Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Evolution: will newcomers kill the Internet?

By Fred_A in Internet
Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 10:26:42 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

Lots have changed for people who have been using the Network for more than a few years. Good Internet manners are being redefined in ways that seasoned users find irritating. Is this a one way trend or will newcomers finally come to their senses?


I'm not exactly one of the "Elder Ones", but I've been online for a bit over ten years, and have therefore learned the usages of the medium as they have been defined and refined in the 20 years before.

Nowadays however, things are changing quickly because of the influx of new users who never took the time (nor care for a number of them) to learn what the proper usage was online. This trend started with the arrival of AOL-ers and has been accelerating ever since. To (mis)quote the famous Internet saying: "It is september all year round". And then some...

Email

You're all familiar with the "standard" way of corresponding through email (also used on Usenet which looks something like this:

someuser@somehost wrote:
> foo bar baz
> mumble mumble

I agree apart for the "bar" bit.

> mumble mumble
This point has been made already.

This lets everyone involved understand what answer goes with what declaration and who said what.
Nowadays though, thanks to poorly designed but popular software and user's negligence, we get this:

I agree apart from the "bar" bit. The other point has been made already.

--- Original message by someuser@somehost
foo bar baz
mumble mumble
mumble mumble
<Insert full original sig block here>

To me and all the seasoned users I've spoken with, this is far less practical and readable. Lots of new users prefer it because it saves on editing and lets them type their reply in directly. Never mind that after a few exchanges, a long string of included messages is compiled at the end of each mail (or post). This is reminiscent of the infamous Usenet cascades or of the "Me too" AOLisms.

Ignorance

I have lost count of the number of users I directed to some Usenet group (or group archive) who's reply was "What is Usenet?" or "What's the URL?" (this last one typically followed by "What do you mean by news:comp.sys.whatever? Should I add http:// in front?"). Those people had often been online for years. To new users, the Internet is two things: email and the Web. Some of the more enlightened have found some of the popular services such as the various Instant Messaging or file exchange (Napster-like) services. Usenet, FTP, IRC, all those things are absolutely unknown to them. Arguably this might be a good thing (do we really need more clueless newbies on Usenet and IRC?), but it's symptomatic of a general trend: people just don't want to learn the culture of the online community any more.

Spam

This has been heavily debated already and everybody agrees it's the plague of the network. This spawns from many newcomer's misconception that the Internet is just a tool for them to abuse and not a network of people. On a side note, this opinion has been formed after numerous phone discussions with spammers. (Actually those conversations would be fun to recount and might be the topic of another article)

3l337 speak

On the old days, we had B1FF. This was considered amusing, and everyone toyed with it every now and then. Nowadays however, a new subgroup has appeared with at least two variants:

The 3l337
They will have nicknames like -=TeRmInAtOr=- and write in a mix of upper-case, lower-case (with lots of Zs) and numerals. They are often "warez d00dz". This has become so common that it seems to be a typical transitional stage for young (12 to 16 year old) users that are on their way to becoming "normal" users.
The "extended character addicts"
Often aided by translating scripts, they seem to believe that "Wrtg |K Th$ ϧ wA l". This is of course a nuisance to everybody and merely serves to picture the authors as 12 year olds who badly need to grow up.
Those groups are usually very vocal and tend to drown any conversation they are involved in in a deluge of irrelevant sillyness (this is mostly true on Usenet and IRC). For most other users, this makes the medium pretty much unuseable. People who just browse will get an image of the discussions that is brought down to the kiddie's level.
Unfortunately patience seems to be the only recourse here. Let's just hope they will grow up.

The Web

Now that everybody not only "surfs" (remember the outrage back when Wired coined that silly term?) but also authors documents, the Web has become incredibly rich in content. Of course a lot of that content is pictures of dogs and babies but there's still a lot of good stuff out there.

The problem is that a lot of the authors have absolutely no idea what Web content creation is about: "Hey it works in IE 6 beta 3 with a zillion plugins on my 1600x1200 display so I can put it online". Sigh...

When I did my first pages, the hot debate was "Can we use JPEGs since so few browsers support them?". Then it became "Tables are cool but it's a pain to have to create a <PRE>formatted page for browsers that don't support them."

Nowadays, when I'm asked to supervise the development of a web site, all that people care about is that it'll look good on their desktop. Objections like "Flash animations are cute, but they can't be indexed or bookmarked. Besides some people won't have the required plugin" are systematically brushed aside because "It looks good and it works on my desktop". I tend to try to educate my clients. Explain why doing this is not a good idea. In the end, I just give up and they find somebody else to do what they want.

Again, people refuse to learn, to even try to look at the big picture. So now we have a huge number of absolutely useless sites. A random example where I recently looked for info: http://www.landrover.co.uk/.

Now what?

So the Inernet is changing. It's not much of a surprise. However it's not changing in the right direction. It's being increasingly dumbed down. Tools that used to be useful become irritating to use because newcomers refuse to learn how to use them.

What is your opinion, should I (and others) keep on trying to educate newcomers? Is it a lost battle? Or am I just an old grouch that can't accept change? :)

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
Internet newbies should be:
o Educated 34%
o Ignored 2%
o Kept in a sand box such as AOL 18%
o Shot 9%
o Forced to run Unix in text mode so they have no choice but to learn 35%

Votes: 82
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o september
o cascades
o Me too
o B1FF
o warez d00dz
o Wired
o http://www .landrover.co.uk/
o Also by Fred_A


Display: Sort:
Evolution: will newcomers kill the Internet? | 101 comments (100 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Even on slashdot nowadays (3.57 / 7) (#2)
by delmoi on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:06:17 AM EST

The other day there was a discussion about the fate of EFnet. Several people were lamenting the loss of a piece of "web history". It drove me nuts. Slashdot has become a bastion of idiots.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
My generation (3.60 / 10) (#3)
by loaf on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:40:29 AM EST

Some people don't want to learn, but the net is like society, there is room for everyone.

