Some advice for recent "students"

Discussion in 'Community Chat' started by FrostyCat, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. FrostyCat

    FrostyCat Member

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    Advice for posting on the GMC:
    • Stop bringing up old topics by posting "I have the same problem" on them. The topic's owner will likely not be around to answer you anymore, and you'll disturb the topic's archival value if your request turns out to be unrelated to the topic. If you need help and you think an old topic may be relevant, start a new topic and link to that old topic. Let experienced responders decide how relevant it is, don't do it yourself if you're new.
    • Post coding questions on the Programming section. The Community Tech Support sections are for when you have issues with the IDE (e.g. setting up the build process, IDE crashes/bugs, project file problems, etc.), not for when you have problem with code. The Community section is for when you have issues concerning the wider GMC community, not for when you have problems with code that isn't normally anyone else's business.
    • Stop posting GML code in screenshot form. Code in screenshot form cannot be copy-and-pasted, and longer pieces get cut off by scroll bars.
    • Use [code] and [/code] tags when posting code. This protects indentations and certain character sequences like [i] (common in for loops over arrays) from the forum's BBCode parser, and keeps it in a format most readable for trained programmers.
    • Post actual error messages, code and behaviours, not vague paraphrases and especially not "doesn't work". When you're new, what you think is happening and what is actually happening are often not the same. Let the problem speak fully for itself, don't let your own inexperience get in its way.
    • Write in grammatically correct semi-formal English. People who post in casual, sloppy English also tend to write casual, sloppy code that wastes everyone's time in the end. Writing code takes attention to detail and intentional action, so start practicing that on what you should already do as a literate.

    Advice for GML basics:
    • Bookmark the Manual and use it often. It's at docs2.yoyogames.com. When responders like me tell people to use the Manual, we mean it.
    • Familiarize yourself with basic syntax. At the very least, learn the basic operators and what the keywords if, for, while, switch, with, return do. These are the ABCs of GML. Use the Manual's overview for basic GML. You should aim to understand and eventually memorize most to all of the operators and keywords in that section with practice.
    • Know what each event does. At the very least, learn what the 6 basic ones do and what kinds of code go in each. Use the Manual's events reference for the rest, and memorize them as you get to use them.
    • Know the roles of local, instance and global scope. Local variables are for temporary values, loop counters and intermediate results, instance variables are for properties specific to individual instances, and global variables are for centralized values accessible everywhere. Read the Manual entry on scope to learn how to declare and reference each type.
    • Know the difference between objects and instances. In GM, objects are types (e.g. human, dog) and instances are live individuals (e.g. Alice, Bob, Lassie, Fido). Don't be the moron asking for "the fur colour of the cat" at the SPCA in peak kitten season.
    • Proofread your own code and take your wants off centre stage. Spend more time thinking about what your code is actually doing and what may be done wrong, and less time assuring yourself that it must be a bug with GM. Computers do what you say, not what you want, even when what you say is wrong.
    Advice for using tutorials
    • Learn basic syntax before starting tutorials. At the very least, have the Manual open to the GML Overview section when you start.
    • Don't search for all-in-one solutions. Except for small beginner-level games, you'll either turn up nothing, or arrive at something with too much content to learn from at once. Instead, break down your search and look for help with components that are likely to recur even across different projects.
    • When doing tutorials, always walk through the logic yourself and relate it back to basic elements. Pause and stop often. Step through the code and use the Index tab on the Manual to remind yourself of built-in functions, keywords and concepts. Don't think for a moment that you're done just because your screen or code looks like the tutorial author's, you're only done when your state of mind looks like the tutorial author's.
    • Synthesize, don't plagiarize. After consulting a resource, think forward at least 5-10 alternative ways you can use that resource's subject matter outside the resource's original context, and apply some of them in small proof-of-concepts. A skill that you can only use with your hands held is called an incompetency.
     
