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Let the doors open wide!

by theorbtwo (Prior)
on Oct 10, 2001 at 13:58 UTC ( #117962=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Hey all, and thanks for making the Monistary the wonderful place that it is. That being said, I've got a few suggestions. Good ones, I think.

First, a little explanition. As far as I know (and documentation is sketchy, for those of us below the friar line (and probably those above it), there are three seppreate content-control systems on perlmonks.

There is voting. That's the most obvious one; everybody above Initiate can vote directly on nodes, raising the nodes Rep, and often influincing the XP of the poster. Rep of posts are rarely shown directly; AFAIK only on nodes that you can't vote on (your own, when not logged in, and on nodes that you've already voted on). This is (AFAIK) so the rep of a node doesn't effect your decison of wheather or not to vote on it.

There is moderation, a simple "this post isn't a troll" that friar+s can check. This is what the checkbox in your user preferences is for. Leave it unchecked, and you'll never see anything that hasn't been moderated as OK. Check it, and you're never see whether or not a post has been moderated.

There is approval for the frontpage. If a friar+ hits the checkbox for a post, it'll go on the frontpage until their are enough newer posts that have been checked to push it off.

Basicly, my question is, why? Why are there three independent systems to sort the good nodes from the bad, the worthy to be {seen, put on the frontpage, refered to}. I think we could use a good bit of Glassnost. Let us see the reps, let us see all the comments. Let the frontpage be a better Newest Nodes. /. needs the filtering because of a much larger, less community-driven populace. Because they're News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. We aren't a news site, and don't claim that the frontpage has the stuff that matters for the reader, only for the community of the Monistary.

James Mastros,
Just Another Perl Scribe

PS: Please excuse the typos and spelling errors. I know they're there, but I'm too lazy to spellcheck.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Let the doors open wide!
by footpad (Abbot) on Oct 10, 2001 at 20:41 UTC

    One of the nice things about The Monastery is that you get solid feedback about your code and your ideas from people who know what they're doing with Perl and what they're doing as professional programmers, system administrators, designers, and so forth. By sharing our individual knowledge, skills, and experiences, we help each other become stronger, smarter, and more skilled.

    Yes, we do have several ways to provide feedback to each other. If you like a node, you can:

    • Vote it up
    • Send a private /msg via the CB.
    • Link to it in your home node
    • Post a public CB comment praising it
    • Link to it in future replies in related threads
    • Frontpage it (if you're a Friar or higher)
    • And so on...

    When the system works (which is, thankfully, most of the time), it reinforces the ideals of the Monastery and helps everyone who participates in a professional and helpful fashion.

    Unfortunately, a few people don't take these ideals as seriously as others. They post things that many would rather not see in these walls, including personal attacks, requests to "do my homework," inappropriate content, and so on.

    Unlike other communities, this one has chosen to actively moderate such content in a number of ways. It can be:

    While this has generated a certain amount of controversy from time to time, it has helped crystallize--and document--the community's ideals and what people want to get out of the site. In turn, this helps you understand what these people consider to be good contributions.2

    Frankly, I'm glad we don't allow purely unmoderated content. There have been some extremely offensive posts over the past year. I'm glad I don't have to encounter these to find answers to my Perl questions.

    This is one thing that differentiates us from slashdot, c.l.p.m, and other "technical" communities. While I've been known to read slashdot for the headlines, I really don't like the backbiting, the insults, or the ravings that are frequently posted in the follow up comments. Yes, there's good stuff on that site and in the comments, but you frequently have to wade through a bunch of juvenile drek to get to it.

    Here, the entire community contributes. Everyone has a voice and every voice gets a reasonable shot at being heard. Sure, certain voices carry a bit more weight, but even the most respected folks have been known to screw up from time to time.3 Frankly, I find both things to be refreshing, especially when compared to other communities.

