Power Trips

Jacob Fugal lukfugl at gmail.com
Thu Sep 1 17:18:42 MDT 2005


On 9/1/05, Brad Dorner <bdorner at novell.com> wrote:
> On Thu, 2005-09-01 at 16:04 -0600, Andrew McNabb wrote:
> > You can also filter.  Procmail and Thunderbird work really well.  You
> > can also use them to filter out "OT" messages.  I really can't recommend
> > filtering strongly enough.
> 
> The problem with OT topics is that not all of them have the same unique
> pattern to filter on. I am in the process of filtering out what my
> filters didn't catch. I'm not finding a lot of Linux related topics here
> and a lot of them are primarily flame responses.
> 
> Having multiple lists is not a bad idea. A person can then subscribe to
> what they want to hear about. Just linux? no problem. If you want to
> talk with people who have similar interests, ie linux. no problem
> subscribe to the plug ot list.

I'm sorry, I just don't understand that reasoning. Let's setup a mock scenario.

Zeke Geek wants to share some insights (or flames, or whatnot) with
his fellow geeks on PLUG. Adam Geek (no relation) reads PLUG emails
for purely technical discussion.

Situation 1: A PLUG-OT list does not exist. Adam filters [OT] posts to
/dev/null.

   Sub-Situation 1: Zeke doesn't recognize that his message is
   (or should be considered) off-topic, or Zeke doesn't know that
   off-topic posts are discouraged. Bad Zeke posts to PLUG without
   labeling his post. Adam has to process Zeke's post.

      Result: Bad Zeke, Angry Adam

   Sub-Situation 2: Zeke knows his message is off-topic, but
   doesn't know of the [OT] convention. Bad Zeke posts to PLUG
   instead of PLUG-OT. Adam has to process Zeke's post.

      Result: Ignorant Zeke, Angry Adam

   Sub-Situation 3: Zeke realizes his post is off-topic. Good Zeke
   labels his post with [OT] and posts to PLUG. Adam's filter sends
   the post to /dev/null.

      Result: Good Zeke, Happy Adam

Situation 2: A PLUG-OT list does exist. Adam subscribes only to PLUG.

   Sub-Situation 1: Zeke doesn't recognize that his message is
   (or should be considered) off-topic, or Zeke doesn't know that
   off-topic posts are discouraged. Bad Zeke posts to PLUG instead
   of PLUG-OT. Adam has to process Zeke's post.

      Result: Bad Zeke, Angry Adam

   Sub-Situation 2: Zeke realizes his post is off-topic but doesn't
   know about PLUG-OT. Ignorant Zeke posts to PLUG instead of
   PLUG-OT. Adam has to process Zeke's post.

      Result: Ignorant Zeke, Angry Adam

   Sub-Situation 3: Zeke realizes his post is off-topic and knows
   about PLUG-OT. Good Zeke posts to PLUG-OT. Adam never
   receives Zeke's post.

      Result: Good Zeke, Happy Adam

So what have we gained by adding PLUG-OT? Nothing. Bad Zeke still
angers Adam, Ignorant Zeke still angers Adam. All we've done is
changed the vehicle of Zeke's ignorance.

What have we lost? People interested in both topics now have to sign
up for two lists. Admins have to take care of two lists. Sure, these
aren't huge losses, but even if there is no loss, why change the
existing setup for no possible gain?

> Filters don't solve your problems if there is no pattern to filter on.
> OT is not unique enough or a pattern to guarentee that you are not
> filtering out something that you want.

No pattern? For whom? If you're talking multiple regexes to match,
that's a matter of education. We need to get everyone to use the One
True Label of [OT]. Then your filter will be sufficient. If we switch
to two lists, we'll still have to educate people, just about something
different (ie. posting to the appropriate list).

If you mean that there are some [OT] posts you want to read and others
you don't, well how's a second list going to help. Either you won't
sign up for the second list (same result as strict filtering on [OT])
or you will (same as no filtering at all). I don't see how that helps.

There's really no reason for a PLUG-OT list. It's an OK idea, if the
list were setup that way to begin with, we could leave it. But there's
no advantage it brings over simple [OT] labeling and filtering.

Jacob Fugal



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