    KPJ, Japster, Yal and 15 others like this.
  2. BaBiA Game Studio

    BaBiA Game Studio Member

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    @FrostyCat Great advice that people definitely need to take into account. I can't remember how many times the first response to an opening post is "show us your code", or "show us the exact error message".
    One other thing I see repeatedly is people posting that the last line of their Output window is "FAILED", and then asking for help in what is wrong. The usual response is "post the full contents of the output", and then it is obvious to see the "Error" that is further up the stack of output lines. A lot of newer people never seem to scroll up the output to have a look if anything went wrong earlier in the build.
     
  3. Dog Slobber

    Dog Slobber Member

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    When relevant, post the actual version number of IDE and/or Runtime. An no, posting "Latest version" is not a good substitute.
    • There are different Latest Versions depending on whether Traditional, Steam or Beta are being used.
    • An eminent update makes your Latest version decription ambiguous and inaccurate
    • Days week or months later, it is completely meaningless for people who are possible trying to solve similar bugs and not helpful for those who believe it might have been resolved in an update
    As with a lot of items on FC's list if you the people you want to help you have to perform extra steps, the'll often just move on.
     
  4. Rob

    Rob Member

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    I wonder how many newbies will actually read this before posting.
     
  5. FrostyCat

    FrostyCat Member

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    Probably not that many given how many still act in contrary to what I wrote, especially the line about posting code between [code] and [/code] tags. I wrote this topic mostly to have a bank of stock statements to pelt at them.
     
  6. TsukaYuriko

    TsukaYuriko Q&A Spawn Camper Forum Staff Moderator

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    I might just have to re-word my catch phrase response... I couldn't have summarized this one better.

    Thank you for yet another incredibly to the point check list. A lot of these should be official guidelines as far as I'm concerned... might just have to nickname this topic "extended guidelines" for that.
     
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  7. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    Is there any way to update the forum to popup a warning when a user with <10 posts attempts to make a thread / post a reply?

    The warning would show a checklist to ensure that they have...
    • Used code tags if required
    • Have done a search of the forum / Google / the manual to see if their problem has been asked and solved before (99% it has)
    • Are not necro bumping a post from years ago
    • Have titled the thread appropriately and descriptively
    • Have described their problem in detail etc
    ...before they click the post button.
    If the post is made and these are not adhered to (ie. they didn't read it and just clicked through) then the post should be removed, and by the time they get >10 posts they should (hopefully) be fully aware of how to make a post like a normal person.

    The amount of posts lacking code tags and necro bumping has risen quite sharply round here lately, mainly from newer accounts with <10 posts.
    I've actually stopped bothering to reply to people who just shat a load of code into a post without tags.

    Frosty do you mind if other people quote your OP when dealing with people who just post without any thought or would you prefer to just have this thread linked?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
    EvanSki likes this.
  8. Toque

    Toque Member

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    This is good advice. I didn’t know this when I first started.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
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  9. TsukaYuriko

    TsukaYuriko Q&A Spawn Camper Forum Staff Moderator

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    I'm afraid that might overwhelm new members and end up being ignored either way... or turn them off from posting in the first place. Pedantic rule enforcement should never take precedence over the community's core principle. I can certainly relate to your point of view and appreciate the concern, but anything that could deter people from posting at all seems too extreme to me. The goal should be to encourage posting properly, not to discourage posting through overwhelming.


    That doesn't mean I'm not gonna smack newbies - no need to worry about that - I just can't smack them before they do anything. :p

    It also doesn't mean that we shouldn't adapt the official guidelines. I'll see what we can do in this regard, as this topic addresses a lot of common contemporary issues that currently go completely unmentioned in the official guidelines. It's been a year or two since the last guideline update, so maybe it's about time for a change or two.
     
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  10. IndianaBones

    IndianaBones Member

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    It seems to happen occasionally, now and then an increase in HELP ME PLEASE posts and *thanks, can you give me the code* posts. I suspect it's around the time a group of students being taught programming via game maker have an assignment due.

    Some genuinely make an effort with their posts, others need a little reminding that just saying "it doesn't work" makes it difficult to offer help.

    I notice when there was a jam, a dismissable banner type of notice can be displayed above the forum reminding people about it.

