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In some forums, people have grown so tired of hearing the same questions over and over that they no longer answer questions. Instead, new users are systematically redirected to the FAQ, the user manual, the development wiki, or Google.


The problem is that if you raise the barrier to first contact to the point where a newcomer has to learn the language, culture, customs and history before joining your project, you won't get many new members. It would be like having a French language & history test at customs for all foreign visitors to Paris.


A healthy community navigates a fine line between helping newcomers learn the ropes without community forums becoming a crutch and a suck on time. One way to mitigate this effect is to have recent newcomers answer the questions of other newcomers in forums. Empower new users to answer as well as ask questions. Kathy Sierra has written about the success of this approach in JavaRanch.


For the polar opposite of this anti-pattern, see Help Vampire.

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