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The power to consider a node comes with great responsibility.
-- Friar (and strongly echoed in What is consideration?)

Recently, we've seen a number of new friars (and above) pitching in with the clean-up process. While it's nice to be able to catch the poorly-formatted nodes, the missing <CODE > tags, and the occasional "tpyo," a pattern (or two) appears to be emerging and some of us are becoming concerned.1

Specifically, we're seeing an increase in what may be called "inappropriate" Consideration requests. For example, titles are being changed when they don't need to be, off-topic nodes are being deleted out of hand (with no attempt to gently correct the posting monk's understanding of the site's primary focus), and (most seriously to my mind) the Reaper is being fed things that aren't in his dietary plan (such as "no effort" and "not perl").

Yes, each of these actions is occasionally needed; however, I would argue that some nodes are being Considered when they should simply be voted down.2

Before I explain that in more detail, please allow me to outline a few tenets that I believe the Monastery values most:

  • Honest questions deserve honest answers, for you cannot learn unless you make mistakes.

  • We like Perl. It's the main focus of our site, but sometimes we need to talk about other stuff in order to use Perl well.

  • While we don't want to write your code for you, we will help you get over the potholes in the learning curve. Perl isn't necessarily complex, but learning to use it well can be and we fully appreciate the fact that there's a lot to learn when you're first getting started.

  • We do not like to rewrite our own history, for in showing others our mistakes, we reveal our humanity and illustrate the areas where we've personally run into roadblocks. In turn, this helps others avoid the same pitfalls.

  • Very few of us are comfortable with the idea of censorship.

(I'm sure those can be put more succinctly and elegantly, but I hope you get the idea.)

So, what am I trying to say here?

  • The point is, deleting (or obscuring) a node is Serious BusinessTM. Some of us are feeling that too many nodes are getting reaped before they're given a chance. I personally know of at least one new member that had his first post reaped with no feedback and then chose never to return. We can't prevent that, of course, but in discussing this with him in the ChatterBox at the time, I learned that a) he was 15, b) had little to no experience with online communities, and c) didn't really understand how to obtain technical support (or how to research technical answers with the tools available).3

  • Along the same lines, it's possible that people are confusing Nodes to Consider with moderation. As a monk in good standing, your primary feedback devices are your votes, your replies, and /msg. If you feel someone continues to post flagrantly off-topic nodes, then vote them down and then tell the monk why you did so. Better yet, offer a link to a better source for that information.

  • Similarly, if you post a reply that essentially duplicates another monk's earlier reponse, don't rewrite history by considering your node. First off, it confirms the earlier monk's advice and second, you may have said things in a slightly different fashion, one that helps the idea click in the original poster's mind. (It's also a nice validation of your idea, if you think about it.)

  • Finally, it's a simple fact that people new to the Monastery and to Perl will ask questions that've been asked before.4 Don't delete their nodes simply because the question is unoriginal. Vote it down if you must, but at least /tell the monk where to find the previous answers. Better yet, reply publically so the next initiate who comes along with the same question has a chance at finding the answer before posting.

  • Parenthetically, I would like to point out why "no effort" and "not perl" are not valid reasons to delete nodes via Consideration.

    There are any number of reasons why a monk (or visitor) may post nodes that are not as well crafted as ones posted by more experienced ones: the poster may be new to Perl, they may not know our traditions, they may not be that familiar with the machine they're running Perl on, they may not be as experienced as you, they may not be posting in their primary language, they may be simply looking for pointers to information sources, and many others. In addition, you may not understand how it really does apply to Perl.

    In the past, the membership has responded to incomplete or poorly formatted nodes by providing links to the archives, the Friendly manual, and so forth. I think I'm pretty safe in saying that nearly all the members of various teams do not want to see that ethic change.

Yes, we have deleted and edited nodes in the past. We've also had misgivings about those actions, some expressed privately. The point is, we have these tools because we do need them from time to time. However, let's not use them instead of the ones we're supposed to be using. If you don't like a node, vote it down and then tell the monk why you did so.

