[META] The signal/noise ratio - a plea for a sense of proportion

Discussion in 'C Programming' started by Richard Heathfield, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of topicality but
    also of posting style, many of which are shared in common with other
    technical groups. These conventions are there for excellent reasons, which
    I won't go into here. And indeed it is sometimes necessary to draw people's
    attention to those conventions.

    Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a little
    tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*, of complaints
    about posting style.

    Yes, the conventions are there for good reasons.

    Yes, some people are too clueless - or perhaps too focused on the task they
    are trying to achieve with clc's help - to work out the conventions for
    themselves.

    Yes, it does make sense to draw their attention to those conventions.

    In the case of topicality, we're stuck there. Someone has to point it out.
    And it is in the nature of Usenet that sometimes an off-topic subject will
    be flagged by numerous people. C'est la vie, and we live with it.

    But in the case of stuff like top-posting, inadequate or superfluous
    quoting, brain-dead attribectomies, c1u31355-speak, and the like, must we
    really clog up the newsgroup with articles that are nothing more than a
    futile attempt to enforce common sense?

    Would it not be brighter of us to *refrain* from making complaints about
    formatting and writing style /unless/ we *also* have something to say about
    the subject under discussion?

    There's a world of difference between saying "please don't top-post" and
    saying "please don't top-post. Okay, your problem is that you're not
    tickling the pointer in the right way - try doing it like this..."

    People will do what they do, I guess, but I hope at least some of you will
    stop and think about this. If we have nothing substantive to say in reply
    to an article, would it not be better to say nothing, and leave the style
    complaints to those who /do/ have a relevant contribution to make to the
    discussion?

    Yeah, I know - if people aren't told, they won't know. But I'm not
    suggesting we let it go by the board. I'm just saying that we could
    significantly reduce the noise in here by adopting this guideline.

    For my own part, I have tried to follow this rule for some considerable time
    now, and I think that on the whole I've succeeded. And no, I'm not offering
    flouters a licence to be stupid; I am much less likely to answer a question
    if the person asking the question is in the habit of ignoring conventions
    that exist for excellent reasons, because I'd rather expend my energy on
    those who are bright enough to recognise the value of those conventions,
    and who can respond positively to the group dynamic. Isn't that a
    reasonable model to work with?

    So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
    the noise?

    Thanks for listening.

    </soapbox>

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
     
    Richard Heathfield, Sep 19, 2006
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. Richard Heathfield

    Guest

    Re: The signal/noise ratio - a plea for a sense of proportion

    Richard Heathfield wrote:
    > Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of topicality but
    > also of posting style, many of which are shared in common with other
    > technical groups. These conventions are there for excellent reasons, which
    > I won't go into here. And indeed it is sometimes necessary to draw people's
    > attention to those conventions.
    >
    > Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a little
    > tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*, of complaints
    > about posting style.
    >
    > Yes, the conventions are there for good reasons.
    >
    > Yes, some people are too clueless - or perhaps too focused on the task they
    > are trying to achieve with clc's help - to work out the conventions for
    > themselves.
    >
    > Yes, it does make sense to draw their attention to those conventions.
    >
    > In the case of topicality, we're stuck there. Someone has to point it out.
    > And it is in the nature of Usenet that sometimes an off-topic subject will
    > be flagged by numerous people. C'est la vie, and we live with it.
    >
    > But in the case of stuff like top-posting, inadequate or superfluous
    > quoting, brain-dead attribectomies, c1u31355-speak, and the like, must we
    > really clog up the newsgroup with articles that are nothing more than a
    > futile attempt to enforce common sense?
    >
    > Would it not be brighter of us to *refrain* from making complaints about
    > formatting and writing style /unless/ we *also* have something to say about
    > the subject under discussion?
    >
    > There's a world of difference between saying "please don't top-post" and
    > saying "please don't top-post. Okay, your problem is that you're not
    > tickling the pointer in the right way - try doing it like this..."
    >
    > People will do what they do, I guess, but I hope at least some of you will
    > stop and think about this. If we have nothing substantive to say in reply
    > to an article, would it not be better to say nothing, and leave the style
    > complaints to those who /do/ have a relevant contribution to make to the
    > discussion?
    >
    > Yeah, I know - if people aren't told, they won't know. But I'm not
    > suggesting we let it go by the board. I'm just saying that we could
    > significantly reduce the noise in here by adopting this guideline.
    >
    > For my own part, I have tried to follow this rule for some considerable time
    > now, and I think that on the whole I've succeeded. And no, I'm not offering
    > flouters a licence to be stupid; I am much less likely to answer a question
    > if the person asking the question is in the habit of ignoring conventions
    > that exist for excellent reasons, because I'd rather expend my energy on
    > those who are bright enough to recognise the value of those conventions,
    > and who can respond positively to the group dynamic. Isn't that a
    > reasonable model to work with?
    >
    > So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
    > the noise?
    >
    > Thanks for listening.
    >
    > </soapbox>


    Where's your opening tag?