    Furthermore, it's okay to be a newbie and to make mistakes. Sure, you'll lose a few XP if you spout off, but if you make at least a little sense, then it's just as likely you'll get a response outlining alternatives and/or other things to think about. Only rarely will you get flamed and, thanks to the moderation devices, such rants rarely survive long.

    To illustrate, here's a discussion regarding the use of code comments. I learned a lot from it and from various CB discussions about it. As a result, my comments are now much briefer than they were and they're more maintained. After that discussion, I reviewed a CGI script I'd been working on and removed four pages of source by removing extraneous commentary and retooling the program to be more self documenting. It taught me to be a slightly better, more effective programmer. (I also learned some other things during that clean-up, but that's a different story.)

    In short (*hah*), I believe that what makes the Monastery a great place to hang out is that:

    • It's not slashdot
    • Everyone gets a voice
    • Contributions are rewarded in many ways
    • Good feedback, answers, and information is shared freely by people who know what they're talking about.
    • You don't have to be part of--or claw your way into--the "in-crowd" to be taken seriously.

    So, no. I do not want to see the feedback devices--or the content moderation--go away. Sure, it's a bit of work for some of us, but it really does keep the place focused on the primary concern: learning Perl and learning to use it well.

    One final point, if I may. I also urge using additional care when proofing your post. Laziness may be considered one of the cardinal virtues of a Perl programmer, however, sloppiness is not. If you're not willing to take a few moments to proofread your nodes and remove easily discovered typos, then how can we be sure you've taken that same care with your code?

    If you're interested in other reasons behind this philosophy and how they apply to better programming practices, I recommend this book.


    1 - Yes, there are other devices. As in many Orders, certain mysteries are only revealed over time.

    2 - For other ideas and discussions along these lines, consider this home node.

    3 - Like Perl, the Monastery has evolved over time. Like the camel chosen to represent Perl (as well as Perl itself), the Monastery can be a little bit messy.

(tye)Re: Let the doors open wide!
by tye (Sage) on Oct 10, 2001 at 20:45 UTC

    I somewhat agree. The main reason to not put stuff on the front page is length. This just means that <READMORE> needs to be inserted before it goes to the front page. An automated way of inserting such would be nice but I won't hold my breath nor jump up and down hoping for such.

    The second reason to not frontpage is things like uninteresting repeats. But I think we should frontpage most approved articles these days because of the points you raise about the implications of the recent stats.

    Another option would be to make it clear on the front page that only "Selected New Questions" are listed and that you can go to "See All New Questions" for more. Hmm, I think I'd vote for that change and keep the frontpage approval process the same. YMMV. I'd probably also add a See All New Nodes link on the front page (besides the differently labeled ones already there).

    I'm somewhat for changing the "approval for a section" methodology. We've had problems with nodes not getting approved for their section when they should. Also, I'd like to give people a way to "vent" about a "poor" question w/o running to Nodes to Consider. So I'd like people to be able to vote "unapprove" on nodes. Though handling both whether or not to approve and whether to move something to a new section makes an eligant solution more difficult.

    One idea I have is to have the approval nodelet let you select "approve" or "unapprove" and/or select a section and these just get tallied as votes. Posting an article to SoPW counts as 1/2 vote for "approve" and 1/2 vote for "SoPW". To change sections, a different section would need to get more votes. To change approval, the other approval option would require more votes.

            - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
Re: Let the doors open wide!
by davorg (Chancellor) on Oct 10, 2001 at 14:35 UTC

    These points have been discussed many times here. In fact it was only yesterday that we had a discussion on front-paging nodes. Perhaps you should take a look at Super Search before bringing the subject up again.

    And my -- vote wasn't for your ideas, it was for being too lazy to check your spelling.


    "The first rule of Perl club is you don't talk about Perl club."

      I know we just had a discussion on this yesterday, I was thinking of making this a reply to it, but decided it was worthy of its own topic. (I was on the CB for much of the discussion, actually, though somewhat quiet, as I wanted to do a little thinking before making a fool of myself -- which early results indicated I still did quite effectively.)

