Is LibreOffice really only for people with a programmer's mind?

I hope this is relevant! Having used this site a fair bit and been grateful for simple answers which make sense, I often find I am lost because the kind person who gives information then tells me to do something beyond my knowledge without explaining how to do it. Or, I ask a question and get jumped on for not being relevant when to me the fact I am using libreoffice in the first place IS relevant. If I was using another word processor it would not be. If I say I uploaded using libreoffice to somewhere, then I want to know if the problem is to do with me using libreoffice or where I am uploading.

The question is at the end of this long-winded explanation of how I got to it. It is not the question. In fact, it includes thoughts and suggestions. I am not sure where to put those but include them to show how I got to the question. I apologise for the ramble. Miss it out and go to the end if you want!

THE BIT THAT IS NOT THE QUESTION BUT HOW I GOT TO THE QUESTION (note: by “programmer,” I refer to a mindset and do not mean everyone who answers a question is a programmer.)

If I edit to explain, I am often left with more than one question. For example, I had a problem with strange symbols appearing when uploading a document. Someone jumped on me for being irrelevant. Yet, the problem was and is relevant to Libreoffice in my thinking.

Could the person not have asked, "Does this only happen on this one occasion or is it general? This would have prompted me to experiment and find, as I found, that the problem occurs even when copying and pasting to new documents from a previous one. That way I know the problem is not with the site I am uploading to, but with my downloaded version of LibreOffice.

I got a very detailed answer from someone. It helped and I am grateful, however, not everyone knows what an ISO is. I do vaguely, and suspect that the answer gives me a clue that my problem like in the download for LibreOffice on Chromebooks. I assume the code I used to install means that the Beta version of linux uses the terminal with my command, sudo apt-get install LibreOffice to find a repository and download it from there. On a Chromebook you do not get a choice to do much else. It is impossible to get LibreOffice 6 even if you download and try to install debian files or attempt to do something I never managed to do with backports.)

(Perhaps this is relevant to a board for Chromebook users, but I do not ONLY use a Chromebook. I am, however a Chromebook user who is using LibreOffice. A section for Mac users, for PC users, for Chromebook users might be helpful? Certain LibreOffice related problems may only be useful to each of us and the answer if already here, easier to find.)

However, I was lost with the answer, because I am just not that technical. I need the information not just to do something, but how to do something. For example, (from another reply to someone else,) telling me to go to Tools-Options and change my user profile is great except that once I get there, I still need the nuts and bolts of how to do it. I need "go to tools-options and find your user profile and then find x and do y, step by step. I have no problem getting there. I need to know then find this and do that.

The accusation of being irrelevant occurred as I edited my question to include information asked for in a previous comment. I did that in confusion because to me it is more logical to answer the comment with a comment than to edit the original post. Trying to do what asked just led to the accusation of being irrelevant! The information I needed was to be asked, “does this only happen in this one place or everywhere?” I am not getting at the person who complained just trying to explain how my mind would work. I can see how another might think the question irrelevant due to the editing to include the information.

Maybe the fairer way to ask if something is relevant is to say something like “please explain why this is relevant?” What is relevant to one may not be so to another.

Another example:

If I ask about a good font, I do not mean a good font generally, I mean a good font available in a LibreOffice download. I do not mean a generally available open source font, but a font that comes with my Libreoffice download. I wanted to know how that font looks like when printed out from a file made with by my libroffice download on my particular hardware. If I want to know about fonts, I can go to other places to find out about the properties of that font generally. “Can you explain more?” is easier to handle. I could then have realised I needed to explain my question was about the fonts installed with libreoffice and the way they printed out and that I would be interested to know if anyone had used them in a self-published book and with what result. I can see someone would think “is this relevant?” but to me it is because I want to know if LibreOffice is the most useful tool I can use and if the font installed I use results in a useable end product if I use that font using LibreOffice. Might the result be different in Microsoft Word or Calibre? Questions tend to breed questions which is why threads in message boards can be useful for people like me. You can have a tangent. I did not see the question as irrelevant as in my mind, I was asking about LibreOffice on a LibreOffice forum and assumed it was obvious.