    >
    > --
    > Richard Heathfield
    > "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    > http://www.cpax.org.uk
    > email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
     
    , Sep 19, 2006
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Richard Heathfield

    Default User Guest

    Richard Heathfield wrote:

    > Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of
    > topicality but also of posting style, many of which are shared in
    > common with other technical groups. These conventions are there for
    > excellent reasons, which I won't go into here. And indeed it is
    > sometimes necessary to draw people's attention to those conventions.
    >
    > Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a
    > little tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*,
    > of complaints about posting style.


    > So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a
    > little on the noise?



    Sorry, but no. I've set up my handy-dandy stock paragraph, which I
    apply to each instance of top-posting I see that hasn't been addressed
    by someone else. That's so that the Googlers (you know it's 99% them)
    are clued in as soon as possible AND so nobody else has to do it.

    I think your complaint is not well-founded. CLC has one of the best
    ratios of "correct" posting style of any group I use, and I think
    that's because a few of us go out of our way to not "complain" about
    top-posting but to explain what it is, and give valuable links it's not
    appropriate.

    Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this. Talk about
    getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
    experience for all concerned. I think you're way off-base.




    Brian
     
    Default User, Sep 19, 2006
    #3
  4. In article <>,
    Default User <> wrote:
    ....
    >Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this. Talk about
    >getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
    >experience for all concerned. I think you're way off-base.


    Another chick fight!
     
    Kenny McCormack, Sep 19, 2006
    #4
  5. Richard Heathfield

    Old Wolf Guest

    Re: The signal/noise ratio - a plea for a sense of proportion

    Default User wrote:
    > Richard Heathfield wrote:
    > > Would it not be brighter of us to *refrain* from making complaints about
    > > formatting and writing style /unless/ we *also* have something to say about
    > > the subject under discussion?


    Agree completely; I try to follow this guideline already.

    > > Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a
    > > little tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*,
    > > of complaints about posting style.

    >
    > > So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a
    > > little on the noise?

    >
    > Sorry, but no. I've set up my handy-dandy stock paragraph, which I
    > apply to each instance of top-posting I see that hasn't been addressed
    > by someone else. That's so that the Googlers (you know it's 99% them)


    I find your generalizations to be offensive

    > are clued in as soon as possible AND so nobody else has to do it.


    Why don't you send private email then? Google requires the use
    of a correct email address to post from.

    > Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this. Talk about
    > getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
    > experience for all concerned. I think you're way off-base.


    Key word, "trying". Frankly, I don't consider myself to be getting
    a better experience when there are short messages day after
    day from you all saying the same thing. And figure out how to
    change the display name in your newsreader.
     
    Old Wolf, Sep 19, 2006
    #5
  6. Re: The signal/noise ratio - a plea for a sense of proportion

    On 18 Sep 2006 16:22:50 -0700, ""
    <> wrote:

    >
    >Richard Heathfield wrote:
    >> Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of topicality but


    snip ~70 lines of quoted text

    >> So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
    >> the noise?
    >>
    >> Thanks for listening.
    >>
    >> </soapbox>

    >
    >Where's your opening tag?


    It's in the thread on excessive quoting



    Remove del for email
     
    Barry Schwarz, Sep 19, 2006
    #6
  7. Richard Heathfield

    Jack Klein Guest

    On Mon, 18 Sep 2006 23:03:44 +0000, Richard Heathfield
    <> wrote in comp.lang.c:

    [snip]


    > But in the case of stuff like top-posting, inadequate or superfluous
    > quoting, brain-dead attribectomies, c1u31355-speak, and the like, must we
    > really clog up the newsgroup with articles that are nothing more than a
    > futile attempt to enforce common sense?


    [snip]

    <smiley>

    Clog up the newsgroup? Are you back on dial-up?!?