With post like this we're in danger of sounding like every generation has done to its popular music, the "don't post at the top" is just the net equivalent of "they don't make song with proper tunes any more".

I'd disagree with your analogy (4.80 / 5) (#5)
by simon farnz on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:56:16 AM EST

This is really a manners thing: top posts are harder to follow once you juggle 10+ mailing lists and newsgroups. It's more like an older generation complaining that "people don't hold doors open anymore"; People may not do so, but holding doors open is considered better overall than not holding them open, even by many of those who don't
--
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]
Self selection? (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by rusty on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 02:43:43 AM EST

Perhaps eventually the newbies will deal with enough email to realize that reading from the top down really is a lot easier. I suppose eventually, we run into an experience or twenty that teaches us that holding a door for someone is a teeny effort that can really make their day better. I can see the same thing happen with net manners as well.

Then again, I use smileys now all the time, and I never thought I'd do that. I guess the good traditions will survive, eh?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

volume of email (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by claudine on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:57:44 AM EST

Perhaps eventually the newbies will deal with enough email to realize that reading from the top down really is a lot easier. I suppose eventually, we run into an experience or twenty that teaches us that holding a door for someone is a teeny effort that can really make their day better.

Yup. In my experience, the adoption of traditonal 'netiquette' depends less on how long one's been on the 'net than on how much email one gets. If you're on a mailing list receiving 400 messages a day, you're more likely to understand why trimming quotes is important.


--
I don't have a .sig


[ Parent ]
"Lookout" and other steaming piles (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by Mitheral on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 06:14:10 PM EST

We will continue to see interspersed comments decline as long as Outlook is the dominate email reader (and maybe for centuries after that). The reason is that Outlook makes it practically impossible to do it right. One has first delete all the crap that Outlook inserts and then manually add the correct depth of >'s. No one but the most die hard of users is going to do that.

And if, like me, you do most of your email at work you may not even have a choice of what email client to use because only Outlook works properly with Exchange.

I used to have a shell script that would add the >'s; however I've lost it and haven't been bothered to write it up again. If anyone knows of an easier way or has an Office Macro or something to preform this task I'd love to hear about it.

[ Parent ]

Damn newbies (i'll bet they're all gay too) (3.29 / 17) (#4)
by duxup on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:55:06 AM EST

That's right folks it's the damn newbies fault! Let's stigmatize anyone who can't say "I've been on the internet for X years."

If someone wants to put out a page that works with a limited type of browser(s), or wants to spell their name in leet, I say YAY for them. That is their choice, regardless of whatever internet standard other people feel they should follow. and if they upset some people who can't take someone else's actions that don't fit the internet norm, YAY.

It's a bummer that a few people aren't more polite (if at all), and some people don't learn fast enough for our collective patience how to use technology or really anything. Yet stigmatizing new people as the scourge of the internet doesn't seem like much of a solution, and that seems to be the only thing this article does. This article could easily be summed up like this:

Here's some stuff I don't like about the internet, it's all caused by the damn newbies, they don't listen to me when I tell them not to do that stuff, what are we gonna do about it?!

Heh, yep. Same old bitch, since 1993. (3.71 / 7) (#6)
by elenchos on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:10:26 AM EST

It's bad when the first link in the article gives an exact date for how old and tired the ideas in the article are: eight years. Actually a lot more, since this kind of old-timer elitism was a cliche even in 93.

Besides the feeling of sitting up on one's high horse, I think they are a little jealous. Those newbies with their malformed web pages (unlike mine which stinketh not) and their leet speek are without a doubt having way more fun than the nostalgic old farts with nothing more original to say than "newbies are killing the Network." And the same old answer as always: there is nothing you can do about it, nor should you.

"Who's making personal remarks now?" the Hatter asked triumphantly.
--Alice in Wonderland
[ Parent ]

Old clichs (3.50 / 4) (#11)
by Fred_A on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:46:28 AM EST

While I have to admit all of this isn't groundbreaking news to anyone online and that whining along the lines of "it was better in my time" has always been common, this wasn't really the point of the article.

It seems to me (this is of course a personal opinion) that some rules of use that have been created for a purpose and are now ignored. It's a bit like people ignoring the driving regulations because they can't be bothered to learn all those stupid rules. It can work that way but it's way more uncomfortable for everybody involved.

Now it is indeed possible that there actually is nothing I can do about it. But nothing I should do about it? Things change and adapt which is to be expected, but when I believe they are changing in the wrong direction, why shouldn't I consider doing something about it?

And about jealousy, well, it hadn't occured to me but I do miss my early days online, the exploration of the BBSes and of the Internet. Who doesn't miss the fun of their first year online when everything was new? However there still are many new things appearing daily to keep me busy. And I certainly don't miss the 300 bps modems or the clunky interfaces, even though they were great glittery toys to me at the time. I'm not really into nostalgia.

And, well, ok, I confess. Even though it costs me... I admit to running my web pages through the W3C validator. I'm really sorry but I can't help it. Each time, I have this terrible urge... I'll add a few <BLINK> tags to the next ones to make up for it, I promise. :)

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

It doesn't quite match. (3.66 / 3) (#13)
by elenchos on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:02:32 AM EST

You say back in the day, everyone followed the rules, unlike now. But you remember how much fun you had when it was all new to you. How did you manage to follow the rules if you yourself were new? Are you really so sure that things were that civilized? If they were, how come they were making exactly the same complaints ten, fifteen years ago?

More importantly, how do you really know that what you call the rules are actually good rules? Because they work? Because people want to follow them? If that's actually the case, then today's newbies will naturally adopt the same rules as their precursors did. Or, more interestingly, they will invent new and perhaps better rules that are more in tune with society as it exists today.

Even if you don't like that state of affairs, what reason is there to think that anyone can do anything about it? We have documents 4,000 years old in which the pillars of established society complain about the sweaty masses invading their polite little world, and always, the old is supplanted when the new is better. The only old ways that are kept are those that the newcomers approve of on their merits, not those pushed by the society mavens.

So unless you have some really neat trick for influencing the masses, I'd just let it go.

