You’ve got to learn to walk before you can run!


This is going to be a rant. If you are not into reading rants, please don’t continue.

I put out a tweet yesterday that said this.

“I’m so done. People can’t follow basic instructions, but expect to jump straight into building something complex on day one, then expect me to help when it inevitably goes wrong. You’ve got to learn to walk before you can run!”

I’ve had a few incidents recently that have nearly brought me to breaking point.

  • Someone wanted to install an Oracle database on Linux, but didn’t even know what an environment variable was. They claimed to have Linux experience, but literally couldn’t grasp what it meant to set or reference an environment variable, even when it was on the page in front of them.
  • Someone was “following” one of my installation guides, and said it was well written and easy to read, but wanted a step-by-step breakdown of what they had to do. What? I know I’m not perfect, but that is literally what the article was.
  • Someone else seemed incapable of pasting code into a shell. Having said they were doing exactly what was in my article, it became clear they were doing nothing of the sort.

These are just three incidents, but they are the tip of the iceberg.

Back in the day there used to be a forum on my website, but I closed it down because I was wasting loads of my time trying to help people, who had no intention of helping themselves. I wrote some posts about it over the years.

Over the years I’ve had several discussions about this with other members of the community. I know this happens a lot to everyone.

Part of me feels really bad, because I’m supposed to be this community guy, but I really can’t cope with people who have not even tried to get some basic skills under their belt before launching into something more complicated. I’m sorry, but if you’ve never seen Linux before, you probably shouldn’t be trying to install Oracle RAC on it. If you’ve never installed a database before, you probably shouldn’t be thinking about installing Cloud Control.

How many people turned up to the Olympics this year with no previous experience and took home a medal? How many people sit university final exams without ever studying the subject before? It sounds bloody stupid right? Yet people expect to do complex tech stuff without any grounding in basic skills.

I don’t know if these people are delusional. I don’t know if their boss is an idiot, and asking them to do something that is clearly beyond their capabilities. I feel sorry for them if they are under pressure to do this, but I can’t work miracles, and I’m not being paid to do their job for them. Simple as that.

I look at my website stats and I’m clearly helping a large number of people, so I think I’m doing my share already. Sorry, but not sorry!



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

8 thoughts on “You’ve got to learn to walk before you can run!”

  1. I think a certain Mr Kyte suffered some from the same thing. Pity though, as reading some of the questions from these types is quite entertaining for those of us who don’t provide a service in the same way you do!

  2. So true, 100% agree. And yes, your guides (the older screen shot walk-throughs and the new Vagrant scripts) brought me from 0 to where I am now through countless repetitions that needed to do in order to keep up with my customers. I’m so thankful, and yes, I understand your frustration. Your guides really start at the very beginning and I haven’t found a glitch in them that made me guess, or fail.

  3. Great topic. I have very high respect for the DBA community work you do and for the content you offer but I am very saddened that you have still not replied to my tweet regarding the dbms_privilege_capture ORA-47951 error I am experiencing
    Check your Twitter messages – it was sent more than 4 weeks ago

  4. Bob: It was Tom who advised me to close my forum years before I actually did. Wise man!

    Peter: Thanks.

    Ravin: I hope this is a joke. If not, you do realise it is not my job to do your job right? Raise an SR on MOS.

  5. I am very glad that you spend so much energy and time for doing our jobs so easy!
    I can not thank you enough for all your help and for being so humble and selfless !!!
    You are a inspiration for me and I am sure for many of us !

    Thank You !!!
    //Daniel M from Sweden

  6. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people trying to get a free ride. Most of the time, I think it is not consciously, though. Some people are given impossible tasks like: make sure every software component is 100% redundant so they are trying to install HA systems that they would not even be able to manage in a simple, standalone configuration.

    Even worse: I even got insulted twice recently by people I was trying to help. One thought that I didn’t have the knowledge to help, and the other was frustrated because I asked if he/she tried googling the error. Of course, for the second one, the question was like 5 words and an error message. My own Googling returned many, many results…

    Tim, you could stop helping now and you would have helped more people than 99% of the planet. Don’t worry, do your best, have fun :).

  7. I Read your tweet, read this article. I think that you don’t have a problem, you just need a business model. Knowledge gaps are something many people are willing to pay to have bridged. Do it at scale and you would be rich.
    Great stuff by the way !

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