Re: FreeBSD-newbies group is a compromise community.
From: Randy Pratt (rpratt1950_at_earthlink.net)
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 00:16:54 -0500 To: "clayton rollins" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On Fri, 26 Mar 2004 01:04:02 +0000
"clayton rollins" <email@example.com> wrote:
> Hi Randy,
> On March 24, 2004, Randy Pratt <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> >On Thu, 25 Mar 2004 09:36:11 +0000 Clayton Rollins wrote:
> While I've read the FAK, not all people do. My comments were
> directed more for the situation where a question does end
> up here. My intention is not to encourage asking questions
> here, but to find a consensus method of dealing with such
Yes, sadly that is true. Herein lies part of a more general
problem also. These same people are not likely to have read:
These are all quite plainly linked from the freebsd.org main page.
Often, many questions are answered there. And, often, there's
hardly a common question that hasn't been answered before and
can be found in the archives.
> > > I would then propose that, in cases of technical replies,
> > > that a minimal rule of CC'ing the -questions list be
> > > imposed. (With the more knowledgeable members of
> > > this list forwarding to questions when another
> > > newbie forgets.)
> >The best approach would be to mail the -questions list directly
> >and not CC the -newbies list. If the purpose is to expose
> >new users to more information, then the -questions mailing list
> >can be read online (highly suggested) without subscribing:
> > http://docs.freebsd.org/mail/current/freebsd-questions.html
> >Cross-posting should also be avoided since it only increases the
> >noise level. Only some circumstances warrant cross-posting such
> >as when you need to reach a wide range of people on a topic that
> >affects them.
> Here, I agree with you. My main concern was to allow users
> a path to follow when answering questions, not with where
> they do it.
Yes, I think its perfectly acceptable to answer questions but
trim the freebsd-newbies mailing list and CC the freebsd-questions
list where it will be reviewed by a wide range of individuals for
It would also be wise to mention that it is being moved to
freebsd-questions and why.
> A minor secondary concern was the consistency of threads
> but, if the person moving the thread to -questions were to
> post the fact that the thread has moved, this concern
> could be minimized.
I am guilty of this myself. This is called "root-posting". I do not
subscribe to a raft of mailing lists. I read almost all of them
online and if I decide to reply to a post, then I have to cut-paste
from a browser to the mail client. Most mail clients do not have
provisions for maintaining the message threading information manually.
The real problem with this is that the mailing list archives then
cannot thread messages properly and appear as new threads.
> I see the danger of perpetuating the myth as a minimal
> danger because, as mentioned above, people do ask
> questions here. The new subscriber, having only read the
> list a short time, will generally see some questions
> posted, regardless of what policy may be.
> Bottom line: forwarding the thread to -questions and/or
> answering it there would be an acceptable course of
> action, in my opinion.
Yes, I agree with this.
> I kind of overstated my intentions here. The charter and FAK
> don't necessarily need to change in fundamental ways.
> I like the FAK and it's guidelines, but I feel that:
> "There's nothing wrong with helping someone to redirect
> their question to freebsd-questions, but please do so gently. "
> doesn't cover all situations.
> Technically, your method of moving the thread to
> -questions wouldn't really be allowed under that statement,
> nor would pointing the asker to the appropriate
> My intention was more to spark discussion and perhaps
> reach a better guideline than what is in place.
These are some examples of how I've responded to technical questions
in the past:
I don't feel its "answering" the technical question by pointing to
existing freebsd.org documentation. If it is, then I'm guilty and
would cease and desist immediately.
At the end of any documentation pointers, I point the original
poster to the -questions mailing list if he needs anything further.
> I was hoping for consensus from this community,
> then to get some sort of agreement from
> -questions. (I wouldn't want to anger them with
> duplicate threads and/or questions that are handled
> in the documentation.)
It is expected that if you have elected to use a unix operating
system (FreeBSD in this case), that you understand that reading the
documentation is a necessity. If you have read the documentation and
still have specific questions then it shouldn't arouse any anger.
In fact, it might just point out a weakness in the documentation that
needs to be corrected. This is often how documentation gets
corrected or created.
As an aside, the installation instructions in the Handbook are a
good example of this process. When I first decided to use FreeBSD,
I couldn't find the type of documentation I wanted to see for
installation. I kept detailed notes and created a rough document.
Eventually, after several iterations it was committed to the Handbook.
Since then, many individuals have corrected/added more information.
> > > While I, personally, have no problem using
> > > the current system, I have replied to others
> > > to post to -questions quite often, and not
> > > seen the message to -questions. I can't
> > > help but feel that some of those people
> > > gave up on freebsd, rather than take the
> > > time to send yet another message.
I don't have any problems with the newbies constraints as they
> >There have been few on-topic postings to this list for some
> >time. I can suggest another method to resolve the situation.
> >Close the freebsd-newbies mailing list down. This would
> >certainly resolve the issue asking technical questions here.
> I don't think it's that bad yet :).
If people are getting discouraged by being referred to the
-questions mailing list, then it is a problem. I would hate to
think that this is the case.
> >This issue can be discussed and new guidlines be suggested but it
> >in all probability would have to be approved by the developers and/or
> >the core team. There's always the possibility that this will open
> >the old discussion where there was much heated debate over this
> >group's creation for the reasons mentioned above.
> I don't think this requires major changes. (Though, I know
> any changes will have to be approved by the larger community.)
> For instance, simply forwarding the questions to -questions
> would fix the problem.
"FreeBSD-Questions@FreeBSD.ORG is the place to send all questions
about installing, configuring, running and using FreeBSD. All
help requests are handled by FreeBSD-Questions, including newbies
questions. It is particularly important to send all installation
questions and answers to FreeBSD-Questions so that they only appear
in one place."
I think what you are proposing is already permitted by the FAK.
Notice the "questions and answers to FreeBSD-Questions" part. Just
don't CC the -newbies list with your answers.
Perhaps if Sue has some time, she can clarify the intent of the
statement. I think she's been quite busy with other things lately
and hasn't had much time for this list.
> My real desire is simply that we have another possibility
> than saying "ask on -questions." And, secondarily, maybe a
> better definition of what types of responses, if any, might be
> appropriate here.
I personally don't feel that pointing out relevant documentation
is answering a question but that shouldn't include any specific
discussion of the problem/solution. Then asking them to post to
-questions if they still need assistance isn't out of order. I
think it is better to point them to things to read before they
post to -questions so that they can better formulate their question
to get the best results from it.
Its equally important to make the poster feel like they are
welcome and that you are trying to help them but convey that we
have to live within the constraints of the -newbie charter/FAK.
I think you and I are in agreement on things now that we've
discussed them more.
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