"Who's making personal remarks now?" the Hatter asked triumphantly.
--Alice in Wonderland
[ Parent ]

Following rules (4.50 / 4) (#16)
by Fred_A on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:31:12 AM EST

Why are the "old" rules good rules ?

That's an interesting question. Obviously not because they are the "old" rules. As you say "they will invent new and perhaps better rules that are more in tune with society as it exists today".

I simply believe those old rules, at least the ones mentionned in my legthy gripe at the top of the page, are worth keeping because they work better.

The problem is that there is no relationship between the fact that something works better and it being implemented (or kept in the current case).
To take the example of email formatting, people find it preferable to spare a few seconds rather than create legible output. Because it's too much of a hassle to scroll a few lines down and delete a line here and there. So the absence of knowledge about proper (or old fashioned if you like) email formatting, plus the fact that MUAs don't enforce the old norm, plus lazyness have combined to give birth to this new and (IMO) inferior norm.
This is a blatant example of a change that doesn't strike me as being better, although it may be more in tune with society somehow.

And as to whether we can do something about it, honestly I don't believe that it is possible to, as you put it "influence the masses". However since the response to my interventions with new users has mostly been positive, I feel encouraged to continue to spread my old fashioned point of view. Exactly as some people once taught me about the way things were done on the network some years ago.

You seem to assume that I just want things to remain the same. I can assure you it isn't so. Like everything, the network evolves and I'm glad it does. I'm glad we got rid of Gopher, of UUE, I really wish there was a way to have rich text in email without the crud that comes with HTML. I'm all for evolution as long as it gets better.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Re: It doesn't quite match. (4.00 / 2) (#83)
by ncc74656 on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 03:06:42 PM EST

You say back in the day, everyone followed the rules, unlike now. But you remember how much fun you had when it was all new to you. How did you manage to follow the rules if you yourself were new? Are you really so sure that things were that civilized? If they were, how come they were making exactly the same complaints ten, fifteen years ago?

Back in the day, your service provider (usually your school or your employer) often provided a substantial amount of material to get you up to speed with whatever software was provided for email, Usenet, etc. This material also usually included some pointers on netiquette (trim your replies, ALL CAPS IS CONSIDERED SCREAMING, etc.). Also, if the average newbie was stopped by a net.cop, he usually didn't whip out the flamethrower and go to town. You could count on an uptick in newbie mistakes in September...but since the run-of-the-mill college student is smarter than the average bear, it didn't take long for most of them to get up to speed. When you pointed out an error or a lapse to someone, the point was (usually) taken and people got on with their lives.

Nowadays, most people just don't give a damn. The AOHell mentality has spread far and wide, and the Internet is worse off as a result. Occasionally, somebody will post a request in some newsgroup to not top-post; this request is usually met with a few replies along the lines of "STFU." While some of it is a result of nearly any Joe Luser being able to get on the net (the result of all those coast^H^H^H^H^HAOHell CDs seemingly on every street corner), a bigger part of it is the increasing coarseness of American society. Look at the road rage, the kids talking back to their parents, the disgusting behavior that went on in the Clinton-Gore White House, etc., and try to tell me that none of that spills over into more than a few people's online habits.

[ Parent ]

Damn *clueless* newbies (other newbies are ok) (5.00 / 4) (#7)
by Fred_A on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:18:20 AM EST

This article could easily be summed up like this:

Here's some stuff I don't like about the internet, it's all caused by the damn newbies, they don't listen to me when I tell them not to do that stuff, what are we gonna do about it?!
This is indeed a fairly good summary :)

OTOH of course, changes have to be brought by newcomers. If it wasn't for them, change wouldn't happen. And among those changes are indeed a number of things that I don't like because I believe they lower the value of the Internet as a tool for me and for them, although they don't know it.

I'm not against newbies, I did quite a bit of teaching and I run an IRC help channel for Linux newbies. One of my usual quotes is "don't apologize for being new, I was a newbie too and I still am in a lot of domains, all you need is curiosity". So my gripe isn't with newbies, it's with people who abuse an established system without consideration for its current users.

As another post put it, it's a bit like not holding doors (there seems to be a thing with holding doors in the US), the universe won't collapse because people don't do it but it's way nicer when they do. So should we live with it and be rude to one another or is it worth our time to educate others?

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

If someone comes to you with a question... (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by elenchos on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:44:13 AM EST

...and you know the right answer, then you ought to answer them, of course. But that is not what you mean by "education" is it? You don't want to wait for them to come to you. You want to bring your superior knowledge to them, whether they ask for it or not. Basically, a sort of crusade or campaign to make society follow what you say the norms ought to be? How would that work? How would you present it to these "clueless newbies" in a way that would make them want to learn from you and be more like you? What would be in it for them?

"Who's making personal remarks now?" the Hatter asked triumphantly.
--Alice in Wonderland
[ Parent ]

Questions, answers and education (4.20 / 5) (#12)
by Fred_A on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:01:18 AM EST

Basically, I will of course answer questions adressed to me. I will also willingly provide unrequested for information when I believe it is called for. Let me give two examples:

When people reply to my email with that "message first, quote second" formatting, I explain to them what the usage is, why it's done that way and that it makes it easier for the recipient of the message, even more so if the thread goes back and forth a few times. Most of the people that I approach in this way have the expected (by me) reaction of "Well I agree it makes more sense, I'll use it in the future if I make a detailed reply".

Second example, I recently got from a friend one of those "This is the most terrible virus ever, delete file XXX.exe immediately and forward this alert to as many people as possible". This was one of the many such hoaxes that regularly makes the rounds. I emailed back, saying it was a hoax, explaining why it's generally not a good idea to blindly forward those messages and provided URLs to a few reference websites on the subject. The reply was the expected "oops, sorry about that, I bookmarked those sites and will check on them next time".

So yes, I do bring in my superior knowledge to people who didn't ask for it. I also expect people to bring in their own superior knowledge when they see me doing things in, let's say, non-optimal ways.

