On the need for moderated questions lists

Wojciech Puchar wojtek at wojtek.tensor.gdynia.pl
Fri May 29 07:36:21 UTC 2009

>> It's just my opinion, time will show if i am right if they will not do
>> this, and this list turn to <1% on topic.
> The only problem with that sort of reasoning is that the FreeBSD mailing
> list charters *have* been decided.

but the decision MAY be changed. Of course - it may not, but there is 
nothing that prevent me from having an opinion about moderation and trying 
to explain to others that it make sense.

> There is a reason why freebsd-questions is open to everyone, including
> people who want to discuss things like ``How do I make my Windows boot
> loader launch FreeBSD?''.

I am NOT asking for closing current list!!!!

But adding moderated one.

> My impression from hanging around this mailing list for several years
> now (It's almost a decade now, geez! When did all that time pass?) is

for over decade i use unix but unfortunately much shorter FreeBSD.

> that the openness and the all-around friendly character of ``If your
> question is even marginally related to a small part of FreeBSD and we
> can help, we'll do it'' is a valued and much-cherished attribute of the

This way anything with any real question are difficult to get answers.

It was for example common for my questions that 20 people answered with 
nonsense because they just are on the list as "experts" answering windows 

Fortunately sometimes i finally got an answer if someone knowing it got 
through the mess before. more often - not.

> list.  A lot of the people who hang around here like it this way, and
> what you propose to do is such a radical change that it requires a *lot*
> of up-front work if you really want to convince anyone.

Once again - i don't want that list to be closed.

It's very possible that some people would like to look at both. On 
moderated "professional" ;) to get and answer FreeBSD-related question, 
and on this as a cool chat and place to talk about installing KDE if 
he/she like.

> You do have a point that there is a very thin line between ``being very
> helpful to new people'' and ``talking about irrelevant systems all the
> time'',

The line can be clearly defined if rules will be defined.

There are tons of other places when you can help people that way. And of 
course - that list that won't be removed.

> moderated list seems to be ``We have to do this or we are doomed to be
> flooded with useless non-FreeBSD posts''.

We already all.

> volume of off-topic posts has any sort of upwards trend is to:
>  (a) Define *precisely* and in very clear terms what you consider on
>      topic and what you consider off-topic.

OK. On topic is:

- question about software made by FreeBSD team which is FreeBSD base 
system+ports subsystem. In ports subsystem i mean the set of scripts and 
patches that allows you to compile other programs, BUT NOT THE PROGRAMS 

- questions about purely FreeBSD-specific and FreeBSD-dependend things of 
ported programs. For example:

I start program X, configure it the same way as in linux, installed all 
the same modules, but here it crashes/behave differently. For example:
--- here some output ---
Where is a problem

Off topic - it's all not being on-topic.

>  (c) Go through the archives by year and/or month and keep statistics
>      about things like: thread size, active posters per period, posts
>      per period, off-topic/on-topic ratio of messages, and so on.

already did. years ago the percentage of on-topic questions was much 
higher, as more and more often it's dissolved by questions about 
windows,KDE etc.

> This sort of approach would probably meet a lot less resistance, because
> it is repeatable by anyone who wants to verify your results, and it is
> based on the actual *data* of the mailing list itself, instead of a

OK. nice idea.

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