    </smiley>

    --
    Jack Klein
    Home: http://JK-Technology.Com
    FAQs for
    comp.lang.c http://c-faq.com/
    comp.lang.c++ http://www.parashift.com/c -faq-lite/
    alt.comp.lang.learn.c-c++
    http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~ajo/docs/FAQ-acllc.html
     
    Jack Klein, Sep 19, 2006
    #7
  8. Richard Heathfield

    Guest

    Re: The signal/noise ratio - a plea for a sense of proportion

    Barry Schwarz wrote:
    > On 18 Sep 2006 16:22:50 -0700, ""
    > <> wrote:
    >
    > >
    > >Richard Heathfield wrote:
    > >> Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of topicality but

    >
    > snip ~70 lines of quoted text
    >
    > >> So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
    > >> the noise?
    > >>
    > >> Thanks for listening.
    > >>
    > >> </soapbox>

    > >
    > >Where's your opening tag?

    >
    > It's in the thread on excessive quoting


    It's not excessive. If I had trimmed the quote, I would have been
    accused of snipping the very thing I claim is missing.

    And isn't leaving the period off the end of your sentences going
    a little too far?

    >
    >
    >
    > Remove del for email
     
    , Sep 19, 2006
    #8
  9. Default User said:

    <snip>

    > I think your complaint is not well-founded.


    That is your prerogative...

    <snip>

    > Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this.


    ....but I think that's an over-reaction. Disgusted? If a simple plea for an
    increase in the S/N ratio disgusts you, then you are easily disgusted.

    > Talk about
    > getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
    > experience for all concerned.


    I wasn't doing any kicking. I was merely trying to make the group a better
    experience for all concerned.

    > I think you're way off-base.


    Naturally, I disagree. The problem is one of time. I look forward to reading
    your articles (although that may change if you continue to be disgusted at
    the drop of a hat), but when they turn out to be Yet Another Content-Free
    Article (w.r.t. the C language), I cannot help but feel that a small amount
    of my time has been wasted. Yes, just a small amount. But it all adds up.

    (And yes, I'm aware that you're not the only person who posts the kind of
    article under discussion. Otherwise, I'd either have said nothing or raised
    it in email.)

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
     
    Richard Heathfield, Sep 19, 2006
    #9
  10. Jack Klein said:

    > <smiley>
    >
    > Clog up the newsgroup? Are you back on dial-up?!?


    <shudder>

    No, thank heaven. It's a question of time and patience, not bandwidth.

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
     
    Richard Heathfield, Sep 19, 2006
    #10
  11. Richard Heathfield

    Default User Guest

    Richard Heathfield wrote:

    > Default User said:
    >
    > <snip>
    >
    > > I think your complaint is not well-founded.

    >
    > That is your prerogative...
    >
    > <snip>
    >
    > > Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this.

    >
    > ...but I think that's an over-reaction. Disgusted? If a simple plea
    > for an increase in the S/N ratio disgusts you, then you are easily
    > disgusted.


    That's what annoys me. I don't feel it IS damaging signal-to-noise at
    all. Quite the contrary, or I wouldn't do it. By posting a thorough
    explanation, with the link to the nice explanatory web page that I got
    from Keith, it avoids the haphazard methods so often posted previously.
    People frequently just say, "don't top-post". This often results in a
    query as to what that means, and perhaps a third round to answer the
    question of "why not".

    By putting together a complete package, it's designed to (hopefully)
    take care of the problem at one fell swoop.




    Brian
     
    Default User, Sep 19, 2006
    #11
  12. Richard Heathfield

    Rudolf Guest

    In article <>,
    Richard Heathfield <> wrote:


    > There's a world of difference between saying "please don't top-post" and
    > saying "please don't top-post. Okay, your problem is that you're not
    > tickling the pointer in the right way - try doing it like this..."


    Way too many posters respond with "Thanks" (top-posted of course), to a
    reply that says "please don't top post, here's what's wrong with your
    code."

    If a poster is showing poor manners (such as with top-posting), but they
    get their answer anyway, where's the incentive for them to improve?


    > So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little on
    > the noise?


    I think topicality is more of a problem lately in this group than noise.

    If you're looking for a C group with better S/N ratio than CLC,
    comp.lang.c.moderated is right next door.
     
    Rudolf, Sep 19, 2006
    #12
  13. Rudolf said:

    > Way too many posters respond with "Thanks" (top-posted of course), to a
    > reply that says "please don't top post, here's what's wrong with your
    > code."