I see this as common courtesy, helping people get more comfortable with unfamiliar tools. In a way I suppose you can regard it as arrogance on my part although I really don't mean it that way.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Alternately... (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by Kugyou on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 10:18:24 AM EST

I've had the exact opposite happen to me. Well, about the hoaxes, at least. A friend of mine forwarded me one of those missing child hoaxes, one of those that goes something as follows:

This child is missing. If you do not forward this e-mail to every single person you know, you are a cold and heartless brute who hates children. If you question this e-mail, you must believe that we are lying to you, and therefore you are a cold and heartless...[rest of spam snipped for redundancy]

Well, I'm no cold and heartless brute, and I love children, but I'm a damn skeptic. I threw the girl's name into google, found oh, about a thousand links about how she was not, indeed, missing (found less than a week after her disappearance), and how this e-mail (which included the family's snail-mail address) was giving just enough information for literally thousands of letters and phone calls to the effect of "I know where your child is, give me $1000 and I'll tell you" or "I saw on the news the body of a child, you might want to come look and see if it's your daughter". I replied to my friend (who, by the way, had included her own two cents on the matter in her e-mail: [Paraphrase] Please, guys, this girl is missing! Don't be lazy and do nothing about it!), informing her about the girl, even including the link to the story about her. The whole response was in the form of "Hey! Check this out! The girl's not missing after all! Praise the Lord and Hallelujah!" (Well, not the Hallelujah bit, but you get my idea - information, not flame).

However, I mentioned that the originators of the e-mail needed to watch who they slurred in their hoaxes. What I received in response was the question of "How was I supposed to know to look at that particular site to find this out?" In other words, she didn't want to research an issue, so it's wrong for me to say she should stop perpetuating a hoax that has caused a family's harassment. This is the kind of newbie I hate. The kind that don't even feign civility in telling you that they don't see things your way.
-----------------------------------------
Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains
[ Parent ]

Sounds familiar (3.00 / 1) (#82)
by Detestae180 on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 12:45:13 PM EST

Hmm, as I read through this comment, I found the story of this missing child to be rather familiar. Now I realize why...

I'm the "she" that you are referring to.

But I would at least like to state for the record that I did NOT do further research on that e-mail out of either laziness or the lack of knowledge as to how to do so. Around the time of that e-mail, I had the "I don't care" attitude and would just go through the motions and forward such messages.

Now, I get so much spam that if I were to receive another one of those messages I would never even know it. I tend to delete a great majority of e-mails without even reading them.

If I took the time to research every e-mail like that, then I would likely never leave my computer.

[ Parent ]

Um...no. (2.00 / 1) (#88)
by Kugyou on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 10:26:13 PM EST

This happened two years ago.
-----------------------------------------
Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains
[ Parent ]
Yeah, and... (2.00 / 1) (#98)
by Detestae180 on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 12:23:35 PM EST

you've known me for over 4 years :P

I love you Kugyou =^..^=

[ Parent ]

Sounds like your learning (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by Mitheral on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 06:27:07 PM EST

The hope is not that you would research every email you receive; just the ones that you send out to every person in your address book. And if you do the research you will find yourself contibuting to solutions not to problems.

[ Parent ]
Communication (4.50 / 4) (#14)
by John Thompson on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:11:43 AM EST

Certainly users have a "right" to top-post, use extended characters in place of regular characters, etc. but if they do they shouldn't expect to be perceived as anything but frivolous. As the author points out, these affectations only hinder communication and communication is what this is all about, yes?

If you want to engage in a serious diccussion or expect a useful response to a concern then you must frame your communication in a manner that encourages this. If your top-posted reply references material buried several screens down, many people won't even bother to follow up on it because it's simply too tedious to keep jumping back and forth figuring out what your top-posted rely is referring to.

The traditional posting format is a result of many years of evolution and is used because it facilitates communication. Why anyone would willingly choose to top-post is beyond me unless they're just ignorant, use software that cannot automatically format replies in the traditional manner or are unaware or unwilling to configure their current software to format replies in the traditional manner.

The current glut of software that defaults to top-posting ensures that top-posting will not go away anytime soon, but the way to encourage users not to top-post is not ridicule and derision but to teach by example. The 3/337 d00dz are another matter; they simply have to grow up.

-John

[ Parent ]
I think what you miss (4.00 / 3) (#31)
by IntlHarvester on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 12:01:30 PM EST

Is that there is two intersecting traditions here. True that Usenet has it's 'evolved' canon of reply-after-post, quoting by angle bracket, and (grr) hardwrapped lines.

However, on the other hand, you have a corporate e-mail tradition dating back to DOS versions of cc:Mail (if not earlier) that does top replies, separator bar quoting, and softwrapped lines. Given the relatively late date that these two worlds converged, it's understandable that there's a tradition clash. Throw in some Microsoft corporate products retargeted at the home user and there's your problem. (People in the office deal with long top-replied threads all day long without complaint. Interspersed quoting is usually done by changing the color of the text.)

And as a greater point, the only reason that Usenet formatting tradition is still an issue is that for the most part newbies have entirely ignored Usenet all together. Your battle is with the few that somehow seeped through, and, yes, if they found their newsreader, they probably can figure out the formatting rules. If Usenet would have remained the prominent service it was back in 93-95, the battle would have long been conceded to the newbies and their misconfigured software.

[ Parent ]
Intersection traditions (2.66 / 3) (#47)
by sigwinch on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:06:25 PM EST

Where'd that flame thrower get to. Ah, there it is... <click> <click> <click> <WHOOOOSSHHH!>
I think what you miss ... Is that there is two intersecting traditions here.
Duh. That was the whole point of this article. On the one hard there are people who use tools designed by engineers, and who value efficient, informative communication. On the other hand, there are people who try to make claims upon your time and sanity without the slightest effort to facilitate the process or make it efficient, using tools designed by what can be charitably described as crack monkeys.
... (grr) hardwrapped lines.
You're the one who is missing the point. Hard-wrapped lines are one important part of allowing the creator of a message to choose the desired presentation for the message. The other two parts are the use of a monospaced font, and the use of a fixed width. With these things, it is trivial to create hanging indention, indented blocks, and structured text.

