Neglected to address this particular bit the other day...
They may be newcomers and may not fully understand what's being asked of them but it's also part of daily life at this point - especially for younger people - to fire up their googler if they don't understand something or are confused about a term or phrase. Which is likely how they discovered the forum. Most people have the internet at their fingertips 24/7. It's also been a while since I've seen a situation where there isn't some level of explanation about what's being asked of them. It's just a given today and it wasn't a mere 7-8 years ago. edit: This doesn't mean I like it but that's where we are as a society.
With any hobby or forum, there's going to be a certain amount of expectation that people don't need hand holding (edit: hand holding, i.e., doing it for you instead of you learning to do it yourself, telling you exactly what to do instead of empowering you with the necessary resources that not only show you how to do something but also give you the tools you need to learn in the process
), that they've read some of the stickied beginner posts, that they're going to be capable of figuring out some basic parameters like hardness, ammonia, nitrate if they're trying to keep aquatic plants. If they don't know how to and they want to remain in the hobby for more than a couple days, they learn and they stick around. Really becomes a beginner requirement when sensitive livestock like dwarf shrimp are added to the mix and it's a disservice not to immediately get people familiarized with that sort of information. Otherwise, well-intentioned people really are likely to kill their critters with something as simple as a water change. Most are going to assume that hand holding isn't too necessary when there's a sense of urgency. (And because newcomers become quickly empowered as they learn.)
I'd argue it's a good thing to encourage people to learn the basics of planted tanking. Generally, when someone asks for parameter information, they're asking if
the poster knows what those parameters are. More often than not, I see members explaining why those parameters are important and how to test for them. If someone is being a straight-up ass about it, though, the report function is your friend. Please use it.
Ego can certainly drive people away but it's also important to differentiate between ego and hobby basics. People who come here overwhelmingly already know they want to keep aquatic plants and possibly the critters that most often accompany them. They don't tend to be the goldfish and neon gravel type. Many already have decent test kits and are - for newcomers - advanced enough to know about fancy clay-based substrates from companies like ADA.
It's one thing to demand someone post photos and another to ask if someone has photos of their tank to help illustrate problems they're experiencing and are struggling to explain with language. It's one thing to inform a newcomer that they should up their water change frequency to limit nutrient problems/remove waste and another to blatantly tell someone their tank is dirty because they're lazy.
Think it's also important to remember that this hobby is one that many treat as a fad. They get a tank, think it'll be a cakewalk like the lady at Petco said it would be, find out it's not, get rid of the tank/disappear from the forum. That's probably 99% of hobbyists. Temporary, fleeting, tourists. Us weirdos keeping plants in boxes of water are a super-tiny percentage. We remain but everyone else is extremely likely to vanish in less than a month.
If anyone thinks the take-away from this thread is that you'd better have photos or shut up, they aren't putting in any effort to actually read what people here have said. They're not even skimming - they're just spouting off without having put in a modicum of effort because they need to complain about something. *Most* of this discussion has been productive and honest. People have, for the most part, shared their opinions respectfully.
No one thinks they're an expert because none of us are. But many of us do happen to have decades of useful experience that we share with others and document in our tank journals. Anyone getting upset because someone has experience needs to look in a mirror, do some soul searching and take a deep breath. Who on earth thinks experience and knowledge makes someone snooty? It makes them useful if you dare to scratch the surface.
It's up to the reader to discern the difference between opinion and fact, well-established practices, accepted science, that sort of thing. It's not difficult. Just as it's not difficult to search for a term or phrase on a search engine.
Some of y'all really do need to calm down and stop taking life so seriously. Everything else in the world may be going up in flames but you don't have to take your frustrations out on others or those participating. Stop assuming you can determine tone-of-voice from written text and most certainly stop assuming someone is being a jerk when they share their knowledge. The people here are overwhelmingly helpful and go out of their way to learn. A few buck the trend but... emphasis on "few". If you want proof? Read the dang forum. Put in the effort and read. Don't just look at the pretty pictures. You'll see hundreds of helpful people each and every day.
Originally Posted by Desert Pupfish
I've seen newbie posts posing a naive question which people jump on with a long list of requirements: we can't help you because you didn't post a pic, you didn't provide a long list of all your parameters (some of which they may have never heard of), or if they do post a pic are told their tank is dirty and/or not doing enough water changes--implying that they're killing their plants out of laziness...
I guess what I'm hoping for from this discussion is we as a forum community can defuse ego battles before they become toxic and drive people away. And how to be encouraging to newbies, instead of just expecting them to jump into the deep water and learn to swim with the big fish and not get eaten alive....