“Just Google it!”
“It’s written right there!”
“Why can’t you just ____?”
“If you can’t do it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.”
These are just some of the replies I frequently come across various blogs, forums and comment threads to questions and posts like:
“Fake.. Doesn’t work.”
“I tried but wasn’t able to do it..”
“How to hack FB easily?”
“Need hacking tool for this online game..”
Amazingly, whether the question is genuine or not almost never seems to matter. On the internet, you come across all sorts of people from all ends of the earth and all walks of life. Most people, at some point or another, encounter someone who, instead of answering or ignoring their sincere query or request, chooses to be rude and mocks them. Most people also come across some others who may be getting stuck in something so basic and seemingly stupid, that they seem to be only doing this just annoy others or spam the website.
Why does this happen? Why do we see so many useless conversations? Why so many questions that have been asked and answered a million times still seem to stagger some? How to get out of this vicious cycle? How to avoid coming across as a noob and how to help others who are in fact not so different than us? It’s time someone answered these questions. So, here’s my attempt.
NOTE: This article is for anyone who wishes to communicate their troubles efficiently and getting their questions answered without uncalled for rudeness. Obviously, this is not for offending any group of individuals but simply a possible solution to a widespread problem.
Admittedly, this may seem a bit general but not being (or not looking like) a noob holds great importance, especially for beginner hackers. This is because, the only way to get help is from someone who has experience in this field. Getting to the point where one can help others often (seemingly) makes them forget that everyone does not have the same knowledge as them. Meaning, anyone who knows more than the other (especially in hacking) tends to get annoyed and irritated quite easily at the other’s apparently silly and spammy questions. Again, the question may be genuine and the person may be seriously seeking help. In this case, simply coming across as a noob may leave their questions unanswered.
The world is moving continuously and it is up to us to keep up. Forget “Survival of the fittest”, it’s now “Thrival of the smartest”. Humanity’s collective intelligence will always surpass any individual’s intelligence. It is for this reason, hackers, more than any other groups, should learn to learn from and teach others, peacefully. Exchange of information and ideas are the pillars keeping the hacker community alive, bonded and continually rising to greater heights.
Coming back to the main topic, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons of someone being labeled a “noob”.
►Asking Google-able Questions
There’s an awful lot of people on our little planet. Say you want to go out to congratulate everyone who has a birthday today and take 10 seconds per person. Assuming a reasonable average of 20 million birthdays a day, it will take you over 6 years, if you went 24 hours a day, everyday. By that time, of course the last person would have aged 6 years and would not be very happy with you. What’s the point of telling you this? Not only that statistics are fun but more importantly: There’s an awful lot of people here. Not only more than what we think, but much more than we can think. With that in mind, there’s a very good chance that if and when you face a problem, someone, somewhere has already faced and overcome that same problem in the past. There’s only so many problems the world can throw at us, but all of us have to overcome most of them. The answers are on the internet, waiting to be googled.
Further, Google has a ridiculously large webpage index (Reportedly, over 50 freaking billion pages). Say you type something in the Google search bar, notice that it comes up with numerous suggestions. That means someone has typed that before. It’s like almost everything we’ll ever think, has been thought before by someone else. Consequently, majority of what we’ll ever search on Google has already been searched by someone else and there’s a good chance the problem has already been solved.
So, before anything else one should always (ALWAYS!) try to Google out a solution for whatever problems they are facing. Not only is it much more efficient, it saves everyone’s time. Life is short. So, learn to Google.
►Laziness, expecting magic, asking too much
Recently, a lot of forums and Q/A websites (like www.stackoverflow.com, www.xda-developers.com) have been demanding a specific format for questions and some level of knowledge about the same. This is mainly to keep out spam as well as noobs who want to obtain something for no effort at all. Let’s take an example. Try googling: “How to hack Facebook” with the quotes. We get over 20 freaking million results. That’s 20 million pages containing this exact phrase. This is one of the most common queries asked by wanna-be “hackers” (remember script kiddies?) and one of the most annoying questions that easily irritate experienced hackers, on several levels.
Most importantly, this single line is, almost always, all there is. A question on Yahoo answers, a comment on a blog or maybe a post on a forum simply stating: “How to hack Facebook?” Imagine a total stranger coming up to you and saying “Hi! I don’t want to work, but I want a billion dollars and you’re gonna tell me how.” The obvious and justified reaction would be just staring at them and walking away silently. Although this may not be a perfect metaphor, it shows how experienced hackers look at “noobs”. Hacking is not magic. When a problem presents itself, a hacker should break it down into logical steps and find a solution. Movies have engraved in the minds of naive viewers that expert hackers are practically magicians. According to movies, an expert hacker might as well be typing any nonsense on his/her keyboard (while blindfolded, of course), and the greatest glories and accomplishments shall be achieved (example: Die Hard 4.0). Entire nations can be supposedly hacked, quadrillions of dollars await hackers just a few keystrokes away and what not. According to movies, tomorrow we may even see evil hackers burning our morning toasts and remotely hacking into our mobile phones and programming them to grow wings and fly off. Just NO. Not in this universe.
Holding down the sarcasm, let’s return to the question at hand. To the perplexing astonishment of “noobs”, there is no top-secret software toolkit that every beginner hacker must discover to truly be an expert. When performing any hacking technique, there are a set of general steps and methods one must (usually) carry out to attempt to hack something. Further, the majority of the tools used are actually free (some even open-source) and are easily available in several places around the internet (Remember Google-able questions? This is one of them).
When a person asks a question about which they have little or even no knowledge at all, it is obviously going to drive away potential respondents. What the person needs to understand is that the respondent is doing them a favor. Nobody is going to sit down and happily write a custom tutorial, so that the person can then mindlessly follow it and obtain something they clearly do not deserve. Everyone’s time is valuable and if the person is asking a total stranger for a big chunk, they are going to be ignored. Google is going to come up again and again and the inquirer needs to understand this. If a common question like “how to hack Facebook?” gives dozens of search results, it is justifiably going to be ignored or even rudely mocked.
So what should be done? Does this mean one cannot even ask any questions?
No, it simply means that the respondent requires the inquirer to have a certain level of knowledge about the problem, they need to see some effort done by the person, a reason why they are worth the time. Before anything else, one should always try to figure out a solution on their own with whatever they find on a search engine. If they do that, it might directly solve their problem while earning them useful knowledge. If they fail, then simply asking “Why did this not work?” instead of “How to do this?” will differentiate them from the noobs and almost guarantee useful replies.
►Overconfidence or too much whining
Nobody likes a show-off. Don’t be one. The problem with most forums and Q/A websites is that those seeking help always outnumber those providing it. It is up to the person asking the question to prove that they are worth the time. Showing off too much, being rude, “demanding” and not “asking” are sure-fire ways to get muted, ignored and even banned in some websites. On the other hand, too much whining can be equally detrimental. Admittedly, this may seem like “tough love”, but you need to put yourself in the other’s position to understand why this happens and how to avoid it. Everybody does not have the same amount of patience, politeness, and general attitude. This difference is why, what may be right and reasonable for one, may be shockingly rude for someone else. Knowing these thin boundaries and staying well clear of them is the key to not looking like a noob.
So that covers up majority of what may make one look like a noob. If all these points are kept at the back of your mind, hopefully, you’ll be able to have more efficient conversations and exchange of information.