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An OT section (again).

by BrowserUk (Pope)
on Aug 01, 2007 at 06:28 UTC ( #629973=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

It has been suggested to me that the random thoughts I expressed in Re^3: [OT over OT] Re: [OT] What is "the German Institute for Security in Information Technology"? might merit further consideration here. So, with no expectations, I reproduce it here for that further consideration.

It never ceases to amaze me the levels and diversity of expertise of the people that frequent this place.

Interactions like this just make me wish all over again that this place had an "off-topic" section--despite that I know that it has been discussed and dismissed many times in the past. I can't think of anywhere else I could have gone and got such a quick answer on this subject. The CB just isn't a substitute because its short lifespan means that only a few ever see a question and that excludes most of the monks, most of the time.

Maybe if posts to the section were discarded after some short period of time--say 1 month?

And maybe instead of the posts acquiring XP in the usual sense, voting could be translated into 'keep' votes that after some preset level deemed the post/thread worthy of retaining its disk space.

Ah well. Just another random thought for the bit-bucket.


Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
"Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

Comment on An OT section (again).
Re: An OT section (again).
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 01, 2007 at 07:20 UTC
    "Just another random thought for the bit-bucket."
    Yup.
Re: An OT section (again).
by grinder (Bishop) on Aug 01, 2007 at 07:31 UTC

    I read that thread between you and Flavio, and while it was wildly off-topic, I thoroughly enjoyed it. ++ to you both.

    Maybe if posts to the section were discarded after some short period of time--say 1 month?

    Seems to me, that's what exactly will happen with that very thread, right where it is now. No need for it to be in another section. Veering off on a tangent in the middle of a thread is perfectly ok in my books. I doubt anyone's going to go to the trouble of putting it up for reaping consideration. Either that, or they have way too much time on their hands, moreso that the people who are off-topic.

    Having an OT section would just introduce certain rigidities. I do not think the situation is broken as it stands.

    On a side note, I've always received good advice and insight from wildly off-topic posts made to my use.perl journal.

    • another intruder with the mooring in the heart of the Perl

      I need a place to discuss my lovelife dammit!

        I would suggest either the men's room or the bedroom

        I, for one, definitely don't want to see it here!

Re: An OT section (again).
by Gavin (Canon) on Aug 01, 2007 at 11:37 UTC
    I too have felt this for some time PerlMonks is big enough to accommodate a section where other languages or technical issues could be discussed.

    To my mind the resources available here namely the wealth of knowledge gained through years of experience (apparent from the CB) in all areas of IT that are within the Monastery walls are being under utilised. I for one would welcome the opportunity to be able to repay the help that I have been given here in areas that I am more competent in.
Re: An OT section (again).
by derby (Abbot) on Aug 01, 2007 at 12:40 UTC

    I'd be against an OT section. Although I don't mind the occasional OT thread (or replies), I think having an easily (ab)used OT section would seriously dilute perlmonks -- especially once the *how do I do this perly thing in japyphuby* (I may need to trademark that) start flowing in.

    I think what you did is the way to go ... mark it OT in the title and let the voting/consider system work it's magic.

    -derby
      What if someone supplied a general topics board separately, which did not allow Perl discussions except tangentially, that was somehow open specifically to the members of Perlmonks (and perhaps their non-PM friends by invitation)?

      I'm picturing another web site, running perhaps Everything or something similar. Anything strictly Perl related could be referred back over to PM. It wouldn't have to be strictly Perlmonks affiliated, and would be operated by another group of monks.

      I'm in a position to host the site at nominal expense so long as the traffic doesn't get too high. Since we're talking about most nodes going away, the storage wouldn't be much of an issue, either.

      My concern about such a site is that it takes eyeballs away from Perlmonks, but so far perlmonk.org and such haven't done any harm of which I'm aware. Of course, with comp.lang.perl.m* newsgroups, use.perl.org, and Perlmonks, some would say we're already spread too thin. It'd help keep the SNR ratio and on-topic/off-topic ratio here low, but it could possibly drain away things close enough to on-topic here that PM would be the poorer for not having those nodes.

      I came to Perlmonks because someone (japhy?) on comp.lang.perl.misc mentioned how helpful and community-oriented the site was. I stayed because the voting system took killfile management out of the hands of myself and my news reader, because PM is more reliable for storing nodes than most NNTP servers, because getting many ISPs to understand NNTP is better than Google Groups is more difficult by the year, and because my last read nodes info is stored at PM instead of in a local reader on one of my machines.

