47

Please do not say "I have tried everything" in your question or some other variant such as "I have searched the whole internet.

This does not make sense. You can't have, or there wouldn't be a solution to your problem.

Please provide detailed information on what you have tried. We can't help you if we don't know what you have tried.

Examples:

Screen tearing, tried everything - "tried everything", "reinstalled everything"

Can not install wine on ubuntu 16.04 - "tried everything"

how do I install this theme? - "tried everything"

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    This post looks like an announcement, not a genuine question. It would be much better if it contained some positive part, e.g., "don't do"s were accompanied with corresponding "do"s — best if it were quotes from existing questions, but a crafted mockup question would be fine, too. – bytebuster May 4 '18 at 3:38
  • Also see: meta.askubuntu.com/a/16667/158442 – muru May 4 '18 at 4:36
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    So I woke up this morning to write this comment and long story short, what I really wanted to state is that it's also quite evident that you've woken up before doing anything relevant and your sleeping habits rarely matter to your OS. – dessert May 4 '18 at 6:51
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    @dessert it sounds like you're trying to make a point, but I have no idea what it is. The "I woke up this morning and found" phrases actually carry useful information: I didn't touch anything, I just woke up and found this situation. The same goes for the "long story short": there is more to this, but that's not relevant to the question. I just mention it so you know I actually have a reason for my approach. – terdon May 4 '18 at 11:37
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    @terdon That's my point: There are lots of phrases that can be nearly semantically empty in one question and prove useful in another. – dessert May 4 '18 at 13:23
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    @dessert oh. It sounded like you were making exactly the opposite point. – terdon May 4 '18 at 13:24
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    Agreed. It should be noted that “I have searched the whole internet” does also not make sense because the Internet is a physical collection of objects (mainly cables, routers and various devices). If the OP searched the web using a search engine, they should say so but most importantly show what they have tried among what they found. :) – Andrea Lazzarotto May 5 '18 at 23:21
  • It's obviously not technically accurate, but it could serve the dual purposes of allowing a very frustrated user some outlet and conveying that a number of trivial resolution attempts may have been made. A lack of more specific information when appropriate is a separate issue. Seems too pushy and insensitive to censor this. – Hack-R May 12 '18 at 6:00
  • @Hack-R we do not censor, we curate content. Also, lacking what some user tried often makes a question very hard to answer. – Andrea Lazzarotto May 12 '18 at 13:04
  • @AndreaLazzarotto To the latter point, as said above A lack of more specific information when appropriate is a separate issue. Regarding the former, it is by definition both censorship and curation. But yea, I also agree with you that curation is important, don't get me wrong, I just thought this was a little overzealous. – Hack-R May 12 '18 at 14:40
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    "This does not make sense. You can't have, or there wouldn't be a solution to your problem." - Maybe there isn't a solution (yet) ? Maybe its a bug, a unique problem or not a "problem" per se but a feature request? I get that people should write what exactly they tried, but there is no reason why they can't write both .i.e: "I tried everything, including etc etc ..." – Robert Riedl May 14 '18 at 7:02
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    "Reinstalled everything" doesn't fit into the same category as "tried everything". The former is well-scoped. – Jon Bentley May 14 '18 at 8:28
  • The second example (Can not install wine on ubuntu 16.04 - "tried everything") does not contain "tried everything" or similar. – iacopo May 20 '18 at 10:23
35

Yes indeed.

Instead of saying you have tried everything, please give complete details of what you have tried.

For example:

I tried following [this guide](link to guide). I ran all the commands mentioned, but at the third step I got this error:

$ do useful thing
E: something went wrong, sorry!

I also read [this answer](link to answer) to this Ask Ubuntu question How do I tazzle my blab grobber on Ubuntu 14.04?, but it looks like that doesn't apply to my case, because [specific reason]. I tried adapting it by going into [such and such a menu] and toggling the swazzle option, but that had no effect.

