and only then did I start remembering the multiples of numbers. And it was never through sitting down and staring at the multiplication table, I think I just picked it up along the way solving problems. And still today I don't know them all, but the fact that I know that 7x8 is simply 7^2+7 keeps me going along. Most people would be thinking, "that doesn't look very simple..." but hey, it works.

That was a bit of a tangent there, but back on topic. I don't like it when people give me the answers. Ever had that situation? When you ask a friend one little question and suddenly you get an Answer Attack? It's painful and I don't approve of it.

Besides the whole fact that throwing answers at people doesn't mean they'll understand the concept (defeating the purpose of helping them in the first place), I find the entire act simply arrogant. When someone asks for help, they have already admitted that you may possibly know something they don't; don't make a fuss over it. By throwing the answer around, it's almost as if you found the solution extremely easily. Unless the question was something that one ought to know (ie. a fact that should be memorized); not everyone will find the question easy. And whoever asked for help will definitely feel less competent if you're spilling over all the concepts that they have yet to understand.

Also, assuming you're better than someone because you can do the question may not always be the fact. What if the person who asked for help simply misunderstood the question or made 1 careless error? Then suddenly they're stuck listening to you ramble on about all the steps they already knew how to do. I would personally find it insulting that someone was assuming I didn't understand the concepts I already knew.

Of course all people react differently to being helped (see The Keener for clarification). I'm speaking more from a nerd perspective. I enjoy learning things myself, help is only needed when I forget a fact. Otherwise I would rather mull over my notes and/or seek professional help. I do find that keeners take well to having answers pelted at them and geeks tend to end up arguing over their respective answers to prove they were right. Geniuses though will no doubt take great offense to being 'assisted'.

And of course I realize sometimes I'm guilty of attacking people with answers as well. Oh dear I'm a hypocrite aren't I? Well that's not too bad! (Reminder to make a post about why being a hypocrite is better than being naive sometime...)

So remember, if you want to help a friend; always check to see exactly what kind of help they want at first. Never Answer Attack.

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