[svlug] Rules -> was postfix

Mark C. Langston mark at bitshift.org
Fri Jan 17 10:53:14 PST 2003

On Fri, Jan 17, 2003 at 10:22:13AM -0800, James Leone wrote:
> Wayne Earl wrote:
> >You're kidding, right?
> >
> >
> >  
> >
> Yes, how did you guess? :-D
> This is the way I see things:
> There should only be one rule, common sense.

Only a few problems with that:  Common sense isn't.  Frex:  I replied
to this post in the same manner you've been replying:  By simply
replying-to-all, which means the original poster gets a copy, and it's
Cc'd to the list.  I normally avoid the habit, because it's wasteful
and irritating -- if you're replying to someone on the list, they'll
see the response to the list; they don't need another copy.

I did it this time to make a point:  What many consider common
courtesy, you apparently don't.  Thus, your rule of "common sense"
fails on the grounds that its definition is fluid both within and
between individuals and groups.

> If the headers are off, or the use of English sucks, it doesn't matter 
> to me, especially if what is said is reasonably understandable.

"Reasonably understandable" to whom?  I've seen some truly abysmal
writing in the past. It was obviously intelligible to the author,
or they would not have written it.  However, it was gobbledygook
to most other readers.  "Reasonably understandable" is a relative term,
and the only way in which that metric can be applied successfully is
if the perspective used to determine "reasonably understandable" is
that of the audience.

When your audience tells you you're presenting information in a
manner they do not wish it to be presented, you're not being understood,
reasonably or otherwise.  In some cases, it may be due to an inability
to comprehend the information as you present it.  In others, it
may well be because the audience is willfully refusing to comprehend
it in the manner presented.  Either way, your information is not
understandable by your audience.

If you doubt me, feel free to make a presentation at SVLUG using
Powerpoint with lots of cutesy animations, sounds, and unnecessary
graphics.  It may well be comprehensible, but your audience is going
to ignore you (those that don't actively chase you out of the room).
Did you succeed in being "reasonably understandable"?  No, because
you ignored the boundaries within which your audience is both able
and--just as importantly--willing to receive your information.

> One of the rules say:
> "Read both mailing lists and newsgroups for one two two months before 
> you post anything."
> That isn't very practical in my eyes.

Then you fail to understand the purpose of the rule, which is:

Observe and understand the standards and expectations of a group before 
insinuating oneself into said group and making an ass of oneself out
of ignorance or hubris.

Indeed, you've just demonstrated a classic violation of this purpose,
by telling a group, "I choose to ignore your conventions, and I
bristle when I'm asked to hew to them."

> On the Request for Comment, I will oblige:
> Email is an efficient way to communicate, however these rules hamper 
> efficiency, while trying to fix little annoyances.

Email is not an efficient way to communicate.  Perhaps you misunderstand
what the word "efficient" means?  It is neither fast, nor reliable,
nor unambiguous, and there is only a single channel for communication.
  In fact, it's a terribly inefficient channel of
communication, because it requires additional textual cues to convey
subtleties that are otherwise lost on the reader.

Face-to-face dyads are efficient communication, particularly in 
the non-verbal channels.

The "little annoyances" are being corrected because they make
an inefficient medium moreso.  RFC1855 is an attempt to improve
the efficiency of impromptu textual electronic discourse.
> Its kind of like trying to reduce traffic by blocking off all of the 
> side streets and putting center dividers everywhere.
> All the cars are on the same street and it amounts to a lot of traffic.

I could refer you to a number of traffic engineers who'd love to 
argue that point with you, but perhaps you should stick to railing
ignorantly against the conventions and practices of a single field 
at a time.

> James Leone
> P.S. If an issue comes up MANY times, then maybe MANY people think that 
> there a change should be made.

Children the world over insist on sticking their hands into flames and
electrical outlets, heedless of their guardians' warnings.  Shall we
endeavour to make fire room-temperature and amperage near-zero to
accomodate these billions, who obviously know better?

Or perhaps we should close all four-star restaraunts, since billions
of people insist on eating at McDonalds?

Repetition does not indicate correctness, nor does it indicate the
will of the majority within a social group.

Mark C. Langston                                    Sr. Unix SysAdmin
mark at bitshift.org                                       mark at seti.org
Systems & Network Admin                                SETI Institute
http://bitshift.org                               http://www.seti.org

More information about the svlug mailing list