[svlug] Boring conversations about the mailing list (Was: "[Job Posting] There Needs Hackers Like You!")
Karsten M. Self
kmself at ix.netcom.com
Mon Apr 21 00:07:20 PDT 2003
on Fri, Apr 18, 2003 at 12:17:47PM -0700, Daniel Howard (dan_howard at yahoo.com) wrote:
> Joel Spolsky, a pretty bright guy despite being a Windows programmer,
> says something about the forum on his own website which seems to relate
> to this horrible "[Job Posting] There Needs Hackers Like You!" thread.
> He says:
> "My policy in the past has been that "off topic" includes any discussion
> of the forum itself, its design or usability.
Note that I'm not discussing the SVLUG list, but the meta-issue of
discussions about forums.
I disagree, pretty much violently, with what Joel suggests. I'm aware
that his is a fairly common viewpoint. And I can sympathize with his
reasoning. I think it's fundamentally the wrong decision though.
Why it is has to do with transparency, reflexivity, and self evaluation.
While you can go overboard with this stuff, denying it completely leads
to frightening results. Look no further than current economic,
financial, political, and epidemiologic scandals.
Case in point, if you'd care for an example, is Slashdot. Largely
echoing Spolsky's comments, Rob Malda won't post items on Slashdot
itself, or on the Slash code (with possibly very few exceptions, however
he's repeatedly stated his objection to such items). This despite some
pretty clear and glaring problems with the site (comment signal/noise
still sucks, and moderation helps only marginally).
A site inspired in many ways by these limitations of Slashdot is
Kuro5hin. I provided the basis for the moderation system, again
speaking to my frustrations with Slashdot. And K5 features a specific
discussion topic aimed at site feedback.
> There's a slightly different reason for this, almost another axiom.
> Every forum, mailing list, discussion group, and BBS will, all else
> being equal, lapse into conversations about the forum itself every
> week or two. Literally once a week somebody strolls in and announces
> his list of improvements to the forum software which he demands be
> made right away.
You've clearly not spent much time on Debian's mailing lists. Happens
all the time. There's these neat little things, they're called _FAQs_,
which people write, and refer others to when they're posting a
frequently iterated question. In my case, I've gone one step further
and bundled the whole thing into a shell script front-end. Gives me
access to one of a number of rants^WFAQs just by typing a couple of
words. Way handy.
> And then somebody says, "look buddy you're not paying for it Joel's
> doing us a favor get lost." And somebody else says "Joel's not doing
> this out of the goodness of his heart it's marketing for Fog Creek."
> And it's just SOOOO BORING because it happens EVERY WEEK.
Education's like that -- the universe seems to have an infinite supply
of the ignorant. Consider it an opportunity. OTOH, if it's repeat
idiots being idiots, you reprimand one or the other or both, and
personally blacklist 'em if they keep it up.
Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com> http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
"Yes," said Marvin. "Why stop now just when I'm hating it?"
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