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-- message I saw on trip advisor forum today

Seeing this message today while planning a holiday drive up the coast of New South Wales reminded me of a spate of recent PM necroposts, such as:

It feels especially eerie when a necroposter responds to a monk who's not been sighted for so many years that he may well have passed on to become a necromonk. I get the feeling that necroposts have been on the rise here lately - interested to hear theories why. (Update: Re^4: Code style advice: where to put "use" statements? indicates that Bod enjoys the Random Node feature in Leftovers on bottom right of PM screen ... perhaps renewed interest in Random Nodes has increased the frequency of necroposts).

Though I found many previous discussions of anonymous posting (see "Previous Anonymous Monk Discussions" section below), I couldn't find any previous discussions of necroposting. Hence this node. Though my personal opinion is that necroposts are beneficial, I'm interested to learn how other monks feel about them and how they might be improved.

Why I Like Necroposts

As a serious code-golfer for many years I watched in dismay as ... the perl fwp and golf mailing lists died ... the 2002 TPR golf series lasted just one season ... Terje's minigolf site came and went ... as did the kernelpanic.pl Polish golf site, codegolf.com, phpgolf.org, and many more ... while Perl Monks lives on and on and on!!!

The upside is that PM's extreme longevity, combined with its low barrier to entry for non monks to post, has resulted in many invaluable nuggets posted by non-Perl-monk code golf experts. Without PM's low barrier to entry, many of this priceless golfing lore would have been lost for all time.

While most of these responses were made anonymously (signed with the name of the poster), I was pleased to see the greatest code golfer I know of, primo, going to the bother of creating a PM account, solely to respond to PM code golf threads.

Some examples (many more could be given):

As a final example of valuable necroposting, I've been grateful to jdporter for necroposting historically priceless nuggets of Perl Monks history to The First Ten Perl Monks (2014):

Possible Necropost Improvements

I suspect some of the recent necroposts (especially the anonymous ones) were made accidentally (i.e. without the poster being aware they were responding to a thread that was over 10 years old) ... and so wonder if it would be good to provide some sort of warning that you are responding to a really old thread. Some sort of visual indicator decorating the necropost response itself may further be worth considering, so that folks viewing recent nodes can easily spot the necroposts.

Necropost References

Previous Anonymous Monk Discussions

Random Necroposts Added Since The Original Node Was Written

Updated: Minor changes to wording and example node list in "Why I Like Necroposts" section.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Necroposting Considered Beneficial
by Discipulus (Abbot) on Feb 25, 2021 at 08:28 UTC
    Hello eyepopslikeamosquito,

    and thanks for the interesting meditation.

    > reminded me of a spate of recent PM necroposts, such as:

    Can I add this? I suspect it wins the world record:

    Re^3: Installing (lotsa) modules Jan 24, 2021 (root: Oct 11, 2001)

    > I get the feeling that necroposts have been on the rise here lately - interested to hear theories why.

    Well, only a nicely crafted perl program can confirm this, but we must consider some factor. Firstly active users are declining or, at least, their number is by far smaller than in the golden age. Given these decreasing numbers, passing years the percentage of older nodes on the total becomes greater. I remember some years ago zentara (he was already not here everyday in that period) complaining in the CB that something was broken with Newest Nodes because the Question section disappeared. It was simply that no questions were asked in the previous 24 hours. It happens nowadays, few times but happens.

    Why I Like.. answers to ancient posts

    Firstly I must admit I dont like the necropost term. It sounds very negative and disgusting also, at least for me. Then I think it is not the right term. You are indeed speaking about something still alive:

    > The upside is that PM's extreme longevity..

    For me not only the longevity but also the average quality of posts makes the difference.

    You know: I'm a perl only programmer. When I have a problem I try to synthetize it and I goolge: perl X Y Z using keywords I suppose to be more relavant. Almost always I get back results from perlmonks and SO. After some glancing I hit, if available, Browse more entries at perlmonks.org and I found generally the answer I need (when looking at SO I carefuly look to authors and to the content of the answer).

