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Newsgroups: comp.os.linux
From: tytso@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Theodore Ts'o)
Subject: Alternatives to splitting the newsgroup
Reply-To: tytso@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Theodore Ts'o)
Organization: The Internet
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1992 19:29:27 GMT

As one of the original instigators of alt.os.linux, and then
comp.os.linux, I would like to join with Linus and arl in saying that
splitting comp.os.linux would be a BAD idea.  There are many good
reasons for keeping c.o.l. as one newsgroup, and various people have
given them already:  It would cut the Fidonet relay out; it would leave
the 140 or so people who receive c.o.l via the Linux Digests out in the
cold.  

Speaking as someone who just finished catching up on 3 weeks of
comp.os.linux articles (and every single article flashed on my screen,
although I deleted most of them within a second or two), I find it hard
to sympathize with the people who grouse about not being able to catch
up day-to-day.  It doesn't take that long to skim an article, and then
hit the 'd' key (or the 'n' key or 'k' key; whatever); and if you have a
smart newsreader, it becomes even easier.

Nevertheless, it is true that the traffic on this list has been growing,
and it would be good to figure out some ways to make this less of an
issue.  I have two suggestions that might help improve things.

First of all, I would suggest that the Meta-FAQ, which Lars Wirzenius
is planning on maintaining and posting periodically, contain a section
about Usenet etiquette.  Something to remind people about the charter of
the group; to ask them to take personal attacks to email; to ask people,
whenever possible, to take replies via email and them posting summaries
of the responses to the group.  These are simple things which every
Usenet participant should know; but a little reminder never hurts.

The second suggestion I have is based on something which the TeX mailing
list uses to control novice questions.  That is to recruit a bunch of
volunteers that are willing to answer novice questions via email.
Novices would be directed to ask their questions to a magic mailing
address.  This magic mailing address would direct their question to ONLY
ONE of the volunteers, and going down the list to the next volunteer for
the next questions, and so on.  If you have sufficient volunteers, each
volunteer would only get to answer one question every couple of days or
weeks, so it shouldn't be an onerous burden.  If the volunteer who gets
the question can't answer it, he or she can escalate the question to the
entire list of volunteers, and if none of the volunteers can field it,
the question can then go to the newsgroup.  

I am willing to write some software to develop this question fielding
system for Linux, if there are enough volunteers to make this system go.
Given the number of questions, there should be at least 20 or 30
volunteers, and the more the merrier.  So..... if you are interested in
helping provide manpower for such a scheme, please send me mail with the
your email address.  Also, please let me know which categories of
questions you would be interested in fielding.  It may make sense to
split the question queues into different topics: GCC, X, Kernel, and
other might be one such breakdown.

							- Ted

Newsgroups: comp.os.linux
Path: nntp.hut.fi!funic!fuug!mcsun!uunet!cs.utexas.edu!qt.cs.utexas.edu!
yale.edu!yale!gumby!destroyer!sol.ctr.columbia.edu!usc!sdd.hp.com!mips!
darwin.sura.net!blaze.cs.jhu.edu!bogstad
From: bogstad@blaze.cs.jhu.edu (Bill Bogstad)
Subject: Re: Alternatives to splitting the newsgroup
Message-ID: <1992Jul20.213356.8175@blaze.cs.jhu.edu>
Organization: Johns Hopkins Computer Science Department, Baltimore, MD
References: <1992Jul20.192927.4438@athena.mit.edu>
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1992 21:33:56 GMT
Lines: 22

In article <1992Jul20.192927.4438@athena.mit.edu> tytso@ATHENA.MIT.EDU 
(Theodore Ts'o) writes:
>As one of the original instigators of alt.os.linux, and then
>comp.os.linux, I would like to join with Linus and arl in saying that
>splitting comp.os.linux would be a BAD idea.  There are many good
>reasons for keeping c.o.l. as one newsgroup, and various people have
>given them already:  It would cut the Fidonet relay out; it would leave
>the 140 or so people who receive c.o.l via the Linux Digests out in the
>cold.  

	Those same arguments could be used to suggest that the special Linux
LISTSERVs for SCSI, X?, etc. should be done away with as well.  As someone
who prefers to handle must information sources via a news interface, I'm
being left out in the cold.  By the way, I'm not saying that your arguments
are without merit or that special LISTSERVs are necessarily a bad idea.
Ways of making a split work with the Digests are possible.  Multiple
submission addresses (one for each newsgroup) are one possibility.

				Bill Bogstad

P.S.  The rest of your article had some other great ideas about a special
address to handle novice questions etc.  It was just your opening paragraph
with which I had a problem.

Newsgroups: comp.os.linux
From: tytso@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Theodore Ts'o)
Subject: Re: Alternatives to splitting the newsgroup
Reply-To: tytso@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Theodore Ts'o)
Organization: The Internet
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1992 00:46:37 GMT

No, actually, it would be very hard support the new groups.  There are
two problems.  The first is cross-posting.  People do it a lot, no
matter how you try to stop them, and with mail, you can't eliminate the
duplicates without a lot of work, and then you have to decide where the
article should go.  The second problem is that having the digest track
several groups would require a lot of changes to the perl script as it
is currently written; the assumption is fairly strong that there is only
one newsgroup.  You could have separate digests for the different
newsgroups, but that's really unwieldy, and it still doesn't solve the
crossposting problem.

Again, I really don't think the current traffic on the newsgroups
warrant splitting the newsgroup.  And if we implement my suggestion of
draining off the newbie questions by directing them at a list of
volunteers, such that each question goes to only one volunteer, I think
we can further decrease volume on this list so that splitting it is
really not justified.

So far, just under 20 people have volunteered, and all of the responses
which I've gotten is positive.  If we can get a couple more volunteers,
we can definitely get this service off the ground.  So if you haven't
signed up yet, and you like helping people, I ask you to please sign up!
All you have to do is send me mail stating your email address and what
areas you feel most comfortable answering questions.

						- Ted

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