Official FreeBSD Forums

Giorgos Keramidas keramida at
Sun Nov 16 22:23:50 PST 2008

On Sun, 16 Nov 2008 19:58:39 +0100 (CET),
Wojciech Puchar <wojtek at> wrote:
>> The FreeBSD project is finally, after much work, pleased to announce
>> the availability of an official FreeBSD web based discussion forum.
>> It is our hope that this forum will serve as a public support channel
>> for FreeBSD users around the world and as a complement to our fine
>> mailing lists.
> this will add lots of i...ts that are unable to configure mail program
> and subscribe. is having as much "users" as possible really good for
> FreeBSD? i don't think so.

While I can see the point you are trying to make, and it's a valid
concern, I don't fully agree.

What you are essentially hinting at is that having a forum will attract
less experienced users.  I don't think less experienced people are, for
some reason, 'idiots', but it seems plausible enough that having a
_large_ number of inexperienced people may result in a significantly
lower signal/noise ratio.  I can definitely agree to that.

Two of my usual gripes with forums and their software are:

  * Having five gazillion posts that say "me too", is not exactly a
    productive answer to a problem.  Alas, this is often what you get
    when you gather hundreds of _very_ inexperienced people and you hand
    them a web interface to freely post short, often unintelligible
    snippets that are more suitable for Twitter than a FAQ page.

  * I hate crappy, slow, bug-ridden web interfaces.  The word 'hate' is
    probably not strong enough to describe some of the sentiments that
    pop up when I have to type in tiny web-browser textboxes, only to
    find that hitting 'Back' throws away several minutes of editing.

There *are* ways to amend some of these problems though, so even though
I am not a great fan of forums and their software, I subscribed to the
new forum and I will keep an eye for interesting stuff.

The obvious solution to the ``too many newbies don't necessarily make a
good knowledge base by their sheer number'' problem is to have _more_ of
the experienced people subscribe to the forum.  If you feel you are one
of the people who can contribute useful, to the point, correct(TM) and
complete answers to the forum, then you know what to do :-)

The web interface and ``editing in tiny boxes'' problem may be slightly
less irky or less nerve-wrecking for the ``old school'' people when an
extension to Firefox is used to spawn an external editor.  I do that all
the time, and trust me it makes posting to forums a *lot* less painful
for someone who likes writing in a _real_ text editor.

I've been posting to forums with the mozex Firefox extension and GNU
Emacs for more than a couple of years now.  Here's how a typical ``post
to a forum'' session looks like for me now:

Having an Emacs instance running in ``server-mode'' means that I can
also keep around a bunch of my previous posts, and go back to them, save
them on disk, email them to myself, etc.  This has helped me feel more
at ease when posting to forums, and I heartily recommend it to anyone
who feels web interfaces are giving them a lot of grief.

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