Gentoo Archives: gentoo-amd64

From: Duncan <1i5t5.duncan@×××.net>
To: gentoo-amd64@l.g.o
Subject: [gentoo-amd64] RE: RE: Re: gcc compile failed after 2005.1-r1 instalation [OT- html posts]
Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2005 23:28:00
In Reply to: RE: [gentoo-amd64] RE: Re: gcc compile failed after 2005.1-r1 instalation [OT- html posts] by Bob Young
Bob Young posted <FAEEIJPAOFEMBBLKPMJEAEEJDOAA.BYoung@××××××××××.com>,
excerpted below,  on Fri, 09 Dec 2005 13:14:55 -0800:

>>2) For those with content worth reading, the content is /just/ as worth >>reading in plain text. It doesn't need HTML to fancy it up or obscure >>it. In fact, those who DO seem to /need/ HTML, don't often seem to have >>much worth reading -- the spammers, the crackers, and the AOLer types >>that don't even WANT to know how their computer operates, thus being the >>ones most likely to be spreading the malware in the /first/ place, >>therefore the ones anyone who cares about their security is /least/ >>likely to want to have sending them HTML. > > That's waay too general a statement to be valid, and frankly smacks of a > bit of elitism and snobbery. Not everyone who sends html email is a > spammer or cracker, and just because someone isn't interested in > learning what L2 cache is, doesn't mean they are automatically unworthy > of a response to their request for help.
Excerpts from Eric S Raymond's "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way". Read the whole thing here, it's worth it! [My comments in brackets as so.] The first thing to understand is that hackers actually like hard problems and good, thought-provoking questions about them. If we didn't, we wouldn't be here. If you give us an interesting question to chew on we'll be grateful to you; good questions are a stimulus and a gift. Good questions help us develop our understanding, and often reveal problems we might not have noticed or thought about otherwise. Among hackers, "Good question!" is a strong and sincere compliment. [Absolutely, positively, so! I should mention at this point that "Good argument" is about equally a compliment, and that's exactly what you are doing, so don't take anything below as an insult. It's rather the opposite, or it wouldn't have gotten this far.] Despite this, hackers have a reputation for meeting simple questions with what looks like hostility or arrogance. It sometimes looks like we're reflexively rude to newbies and the ignorant. But this isn't really true. What we are, unapologetically, is hostile to people who seem to be unwilling to think or to do their own homework before asking questions. People like that are time sinks -- they take without giving back, they waste time we could have spent on another question more interesting and another person more worthy of an answer. We call people like this "losers" (and for historical reasons we sometimes spell it "lusers"). We realize that there are many people who just want to use the software we write, and have no interest in learning technical details. [] We acknowledge that, and don't expect everyone to take an interest in the technical matters that fascinate us. Nevertheless, our style of answering questions is tuned for people who do take such an interest and are willing to be active participants in problem-solving. That's not going to change. Nor should it; if it did, we would become less effective at the things we do best. We're (largely) volunteers. We take time out of busy lives to answer questions, and at times we're overwhelmed with them. So we filter ruthlessly. In particular, we throw away questions from people who appear to be losers in order to spend our question-answering time more efficiently, on winners. [That's basically it! And filtering on HTML, after a simple request not to use it, is part of that filtering ruthlessly! However, keep reading.] If you find this attitude obnoxious, condescending, or arrogant, check your assumptions. We're not asking you to genuflect to us -- in fact, most of us would love nothing more than to deal with you as an equal and welcome you into our culture, if you put in the effort required to make that possible. But it's simply not efficient for us to try to help people who are not willing to help themselves. It's OK to be ignorant; it's not OK to play stupid. [Emphasis. It *IS* OK to be ignorant, that's what the asking nicely and explaining why is all about. It's *NOT* OK to play stupid... or one just gets passed by... it's more efficient to spend time more productively elsewhere.] So, while it isn't necessary to already be technically competent to get attention from us, it is necessary to demonstrate the kind of attitude that leads to competence -- alert, thoughtful, observant, willing to be an active partner in developing a solution. If you can't live with this sort of discrimination, we suggest you pay somebody for a commercial support contract instead of asking hackers to personally donate help to you. [Exactly. Just because we donate our time for free doesn't mean we don't consider it valuable!] If you decide to come to us for help, you don't want to be one of the losers. You don't want to seem like one, either. The best way to get a rapid and responsive answer is to ask it like a person with smarts, confidence, and clues who just happens to need help on one particular problem. [...You don't want to seem like one, either... And the fastest way to find oneself ignored is to turn down repeated invitations to quit seeming like one. Again, that's in general, not you, or this wouldn't have been worth posting.]
