"Crash programs always fail because they are based on theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month."
- Werner von Braun
Jørgen, this seems to have really sidetracked from what I originally posted and wanted to point out: that people should stop giving out blanket answers like "if you got it in less than 2 years, must be a mcdojo" or "takes around 7 years", and also to point out, that for a newcomer, it can be a very valid question to ask.
I don't know, that strikes me as a funny use of the word "valid", but whatever. I think that I would have said, rather, that it's understandable that they'd ask, since to someone with no martial arts background except that given by popular culture, a black belt would seem to be the goal. But what's your beef with "takes about 7 years"? It seems to me that that's the best possible answer that you can give to someone who doesn't want to hear the real answer ("it depends", "it's different for every school", etc.).
I think we all understand about newbie questions; we don't need to be lectured about them. You see them in every possible field: they're the questions that newbies always ask, and that can't be answered in terms that the average newbie can understand (or has the patience to accept). Gear questions are some of the most frequent: Photography: "What's the best digital camera for me?" Backpacking: "What's the best pack for me?" Kayaking: "What's the best kayak for me?" Newbies want a simple answer that doesn't exist, i.e., they want someone to magically tell them (without any of the information needed to make a recommendation) what is going to work for them. They don't want to answer a lot of tiresome questions -- for example, "where and how are you going to use this camera?" or "how much time are you willing to spend developing your kayaking skills?". And they definitely don't want to hear that there isn't a product that provides the optimal solution to many diverse problems (and at a low price, too -- with free shipping!).
So what are the options when faced with a question like that? You can
1)Ignore it...you'd probably consider that rude.
2)Answer it honestly and completely...you seem to consider that rude, too, since someone who does this isn't providing the answer that the questioner wants.
3)Answer it with something that isn't really a complete answer, and could be very wrong in some situations, but that isn't completely off the beam either ("takes about 7 years"). You don't seem to like that one either.
So -- please, I'm truly curious -- in your opinion, what does
a "good answer" to such a question look like?