      With so many strengths of Perlmonks and such a great group of people as users, I'd be happy to see a bulletin-board style adjunct to it that shares a userbase if it doesn't dilute the nodes here.
      I'm still laughing for the japyphuby thing, you should really trademark it!

      Flavio
      perl -ple'$_=reverse' <<<ti.xittelop@oivalf

      Don't fool yourself.
      I used to find every OT thread extremely irritating, and used to down vote each and every single one. If there was an OT section, I wouldn't have wasted my votes like that.
Re: An OT section (again).
by jdporter (Canon) on Aug 01, 2007 at 14:52 UTC

    Here's a link to PerlMonks' OT section.

    But seriously, please read the relevant FAQlet again, particularly this part:

    Posts are assigned to sections based not on their subject matter but on their type of discourse.
    "Off topic" is not a type of discourse.

    A word spoken in Mind will reach its own level, in the objective world, by its own weight

      What a crock!

      What makes a question asked in 'PerlMonks Discussion' a different "type of discourse" from a question asked in 'Seekers of Perl Wisdom'?

      Or code posted to 'Snippets', a different "type of discourse" from code posted in 'Code', or code posted to 'Cool uses for Perl'?

      I suspect that the real problem with adding new sections, lies in the difficulty in modifying the existing codebase and database to accomodate them--and that's a pretty darn good reason--but type of discourse? Phooee!

      For the purpose I described above, a single, wiki-style node (as used internally for pmdevil discussions amongst others) would more than suffice. And adding new nodes is not impossible as evidence by the relatively recent addition of 'Recent Threads'. Having wiki topics fall off the database after some short period of time would mitigate ongoing impact to the DB, and just doing away with voting completely would remove that concern from the table.

      But type of discourse is a crock.


      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
        type of discourse is a crock.

        PMD is an exception, obviously. And for the code sections, "discourse" could be size, style, format instead, but they're still not differentiated by topic. Indeed, one may find snippets, cool uses, catacombs, obfus, and poems dealing with (say) removing duplicates from an array while saving a CGI session to a database.

        For the purpose I described above, a single, wiki-style node ... would more than suffice.

        Having wiki topics fall off the database after some short period of time would mitigate ongoing impact to the DB, and just doing away with voting completely would remove that concern from the table.

        Are you proposing a single wiki node for all OT discussions? If so, then that's clearly easy to do, and in fact one of the existing "fun" wikis could be repurposed for this. But I don't think that's such a great idea; a single wiki would be strained to breaking in pretty short order, I think.

        How about if we could make scratchpad-like wikis, or rather, wiki-like scratchpads: owned by a specific user (each user would get at most one such thing) but open for writing by others. Perhaps the user could even control who can and can't write on the wiki. The thing I like about this approach is that it naturally lets the wiki fall under the "I can do whatever I want with my homenode and scratchpad" rule, which means there's no such thing as off topic.

        A word spoken in Mind will reach its own level, in the objective world, by its own weight

      "Off Topic" is anything that doesn't fit into PM's current boxes. BrowserUk's proposal of a box for short lived off topic threads seems sound for a number of reasons:

      • it provides a place for OT threads (which occur currently in any case)
      • it limits the impact of OT threads on PM's 'core business' by removing OT threads from the main sections
      • it allows convenient CB style conversations containing useful chunks of code or other material without need to resort to using scratch pads

      My take on BrowserUk's proposal is on the lines of an uber CB which uses PM's node technology to provide a forum for extended discussion of anything relevant to Perl monks. Not a replacement for the "flow of consciousness" mode of discussion that the CB currently provides (and would continue to provide), but a side room with big white boards for dealing with bigger discussions than the CB accommodates easily.


      DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel
        it limits the impact of OT threads on PM's 'core business' by removing OT threads from the main sections

        But it doesn't.

        Another ramification of the given proposal (which, if I'm not mistaken, involves setting up a whole new form of interaction on PerlMonks, which I'm styling "light-weight threads") is that, first, we'd have OT cruft in two places: in the place we've set up for it, and continuing in the places it's always been; and then, why should the new "section" be the exclusive domain of OT discussions? It wouldn't be for long.

