[License-discuss] Threading and topic drift (was: License licenses)

Luis Villa luis at lu.is
Fri May 31 22:57:30 UTC 2019

Someone: "What day did you switch from 'meh' on mailing lists to 'burn them
all down', Luis?"
Me: "May 31, 2019"

More, as they say, inline.

On Fri, May 31, 2019 at 11:44 AM Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> Quoting Kevin P. Fleming (kevin+osi at km6g.us):
> > As a regular Discourse user, I can say that this is one *huge* benefit
> > of that tool over regular mailing lists: threads can be split off into
> > separate topics, so that readers and others can follow the topics they
> > care about and don't have to wade through things they don't care
> > about.
> Not intending to sound peremptory, but:  false dilemma.
> When there is topic drift on a mailing list, there is a _very easy_
> way to split off the morphed discussion to a new thread:  Just delete
> the In-Reply-To header, which by definition breaks the thread.  It is
> also a good idea to change the Subject header, particularly for the
> benefit of poorly engineered Mail User Agents [**COUGH** Outlook **COUGH**]
> that cluelessly implement threading based on the Subject header.
> I have just done both, as an example.
> And the above is Internet 101.  People's failure to do The Right Thing
> doesn't mean The Right Thing isn't nonetheless standing there,
> beckoning, and saying 'Who am I, then?  Chopped liver?'

I have a hard time imagining a non-IETF group of humans who are more deeply
entrenched in email than this one. Most of us send more email in a day than
20-somethings send in a month. And yet even here John, and others, fail to
do "The Right Thing" all the time. So I'm deeply skeptical that it's
"Internet 101". (Heck, I've been castigated on this very list, by a
long-time email/internet user, for breaking a thread in exactly the way you
describe as "Internet 101", on grounds that ... it broke threading in their
email client and was not good netiquette.)

> More broadly, don't blame the tool when the user cannot be bothered to
> master its basics and drives a nail through his or her foot.

In general, I'm so glad that most software designers have long since moved
on from this user-hostile attitude.

In OSI's specific case, requiring skill in antique mailing list norms, in
order to discuss nearly completely unrelated topics (law, governance, etc.)
is a deep dysfunction - it pointlessly excludes very skilled/relevant

> (Also, as an observer of Discourse, I can say that one of its huge
> detriments is that it does has a deliberately flat display model
> and doesn't even _attempt_ to do threading -- which is predictable
> since it's basically pitched at smartphone users with tiny diplays and
> an addiction to continuous scrolling.

"pitched at smartphone users", aka "pitched at the vast majority of human
beings". The Discourse folks are trying to reach users where they actually
read and write.

There's a plausible argument to be made that l-r could use some barriers to
entry, but (1) 'are you skilled in email etiquette' is a bad barrier for
l-r and (2) there's no such conceivable argument for l-d.

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