[sf-lug] bad netiquette [Was]license count != software popularity (Re: [Balug-Talk] Open Source less popular than Free Software)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Sep 28 23:01:16 PDT 2007

Quoting Christian Einfeldt (einfeldt at gmail.com):

> I am wondering what the best method is for speaking with several lists at
> once on a topic that is of some time urgency.

You'll find no easy answers, just views of varying nature and strength.

> 1)  Assuming that I and others like users occasionally have a time crunch
> for solving a problem, what is the best way to get support from multiple
> lists for the same or similar question?

By the way, some would question your unstated premise that it's
desirable to ask the same question simultaneously or near-simultaneously
(regardless of mechanism) on multiple near-neighbour mailing lists.
Those would be slightly vexed at spotting your query redundantly on
numerous fora all at once, and at the implicit assumption that your
questions are a high priority for multiple online communities.

However, some others would not.
> 2)  Could the members here who are admins on this or other lists please
> explain why it is troublesome for admins when someone:
>       a) submits a post with two lists' addresses in the same email?

1.  If there are first, second, and n-level followups, most will do
reply-all without being careful to stick only to the mailing lists
they're subscribed to.  This in turn will, given prevailing mailing list
setup, cause each list's admins to have to manually vet non-subscribed
posts for n generations of replies afterwards --- above and beyond their
other unpaid duties.  That, in turn, will lead to them tending to
consider you a jerk.

2.  It is an empirical statistical truth that cross-posted threads
across normally distinct online fora are much more than normally likely
to give rise to flamewars.  If that happens, you as the initial
cross-poster are likely to receive a large share of the blame from
affected listadmins, and possibly also by the affect communities' other

(I could speculate about why that happens, and have some theories.
However, airing those theories would tend to distract from the larger
point, which is that regardless of _why_ it tends to happen, it's an
observed fact that it _does_ tend to happen.)

>       b) posts the same question to two or more lists in separate emails?

This method avoids the risks cited above.  It has the relatively minor
drawback of tending to evade duplicate-copy filters such as the widely
used procmail dupe recipe:

:0 Wh: msgid.lock
| formail -D 8192 msgid.cache

> With regard to a) above, I can see that the problem is having members hit
> the "reply all" button, but I'm just not understanding how this creates a
> problem for the admins *assuming* that it is not a wide-spread practice.  

Some would say this is a bit like saying that you don't understand how
spitting in public areas creates a public-health problem (e.g., risk of
spreading tuberculosis) _assuming_ it is not a widespread practice.

I suppose if there is a comfortable back-inventory of spare volunteer
listadmins, so that it's not a problem if occasionally one of them gets
fed up at having to deal with dealing with problems gratuitously created 
by self-indugent asshats, the problem might be considered trivial.  Last
I checked, the Bay Area technical community had about zero supply depth
in that area -- but I guess what people see as significant problems, and
what they do not, is a matter of perspective.

Me, I try to reserve being upset for things like my family's oldest and
closest friend shooting himself to death over this past Christmas
holiday.  Things like our resident borderline-Aspergers types'
cluelessness about netiquette and needlessly pissing off key volunteers
tends to fade into trivia, seen in larger perspective.

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