Downvoting people is just unfriendly and puts people who really need an answer off using the site at all. It can also be misused. (I speak from considerable experience of moderating message boards.) My reaction this morning was to think of setting up a forum for people like me to ask about LibreOffice! I assume the downvote was for asking the question. I still need the answer to my question about the strange symbols because I still have them everywhere I copy and paste. I just have more questions now, and no idea whether to ask several other questions on the board or edit the original question. After all, I edited to explain more and then people thought the question irrelevant. (This then would make it more than a single question about the same thing. Then someone would say ask only one question, but to me, the question is part of one whole question and I need it all kept together so I can follow it in the way my mind works. Skipping to other questions means it is harder to follow the answer.)

Programmers tend to have a technical mind. Other mortals tend to be woolly in our thinking and need the steps the programmer understands broken down into pieces. What is obvious to programmers is not obvious to lesser mortals. (I was married to one and we drove each other nuts.)

A lot of people using LIbreOffice seem to have a programmer’s mindset. They can do stuff that is way beyond my understanding and say to each other “do this or do that.” The answers are interesting to me, and I am glad of them, but often leave me lost as to how to proceed because I can get that what is written will work and just have no clue how to work it. I need to be able to ask the new question beneath the answer. However, the question can end up with other questions far removed from the asked question. Programmers have that information already so they never have to ask the newer questions.

Ubuntu has a good way of addressing this and has a section in their forum for new or less technical people.

THE QUESTION I AM ASKING (The rest is trying to explain how and why I got to it.)

So, back to my question as all the above is to try and explain why I am asking it. Is Libreoffice really only for people wth a programmer’s mind (who can understand the answers to their questions when it goes wrong?)

First of all: you seem to think that those who try to answer you are “programmers” or somehow otherwise “people from LibreOffice”. No, they are also users here, and they answer as they think fit. So - you are generalizing what is actually a problem of communication between users of different background.

I agree, I should have said a “programmers mindset?” I do not however think they are all from LibreOffice as my understanding is they come from all over the place don’t they?

Even if you’re not a programmer, you should read these guidelines and do your best to ask good questions.

Well - since you don’t think that those answering you are “from LibreOffice”, then naturally you understand that someone not proffesionally trained in people communications, answering you in whatever way, misunderstanding you, or whatever, cannot represent something like “LibreOffice is for XYZ” :slight_smile:

Ah but then maybe the next question is is LibreOffice really for everyone who wants to use it? Yes read the guidelines. Read that question which seems to be about someone else’s confusion. Read all I can…this does not always mean it is understood for anyone reading anything.

About downvoting. I downvoted the question about strange characters because in its initial version it indicated no relevance to LibreOffice. Only after a bunch of edits it became clear, so I’ve canceled my downvote.

However, I downvote this one. This site is not a nonsense forum, but a questions-and-answers site about LibreOffice usage. Thus, this posting is irrelevant here.

Downvoting people is just unfriendly

There is no option to downvote people. Only to downvote questions.

LibreOffice provides all its developers, QA, help writers, community (volunteers!) created. It offers what it offers; and everyone is welcome to add to that set. And there’s nothing like “Is LibreOffice for this group or for that group”; it’s about if you are satisfied with what is offered or not (given your personal background, and your specific case). And it’s often that you might be unsatisfied; does that mean that “software Foo is not for group X”? What do you mean by that “for”? That someone who has powers denies someone right to use it? that someone methodically makes it hard for someone?

