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[META] The signal/noise ratio - a plea for a sense of proportion

 
 
Richard Heathfield
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      09-18-2006
Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of topicality but
also of posting style, many of which are shared in common with other
technical groups. These conventions are there for excellent reasons, which
I won't go into here. And indeed it is sometimes necessary to draw people's
attention to those conventions.

Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a little
tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*, of complaints
about posting style.

Yes, the conventions are there for good reasons.

Yes, some people are too clueless - or perhaps too focused on the task they
are trying to achieve with clc's help - to work out the conventions for
themselves.

Yes, it does make sense to draw their attention to those conventions.

In the case of topicality, we're stuck there. Someone has to point it out.
And it is in the nature of Usenet that sometimes an off-topic subject will
be flagged by numerous people. C'est la vie, and we live with it.

But in the case of stuff like top-posting, inadequate or superfluous
quoting, brain-dead attribectomies, c1u31355-speak, and the like, must we
really clog up the newsgroup with articles that are nothing more than a
futile attempt to enforce common sense?

Would it not be brighter of us to *refrain* from making complaints about
formatting and writing style /unless/ we *also* have something to say about
the subject under discussion?

There's a world of difference between saying "please don't top-post" and
saying "please don't top-post. Okay, your problem is that you're not
tickling the pointer in the right way - try doing it like this..."

People will do what they do, I guess, but I hope at least some of you will
stop and think about this. If we have nothing substantive to say in reply
to an article, would it not be better to say nothing, and leave the style
complaints to those who /do/ have a relevant contribution to make to the
discussion?

Yeah, I know - if people aren't told, they won't know. But I'm not
suggesting we let it go by the board. I'm just saying that we could
significantly reduce the noise in here by adopting this guideline.

For my own part, I have tried to follow this rule for some considerable time
now, and I think that on the whole I've succeeded. And no, I'm not offering
flouters a licence to be stupid; I am much less likely to answer a question
if the person asking the question is in the habit of ignoring conventions
that exist for excellent reasons, because I'd rather expend my energy on
those who are bright enough to recognise the value of those conventions,
and who can respond positively to the group dynamic. Isn't that a
reasonable model to work with?

So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
the noise?

Thanks for listening.

</soapbox>

--
Richard Heathfield
"Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
http://www.cpax.org.uk
email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
 
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mensanator@aol.com
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-18-2006

Richard Heathfield wrote:
> Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of topicality but
> also of posting style, many of which are shared in common with other
> technical groups. These conventions are there for excellent reasons, which
> I won't go into here. And indeed it is sometimes necessary to draw people's
> attention to those conventions.
>
> Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a little
> tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*, of complaints
> about posting style.
>
> Yes, the conventions are there for good reasons.
>
> Yes, some people are too clueless - or perhaps too focused on the task they
> are trying to achieve with clc's help - to work out the conventions for
> themselves.
>
> Yes, it does make sense to draw their attention to those conventions.
>
> In the case of topicality, we're stuck there. Someone has to point it out.
> And it is in the nature of Usenet that sometimes an off-topic subject will
> be flagged by numerous people. C'est la vie, and we live with it.
>
> But in the case of stuff like top-posting, inadequate or superfluous
> quoting, brain-dead attribectomies, c1u31355-speak, and the like, must we
> really clog up the newsgroup with articles that are nothing more than a
> futile attempt to enforce common sense?
>
> Would it not be brighter of us to *refrain* from making complaints about
> formatting and writing style /unless/ we *also* have something to say about
> the subject under discussion?
>
> There's a world of difference between saying "please don't top-post" and
> saying "please don't top-post. Okay, your problem is that you're not
> tickling the pointer in the right way - try doing it like this..."
>
> People will do what they do, I guess, but I hope at least some of you will
> stop and think about this. If we have nothing substantive to say in reply
> to an article, would it not be better to say nothing, and leave the style
> complaints to those who /do/ have a relevant contribution to make to the
> discussion?
>
> Yeah, I know - if people aren't told, they won't know. But I'm not
> suggesting we let it go by the board. I'm just saying that we could
> significantly reduce the noise in here by adopting this guideline.
>
> For my own part, I have tried to follow this rule for some considerable time
> now, and I think that on the whole I've succeeded. And no, I'm not offering
> flouters a licence to be stupid; I am much less likely to answer a question
> if the person asking the question is in the habit of ignoring conventions
> that exist for excellent reasons, because I'd rather expend my energy on
> those who are bright enough to recognise the value of those conventions,
> and who can respond positively to the group dynamic. Isn't that a
> reasonable model to work with?
>
> So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
> the noise?
>
> Thanks for listening.
>
> </soapbox>


Where's your opening tag?

>
> --
> Richard Heathfield
> "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
> http://www.cpax.org.uk
> email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)


 
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Default User
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-18-2006
Richard Heathfield wrote:

> Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of
> topicality but also of posting style, many of which are shared in
> common with other technical groups. These conventions are there for
> excellent reasons, which I won't go into here. And indeed it is
> sometimes necessary to draw people's attention to those conventions.
>
> Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a
> little tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*,
> of complaints about posting style.