    Then it is up to me to see the age of the post and decide if it is still valid. Perl made a huge effort to remain backward compatible so many times older posts are still valid.

    In addidion some technology evolved a lot but others are stable since decades. The main example is Tk: I discovered that perlmonk is the last community where people use good old Tk and are able to answer questions. But Tk is a special case. Think about DBI and tell me if posts by gmax are out of date. If something can be done in a smarter way since DBI x.y an answer to a gmax post is a good thing to have.

    Many of us maintain also very old systems so a 10 yo answer can be still valid.

    So my opinion is that a post is not a necro one if someone still has that problem, need or interest. Also if the technology it refers is still alive, can be a valid post.

    So let suppose I found a post of 10 years ago mentioning a bug in a package. Then I discover that a recent release of the module fixed that bug. If I have the time I would answer with a meaning title ( like: Re: XY -- fixed in release x.y.z ) and shortly describing the solution. It is not necroposting: is long life support :)

    Which posts are necro ones?

    By other hand a post can be (but not necessarily) a necro one if related to a dead technology or refering to older, deprecated or dismissed perl or module feature. For example object introspection made without the help of a modern module is something at least weird nowadays.

    Also direct answers to monk after years can be considered necroposts (in the mere negative sense of the term) if they dont add nothing still actual and valid to the matter.

    So in conclusion it is up to us to answer to older nodes when it makes sense possibly mentioning the time gap in an esplicit manner.

    L*

    There are no rules, there are no thumbs..
    Reinvent the wheel, then learn The Wheel; may be one day you reinvent one of THE WHEELS.
Re: Necroposting Considered Beneficial
by talexb (Canon) on Feb 25, 2021 at 17:34 UTC

    While it's entertaining to imagine someone resuming a conversation from almost twenty years ago, it's not a bad thing at all. Sometimes you're looking for something specific about Perl, and doggone it, sometimes there's a post here that addresses exactly that point.

    This site is amazing -- it contains a lot of brilliant and useful posts from the last twenty years. It's a great treasure trove of 'stuff' for folks who are here to learn and share.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    Thanks PJ. We owe you so much. Groklaw -- RIP -- 2003 to 2013.

Re: Necroposting Considered Beneficial
by LanX (Cardinal) on Feb 25, 2021 at 18:43 UTC
    Thanks for the nec/romancing! ;)

    > As a serious code-golfer for many years I watched in dismay as ... the perl fwp and golf mailing lists died

    Hey ... you are free to post new challenges under meditations!

    (even old ones if you asked me ;-)

    > Possible Necropost Improvements

    Maybe tangential, but those resurrections happen because of people following search results.

    And unfortunately do search engines lead me quite often to alternative sites or unfortunate views. (I'll add examples later)

    If robots-settings can't be adjusted to ignore those, it might be good to search for alternatives (Brainstorm: like a JS message offering a redirection, depending on referrer)

    edit

    like

    Cheers Rolf
    (addicted to the Perl Programming Language :)
    Wikisyntax for the Monastery

Re: Necroposting Considered Beneficial
by ajt (Prior) on Feb 26, 2021 at 10:01 UTC

    Oddly I often find a Google search leads to a long dead discussion, often with the exact problem I've got, but annoyingly either no answer or the most annoying answer of "I've fixed it" but no explanation...!

    Finding a thread with a sane explanation and a solution is a rare but wonderous thing!


    --
    ajt

      I hope you're referring to other forums, not Perl Monks!

      At least, in my experience, most PM threads contain code with accompanying explanations, very rarely ending with "I've fixed it" without an explanation (can happen here rarely, typically when an infamous PM troll spits the dummy).

        Yes in this case almost 100% of the time...!

        For my day job I no longer work with Perl, so it's usually other technologies, and the same problem but no solution is the norm, or people posting the same wrong answer time after time - and then begging for upvotes....


        --
        ajt