        So, whether we create a new form of interaction for OT stuff or simply make an OT section which works like the existing sections, we'd still end up with discussions — in their usual mish-mash of on- and off-topic content — happening in two different places. Unless the proposal includes a solid idea on how to guarantee that on-topic and off-topic posts are confined to their allowed spaces, it's a non-starter.

        And this is the heart of the reason why it doesn't make sense to try to segregate threads by topic. Some other criterion which remains essentially invariant throughout the thread (for example, style of discourse) is a better basis for segregation.

        A word spoken in Mind will reach its own level, in the objective world, by its own weight
Re: An OT section (again).
by Argel (Prior) on Aug 01, 2007 at 22:54 UTC
    I am amazed at the role that semantics are playing in this discussion. What if BrowserUK had used the phrase “General Discussion” instead? And I had no idea how insecure some of us are. Would creating a general discussion section really turn us into Slashdot? Do we really expect Ruby and Python questions to usurp the Monastery?

    If it does not take too much work to create a new section perhaps we should just give it a try and see what actually happens? Maybe I am wrong but I think that our sense of community is strong enough that the benefits would outweigh the negatives. Down voting seemed to work when plagiarism reared its ugly head so why couldn’t it work here to keep things in check? And think about all those "mark off-topic" considerations that could become "move to" considerations instead! Heck, it might actually help discourage off-topic questions!

    In keeping with interesting names I would like to suggest we call it “Life, the Universe, and Everything”. It should not be possible to frontpage nodes in this section and by default nodes should not be included in searches and super searches. I would also suggest we give things a try before we decide whether aging out older nodes is appropriate or not.

      I couldn't agree more ++ Give it a try if it doesn't work out it could be easily removed.
Re: An OT section (again).
by citromatik (Curate) on Aug 02, 2007 at 11:51 UTC

    I'm curious to know if you would have an answear to your question having you asked it in an OT section.

    My feeling is that people would pay less attention to such a section (I barely have enough time to check the current Perl stuff in the Monastery, so checking dairy a cul-de-sac section would be too much for me) than to SoPW or Meditations. Maybe you are amazed by the rapid and accurate response you got because your question was posted in SoPW

    citromatik

      You made perfect sense. You are saying it would end up like Perl News, the three code sections, etc. Maybe nodes in a general discussion section should be frontpageable but put near the bottom. It does seem like there are topics like HTML, System Administration, cryptography, C, Haskell, etc. that have loose ties (given the right context) to Perl. We could always say the new section is not meant for questions for competing languages such as Java, Python, Ruby, and PHP. Or just let downvoting send that message. I still do not think it hurts to give a new section a try (assuming it is not too much trouble). We could tweak it or delete as necessary and/or desired.
Re: An OT section (again).
by phydeauxarff (Priest) on Aug 02, 2007 at 17:46 UTC
    I have setup a pseudo-clone of perlmonks at work for work related issues and discussions for our company and we were running into a similar quandary over the issue of non-work-related or OT discussions in the sections

    After much deliberation, we finally came to the conclusion that since we were trying to build a virtual community for our folks to share ideas, those people needed a virtual 'watercooler section' to discuss the off topic stuff just as they would in the real world breakrooms

    Since implementing this we have actually lowered the number of "don't post that OT 'stuff'" complaint posts as there is now a good place for them to post such and those that wish to ignore the same can do so easily by ignoring that section.

    I am not suggesting we achieved world peace, but the users seem satisfied on both sides of the OT isle.

Re: An OT section (again).
by husker (Chaplain) on Aug 07, 2007 at 20:44 UTC
    For everything not Perl, I just go to ArsTechnica. (I also try to direct anyone seeking Perl Wisdom on Ars over to here!)

      Let's see. Amiga...gaming box...tivo...undeleteing 9 month old emails...Schwarzenegger's video game law repealed....

      Um...no, I don't think so. In fact, given the following "Editor's choices"; No ....... way!

      Copyright coalition: Piracy more serious than burglary, fraud, bank robbery

      AT&T willing to spy for NSA, MPAA, and RIAA

      MPAA: We are committed to fair use, interoperability, and DRM

      Do yer think the Editor might know where his advertising bread is buttered?


      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
        From that I can tell you looked at the Front Page, but can't tell if you visited the forums.

        And yes, the front-page and News sections of Ars do a lot of coverage of "technology issues" like DRM, government, lawsuits, AMD vs Intel, etc. It's all good, and the discussion on the forums is many many levels above that found on something like Slashdot.

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