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Some experts do answer your question or problems. Maybe you had too less problem. Helping other people in daniweb is like part of every poster daily life. Web can say that we are good human beings. For that people have to judge us and not we judge ourselves. About your frogboy, i can tell you are a good human beings with a good soul

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>> About your frogboy, i can tell you are a good human beings with a good soul

From this thread, I judge frogboy to be a bad human being with a bad soul and Jon Karpinsky to be a good human being with a good soul.


>> Far from it. In my case it's enlightened self-interest. By answering questions I have more control over the next generation of developers. Since these people will be my peers in the future, I want them to be reasonably competent.

And Narue, you are forgetting the fundamental lesson of the Prisoners' Dilemma. It's in your enlightened self interest to let others groom the next generation of developers and you'll still reap the benefits. You are better off focusing on your direct subordinates and making them competent. You can actually make a difference there and reap the direct benefits of their improvement.

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From this thread, I judge frogboy to be a bad human being with a bad soul and Jon Karpinsky to be a good human being with a good soul.

Agreed.

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... and Jon Karpinsky to be a good human being with a good soul.

Heh heh heh.

And Narue, you are forgetting the fundamental lesson of the Prisoners' Dilemma. It's in your enlightened self interest to let others groom the next generation of developers and you'll still reap the benefits.

Is that the lesson of the PD? Seems to me that fails as a categorical imperative - if everyone defaults, we end up in the worst of all worlds.

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>> if everyone defaults, we end up in the worst of all worlds.

If everyone defaults, we all end up in the SECOND to worst of all worlds. The guy who ends up in the WORST of all worlds is the one guy who behaves for the best interests of ALL rather than the best interests of just himself. There's a clear hierarchy. What's best for me, from best to worst...

  1. I behave based on what's best for me. Everyone else behaves based on what's best for all.
  2. Everyone behaves of what's best for all.
  3. Everyone behaves based on what's best for themselves.
  4. I behave based on what's best for all. Everyone else behaves based on their own best interests.

Moral. Nice guys finish last. Selfish people win. Selfish behavior moves me up the ladder regardless of what others do. It's depressing as hell, but no one's found a solution yet. That's why it's a dilemma. Often, selfish people do themselves in by their own selfishness and that's satisfying, but that just means they didn't truly look out for their own best interests. I truly believe that's why people believe in karma. The Prisoners' Dilemma is so damn unfair, but at the same time, it comes up all over the place.

From a Daniweb Prisoner's Dilemma point of view, the clear winners are people who accept help and never give help. The losers are people who only help and never ask for help. If Narue helps someone become competent, that helps her no more than it helps you and me as far as producing a competent "next generation", so our effort is better spent improving our own skills and letting her give the help. I already know how to write a bubble sort. Do I really learn anything by helping someone debug theirs? I suppose it improves my own debugging and communication skills, so perhaps it does help me. That's valid and has been mentioned on this thread. At the same time, it's a bubble sort. I've learned about all there is to learn on that one.


Anyway, we all have our own reasons for helping. I'm just not sure that enlightened self interest is one of them.

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But since I was talking about categorical imperative, only the middle two options apply. Clearly, if you want to generalize this to society, the society in which everyone defaults is not one we want to live in. The reason this looks like a dilemma is that we're trying to extend a two-player game to a rule about social norms, and the game isn't designed well for that. It's never one person against another, it's one person within a larger group.

But I don't think the PD is the right model for this problem, in any case. If you look at the people who give the most help - Narue and AD for example - I hardly think they're losers in this game.
I think the model doesn't apply because the DW reward matrix doesn't match the game. In a PD situation, cooperation X default has to return a negative for the cooperator and a positive for the defaulter, and that's just not what I'm seeing here. Also, the reward matrix in a PD situation has to be symmetrical, if I understand it right, and here it's certainly not. Finally, the reward has to be consistent, and different receivers of help get widely different "reward" depending on how good they are at receiving help and how good they are at asking questions.

Taking those considerations into account, we could come up with a reward matrix. Suppose Ancient Dragon sees a question from Clueless Newbie.

AD can cooperate or not - he can give an answer, or not. If he doesn't, it's no scale off his hide, so default gets his a zero. If he does, he gets some reward (we know this because he keeps doing it). Call his reward R If AD defaults, CN gets a 0 in that round, but by posting in a forum with, say, 50 regulars, he gets 50 rolls of the dice. If AD or any of the other 49 posters respond, CN gets a reward. That reward depends on the quality of the answers, CN's ability to make use of the answers, and the social fuzziness of the banter involved, but let's call it r.

Now I've left out half of the options, but they were left out to begin with: CN cannot default, because if he does, the game isn't played.