> So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a
> little on the noise?



Sorry, but no. I've set up my handy-dandy stock paragraph, which I
apply to each instance of top-posting I see that hasn't been addressed
by someone else. That's so that the Googlers (you know it's 99% them)
are clued in as soon as possible AND so nobody else has to do it.

I think your complaint is not well-founded. CLC has one of the best
ratios of "correct" posting style of any group I use, and I think
that's because a few of us go out of our way to not "complain" about
top-posting but to explain what it is, and give valuable links it's not
appropriate.

Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this. Talk about
getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
experience for all concerned. I think you're way off-base.




Brian
 
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Kenny McCormack
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-19-2006
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Default User <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
....
>Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this. Talk about
>getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
>experience for all concerned. I think you're way off-base.


Another chick fight!

 
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Old Wolf
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-19-2006
Default User wrote:
> Richard Heathfield wrote:
> > Would it not be brighter of us to *refrain* from making complaints about
> > formatting and writing style /unless/ we *also* have something to say about
> > the subject under discussion?


Agree completely; I try to follow this guideline already.

> > Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a
> > little tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*,
> > of complaints about posting style.

>
> > So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a
> > little on the noise?

>
> Sorry, but no. I've set up my handy-dandy stock paragraph, which I
> apply to each instance of top-posting I see that hasn't been addressed
> by someone else. That's so that the Googlers (you know it's 99% them)


I find your generalizations to be offensive

> are clued in as soon as possible AND so nobody else has to do it.


Why don't you send private email then? Google requires the use
of a correct email address to post from.

> Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this. Talk about
> getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
> experience for all concerned. I think you're way off-base.


Key word, "trying". Frankly, I don't consider myself to be getting
a better experience when there are short messages day after
day from you all saying the same thing. And figure out how to
change the display name in your newsreader.

 
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Barry Schwarz
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-19-2006
On 18 Sep 2006 16:22:50 -0700, "(E-Mail Removed)"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
>Richard Heathfield wrote:
>> Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of topicality but


snip ~70 lines of quoted text

>> So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
>> the noise?
>>
>> Thanks for listening.
>>
>> </soapbox>

>
>Where's your opening tag?


It's in the thread on excessive quoting



Remove del for email
 
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Jack Klein
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-19-2006
On Mon, 18 Sep 2006 23:03:44 +0000, Richard Heathfield
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in comp.lang.c:

[snip]


> But in the case of stuff like top-posting, inadequate or superfluous
> quoting, brain-dead attribectomies, c1u31355-speak, and the like, must we
> really clog up the newsgroup with articles that are nothing more than a
> futile attempt to enforce common sense?


[snip]

<smiley>

Clog up the newsgroup? Are you back on dial-up?!?

</smiley>

--
Jack Klein
Home: http://JK-Technology.Com
FAQs for
comp.lang.c http://c-faq.com/
comp.lang.c++ http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/
alt.comp.lang.learn.c-c++
http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~a...FAQ-acllc.html
 
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mensanator@aol.com
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      09-19-2006

Barry Schwarz wrote:
> On 18 Sep 2006 16:22:50 -0700, "(E-Mail Removed)"
> <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> >
> >Richard Heathfield wrote:
> >> Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of topicality but

>
> snip ~70 lines of quoted text
>
> >> So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
> >> the noise?
> >>
> >> Thanks for listening.
> >>
> >> </soapbox>

> >
> >Where's your opening tag?

>
> It's in the thread on excessive quoting


It's not excessive. If I had trimmed the quote, I would have been
accused of snipping the very thing I claim is missing.

And isn't leaving the period off the end of your sentences going
a little too far?

>
>
>
> Remove del for email


 
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Richard Heathfield
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-19-2006
Default User said:

<snip>

> I think your complaint is not well-founded.


That is your prerogative...

<snip>

> Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this.


....but I think that's an over-reaction. Disgusted? If a simple plea for an
increase in the S/N ratio disgusts you, then you are easily disgusted.

> Talk about
> getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
> experience for all concerned.


I wasn't doing any kicking. I was merely trying to make the group a better
experience for all concerned.

> I think you're way off-base.


Naturally, I disagree. The problem is one of time. I look forward to reading
your articles (although that may change if you continue to be disgusted at
the drop of a hat), but when they turn out to be Yet Another Content-Free
Article (w.r.t. the C language), I cannot help but feel that a small amount
of my time has been wasted. Yes, just a small amount. But it all adds up.

(And yes, I'm aware that you're not the only person who posts the kind of
article under discussion. Otherwise, I'd either have said nothing or raised
it in email.)

--
Richard Heathfield
"Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
http://www.cpax.org.uk
email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
 
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Richard Heathfield
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-19-2006
Jack Klein said:

> <smiley>
>
> Clog up the newsgroup? Are you back on dial-up?!?


<shudder>

No, thank heaven. It's a question of time and patience, not bandwidth.

--
Richard Heathfield
"Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
http://www.cpax.org.uk
email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
 
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