You lame auto-wrapped, proportionally-spaced wankers are a scourge. Your brain damaged dumbass systems mean that the only way for me to send formatted messages is to use a goddamn *page layout program*. If I want to create even a simple goddamn bullet list, I need a motherfucking word processor!

Does your puny, microscopic, deranged brain *really* think that only being able to express yourself in paragraphs of text is a good thing? (Auto-wrapping and proportional fonts can only correctly render paragraphs of prose.)

And *don't* -- and I mean **DON'T** -- tell me that hand-breaking lines is too hard so the mail reader should auto-wrap. It is trivial -- **TRIVIAL!** -- for the mail editor to do this automatically. If your mail editor can't do it, then you are obviously an absolute drooling idiot for being unable to choose a decent editor.

However, on the other hand, you have a corporate e-mail tradition dating back to DOS versions of cc:Mail (if not earlier) that does top replies, separator bar quoting, and softwrapped lines.
You are a heartless sod, or a tool of depraved evil. I suppose you think malaria is a traditional African pasttime. Get this: DOS is a disease. cc:Mail is a disease. People afflicted by them should be cured if possible, or confined to asylums if incurable.
People in the office deal with long top-replied threads all day long without complaint. Interspersed quoting is usually done by changing the color of the text.
Here's the smoking gun: the preceeding sentence is conclusive proof of severe cognitive deficit.

Guess what, DOS/cc:Mail troglodyte, I use different color quoting too. My mail reader *automatically* changes the color of '>' quoted lines. It even puts nested '>' quoted lines in different colors. It's all about picking good tools.

**************

Here's a story about why client-formatting of RFC-822 messages is brain damaged. I used to enclose my 'signature' line in plus signs, like this:

     + sigwinch +

It was a nice way to visually draw attention to the signature. One day, I was in a colleague's office talking to him, and a recent message I sent came into the conversation. He pulled it up so we could talk about it, and Outlook had rendered it like this:

     o sigwinch +

Outlook had decided that no one would ever possibly want to put a goddamn plus sign at the start of a line, and had decided that it could therefore be used as markup for bullet lists.

If depraved imbeciles like you want to have your mail clients randomly reformat messages based on some arbitrary set of undocumented rules, fine. But you'd better not send those messages to me and pretend that you're actually trying to communicate meaningful information, because you are not. You are merely jerking yourself off with a little toy program that has no place in serious communication between professionals.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Don't flame me, thank me (2.00 / 3) (#49)
by IntlHarvester on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:19:36 PM EST

Glad to help getting that randomly targetted rant out your system. Maybe that will hold you on Usenet for another year or two. Nice HTML formatting too.

[ Parent ]
Ha ha ha! (3.00 / 1) (#67)
by NDPTAL85 on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 12:06:44 PM EST

You get this worked up over email? Email? One of the most trivial of things in our day to day lives and you get this worked up over it? I think you need to discover what a *life* is. I hear they are fun.

[ Parent ]
Worked up over email (4.00 / 2) (#75)
by sigwinch on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:52:39 PM EST

One of the most trivial of things in our day to day lives and you get this worked up over it?
I'm an engineer, and several of my hobbies revolve around email. It is a critical tool that I use dozens of times every day. My messages tend to consist of complex, high-context information, often with structured text, tables of data, columns of numbers, and equations. In order to make my messages render sanely in Outlook for my colleagues and business partners, I have to spend a considerable amount of time and mental effort working around Outlook's misdesign. Not only does it waste my time, but it makes the documents needlessly ugly and difficult to read.

Moreover, detailed technical work requires point-by-point responses. Outlook's inability to do proper quoting makes these discussions highly confused and difficult to interpret. Sorting out the quoted material from the original can easily double the amount of time needed, and the reading comprehension is substantially lower.

I am also subscribed to several mailing lists, receiving 1000-2000 messages per week, comprising 5-10 MB of data per week. Fortunately, many of these are technical and free software projects where the participants have a high clue level (or will actually go to the trouble of using better techniques when problems are pointed out to them).

Even then, many of the lists prepend the list name to the subject line (like '[foo list] subject'), which is to work around Outlook's inability to sanely filter messages into their own folders based on the proper headers. I have unsubscribed from several lists simply because they make the subject lines unintelligible in a twisted effort to coddle lazy Outlook users.

The wide deployment of Outlook wastes many minutes of my time each week, and adds enormously to my frustration.. Taking the idiots who create and use it to task is eminently reasonable.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Email isn't designed for what you want to use it f (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by NDPTAL85 on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 08:48:17 AM EST

Why don't you use some groupware software like Lotus Notes or something? Or custom design an in-house collaboration package for you and your co-workers to use instead of Outlook?

There's also Instant Messaging, IRC and many other things besides email you could use.

[ Parent ]

K5 is my solution (3.62 / 8) (#8)
by MicroBerto on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:33:00 AM EST

Why do you think I like K5 so much lately?

There is a generally more experienced, courteous crowd here.

I also like being one of the youngest ones around again - I'm 19, and I like coming hear to learn more from other's experience. I was becoming a grandpa on parts of the net out there!

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

Message editing (my range of rants) (3.60 / 5) (#9)
by jesterzog on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:35:45 AM EST

Nowadays though, thanks to poorly designed but popular software and user's negligence, we get this:

Can anyone point me to any reasonable windows based email apps that will quote nicely? At the moment I'm using Pegasus which I find great in many ways, but not that way. From what I understand it's become a bit tacky and the guy maintaining it has opted for a complete rewrite. When I'm logged into a unix system it's usually easier because there are several mail apps available that are good at quote editing - like pine which has some useful features. They're still not very outstanding, though.

I haven't been around the net for more than a few years, but I was around BBS's and fidonet for a while before leaving it. The BBS editors were mostly great for quoting, and the sysop mail editors like golded and timed were brilliant.

