[Pw_forum] Answers and Questions

Axel Kohlmeyer akohlmey at cmm.upenn.edu
Thu Aug 31 16:33:14 CEST 2006

On 8/31/06, Fernando A Reboredo <reboredofa at ornl.gov> wrote:
> Dear All,

dear fernando,

thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

> I feel compelled to write because I am always amazed by the degree of
> patience that the developers of these ESPRESO package show towards the
> questions in this mailing list. I also confess that I feel embarrassed to
> ask my own questions since I know that I will be stealing research time of
> colleagues.  I thank the developers for making this package available.

you may be 'stealing' some research time, but you also have to realize
that even trivial beginner's questions occasionally point out flaws in either
the implementation or the documentation. furthermore, even if you may
not be the most qualified person to respond, you may still have encountered
a similar problem, so you would actually be giving back some of the 'stolen'
time by responding and reporting your own experiences. this is how communities
do work: if everybody contributes, everybody benefits.

> However, there are two types of questions 1) the ones that refer to the
> inner reason of the error messages (that I am not qualified to answer) 2)

well, in my personal experience, trying to figure out what error messages
in a code mean (by looking at the sources), has helped me a lot to understand
how program packages work and trying to figure out whether this is a
legitimate problem, a bug in the code or just a flaw in the input file,
is a good training to avoid problems for the next input you may need to
write and may make you more qualified.

> the ones that refer to a chapter of "Introduction to Solid State Theory" or
> "Quantum Mechanics". Since I feel I am not better teacher that Aschoft or
> Kohen I also remain quiet there.

see above. even when you may not be the better teacher right now,
responding to the best of your knowledge may actually _make_ you
a better teacher. a lot of it is just a matter of practice. you can always
start small and only provide answers to problems where you feel confident
and refer to the literature for the rest.

on top of that, a good way to contribute (and that applies to everybody)
would be to collect frequently asked questions and their answers from the
mailing list archives and integrate them into the quantum-espresso wiki
pages. i've done something similar for a different project a couple of years
back and it was _extremely_ helpful in getting a better understanding,
while at the same time the works was more that of an editor, i.e., you
didn't have to be an expert, but just take the available answers and edit
them into one more consistent text. this is somewhat time consuming,
but given the large number of people in this forum, it should not be
so much if this is shared amongst them. as i wrote before: everybody
contributes, everybody benefits.

> I interrupt my silence to suggest to askers to think whether a question is
> type 1 or 2.

part of the problem of a beginner in using tools like quantum espresso
is, that you frequently cannot tell, where this problem originates from.
many people answering here realize this fact (everybody has been through
that in some way at some point in time) and are willing to give people
some leeway at the beginning (there is no real gain from being rude
over e-mail regardless) and only get increasingly irritated when people
start taking advantage of that.

ok. i guess this is enough 'preaching' for me for today. please everybody
give this some thought and (hopefully) help us to make the QE project
even better and even more fun than it is already right now.

thanks for reading and ciao,
> Thanks again for the hard work and patience.
> I am Fernando A. Reboredo ORNL (and I approve this message)

Axel Kohlmeyer   akohlmey at cmm.chem.upenn.edu   http://www.cmm.upenn.edu
  Center for Molecular Modeling   --   University of Pennsylvania
Department of Chemistry, 231 S.34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6323
tel: 1-215-898-1582,  fax: 1-215-573-6233,  office-tel: 1-215-898-5425
If you make something idiot-proof, the universe creates a better idiot.

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