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Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?

by tye (Sage)
on Apr 29, 2003 at 21:45 UTC ( [id://254116]=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I noticed over the last week that many of the nodes posted to Perl Monks Discussions got considered for "move to Meditations". The resulting votes were rather evenly split. Some nodes may have gotten moved w/o consideration.

Many times I've objected to nodes discussing the web site being moved to Meditations and the usual motivation I hear for this is that many consider PMD to be only used for feature requests or discussions of features or the technical working of PM.

I'm well convinced that this should not be the case but also realize that quite a few don't agree with me. So I've put forth my position and listened to responses and noted how moderation has happened around this issue.

I've spent enough time watching and considering and I now think it is time to address the issue more directly and visibly.

I think it is a mistake to try to distinguish discussions of the technical functioning of the site from discussions of the social functioning of the site. I find this distinction to be less clear than my preferred line for PMD, "Is it (primarilly) about the site or not?".

The technical and the social aspects of the site are closely related and should be discussed together. The technical issues are often driven or should be driven by social issues and the social issues are often driven by technical issues. Certainly, any discussion of either one should take into consideration the other.

Also, the social aspects of the site fit more closely with the definition of PMD than the more catch-all Meditations.

How I sort nodes into sections is:

  1. Is it (primarilly) about the site? If so, it goes in PMD.
  2. Is it (mostly) asking a question? If so, it goes in SoPW (especially if it is a Perl question).
  3. Is it (mostly) an announcement or sharing an external link? If so, it goes in Perl News.
  4. Is it (mostly) sharing insights? If so, it goes in Meditations.
  5. Is it (mostly) sharing code? If so, it goes in one of the too-many code-sharing sections which don't include Craft which just doesn't work very well.
where that order is important because a "Perl question" about the site goes in PMD not SoPW.

To be explicit, let's look at recent postings in the two sections (Meditiations and PMD) and I'll point out the border cases.

First, there is this node which I think is a perfect example of how fuzzy the distinction I don't like can be. Am I talking about technical features of the site (the moderation system) or am I talking about social aspects of the site? I think I'm talking mostly about social aspects (how do people feel, what actions do people take), but I think few would think I'm posting this to the wrong section.

Next is Religion in the Monastery. which got moved to Meditations and helped to prompt this node. If you think only technical stuff belongs in PMD, then this one doesn't. I wanted it in PMD in no small part because it mentions "Monastery" in the title and discusses aspects of the site and I think it fits well there. Considering further, I could see it being in Meditations since it can be seen as being more about the larger Perl community and individual thoughts on the relation between coding and religion. But I find the first decision much simpler and so prefer to go for the starker division of "to a large extent, is about the Monastery" even though the more vague "feeling" of the node might better fit Meditations. But I no longer have a strong preference between the two.

Next I see Python Monks?. I'd put that in SoPW. It does mention the site (which most root nodes actually don't do), so I don't mind too much it being in PMD, which is perhaps why it didn't get moved from where I think it was originally posted.

[OT] Anyone Heard from Tilly next. I find it only somewhat related to the site. It is mostly asking a question but it certainly isn't a Perl question. It isn't really sharing an insight. So it doesn't fit perfectly in any section. So in the end I think it is asking (to a large extent) about the relationship between tilly and the site. Also, tilly (and now his absense) has nearly become a feature of the site anyway. ;) So I think PMD is a good place for it.

What technique does perlmonsk use to prevent double voting? is asking a Perl question but is about the site. So, if you think BUU was primarilly wanting to know about how to accomplish that task, then you'd probably want to see it in SoPW. If you think BUU was more interested in specifically how PM does it, then PMD would probably seem appropriate. I choose to solve this dilemma by not trying to guess BUU's intent (which can be very difficult) and use the general rule of "about the site" comes before "Perl question" when making these decisions. I do this because I think vague lines cause problems (so I have to make the choice one way or the other, not on a case-by-case basis) and because there are very few "Perl questions about the site" posted and so I'd rather not have site questions lost in SoPW.

Laziness, Lizards and Monks is about more than just PM. It is mostly sharing code. But it isn't Perl code, so I could see people not going to one of the code sharing sections in order to find it. I think the latter disqualification is more severe than the former so PMD makes sense to me.

Looking in Meditations, the first I see is On JAPHs Redux. It is a call for a new section of the site! I think that falls into PMD even if you think only discussions of technical features should be there. I noted it was considered and, when I checked, the voting was evenly split. I didn't get to see how the voting progressed after that. If that is a Meditation, then why have a PMD section at all? Is it a meditation because the discussion of whether or not to have a new section covered some "meditative" subjects? It somehow "feels" more "meditative" than "discussion-like"? (I'm just guessing, of course.) Such fuzzy, vague reasons just make deciding which section to put something into way too hard to agree upon. I rather this be moved back to PMD.