>>The two factors coupled together, the security issue and the lack of >>content that really /needs/ html to be valuable (if it /needs/ it, send >>a link, parsing HTML is what BROWSERS are for!), are persuasive enough >>for many of us. > > You're certainly entitled to your opinion, it just seems that the > arguments you're basing it on are rooted in the past, and don't allow > for the possibility that maybe things are different now, or that your > perception is colored by prejudices and generalizations that are > incorrect.
I won't argue the point altho I obviously disagree, but it's not just /my/ opinion, and it just so happens that enough folks with enough answers have the same general opinion, that cutting them out of one's query audience, or of the audience that finds a reply worth their time, is precisely the sort of mistake the folks doing most of the querying should be worried about making, which is what I'm pointing out. Sure, folks can continue to post HTML if they want. I'll even defend their right to do so (see below). However, that doesn't alter the fact that many use that as convenient reason to "ruthlessly filter", so if they see the question at all, they'll quickly stop paying attention to that poster if they don't kindly stop -- don't seem cooperative -- when asked nicely to do so.
> Do you allow html to be rendered when you browse the web? If so, why is > email more dangerous when your email client can easily be configured to > render html just as safely as your browser?
Because it's a way of cutting down the noise. There's the security aspect, but there's noise as well. "Ruthlessly filter..." As for the browser, that's what it was designed for. That's NOT what mail was designed for. As I stated, links to a web page are perfectly fine, where that may be necessary, but let the mail communicate a plain message in the manner intended, and let the web be for what it was intended for, and let us folks do our "ruthless filtering" as just one more way of managing all the signals competing for attention at once. All that said... a very real observation... it can be a very humbling experience when one /used/ to being one of the technical elite ends up in in the company of those equally or better skilled than he is. I've been in that situation, and it does take a bit to adjust. Personally, I'm of the opinion that's one of the big reasons behind the big ego clashes familiar to anyone that has been in FLOSS for long. People used to playing the roll of /the/ answer guru, used to having folks therefore do as they are asked with little question because they haven't the knowledget to question, now finding they know less about something they none-the-less have formed strong opinions on, than the next guy, with equally strong opinions. Big egos -- someone gets theirs crushed. After being in the position myself, thereby knowing what it feels like, I've seen it happen on the Gentoo-dev list, among other places, a number of times. It's also the root behind the xorg/xfree fork, and the dynamic that is continuing to keep reiser4 out of the mainline kernel. Anyway, I /do/ try to be personally mindful of that, which again is one reason I try to ask, and explain nicely. Of course, we all are human, and it doesn't always come out as intended. One more angle, I've been on the other side of a similar debate, as well, and as a result know the mail/news/mime RFCs probably rather better than most. HTML (or the wrapped lines of text-flowed, in my case) doesn't generally break them (tho some implementations might in some minor detail or another), but rather, goes beyond them, while being backward compatible. Great! And, folks are free to use it if they desire. However, folks are equally free to filter them for doing so! Both freedoms are considered more or less absolute on lists or newsgroups. That said, the one group tends to have more power because they are the ones the other group tends to be asking favors of. Thus, the group asking the favors can behave as they like, but the one with the ability to grant them is ultimately calling the shots. -- Duncan - List replies preferred. No HTML msgs. "Every nonfree program has a lord, a master -- and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman in -- gentoo-amd64@g.o mailing list