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re: It's helpful to treat people's suggestions as requests for information. If somebody asks, "Why didn't you use X?" or says "I'd use X in such a situ...
 

This is exactly what I was thinking while reading this. Communication can be hard, so the responsibility for making it clearer lies on both sides. If you mean to ask a question, ask a question! Don't phrase it as a statement. It can be as easy as adding ", right?" to the end of your sentence. For example:

You could just run these distros in VMs, right?

That word at the end indicates you've considered the possibility that your statement might not be right, and would like to discuss it further.

But as the recipient of such a message, it's indeed a good idea to give people the benefit of the doubt as well.

 

Good points, both of you! I absolutely agree. In this article, I addressed the suggester's side of the exchange; if I had addressed both sides, this would been too long.

In my talk, A Field Guide to Common Nerds, I cover your points precisely. I'll work those into another article as well.

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