I found [this post on site](link to post) but I can't read Japanese and couldn't get much sense out of the GT translation.

I also tried setting the doobleyup parameter, since that seems to fix a miscellany of related issues, but it rendered my system unbootable, and I had to unset it from GRUB's editor UI.

What else can I try?

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    Another good question template! – ubashu May 7 '18 at 0:34
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    How do I tazzle my blab grobber – Xerus May 11 '18 at 19:59
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    Does swazzle need its own tag or should it just be included in blab-grobber? Honestly I feel like you're gaming the system a bit here - my upvote was purely due to the fact that this answer had me rolling on the floor laughing, and nothing to do with whether or not I agreed with the answer. – Digital Trauma May 15 '18 at 0:36
14

A practical (and sensible) reply to a 'I have tried everything' could be:

'I understand that having such an issue is frustrating. But please provide details about the things you have tried to solve this. In doing so you help us helping you.'


I think it is important to realize that this type of statement is to be understood as a rhetorical element, a figure of speech, so to say. The proper terminology would be hyperbole.

This rhetorical device is used more to express a personal impression towards a situation:

from the link above

it emphasizes, evokes strong feelings, and creates strong impressions. As a figure of speech, it is usually not meant to be taken literally.

I would thus argue to not take it literally.

The consequences are twofold:

First, the use of rhetorical elements in replies: Given that a hyperbole mostly is not to be understood literally, it is also not suitable to satisfy any requirements, like the requirement to document the attempts that were made to solve the question. Thus the reply 'I've tried everything' is to be discarded when asking to document the attempts made to solve the question at hand. Such a reply only emphasizes the subjective impression that a lot of effort has gone into finding an answer, but does by no means describe what this effort consisted of.

Second, the presence of rhetorical elements in general within questions or answers: Here, maybe the question is more: Do we want to allow rhetorical elements within questions and answers?

If they are as obvious as the mentioned hyperboles I would say yes. However for other rhetorical devices or 'tone of voice', like sarcasm, I'm not so sure.

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    Good one! We tend to forget there are people on the other side of a question... – Fabby May 6 '18 at 13:31
  • Yes, but only statements like these don't describe "what you have tried" in a meaningful way so that others can realise what's exactly going on. I don't think anyone has a big issue with these kind of hyperbole when the steps taken are also adequately described. For example, exhibit 3 from the question seems okay to me -- although it says "tried everything I found on the internet", it also adds "like putting it in the /usr/themes...". – pomsky May 6 '18 at 16:55
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    You explain well why do people post such text but… we don’t want rhetorical exercises here. We remove “thanks”, “please”, greetings and signatures. This is a similar case. – Melebius May 7 '18 at 4:42
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    @Melebius I agree with you! And I'm not arguing that we should take a hyperbole (or any other rhetorical device) as a literal answer. In contrary, we should not! However, realizing that someone uses such elements helps us to pinpoint the issues with a question or answer both for us and the person asking. A practical (and sensible) reply to a I have tried everything could then be: 'I understand that having such an issue is frustrating. But please provide details about the things you have tried to solve this. If you do so you help us helping you.' – jojo May 7 '18 at 6:12
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    @pomsky this is exactly what I was trying to say: A hyperbole should not be taken literally and therefore is not suitable to describe a situation, it describes how the person experiences it. (It seems my answer wasn't very clear on this.) I slightly restructured it. Hopefully it became clearer now! – jojo May 7 '18 at 6:22
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    Agreed. Excellent points. I too tend to ignore the "tried everything" frustration. "I understand that having such an issue is frustrating. But please provide details about the things you have tried to solve this. In doing so you help us helping you.'" as you say is an excellent choice as a response. Far more useful than "None of us believe you've tried everything" which while likely true is unlikely to be helpful. – Elder Geek May 10 '18 at 23:27
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    "I tried everything" really means "I tried everything I could think of". Of course, it's not helpful if you then don't state what those things are. – CJ Dennis May 11 '18 at 1:48

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