    Yes, but that's what scorefiles and killfiles are for. I was hoping not to
    have to mod down some of the people here, since when they /do/ have
    something to say, it's generally worth reading.

    > If a poster is showing poor manners (such as with top-posting), but they
    > get their answer anyway, where's the incentive for them to improve?


    Fair point. And where's the incentive for C programmers to continue to read
    some people's articles on the off-chance that they might contain something
    about C, when the percentage of their articles that do so is
    ever-diminishing?


    >> So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a little
    >> on the noise?

    >
    > I think topicality is more of a problem lately in this group than noise.


    Topicality is /always/ a problem, and it's being dealt with as effectively
    as it can be, I think. If I thought noise weren't a problem here, I
    wouldn't have mentioned it in the first place.

    > If you're looking for a C group with better S/N ratio than CLC,
    > comp.lang.c.moderated is right next door.


    Yes, there is always that option. Thankfully, things aren't yet so bad that
    I feel driven to clcm. I'd have been pretty silly to leave it until things
    /were/ that bad before pointing out the problem.

    Oh well. I tried. I guess I'll have to think of some other solution.

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
     
    Richard Heathfield, Sep 19, 2006
    #13
  14. Richard Heathfield

    Default User Guest

    Re: The signal/noise ratio - a plea for a sense of proportion

    Old Wolf wrote:

    > Default User wrote:


    > > Sorry, but no. I've set up my handy-dandy stock paragraph, which I
    > > apply to each instance of top-posting I see that hasn't been
    > > addressed by someone else. That's so that the Googlers (you know
    > > it's 99% them)

    >
    > I find your generalizations to be offensive


    Do you doubt it? Seriously? How often do you see top-posting from
    someone not posting via Google?

    > > are clued in as soon as possible AND so nobody else has to do it.

    >
    > Why don't you send private email then? Google requires the use
    > of a correct email address to post from.


    Nonsense. The posts clue in the offender AND others.

    > > Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this. Talk about
    > > getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
    > > experience for all concerned. I think you're way off-base.

    >
    > Key word, "trying". Frankly, I don't consider myself to be getting
    > a better experience when there are short messages day after
    > day from you all saying the same thing.


    Would you with top-posting?

    > And figure out how to
    > change the display name in your newsreader.


    What are you talking about? Doesn't it say "Default User" when you see
    it, "Old Wolf"?




    Brian
     
    Default User, Sep 19, 2006
    #14
  15. Richard Heathfield

    Default User Guest

    Richard Heathfield wrote:

    > Default User said:
    >
    > <snip>
    >
    > > I think your complaint is not well-founded.

    >
    > That is your prerogative...
    >
    > <snip>
    >
    > > Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this.

    >
    > ...but I think that's an over-reaction. Disgusted? If a simple plea
    > for an increase in the S/N ratio disgusts you, then you are easily
    > disgusted.


    Now that I've had a night's sleep over this, I'm quite a bit less
    annoyed. However, I think that you should consider that if I, someone
    who I think you'd agree doesn't normally fly off the handle, was upset
    by your post then it might not have been as innocuous and helpful as
    you thought.


    > Naturally, I disagree. The problem is one of time. I look forward to
    > reading your articles (although that may change if you continue to be
    > disgusted at the drop of a hat),


    I also am not too thrilled with these veiled killfile threats, but
    we'll set that aside.

    > but when they turn out to be Yet
    > Another Content-Free Article (w.r.t. the C language), I cannot help
    > but feel that a small amount of my time has been wasted. Yes, just a
    > small amount. But it all adds up.


    In spite of my extreme irritation yesterday, it is my goal to help
    rather than hinder things. Frankly, if normal responders were doing a
    good job of larting the top-posters, I probably wouldn't have started
    doing this.

    What I will try to do is add [TPA] for "top-posting alert" to any
    admonishment that doesn't otherwise have a resonse to the post. That
    way you or any other poster with killfile ability can filter that.

    We'll see how that goes. Deal?




    Brian
     
    Default User, Sep 19, 2006
    #15
  16. [I tried composing a point-by-point response to Brian's article, but no
    matter how I worded it, it always came out as "fitin' woids", which won't
    help anyone, so...]

    Default User said:

    <BIG ol' snip>

    > What I will try to do is add [TPA] for "top-posting alert" to any
    > admonishment that doesn't otherwise have a resonse to the post.


    That seems like a reasonable compromise. Thank you.