In comparison, anything in windows or often the net in general is yucky. In their defence, they don't have the defacto standard of an 80 character wide screens to live up to, which made it easier to make quoting wrap nicely for most people who read it.

The traditional net way to do it would be to make some markup standard that everyone can be encouraged to use. The problem with this, apart from that people have already tried html tags in email and come up with incresingly annoying results, is that email should be properly readable at text level.

It's also hard when there's so much commercial interest involved in helping ignorant people make things look pretty. Make an official system for marking quoting and you can bet more than just Microsoft will embrace and extent it to flash text in animated rainbow colours with happy smiley faces at each end.

I wouldn't mind seeing restricted messaging networks develop on the Internet. Let people in and kick them out if they don't follow the general courtesy protocols. Get rid of the web browser kludges for editing things and replace it with dedicated technology and protocols. Something like fido on the net would be interesting. People have tried on and off to port it in the past except it never really took off.


jesterzog Fight the light


e-Mail programs (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by ucblockhead on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 11:05:21 AM EST

Ironically enough, Microsoft Outlook can be set to quote the traditional internet way.

Though I admit that "Outlook" is not a reasonable Windows based email app.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Outlook 97? (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by kostya on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 11:43:21 AM EST

I'm working for a financial firm--they are notorious for slow upgrades.

If you can get Outlook 97 to quote "correctly", please let me know. I have searched the opitons numerous times and come up empty each time.

As it is, I'm convinced that the end of good email etiquette is all Outlook's fault. Which is convienent, because it gives me another reason to hate them ;-)



----
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
[ Parent ]
Stupid Outlook.... (none / 0) (#33)
by ucblockhead on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 12:15:52 PM EST

I don't have Outlook set up on this machine, and the idiotic thing won't let me look at settings without setting up a server and all that crap... I know that it is buried.

In Outlook Express, you can do it by sending as plain text instead of HTML. (Tools->Options->Send, then click on the settings button.)

(Both are 2000, but I could swear I did it in Outlook 97.)
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Re: Stupid Outlook.... (none / 0) (#85)
by ncc74656 on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 03:25:31 PM EST

In Outlook Express, you can do it by sending as plain text instead of HTML. (Tools->Options->Send, then click on the settings button.)

You also need to set it to prepend ">" to each line of the quote. Its editor is somewhat drain-bamaged in reformatting quotes if your line length is set slightly shorter (default is 76, IIRC) than what was used in the original message, but it usually gets the job done if you take the few minutes to set it up properly.

It's still no match for trn, mutt, and joe, though...those programs rock. joe's auto-rewrap feature is especially handy when dealing with quoted material. It'll duplicate whatever quoting marks are appropriate for a given paragraph.

[ Parent ]

Pine for windows (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by awwaiid on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 04:19:15 PM EST

Pine works in windows.



[ Parent ]
Good e-mail client: The Bat (none / 0) (#97)
by tekk on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 07:31:27 AM EST

The Bat! is not free ($25-$45), but it's a great client, with _very_ flexible filtering, multiple accounts, HTML _display_, message templates and many other features.

I use it and find it a great utility, especialy if you deal with tons of e-mail daily. For more info see here.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Ritlabs, I just love their software :)

-- [tek.] a brand new way to peel an orange.
[ Parent ]

yup.. (3.25 / 4) (#15)
by lucid on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:14:44 AM EST

Yes, newcomers will kill the Internet. One day, all the appropriate companies will take backhoes to their net backbones, and say it was because there were just too many newcomers.

Yup yup (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by khallow on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:38:13 AM EST

I agree. I was on the internet ten years ago, and they were saying the same thing back then! That many people can't be wrong! Those AOLers are going to bring us down! And those evil capitalists too!

Yes, newcomers will kill the Internet. One day, all the appropriate companies will take backhoes to their net backbones, and say it was because there were just too many newcomers.

Personally, I think the backhoes will come out when the appropriate companies realize they're about to make money. "Profit!", they'll scream, "We got to do something about that!"

[ Parent ]

a/s/l (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by clarioke on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:59:44 AM EST

Bah. People who will sit there and ask another person "a/s/l?" as if it's an acceptable greeting. This is the worst internet-manners offense I can think of.

Not "correctly" responding to an email doesn't bother me. What bothers me is when someone responds to an email, does not include the original, but vaguely refers to things I wrote. Hells, you may not like the way they included the original, but at least they included it. :)

Last note: Newbies don't kill the internet. AOL does.

um... (3.66 / 3) (#42)
by flummox on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 04:02:16 PM EST

guns don't kill people, people kill each other...

AOL doesn't hurt the internet, it's the fact that people are blind and ignorant. THAT kills the internet. AOL, as much as i fucking hate it, is not the problem. AOL is simply someone taking advantage of a situation. the situation is that you had a product, the internet, and someone wanted to make money off of it... how's the best way to do that? let the people who have no idea what it is use and become reliant on it...

that's all,

cap'n flummox

...bring me my cheese...

[ Parent ]
AOL is a valuable part of the internet (3.50 / 2) (#92)
by Mitheral on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 07:36:07 PM EST

AOL gave us a valuble intangible. They provide thousands of users to be the brunt of INTERNET Ethnic jokes.

PS: the ethnicity is being an AOLer not any other 'ism just incase someone could interpret this wrong.

[ Parent ]

that's funny... (3.00 / 1) (#99)
by flummox on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 12:56:44 PM EST

and, i think that AOLers will take offense to that. most AOLers don't understand why i hate the program, so they get all defensive...

thanks for the laugh,

cap'n flummox


...bring me my cheese...

[ Parent ]
Agree (4.00 / 6) (#19)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 10:03:57 AM EST

I agree. The large influx of newcomers who are unwilling to acquaint themselves with and abide by existing rules, are seriously diminishing the utilitarian value of Internet, and I see marked revivals and enforcement of old rules in an attempt to stem this tide.

