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"Off Topic" Section?

by dws (Chancellor)
on May 31, 2002 at 17:41 UTC ( #170779=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I'm wondering what it would be like to have an "Off Topic" section (for discussions about geek-but-non-Perl stuff like Star Wars, etc.). One downside is that it would encourage more OT stuff. An upside is that it would segregate OT stuff into a section that could be freely ignored (By leaving it unchecked in personal settings).

What do you think?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
(kudra: previous thread) Re: "Off Topic" Section?
by kudra (Vicar) on May 31, 2002 at 17:55 UTC
    No discussion on this topic would be complete without a mention of this thread, which I think is the oldest thread on the topic (and it isn't a one of the ones particle listed, so follow that link!).

    I don't mind posts that maybe have an SQL or HTML question because sometimes the poster isn't aware that her or his problem doesn't involve Perl, or perhaps is aware of that, but has contributed to the site and hopes to get a little help with a tricky problem. I also don't mind the rare off-topic meditation that considers what kind of music you like while coding, or discusses a political issue that might be relevant to many people here, so long as they are clearly marked as off-topic. I'm of the opinion no section is needed if such posts are rare.

    Still, I wouldn't make a strong objection to the introduction of such a section, provided it was limited to people who have first proven they know what this site is about. And I'd almost say there should be no voting on nodes in the section, or at least no plus voting, if it were implemented.

    Even if there were such a section, a level of relevance should be required. Wildly off-topic discussions belong in the chatterbox, irc, or the poll nodelet. Questions like what colour you like best or who will win the world cup have no business here. Personally I try to ignore wildly off-topic posts, and when they cross my path, I downvote.

Re: "Off Topic" Section?
by particle (Vicar) on May 31, 2002 at 17:48 UTC
    as previously discussed, on this thread, and this thread, among others. i believe it would dilute the content, and better forums already exist.

    this website should do one thing, and do it well

    ~Particle *accelerates*

Re: "Off Topic" Section?
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on May 31, 2002 at 18:20 UTC
    Nay to this. Every offtopic section I have seen on every forum I have participated in so far anywhere on the web has shown a tendency to grow like a tumour and take a life of its own. I would hate to see that happen here. I would be happy to see something like a PerlMonks sibling site for the offtopic needs of monks; it could be closely associated with PM (links, shared user database etc), but it should be clearly separate, not in-site.

    Makeshifts last the longest.

      Every offtopic section I have seen on every forum I have participated in so far anywhere on the web has shown a tendency to grow like a tumour and take a life of its own.

      Good point. One way to deal with this is to expire Off Topic posts after some fixed interval. One place I hang out has a reserved section that carries the notice "Go ahead and flame. It'll be gone in a week."

        That is not the only consideration unfortunately. The point is that an offtopic section attracts "offtopic people", so to say, and that dilution of the populace leads to a dilution of the overall focus of the community as well, often to the point where the offtopic area becomes the main place to be and the rest of the sections is neglected, looked down on, or acquires some sort of elitist air.

        I'm not sure simply setting a short expiry time would help.

        Makeshifts last the longest.
        Something just occured to me: the Chatterbox Section does have a very short expiry time. *grin*

        Makeshifts last the longest.

      I agree entirely. Perhaps a server like, running the Everything engine would suffice. Just so discussion between familiars can take place without disturbing the Monastery.

      Even more wide-spread: Why not just put XML or an HTML comment in another message board's user profile or actual thread to signify that the poster is a Perl Monk. A Perl Monk Passport, so to speak.

      John J Reiser

Re: Perlmonks off topic section
by cjf (Parson) on May 31, 2002 at 17:54 UTC
    for discussions about geek-but-non-Perl stuff like Star Wars, etc

    Maybe some RMS updates, daily rants about spam, and far too many PDA reviews?

    Seriously though, there are already lots of discussion sites on those topics. I don't mind the occasional slightly off-topic post, but let's keep this site somewhat related to Perl.

Re: "Off Topic" Section?
by dwiz (Pilgrim) on Jun 01, 2002 at 03:16 UTC

    I kind of like the idea but understand the reservations other monks have. I think it would work if there were some level restrictions on who could post to the section. I think that would keep the amount of "noise" down. If only say bishop and above could post I think it may work because to get to that level you (as a rule) have contributed to site a fair bit and can be trusted so to speak. Just a thought.

    The best thing I have found about off-topic discussions is the fact that a lot of monks know a lot about various other topics e.g. Unix and are able to share tidbits and interesting information that may not have been shared in a forum discussing that topic because they don't frequent those particular places.


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