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Off topic section?

by castaway (Parson)
on Mar 27, 2003 at 10:47 UTC ( #246207=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Hi all,
Someone suggested recently (methinks it was tye), that maybe we should have an off-topic section that we could move OT posts to. Some OT stuff gets answered and deserves to stay a while (in my opinion), but doesn't belong in any of the usual sections.
Posts to this section would still need to be approved and moderated etc. so it shouldnt get filled with junk (maybe the posts can expire quicker than the rest..)
On the other hand, it might encourage more off topic stuff than we get already. I think posts there should be at least vaguely related to Perl (like MySQL Select Speed Optimisation, or questions about installing Perl .. )

Any thoughts?


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Off topic section?
by gmax (Abbot) on Mar 27, 2003 at 11:31 UTC

    This subject has been discussed several times before.

    Off topic nodes are just something that you can't avoid in a site like this.

    I am not saying that I indiscriminately approve of OT nodes, but I don't refuse an answer when I have it, even if I feel that the question isn't entirely on topic.

    The Monastery has been answering OT questions (database, shell scripts, Windows services, Unix daemons, and so on) for long time, just because Perl programming does not happen in a vacuum.

    However, the most important reason why people are asking for help here, is that you first ask the ones you trust, even if you know that it might not be the most appropriate place.

    On this subject, you may find enlightening the following posts as well.

    The Monastery has already its weapons to protect itself against the OT invasion, i.e. monks with "considering" powers can vote to keep or delete a node. It's a democratic system, which seems to be working fine, IMO.

    Update. Fixed some wording problems.

     _  _ _  _  
    (_|| | |(_|><
      Hmm.. I did, but didn't find those for some reason.. hohum, too late now.. *watches XP yo-yo around*
      Expansion to suggestion:
      Only use the Section to move nodes to which don't belong anywhere else, and have been answered etc. So that it's not something which people can purposely post to.
      (Or we need the ability to move such posts to a parallel site somehow - *g*)


Re: Off topic section? (sort of)
by tye (Sage) on Mar 27, 2003 at 15:40 UTC

    Actually, my idea of an off-topic "section" would be one that has no section display page (so no approval process, no front-paging, no way to post new nodes directly to it). It would be a place to move off-topic threads but there would be no section page for browsing off-topic threads. The point of moving threads there would be to make them less visible in order to discourage the starting of off-topic threads and as an alternative to reaping.

    Probably Super Search would know how to search off-topic threads but wouldn't search them by default.

    The fact that it would be implemented as a section is somewhat irrelevant, being mostly just an implementation detail. The point would be having a way to consider a node as being off-topic and then enough votes for 'off-topic' w/o conflicting votes would trigger the thread being made off-topic and thus "move it out of the way".

    I feel a need for some way to address the "no Perl content" type of considerations that are often way too common for my tastes. But I'm not convinced even this idea would be an improvement, because in some ways it would encourage people to consider nodes as off-topic and experience shows that lots of people can read a node with a question about Perl and not realize that Perl is involved and will even then consider the node for reaping.

    I fear the only decent solution will be a way for people to give feed-back on considerations such that the community can designate a consideration abusive or inappropriate and the considerer and those who voted for it lose some moderation power. Such would be complex.

    It would also not address the "no value" considerations. For me, there is a huge distinction between 1) "I see no value in that node", 2) "I'm very sure noone would see any value in that node", and 3) "That node does damage of some sort". And I don't think you should reap a node unless it is beyond (3). For me, it is a matter of whether the amount of damage is enough to warrant reaping the node. So I'm frankly baffled when I see people considering nodes for (1).

                    - tye
      I share your concerns, tye, on the recent proliferation of non-perl root posts.   It seems that PM's very perl-specific focus is one significant part of what helps keep the Monastery a friendly corner in an otherwise cold and hostile web. At some point, I'd expect OT proliferation to adversely impact the longstanding PM culture of civility and courtesy.

      Your description of a "non-section OT section" sounds better than anything else I've heard of.   Of course no solution will be perfect.   I don't think it's become a problem *yet*, but have no feel for how long it might take for OT proliferation side-effects to become a issue.   About the time I start to wonder if OT root posts would really become an issue, I remember the godless-heathen-slashdot-hordes.   Heh.

      Regarding the potential problems of "no-value post reapings", it looks like the reaping mechanism may not be scaling well.   On second thought, s/reaping/level-powers/;.   KnowwhatImeanVerne?   I've no suggestions whatsoever on addressing that, if it is indeed a conceivable source of a possible problem.   (So did I couch that last statement in enough qualifiers?   {grin})
        striving toward Perl Adept
          (it's pronounced "why-bick")

      P.S.   Hrm... might a "not-a-section OT section" end up encouraging even greater volume of OT posts??   /me gets a headache pondering triple double sideways reverse psychology.

      Update   Here are a couple articles by Clay Shirkey that appear quite relevant to the topic of Monastery community and scalability.   I'm still absorbing+digesting the info for to develop an opinion.

        As a not-a-section OT section, these pages could be listed only in Newest Nodes or some other out-of-the-way place. They should also be not-frontpageable.. That would make them visible enough to get answers but invisible enough to discourage use of this site as a first line of support for non-perl issues.

        --- print map { my ($m)=1<<hex($_)&11?' ':''; $m.=substr('AHJPacehklnorstu',hex($_),1) } split //,'2fde0abe76c36c914586c';
      I completely agree.


Re: Off topic section?
by LAI (Hermit) on Mar 27, 2003 at 14:05 UTC

    I'm not sure I quite get the purpose of an OT section. Or rather, I'm not sure why anyone would bother browsing the section. If I want to read conversations that don't have to do with Perl (hypothetical only of course!) I'll go to another site, I won't browse through the OT nodes section.

    There is something to be said for OT nodes not showing up in any given thread, though. What if moderators could consider a node as "off-topic", which just flags it as such? That way, if you don't want your page filled with off-topic posts you might have the option to hide or collapse all nodes marked as off-topic. Presumably any given node would inherit off-topicness (off-topicity?) from its parent as far as rendering goes.

    This would avoid putting an extra section into the already-beefy navigation link area, and seems to me an elegant solution, or at least a workable idea.

    Plus, it gives those slacker pmdevils some work. (just kidding; I think the work you folks do is wonderful)



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