[conspire] I get mail

Daniel Gimpelevich daniel at gimpelevich.san-francisco.ca.us
Wed Aug 9 21:24:34 PDT 2006

Yes, it is prudent for those who set themselves up to be the targets of
this brand of idiocy to remain in good spirits about it, but sharing your
e-misfortunes to promote the bemusement of others is downright
commendable. After I had my little laugh from reading that post to the
list, I found myself thinking about your long-standing disenchantment with
people who effectively make static copies of the essay by mirroring too
infrequently. I think that's a rather inevitable result of the fact that
mirroring is barely mentioned in the official copying policy. The
half-exception for translations always struck me as particularly
ingenious, and I thought I'd make a quick audit of the update status of
the various ones to which the essay links, which took me far less time
than it did to write this message. Some interesting findings I made:

	• Only the "Brazilo-Portuguese" (Brazillian Portuguese) version, the
	Japanese version, and the Turkish version claim to be translations of the
	current Revision 3.2, and the Japanese version is the only one that
	carries the auto-responding e-mail address to which you referred.

	• The Bahasa Indonesian version and the Finnish version are now 404s,
	and the Swedish version is also a broken link, albeit with a note
	pointing to the correct URL.

	• The Danish version, the Hebrew version, and the Hungarian version are
	so old that their links back to the original English version are broken.

	• The Spanish version has no link back to the original English version.

	• Many of the translations do not link to any other translations. Those
	that do only link to some subset or another of all the known translations.

	• The link to the Italian version goes to a different page from the
	link to the Italian version from the Chinese version, the Italian version
	itself, and the Russian version. The page to which those three
	translations link is apparently an earlier version, bearing a datestamp
	of 2004-02-02, as opposed to 2004-10-28.

	• The link to the Chinese version goes to a different page from the
	link to the Chinese version from the Italian version of 2004-10-28 and
	the Russian version. The page to which those two translations link is so
	garbled from re-encoding errors as not to render at all in Safari. I
	cannot even decipher its datestamp.

	• The Hungarian version's link to your e-mail is broken, and the
	Italian version(s) managed to break both e-mail links.

	• The "Brazilo-Portuguese" (Brazillian Portuguese) version, the Danish
	version, the Estonian version, the French version, the Polish version,
	the Portuguese version (which is also Brazillian), and the Spanish
	version do not give you any conspicuous credit.

	• The Spanish version uses a Latin-1 encoding, but does not specify
	this in Content-Type. IMHO, those who still set that as their browser's
	default are living in the past.

	• Many of the translations label themselves as being under the GFDL or
	GPL licenses, despite the original being under neither.

Still, it's refreshing to know that people all over the world can see "How
to Correctly Ask Questions" so that they may get the most out of any
"Funli Flurbamático 2600" they may obtain.

On Wed, 09 Aug 2006 14:06:09 -0700, Rick Moen wrote:

> I guess, to be philosophical about this, the fact that I _still_ get
> several personal e-mails like this, every day of the year, means that
> the essay "How to Ask Questions the Smart Way" has been very successful
> -- or at least popular.
> I used to chat with Eric Raymond about "topic killer" answers to
> technical questions.  That's where you post something to an ongoing
> thread that's so definitive that you (accidentally) terminate discussion
> by leaving nothing to say.  Related to that are the answers where you 
> advocate a position on a subject of controversy and do such an expert
> job defusing all reasonable objections that informed, rational critics
> then make no comment -- leaving a large silence that oftentimes is
> filled by cranks and loons.  Thus, I told Eric, encountering a chorus of
> irrational objections can be a sign of success, not failure -- on
> occasions when all reasonable people are silent because they agree.
> Anyway, back to "How to Ask Questions the Smart Way":  Some months ago,
> I got Eric to finally change my author e-mail address on the canonical
> Web copy to that of an e-mail autoresponder at linuxmafia.com -- a
> pretty simple thing to set up in Perl, if you run your own SMTP server.  
> This cut the incoming _personal_ mail roughly in half.  Half the people
> seem to "get" (understand) this autoresponse:
> :r /usr/share/procmail-lib/response-auto.txt
>   Thanks for your mail about "How to Ask Questions the Smart Way".
>   As a reminder, that essay suggests (generic) ways to ensure 
>   you're asking technical questions in the right way, in the right place.
>   People write back for one of two _very_ different reasons:
>   o  Good reason:  Sending feedback/suggestions to help improve the essay.
>   o  VERY BAD reason:  Asking essay co-author Rick Moen for technical help.
>   Guess what?  99% of such mails are for the VERY BAD type of reason.  
>   If you're about to do that, STOP.  Do something else.  Anything.
>   Don't act like a moron:  Rick Moen is _not_ your personal, private helpdesk.
>   The other 1% of you who want to discuss ways to improve "How to Ask Questions 
>   the Smart Way", thank you!  Please reach Rick at "rick at linuxmafia.com".
>   This is an automated e-mail.  (Your mail has not reached a human.)
>   All replies to this mail will be auto-discarded.
>   Thanks! Mr. Autoresponder 
> Then there are the other half, such as Mr. Christopher Dyer (below), who 
> wrote to both co-authors shown on the essay, IGNORING the prominent
> notice to not do that, receiving the above-cited autoresponder text,
> ignoring _its_ substance, picking my direct e-mail address out of it,
> and manually re-sending to me personally the same confused idiocy he 
> had mailed to the autoresponder.
> I'm guessing the bottom line is that, with about nine billion humans and
> many of them having e-mail access, there's just a whole lot of morons.
> ----- Forwarded message from Christopher Dyer <cdyer75 at hotmail.com> -----
> From: Christopher Dyer <cdyer75 at hotmail.com>
> To: rick at linuxmafia.com
> Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2006 11:34:33 -0500
> Subject: Question/
> How in the hell do someone obtain all my info by just having my damn CC#?
> ----- End forwarded message -----

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