So our "matrix" is a row:

AD
           C      D
        ---------------
CN   C  |  R/r |  0/0 |
     D  |  0/0 |  0/0 |
        ---------------

The values of R and r are not easy to assign, but they must be positive overall for AD at least, or he flaps his leathery wings and flies off. Some do take that option, obviously, so the average R must be less than AD's R, but greater than zero - so, positive in any case*.

As for r, the poster either gets a useful answer, or no answer, or a useless answer. A bad answer might lead them down a wrong path, and waste their time, but they learn something from that, so that is only a temporary negative. It might screw up their ability to turn in their assignment, but they'll know more when they're done. A no answer, obviously, is a zero. A good answer is a positive value. You might score the "bad answer" as a negative, but it's a rare case - someone's going to correct a bad answer. So I think r is overall positive.

So in this dilemma, there's no dilemma: if you play, you win. If you don't, you don't lose.

So maybe there is some self-interest here after all.

*AD's costs to post - time, attention, whatever, are already factored in here

Edited by jon.kiparsky: n/a

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"Cooperating" and "not cooperating" mean different things to different people. My definition and moral code is that you should try to give at least as much as help as you get. That could be in a completely different forum. Hell, that could be at a completely different time of life. Maybe you get a bunch of help at thirty, then start helping after you retire. It's usually not a quid pro quo type thing for me, but I dislike the idea of getting the help, then taking off, never to be heard from again and I REALLY dislike the folks who want the help via PM or want the thread deleted after they get it either because they are in fact cheating and don't want their profs to see it or don't want their fellow students to see it. That's just my own personal code. You could make a damn good argument that people who get help then take off never ever agreed to help anyone, so they have nothing to feel guilty about. After all, it's my code, not theirs. I enjoy helping people help themselves, so I "win" when someone who I feel deserves it "gets it" after I help them. I "lose" when I waste time giving help to a complete ingrate. There's that sour feeling you feel when you help someone and then they pull an attitude. So there's always a risk involved in helping.

There's that whole list of intangibles for helping and it certainly isn't a zero-sum game and no, it isn't a Prisoner's Dilemma. You can simply not play the game at all. The Prisoner's Dilemma analogy was geared towards my belief that it's not in your rational self interest to help someone halfway around the world who you'll almost certainly never meet. Extend the analogy much further and it breaks.

We all have to decide for ourselves what we get out of it and whether it's worth it. When it ain't worth it anymore, it's time to go.

>> A bad answer might lead them down a wrong path, and waste their time, but they learn something from that, so that is only a temporary negative. It might screw up their ability to turn in their assignment, but they'll know more when they're done.

My God you're an optimist, aren't you? That's a good thing, by the way. I just can't see this phrase ever coming out of my mouth. Someone gives me bad advice and I spend a whole bunch of time chasing stupid dead ends, I don't think I've learned anything usually. If I eventually get off the wrong track and learn, well I did that in SPITE of the bad advice, not because of it. It's a negative in my book, plain and simple. But I always like hanging around people who always seem to find some way of viewing terrible things as good things. I knew a guy who got mugged. True quote, swear to God... "If I hadn't been mugged, I never would have met that nice woman at the hospital. So me getting mugged was a good thing."

Edited by VernonDozier: n/a

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The Prisoner's Dilemma analogy was geared towards my belief that it's not in your rational self interest to help someone halfway around the world who you'll almost certainly never meet.

If the cost to give that help is zero, or close enough to it, then any benefit I get from giving that help swamps that cost. Giving away my knowledge doesn't cost me that knowledge, it increases it. I'm not offering Java instruction on line for a fee anywhere, so I'm not competing with myself, there's no opportunity cost. The only cost is my time, and I'm at work, so my boss bears that cost. :)

And since I enjoy helping people who are actually interested in learning, and I do think I improve my skills by doing so, it seems very much in my rational self interest to do so.

I agree with you about some of the posters, which is why I stomp with both feet on the "write my homework for me" posters as well as on the would-be helpers who just write the program instead of helping someone learn. But on the whole, I've had very positive responses to my postings, and I can't say that I've had a lot of that sour taste you're referring to.


As for the optimism, no. I don't think this is some sort of Panglossian "best of all possible worlds" self-delusion. My reasoning is roughly as follows:
1) A programming language, or the discipline of thinking algorithmically, is a complex system of thought
2) It is impossible to spend time thinking seriously about a complex system of thought without learning about it.
3) Therefore, trying to resolve an incorrect piece of advice leads to learning something.

This would not be true for a discipline like modern literary criticism, where there is nothing systematic. There, if someone tells you something that's wrong, there's no way to learn from that, because there's actually nothing wrong about it except convention, someone's declared it to be wrong. So there, if you start out with a wrong idea, you end up at a wrong conclusion and you can't tell the difference. :)

But if you want, you can rework the reward table to allow for negative outcomes for the questioners - I think I could live with that.

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