Those who are not satisfied might jump in and improve the state: they feel what’s missing or poor, and may improve just that, making it better “for X”. That’s what it is, and how things are done here.


imho the question is justified and a discussion about it is necessary.

logically, there is a difference between programmers, experienced users and newcomers … which often makes communication difficult.

but experienced people can’t just wash it off with ‘is like this’ and ‘learn first’, because apart from ‘free, voluntary and without obligation’ LibreOffice and ‘the community’ has a claim to be ‘the office suite you always wanted’, ‘quality, productivity, …’.

and furthermore LO wants to be successful ‘in the market’, partly to get rid of M$, partly to enforce freedom, partly also for the economic interests of the companies that earn on support.

to achieve this:

  • quality is necessary, errors must be corrected faster,

  • usability is necessary, the more ‘correct’ a program works on its own the better it is accepted and the less stupid questions appear,

– continued –

  • discussion witth the users is also necessary, not with the most stupid, but with plenty who have less knowledge and experience than @Mike2,

behind every user who writes critically in a forum there are 1,000 to 10,000 people who have the same problems and just didn’t make it into the forum, but simply turn to other solutions.

therefore, such questions are important and should be dealt with in an accommodating manner, also considering that other people think differently than you do.

unfortunately, in forums the stubborn people of both sides often meet and get angry in arguments that hinder the work on the real matters … i don’t pretend to be free from such attitude, i am! difficult.

(but I sometimes find mistakes that have been overlooked for a long time, i think this can contribute to quality).

– continued –

so to the real question, as I am currently experiencing LO (calc) it is really advantageous to have some IT-technical background, there are irritations in everyday use for which you need help, to get that is ‘not so easy’, you have to dig through a thorn bush first.

but!: LO generally works well, fast, is a fantastic project, and basically there are many offers with help, much less than for Ex$el of course, and also a bit less ‘friendly’, but there are, and we all can work on making them more friendly and effective.

just take a moment to think why you are in it, what’s your interest, your target?

in this respect questions like this are relevant, and downvoting them is bad style. aggressive handling of criticism results from fear or inability to deal with it sensibly?

it would be a good move for the community on this front - ‘inexperienced users’ - to use people who are patient and can communicate in a friendly manner.

thanks for reading.

No, LO is meant to be a useful tool. The Writer component is oriented towards beautiful text formatting. It tries to map typographic traditional rules on a piece of hardware/software. Of course, this mapping is done by programmers who are specialists in their own domain; sometimes not in typography.

As long as questions are targeted on usability, ergonomics, typography (and their translation into LO paradigms), answers can be given in the same vocabulary.

However, LO is a very complex app. Inevitably, documentation is lagging behind the evolution rate and feature additions. Also, its style may not be fit for all initial knowledge levels of readers (either concerning using a document processor on a computer or using LO for a specific typographic task). This is where this site comes in as a complement to the documentation.

But, you may stumble on border cases, maybe involving bugs (many many and not enough programmers). Vocabulary becomes then harder to follow because we must determine if the cause is a mistake in LO or OS usage or internal to LO. I’m no LO developer, only an enlightened power user trying to return the benefit and comfort I got for free from LO.

What is difficult is to appraise the skills of the “asker” (simultaneously in typography, LO usage and computer “fluency”) from the way the question is written. Add to that the “regulars” here (only a handful) get tired by the laziness of many not opening Tools>Help nor reading the free downloadable manual where up to 80% of the answers (usually about how to use LO) can be found. They become aroused by this, which may explain the terseness or tone of their answers. The other 20% are really challenging questions or bugs.

PS: I disagree on the downvote for your question on “strange characters”. This is one challenging question for me.

I research every single question before I ask it to see if anyone had the problem before, not just here, but usually on a general search. I also read the manual. Sometimes that is still not enough! I am really struggling with the unusual characters as I don’t know if they will appear in a self-published book…seeing as they appear all over the place whenever I copy and paste. It seems likely self-publishing software might do the same. It is really annoying as the grammar editor I use tells me I have a zillion mistakes…I suppose a PDF would not include them???

No PDF will also include them. It seems you have a problem at a critical level of your computer, but the correct place to discuss it is in your ad-hoc question.

Are you writing a Web Page in HTML? if so you need to define the Character set like: and that may help.

No. Trying to format a book.

I asked because in the early 2000s I would try and validate a web page I was working on and get such characters.