The wonderful world of Internet

Mark P. Line markline at
Mon Nov 29 23:15:57 EST 1993

On Mon, 29 Nov 1993, Ronald Thomas wrote:

> I guess my next question would be: if someone else (one of the few
> regular GRASS-list contributors)  didn't do the searching for you, would you
> have an answer to your problem, or would you have had to just forget about 
> using "" until (if) a 'digest' comes out?

I'll venture to butt in and answer that one myself, since it makes my
point quite succinctly concerning the value of a digest.

(a) I don't know how 'regular GRASS-list contributor' might need to be
defined. I don't think anybody who gets a question answered really cares
whether the person nice enough to respond with the correct answer was a
regular contributor or if that happened to be the only answer that
contributor had in stock. As far as the general population of contributors
is concerned, I made an admittedly kludgey attempt to figure out how many
people participate in the lists: the number my kludge spit out was 877 for
1/1/93 - 10/31/93. 

(b) I figure that everybody has a pretty good chance that, if there's a
good answer, one of these 877 people will know it and have time to respond.

(c) If nobody answers the question because it's a FAQ, then the questioner
will indeed have to either ask somebody directly (pleading, begging) or
postpone the whole problem -- unless there's a digest with all the FAQs
already answered (hint, hint, hint).

> I, for one, have found that the time, frustration, and the flames involved,
> as well as the inability or unwillingness of newer Internet user's to "get 
> up to speed" has gone beyond what I am willing to put up with, 

In my experience, everybody who starts into the Internet and *stays* on
the Internet *does* eventually get up to speed -- otherwise there'd be
more people like you and me who've been on the Internet for *milennia* and
who still made *stupid* *mistakes* (not my terminology).

I can't speak for anybody else, but *I* make stupid mistakes (in my own
view) all the time. I sure won't pester any newcomers about newbie
mistakes -- I'm almost always a newcomer to something or other.

> and I no
> longer intend to continue monitoring/contributing to the list's on a 
> close-to real-time basis as I have the past year or so (small loss, I'm sure). 
> My participation was an attempt to give back some of the effort/help I had
> received from the list's. I hope that I have done that in some small way.

I'm sorry you feel that way, on general principle. More objectively,
it's difficult to ascertain the *quality* of your contributions since
1/1/93, only *quantity* (according to my kludgey text filters, again):

                  Total messages 1/1/93 - 10/31/93:    3,412
Messages containing '' in From-field:      580
 Messages containing 'Ronald Thomas' in From-field:       43

> I recognize that most of last week's flames were due to "self-combustion",
> following a posting with an inappropriate choice of words.   However, I
> do not subscribe to the "official" CERL view that we must communicate
> at the level of the least experienced user (lowest-common denominator
> theory: see the last post by Riche/Hansen).

If that was the point, I must have entirely misconstrued the posting. I
thought the issue was whether or not one needs to be *polite* to
inexperienced users when they make mistakes. On that interpretation, the
issue has *nothing* to do with CERL, official or otherwise, and everything
to do with netiquette. An example: I have no idea of your age, but I
suspect that we can measure the number of years of experience you have
with writing English in decades, not just years or months. Would you like
to see some style/grammar/speller output on your posts? The point: people
notice that you make punctuation errors and/or spelling errors, but I
don't recall anybody calling you out about those *stupid* punctuation
errors and suggesting you stay off the net until you can write better

> But, it is their list, so I'll be content to let them answer the questions.

I'm still sorry you feel that way. That takes my count of 877 down to 876.
Seriously, you shouldn't let a few flames drive you away just because some
readers are more experienced in netiquette than you, just as those
inexperienced with Internet clients should not let themselves be driven
away by your hasty choice of words. 

-- Mark

Mark P. Line                       Phone: +1-206-733-6040
Open Pathways                        Fax: +1-206-733-6040
P.O. Box F                         Email: markline at
Bellingham, WA 98227-0296

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