    Could the same thing be done for new forum users reminding them to read the guide lines before posting? Or is the banner only targetable to the forum as a whole.
     
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  11. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    I appreciate what you are saying, but I think "overwhelm" is the wrong word / a bit strong.
    They have already managed to sign up to the forum and attempt to make a post, I doubt an extra few lines saying "Have you put any code in code tags?" and "Have you titled your post appropriately?" etc is going to overwhelm anyone.

    It's 2019 and they are obviously computer literate otherwise they wouldn't be here in the first place, but as I say I appreciate you not wanting to discourage people from posting and that's not what I would want either.

    However I think training / teaching people under 10 posts in how to use the forum correctly to enable them to best get the help they require quickly would be better than them posting and getting ignored completely or having to be asked 3-4 times to explain the problem, use code tags, show the full error message etc before anyone can help them would be more beneficial to them in the long run than the issue of having to read a few lines and make an extra click to confirm during those first 10 posts.

    Either way I appreciate you looking into updating the guidelines.
     
    Toque likes this.
  12. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    I remember when I first came here and I needed some help. The first thing I did was run to the programming forum and ask for help without considering for a second that I ought to read any posting guidelines. :D I guess thats the nature of game creators who are in a hurry to fix an error!
     
  13. Dog Slobber

    Dog Slobber Member

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    It is the nature of those who have poor problem solving skills.

    Part of learning to program is to learn to solve problems.

    Not adequately describing a problem is also a quality of people with poor problem solving skills. So long as these individuals are catered to, they will remain poor problem solvers and by extension, poor programmers.
     
  14. IndianaBones

    IndianaBones Member

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    I totally understand the desire to solve a problem quickly. However, without a complete description of the problem, and the result the poster desires, those of us (well speaking for myself I should say) without mind reading powers appreciate it when someone takes the time to post sufficient details of the issue.

    I would say most posters are ok, and only require a minimum of prodding to get the info required, but there are occasions where a complete lack of details requires multiple back and forth questioning to extract.

    This ends up with the chance that the original poster may not get any responses to their questions, when in fact I would say a majority of people would want to help them, but the time it takes to simply get to the heart of the issue prevents a successful resolution.

    Also, as @Dog Slobber points out, teaching people to properly analyse and describe a problem is a key skill in programming, so the guidelines are a pretty good step towards leveling up problem solving skills on the evolutionary ladder of programming ability.

    Maybe I'm old school, but there used to be a thing called netiquette, or general "how to behave" on the internet. One of which included the rule of always checking the FAQs and guidelines of a site before posting.

    You don't *have* to turn on a car's engine before you drive it, but it sure as heck helps to do so if you want to actually get to your destination.
     
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  15. Toque

    Toque Member

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    I wonder if some posts are from people where English is their second language.
    Etiquette lost in translation.
     
  16. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    I wonder if it may help to move the buttons for using code tags, spoiler tags etc out onto the main bar rather than hiding them behind the "Insert" button would make them more obvious at a quick glance?

    I personally just type out the tags, but if I didn't know they existed I couldn't do that and wouldn't know they were hidden behind "Insert" if I quickly looked along the row of buttons to see what they did - I'd probably assume "Insert" was to do with images or videos.
     
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  17. Toque

    Toque Member

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    Yes. Took me a while to figure that out!!
     
  18. Mick

    Mick Member

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    Nice checklist @FrostyCat. One thing you should add to it is what @rIKmAN mentioned about thread titles. Those "Problem, please help!", "Not working, need help fast!" etc. posts are quite annoying tbh and next to worthless for others looking for an answer to the actual question in those threads.
     
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  19. makis2404

    makis2404 Member

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    Thank you for the guidelines given here!
    I would like to ask, how is it possible to bookmark manual as long as you can find it on web, but not as a downloadable pdf? Is there some way to do so?
     
  20. TsukaYuriko

    TsukaYuriko Q&A Spawn Camper Forum Staff Moderator

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    Any link in the manual that leads to another manual page can be right click->copied and then bookmarked.
     
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  21. makis2404

    makis2404 Member

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    THANK YOY VERY MUCH
     

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