The quintessential k5 example of noise drowning out signal is Slashdot, but countless other examples abound. Hard to believe, but 5 years ago, I could (and did) have regular email or Usenet exchanges with the likes of Bjrne Stroustrup or Linus Torvalds. Nowadays such figures are almost unreachable, and it's not merely a consequence of their celebrity status, it's the fact that newsgroups and mailing lists are swamped in noise, trash, and stupidity from masses of people who badly needed to RTFM but were too lazy to.

5 years ago the most informative newsgroups were unmoderated. Now the most informative newsgroups and forums are moderated. This also goes for non-technical forums. I and my girlfriend participate in a number of non-technical forums (mailing lists, Usenet, WWW). The last two years have seen a number of forums dissolve in noise, flame wars, and spam. The forums that survive show a strong increase in moderation, either in the social sense from a cabal of old-timers, or from moderators. Moderation there is often strict to the extent that it would have been considered intolerable five years ago. (See, as a random example, the non-technical weightlifting forum GoHeavy and read the policy statement).

Increased insistence on protocol and moderation is also visible on k5; it is indeed one of k5's distinguishing factors. The relative discipline of k5 is what attracts newcomers, but that discipline exists because it is actively maintained, and not because discipline is "self-evident" - else slashdot would be a different place.

New is not always better, and rules that are superseded out of ignorance usually come back with a vengeance.

Web Forums (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by Mitheral on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 07:37:04 PM EST

I wonder if this isn't the appeal of web forums that I personally hate but some many internet users love. The fact that they are inconvient to use means that the S/N ratio remains higher than a similiar mailing list. In other words because a reply is more tedious than hitting "REPLY" in a news/email reader the average poster is slightly discouraged from posting drivel.

[ Parent ]
If i were to think back about 10 years ago... (3.66 / 3) (#20)
by sasseriansection on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 10:11:01 AM EST

I was complaining because that generation of newcomer had no idea what IRC, FTP, or hell even what the INTERNET was or that it even existed. I lambasted people for being idiots, hoarded my knowledge, attacked people and sites i didn't agree with, and generally had a really really good time.

The only difference between now and then is that the "Frontier Mentality" that existed back then is no longer around. That is probably the one thing i miss the most. The excitement of knowing that you are doing something that no one else even knows exists. I can always remember saying to my friends or parents "This is IRC. This allows me to speak to people all across the country and the world at the same time. It's kinda like politics. I also have a "spy network" a la clonebots and Strategic Weapons a la Scripts." Hehehe... those were the days.
------------ ------------

Frontier Mentality (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by mrvis on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 02:12:02 PM EST

I disagree. The frontier isn't gone. Today I'm going to go home and install freenet on the computers at my home. I'm going to guarantee that none of my friends/family (save one friend and a cousin) know absolute didley about the freenet project. And none of them actually use it.

That's one example and probably not even a good one, but it's something.

Now that I think about it a little more, I'm not sure if I want that frontier mentality around. How many non-technical folks know about the DMCA? I'd dare say the hottest story on /. is Dmitry Sklyarov. Go to the CNN Sci-Tech page and the story isn't even there while we get news about home improvement web sites and (gasp) PC sales are dropping.
I personally want everyone to know about the DMCA. I want them to know about encryption and the cutting edge and how the DMCA can let companies raw dog them.

(My girlfriend showed up at the end of this post so I've lost my train. Sorry for this shit ending). Vis

[ Parent ]
Freenet? (2.00 / 1) (#52)
by sasseriansection on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:43:43 PM EST

Freenet's old news:) I used it before i got my hax0red shell account at a local college. Had it up and running for about 6 years. Not that it was that difficult. I think the school bought the server, plugged it in, and left without putting an admin within 500 miles of it. Nothing like being able to browse through all home directories, both faculty and student, with only a meager user account. Not that anyone really understood what all this "telnet" business was.

I just want everyone to go back to playing tradewars:)
------------ ------------
[ Parent ]

Not the same freenet (3.50 / 2) (#63)
by Fred_A on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 06:28:16 AM EST

Freenet's old news
I don't think you're speaking of the same thing. The freenet project is a distributed data storage system. This project was started in 1999 and is still under active development.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

you're correct... (none / 0) (#66)
by sasseriansection on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 10:16:01 AM EST

I was thinking about the free regional point of presences from a while back. They were offering regional access to the internet in a pretty limited shell account. You basically had access to FIDO, email, gopher and whatnot. Thnaks for the pointer:)
------------ ------------
[ Parent ]
Imminent Death of the Internet Predicted..... (4.00 / 7) (#22)
by otis wildflower on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 10:27:57 AM EST

... News at 11.

Though granted, it makes me want to use the 'social' internet a bit less, get off my ass and go biking or swimming. I can't complain ;)

[root@usmc.mil /]# chmod a+x /bin/laden
Slightly OT: Email response etiquette (3.00 / 4) (#23)
by jacob on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 10:48:40 AM EST

Back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I used to reply to e-mails in the "good" way, responding to each point individually with my replies mixed in to the quoted body of the e-mail I was sent. Now that I've had my height-correction surgery, though, I tend to use a style that's much more like the "bad" way, except I make sure to keep it to one level of quotation. I found that when I responded point to point to people's e-mails, they thought I was being hostile -- there's something about it that reads like an attack, like you're trying to hold someone to their words because you think they'd otherwise deny it.

I don't know, though. Maybe I'm the only person who thinks that. I'm probably a nutcase.



--
"it's not rocket science" right right insofar as rocket science is boring

--Iced_Up

hostility when quoting email (3.50 / 4) (#24)
by Fred_A on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 11:00:33 AM EST

I found that when I responded point to point to people's e-mails, they thought I was being hostile -- there's something about it that reads like an attack, like you're trying to hold someone to their words because you think they'd otherwise deny it.
That's interesting, I've never had this kind of reaction. Or at least it's never been conveyed back to me.

I've had people (always fresh newcomers to email) who found the style unusual, in which case I went into my usual routine of "it's usually done this way because this and that..."