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
     
    Richard Heathfield, Sep 19, 2006
    #16
  17. Richard Heathfield

    Default User Guest

    Richard Heathfield wrote:

    > [I tried composing a point-by-point response to Brian's article, but
    > no matter how I worded it, it always came out as "fitin' woids",
    > which won't help anyone, so...]


    Feel free to drop me a note off-line if you prefer. I'm not in a fitin'
    mood today, vice last night. I'm usually a bit slow to respond, as I
    only check that yahoo account every few days, but I'll check it more
    frequently for the next couple of days.





    Brian
     
    Default User, Sep 19, 2006
    #17
  18. Default User said:

    > Richard Heathfield wrote:
    >
    >> [I tried composing a point-by-point response to Brian's article, but
    >> no matter how I worded it, it always came out as "fitin' woids",
    >> which won't help anyone, so...]

    >
    > Feel free to drop me a note off-line if you prefer.


    I don't think that would help, to be honest. Suffice to say that I didn't
    agree with everything you said, but I don't want to turn this into a
    bar-room brawl.

    > I'm not in a fitin' mood today,


    Likewise. Perhaps we both just need a beer. And maybe a beer or two.

    And a beer. And peanuts.

    With beer.

    --
    Richard Heathfield
    "Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29/7/1999
    http://www.cpax.org.uk
    email: rjh at above domain (but drop the www, obviously)
     
    Richard Heathfield, Sep 19, 2006
    #18
  19. Default User wrote:
    > Richard Heathfield wrote:
    >
    >> Like any newsgroup, comp.lang.c has conventions, not only of
    >> topicality but also of posting style, many of which are shared in
    >> common with other technical groups. These conventions are there for
    >> excellent reasons, which I won't go into here. And indeed it is
    >> sometimes necessary to draw people's attention to those conventions.
    >>
    >> Nevertheless, I doubt whether I am completely alone in being just a
    >> little tired of reading messages which consist, *in their entirety*,
    >> of complaints about posting style.

    >
    >> So - pretty please with sugar on - can we just try to cut down a
    >> little on the noise?

    >

    [...]
    > I think your complaint is not well-founded. CLC has one of the best
    > ratios of "correct" posting style of any group I use, and I think
    > that's because a few of us go out of our way to not "complain" about
    > top-posting but to explain what it is, and give valuable links it's not
    > appropriate.
    >
    > Frankly, I'm disgusted and annoyed with you about this. Talk about
    > getting a kick in the ass for trying to make the group a better
    > experience for all concerned. I think you're way off-base.
    >

    Are you sure you ought to be so offended? One can disagree, of course,
    but I see nothing here to be disgusted about.

    Perturbed, maybe. Vexed, perhaps. But not disgusted.

    As for your claimed ass-kicking; remember, no good deed goes unpunished.
     
    Clever Monkey, Sep 19, 2006
    #19
  20. Re: The signal/noise ratio - a plea for a sense of proportion

    Default User wrote:
    > Old Wolf wrote:
    >
    >> Default User wrote:

    >
    >>> Sorry, but no. I've set up my handy-dandy stock paragraph, which I
    >>> apply to each instance of top-posting I see that hasn't been
    >>> addressed by someone else. That's so that the Googlers (you know
    >>> it's 99% them)

    >> I find your generalizations to be offensive

    >
    > Do you doubt it? Seriously? How often do you see top-posting from
    > someone not posting via Google?


    When they post from Outlook Express.
     
    Clever Monkey, Sep 19, 2006
    #20
    1. Advertising

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

It takes just 2 minutes to sign up (and it's free!). Just click the sign up button to choose a username and then you can ask your own questions on the forum.
Similar Threads
  1. Peter Strøiman
    Replies:
    1
    Views:
    2,092
    Peter Strøiman
    Aug 23, 2005
  2. Bremse

    signal to noise ratio

    Bremse, Feb 2, 2005, in forum: Java
    Replies:
    0
    Views:
    363
    Bremse
    Feb 2, 2005
  3. Josef 'Jupp' Schugt

    signal/noise ratio changing for the worse :-|

    Josef 'Jupp' Schugt, Aug 21, 2003, in forum: Ruby
    Replies:
    0
    Views:
    94
    Josef 'Jupp' Schugt
    Aug 21, 2003
  4. Replies:
    13
    Views:
    201
    Justin Collins
    Aug 24, 2006
  5. James Britt
    Replies:
    2
    Views:
    84
    H- 16
    Apr 11, 2010
Loading...

Share This Page