There are many ways to learn Linux, and I can't think of one as being the 'best'. Of course, something may work for some users while failing miserably for others. There are users who prefer to ask a friend or get their answers fast on a forum, either because they are too lazy or they just don't have enough time to learn something new: they want it to work in their own way. Well, that's not quite an option, since there is no universal program which will fit any user's way of doing things.
I remember that when I started I made some very dumb questions on forums and IRC, but I always liked to read documentation, which is by far the best way of learning Linux in my opinion. There is a saying which goes like 'give a man a fish and he will have food for one day, teach the same man how to fish and he will have food for his entire life.' Well, not exactly like this, but you got the point. I think keeping asking questions rather than reading manuals and tutorials first will get you out of trouble for the moment, but there will always be problems in the future which need to be taken care of.
A thing I recently observed was how most of the IRC channels and forums handle beginners: on IRC there is usually a topic and a helpful bot, and on the forums are the stickies which contain detailed information for newbies. The only problem is that this kind of help reached a level of automation: not once I saw well-intentioned persons on IRC who just give a command and a channel robot will show some help regarding that specific problem. Now, I really don't know how much a newcomer understands from help provided this way, but I can't think of a better way to do it either. Users who are new and ask the same question over and over again are countless: in forums, threads like this are always on the front page, and there is a big percentage of similar threads on the entire forum.
Too few users search, and too few read the helpful stickies. This is a common problem actually: usually (and it's just a natural thing) somebody wants a fast answer to his problem, and prefers to post on a big forum like Gentoo forums or Ubuntu forums to get a fast answer rather than reading ten pages of FAQs and an entire thread specially made for this kind of problems. But what is the gain in this? It's true, a little annoying, but the user gets his answer usually. But is this the right way to learn doing things? If that same user would have read the manual page (painful for a beginner, i know - how many even know how to quit the manual page after reading it?), he would have earned much more than asking in a forum or a mailing list. This process is part of learning how to learn.
Not to mention the satisfaction: at least I know how happy I am when I troubleshoot something on my own, without going to ask more skilled users on how to handle something. And the gain is bigger: a manual read well offers 10 times more general knowledge about a certain issue than an answer to a single, specific question.
If new users understand that it's better for them to first do the reading, then Linux and the Linux community will make one step ahead.
Updated: Jun 22, 2008 (Created: Jun 22, 2008)