Please only offer a node for the Reaper when it:

  • Is unarguably and undeniably trollish.
  • It is a true duplicate (e.g. the poster accidentally hit the Submit button twice).
  • Contains code that is patently illegal or potentially risky to the Monastery. (Even then, we will probably obscure it until a consensus is reached.)
  • Does not contain replies trying to provide (or at least point to) a technical answer.5
  • Is *clearly* spam (e.g. product or service) advertising with no Perl-related educational content.
  • Is *clearly* inflammatory, abusive, and otherwise over the edge of professional disagreement.
  • Advertises (or links to) stuff we don't care about (e.g. warez, pr0n, and other non-professional material).
  • Is so off-topic that there's no way in the world that anyone could be using a Perl script/program to implement it. (But ask before you Consider...just in case.)

Please do *not* offer nodes to the Reaper if it's:

  • Not a true duplicate (e.g. it was just asked by someone else a couple of days ago.)
  • Been asked before.
  • Potentially not be as rude as you think.6
  • Simply a so-called "useless thank-you" or "non-contributing" node.
  • "not perl", shows a "lack of effort", or could be answered with a simple google search.
  • Provides the same answer as a different monk in the thread.
  • A technical, off-topic question that a) has replies and b) acknowledges the inappropriateness in some way, e.g. "Look, folks, I'm sorry, but I'm stuck on this. I don't know where else to turn.7"
  • Attempting to rewrite history, e.g. the author requests the delete because it was a mistake *or* deliberately obscures/removes the original content.

Remember: these are only guidelines. If you're not sure if a node should be Considered, then please follow the directions in the FAQ and ask a more experienced monk before considering it.

Update: Also, please keep the same guidelines in mind when reviewing nodes under consideration. Don't trust the reason submitted by the considering monk. Review the situation carefully and make an informed choice. (If you don't have time, then please don't review the nodes.)

And if you feel a node should not be under consideration or are not sure, then vote Keep--especially if a Delete vote has been requested. Also, try to check the Reputation of the node before voting Delete. If it's not on worst nodes *OR* has replies, it will not be reaped.

Please do not request that the replies be re-parented just so a bad node can be reaped. That changes history....we don't like that (see above).8 </update>

If you would like to read more about the true purposes of the Consideration process, why it exists, and previous discussions about how it should be used, please review the following nodes:

As our fearless leader stated recently, we'd prefer the Monastery remain a place without a lot of hard and fast rules. We'd rather the Community policed itself, by exercising restraint and taking personal responsibility for personal actions. We'd rather not have to change the experience of the Many to account for the personal irresponsibility of a Few. However, we will do what's necessary to help everyone continue to enjoy the Monastery and learn from the wisdom of its members. If we can do this without code changes, all the better. If we can't, well...

On behalf of at least a few of the cleaning crew, thanks in advance...9

--f

Footnotes:


  1. How concerned? Enough to threaten a variety of rants and/or seriously consider changes to the current system.
     
  2. And, yes, I've been guilty of contributing to that as well. (Thanks for catching that, tye.) That's what led me to start thinking on this in the first place.
     
  3. I guess I felt disappointed with the way that turned out because I thought it was a perfect opportunity to help someone grow a little and I always felt that we failed to fully take advantage of that opportunity.
     
  4. This is one reason why I added a Welcome to the Monastery section to Tutorials. It was a small attempt to document the basic ideas in another commonly visited location.
     
  5. This requirement may change when nodes can be more easily moved between various sections and replies are easier to reparent. For the moment, however, please consider the work of those that've already replied. They should have a chance at being heard, too.
     
  6. Please see On Online Communication for some of my thoughts on this subject.
     
  7. Um, before posting one of these nodes, please try using a decent search engine or asking for a good place to look in the ChatterBox.
     
  8. And, yes, I've been guilty of this in the past as well. No longer...unless I truly feel it's necessary, such reparenting orphaned nodes.
     
  9. And thanks in the present to tye, chromatic, and the others who previewed this node and offered their input (which is definitely incorporated). Thanks also to zaxo who's reply prompted the update and reminded me of another point I'd originally wanted to make.
     

In reply to On Responsible Considerations by footpad

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