I'd also like to note that the important part of the title "Perl Monks Discussions" is "Perl Monks" (or "PerlMonks", to make it clear that it is meant to indicate the site) not "discussions". The section titles are a compromise between accuracy and asthetics.

To me, Monks attending YAPC::EU 2003 is more about several members than about the site. So Meditations seems fine (it being rather a catch-all section), and it is primarilly sharing non-code. (:

How do you conserve votes? is completely about the site and I think it belongs in PMD (and should be moved back). It also isn't sharing insights. It is asking a question but not about Perl. I think it is a great example of why such things should be in PMD.

And Perl Monks += TMTOWTDI is a perfect exception. It is a perfect example of a Meditation (sharing insights). Yet it is, to a large part, about the site. Besides the former match being so perfect, I find that the final 3 questions make it less about PM, so I think Meditations is best.

So, after all of that, I'd like to propose that whether or not PMD should include social or other non-technical site-related discussions be made clear.

I'd like to update

the paragraph at Perl Monks Discussion to say something like "This area is for discussions relating to this web site, including site features, operations, and social dynamics. [...]".

I'd like to update Where should I post X? to list the sections I've listed above first and in the order I listed them. I'd like to add "including social aspects of the site" to the PMD hints. I'd like to add to Perl News hints "Links to external announcements/articles that you find especially interesting/relevant (please use Super Search to avoid duplicate announcements)".

                - tye
  • Comment on Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?

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Re: Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?
by ybiC (Prior) on Apr 30, 2003 at 03:14 UTC

    As one of the principals in a CB discusion that erupted over "Religion in the Monastery." being moved, I feel compelled to post a reply...   ahem...   Well said, tye.

    I had developed the opinion that Perl Monks Discussion was for discussing framework facets of PM as a site (voting, experience, markup, etc.).   Barring any supporting posts in this thread that are as sensible, well-researched, and eloquent as "Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?", my thinking will doubtless be swayed to agreement with brer tye.

    As for updating "Where should I post X?", that sounds like a swell idea - go for it!

      striving toward Perl Adept
      (it's pronounced "why-bick")

    Update/Clarification: my original thinking was the opposite of what tye says above.   In light of his compelling and clear arguments, I now agree with him that posts primarily about social aspects of the Monastery would generally be best posted to Perl Monks Discussion, along with posts on mechanical facets of this site.

    Two benefits come to mind for as-consistant-as-is-reasonably-practical placement of nodes within sections:
      A - facilitates more effective topical searches in the future
      II - provides a more consistant and grok-able user interface for monks both new and old.
    Clear & public recommendations/guidelines for best-practice node placement would seem to be a big part of this.

Re: Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?
by crenz (Priest) on Apr 29, 2003 at 22:50 UTC

    I agree that anything related to PerlMonks itself or to the monks probably should be placed inside Perl Monks Discussion. However, I wouldn't want that section to degenerate into a chatterbox :). I think the social dynamics content we had over the past few weeks was appropriate and nice, but it shouldn't be more (doesn't have to be less either). So the update you propose is good, but I wouldn't do any further steps to encourage discussion about social dynamics.

Re: Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?
by benn (Vicar) on Apr 29, 2003 at 23:23 UTC
    I agree completely. I thought long and hard about where to post the Religion question (which is still in Discussion, isn't it?) - I was 'seeking the wisdom of the monastery', but on what felt a different level to a 'normal' SOPW post. It was a toss-up between Meditations and here, but my gut feeling was that (a) because the whole question had been sparked by my trawling homenodes, it was more a discussion of faith as expressed in the Monastery itself, rather than the wider community, and (b) it was more likely to be discussed by the more active members here - I notice no AM relies there as yet - and less likely to get trolled.

    In addition, the other trigger was Your Mother's mention of Relics :)

    ++ to the update proposals.


Re: Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?
by dws (Chancellor) on Apr 30, 2003 at 04:51 UTC
    Of the nodes tye cites, I believe that two were ones originally posted in PMD that I considered for a move to Meditations. The criteria I use to distinguish posts that belong in PMD from posts that belong in Meditations is simple:

    • Is the post substantially about either the mechanisms or the overt policies of Perlmonks?

    If so, it belongs in PMD. Otherwise, it belongs in Meditations. At least that's my opinion; the Consideration mechanism invites other opinions to weigh in.

    Discussion happens wherever the node happens to end up, so little is lost by enforcing the distinction.

      Thanks for the opposing opinion. I included the reasons behind my opinion in hopes of either hearing opposing reasons or pursuading those with opposing opinions.