      I wanted to point out a rather radical solution to problems with homenoding, and give some background on aspects of the problem that aren't as obvious to the more inexperienced monks (such as myself) (I'm, BTW, muchly indebted to virtualsue, who answered my "research" on the chatterbox).

      I think both homenoding and moderating were built in as defense against a Troll menace that never came. I could well be wrong here. May the replies roll in.

      Also, for the record, so long as I think my grammar and spelling are good enough to not get in the way of my point, on forums that I think are above caring about such mundanary, I often let them lie. Perhaps I will be more careful about them here, as it seems people care more then I thought.

      Thank you for your consideration,
      Just Another Perl Scribe,
      James Mastros, TheOrbTwo

Re: Let the doors open wide!
by dthacker (Deacon) on Oct 11, 2001 at 06:40 UTC
    "First, a little explanition. As far as I know (and documentation is sketchy, for those of us below the friar line (and probably those above it)..."
    As someone who achieved friar earlier this week, I'd like to point out that I knew a lot about being a friar before I became one thanks to this node as well as others. Comments on life in the monastery make PM self-documenting. Try Super Search on friar for a real slice of PM life!

    "Let us see the reps, let us see all the comments"
    I find not knowing the previous rep of a write-up helps me cast votes that are based on my vision of the monastery instead of someone elses.

    The doors are open far enough. Actually, I think they are open farther than you think!


Re: Let the doors open wide!
by theorbtwo (Prior) on Oct 10, 2001 at 14:59 UTC

    Upon rereading my own text, my closing (or rather after-the-introduction) is very weak. The point that I meant to make is that homenoding, while defending against things that simply aren't of good enough quality to be on the homepage, produces an unfair rep difference between homepage and non-homepage nodes, and makes the homepage staler. (And thus makes the community seem less active.) I have very little against hidden reps and the moderation system (plenty of eyeballs for that one).

    James Mastros,
    Just Another Perl whatever-the-f-I-am-now
      I don't remember who told me this (musta been a little birdie), but about these comments:

      Hey all, and thanks for making the Monistary the wonderful place that it is.

      PS: Please excuse the typos and spelling errors. I know they're there, but I'm too lazy to spellcheck.

      The little birdie wanted me to let you know that the The Monastery Gates is in the menu bar... for every single page. Mispelling Monastery is kinda inexcusable ;)

      I agree with that (at my eXPense I'm sure).

      I am a new user that has only found this site a couple weeks ago, and I don't check the home home anymore. It's pointless to me, since I can find the posts I want to read on "newest nodes" and "best nodes".

      For the most part I love perlmonks, but the multiple powers associated with 'casts' makes for an inefficient oligarchy at times. Then again, this is perlmonks after all, not perl-community-at-large. Some people need the ego boost, I'm OK with that.


        Oh, that reminds me of the other idea that I had that I was going to put in that post: Titles. One of the reasons, I'm given to understand, that there are powers associated by level (and thus the different systems that have evolved), is that otherwise the XP levels are somewhat useless.

        Therefore, I've got an idea that might make them somewhat more meaningful. (I'm not sure that's a good thing, though, for the same reason (more or less) that I'm not sure that having hidden node reps is a good thing.)

        Simply make one's rank displayed before their name. For example, instead of this node displaying as "by theorbtwo", have it display as "by scribe theorbtwo". That'd at least instill a sense of respect by those who pay attention to titles, and knowledge of the respect that others pay to them to those who don't.

        OTOH, the fact that someone’s experience and respectability doesn't necessarily match their XP is made more important to this scheme.

        Like I said, I don't know if this is a good idea or a bad one, just an idea.

        Oh, and BTW, this would also add to the anachronistic air of the place, which I think would be a Good Thing.

        Thanks for your consideration,
        James Mastros, TheOrbTwo,
        Just another perl monk

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