      I also noted that it appears that there are quite a few monks on both sides of this spectrum. So I don't think it makes much sense to leave the issue unresolved such that we have lots of monks posting nodes to the section they think makes sense, lots of other monks considering the nodes, then lots of monks voting both ways on consideration such that we spend lots of time "fighting" over the same issue over and over and the result is nodes somewhat randomly distributed between the two sections (and sometimes getting considered/moved more than once).

      I was hoping that some level of consensus might come out of this and tons of future consideration noise could be avoided. I'm not so much concerned with what section nodes end up in. I'm concerned with there being a whole class of nodes that appear to get considered and moved often with lots of members on each side of the issue.

      (this part is also in reply to mirod's reply) I support not sweating the section much when the choice is not obvious, giving more weight to where the original author chose. But I also see that people often don't deal well with not being able to do something. The sections have some value (or else we should just get rid of them) so people will notice when nodes seem, to them, to be in the wrong section and often the best outcome can be had by letting people do something about it (consider it, vote on the consideration). I'd encourage people to not sweat the tough cases. And if a consideration gets a fairly even vote, then I'll usually unconsider it without moving it.

      And I encourage level 6-10 monks and editors to be somewhat reluctant to move nodes when the final destination isn't clear.

      But I think this particular class of nodes (nodes primarilly about the PM site but not primarilly about technical or policy issues) deserves to be explicitly addressed if possible to just avoid the continued noise. I think that is possible and beneficial.

                      - tye
        I included the reasons behind my opinion in hopes of either hearing opposing reasons or pursuading those with opposing opinions.

        I would have thought my reasoning to be self-evident, but perhaps that's a blind spot on my part. When deciding how to categorize (or recategorize) a post, I find that it helps to have a simple rule.

        Is the post substantially about either the mechanisms or the overt policies of Perlmonks?
        is the simplest, least ambiguous rule I could come up with. Perhaps it's too simple. But the more complex the rule set, the greater the likelihood of meta-argument. We don't have a category for meta-argument. :)

Re: Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?
by grinder (Bishop) on Apr 30, 2003 at 07:11 UTC

    As one of the authors cited in the nodes mentioned, I too feel compelled to reply. As it happened, I did initially post my node to PMD, which seemed to me to be the perfect spot for it (although if not I'm fine with that too). But once it was submitted I saw that I would not be able to edit the node.

    Since I intend to update it periodically with new information, this was a bit of a disappointment. So I buzzed the CB and asked someone to approve it to Meditations. So if it's there now, it's only for reasons of editability. Even so, it's still my third choice. My second choice would have been the News section, but I'm 95% certain you can't edit root nodes there, either.

    I wonder if these days it's still important to prevent PMDs for being edited a posteriori. For instance thepen's off-site archive records nodes more or less as they are posted, which means there is at least one way of identifying attempts at rewriting history. (Someone on the chatterbox suggested that PMDs aren't editable to prevent trollish nodes from being toned down).

    Join the monks coming to YAPC::Europe 2003 in Paris, 23-25 July 2003.

Re: Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?
by mirod (Canon) on Apr 30, 2003 at 09:03 UTC

    Maybe a stupid question, but... Does it really matter?

    I mean when the node is first posted, it appears in the Newest Nodes pages, then, if approved, in the section pages and, if front paged, right on The Monastery Gates. In any case people are most likely going to see it. The only case where they might not is if they chose to visit Meditations and not Perl Monks Discussion or vice-versa.

    Later on people might miss it if they run a Super Search on just one of those 2 sections.

    Aren't those 2 cases rare enough that we should not bother, and thus leave the node where its author chose to post it, presumably after at least some thinking about it?

    This seems to me like a case where the author should decide.

      You do have a point, but how far do we go with the not caring? If we really don't, why have sections in the first place? Obviously the classification of posts by the section they belong in must have some value or noone would ever care where anything is ever posted.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

Re: Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?
by tilly (Archbishop) on May 01, 2003 at 18:28 UTC
    So I am a feature and not a bug? Cool!

    Wait, you said *almost* a feature. Which means that I am a bug until I get a little more seniority...dang...

    FWIW my thinking is that Discussion should be about the site, both technical and desired behaviour, and Meditations works for pretty much anything that makes people think which doesn't specifically belong anywhere else. Therefore I would have said that the node about me should be in Meditations, not in Discussion (and did put my return post there). Otherwise I mostly agree with your suggested classifications of various nodes.

Re: Are "PM Discussions" only to be technical?
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on Apr 30, 2003 at 08:28 UTC
    <aol>me too</aol>. Seriously, I don't have much to say, other than that I entirely agree with your reasoning.

    Makeshifts last the longest.

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