But having people feeling attacked by the formatting, that would have been very unexpected...

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

The amount of agressive tones... (3.50 / 6) (#29)
by mrgoat on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 11:52:04 AM EST

...tend to increase as the amount of text being replied to at a time shortens. Basically, if you reply to someone's entire message, (i.e. the "bad" way) it seems like you read the whole thing, but didn't necessarily take the time ot pick apart every point. If you reply to a few sentences at a time, it comes across more as a detailed conversation.

If you reply after every sentence, it sounds like you're just picking apart the other person's ideas.

If you reply to every word, it just becomes unintelligible. (No that I've ever seen this done. :) )

"I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
--Top Hat--
[ Parent ]

Picking apart ideas (4.00 / 2) (#48)
by sigwinch on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:14:57 PM EST

If you reply after every sentence, it sounds like you're just picking apart the other person's ideas.
To an egoist who is not trying to have a conversation, it probably does sound like a personal attack. That's the beatiful thing about egoism: it is its own punishment.

Seriously, replying line-by-line makes it more line a face-to-face conversation. Email is too slow to 'speak' one or two sentences and wait for the other person to reply. To keep things efficient, you have to talk in batches.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

I'm with them (3.00 / 4) (#32)
by Otter on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 12:06:42 PM EST

That's interesting, I've never had this kind of reaction. Or at least it's never been conveyed back to me.

I agree with Jacob's recipients. It's one thing when you're answering a bunch of questions or generally when the subject matter is clearly friendly or neutral. But when there's disagreement, it definitely comes across as hostile to me to pick my words apart line by line.

The same goes (even more so) for line by line rebuttals in the style made popular in the free software world by Eric Raymond:

...some words from a Microsoft employee...
Ha ha! He's stupid!
..some more words..
Yeah, right.
..some more words..
What an idiot!

To me, at least ,it seems incredibly rude and disrupts the flow of whatever point the other person wants to make.

[ Parent ]

Sloppy thinking (3.50 / 2) (#70)
by tonygreene on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 02:43:09 PM EST

I've found that people who object to point-by-point replies tend to engage in sloppy thinking. The reason they don't like point-by-point responses is because such responses expose flaws in their positions. I have been made to eat my own words often enough that I recognize that a lot of the objections are due to ego. I've learned to keep some separation between my ego and my position...
--
Anthony E. Greene <agreene@pobox.com> <http://www.pobox.com/~agreene/>
PGP Key: 0x6C94239D/7B3D BD7D 7D91 1B44 BA26 C484 A42A 60DD 6C94 239D
Chat: AOL/Yahoo: TonyG05
Linux. The choice of a GNU Generation. [ Parent ]
Hostile quoting (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by Mitheral on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 06:53:38 PM EST

I might find this exchange hostile as well. The reason would be content like Ha ha! He's stupid! and What an idiot! rather than the quoting style though :)

[ Parent ]
Reactions to quoting style (4.25 / 4) (#51)
by janra on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:37:18 PM EST

I've had several people not only accuse me of being hostile in my posting style, but react with hostility themselves when I did a detailed response to their messages. One even accused me of being patronizing because I 'disagreed' with (ie, corrected) some of her points (on technical grounds - she was flat out wrong and it wasn't a matter of opinion) and 'agreed' with others. Apparently I shouldn't have mentioned the ones I 'agreed' with...

Other reactions I've had are a worry that I was offended, and a question about why I was quoting the original message, because he remembered what he had said.

And those are just the ones people actually told me about.


--
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
Slightly OT: Email response etiquette (3.00 / 6) (#30)
by scummins on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 11:57:00 AM EST

I can understand where you're coming from regarding the point-to-point method -- I've never really thought about it in that context, but now that you've mentioned it, I get it.

The parallel that I've experienced is in the IRC/IM medium -- people who put periods on the end of every sentence and/or phrase, IMO, tend to come off as hostile. It just seems too formal, nit-picky, stick-up-your-assy, I guess.

Of course, I'm probably just a nutcase too..

[ Parent ]
Elitism (3.30 / 13) (#25)
by darthaya on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 11:01:33 AM EST

You didn't create the internet, and you are only a participant who takes advantage of its existance. You have no right to criticize those people who are at the same level as you: also partcipants.
You are not an elite when it comes to use internet. It is simply a tool to get things done better and faster, it is not your life. If you realize that, you will surely feel better.


Elitism (3.60 / 5) (#34)
by broken77 on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 01:23:52 PM EST

Well, at first, I was going to argue your comment. Then it hit me... How is what the article is saying any different than old social customs of our grandparents, etc. Or traditions and customs that go back even further than that? Ones that the "younger generation" are constantly criticized for, since time immemorial. Things change. You just can't stop the direction of change. While I was thinking these things, one of my favorite songs came to mind. It's something that strikes me every time a criticism of society or any social situation like this comes up.

How many people have been part of a "scene" of some kind (punk, metal, rave, hip-hop, etc.) and over time, eventually heard the "old-timers" talking about how the new kids on the scene just don't know shit? How the scene is being ruined now, cause of the new kids. I for one am sick of hearing this from people. Scenes change, people change. Deal with the tide of change, or get out of the ocean.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Change isn't the problem (4.50 / 2) (#62)
by Fred_A on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 06:19:26 AM EST

How many people have been part of a "scene" of some kind (punk, metal, rave, hip-hop, etc.) and over time, eventually heard the "old-timers" talking about how the new kids on the scene just don't know shit? How the scene is being ruined now, cause of the new kids. I for one am sick of hearing this from people. Scenes change, people change. Deal with the tide of change, or get out of the ocean.
The problem isn't with the "scene" changing, it's with the new people not wanting to, as another post put it, "hold the door". The lack of basic Internet manners, the laziness of the new crowd who can't be bothered to learn how things are done. If a punk holds the door for me, what do I care that he's a punk ? Only when he slams it in my face do I begin to take notice...

The scene can change all it likes, that's fine with everybody. If we don't like what it changes to, it'll eventually change back to something we like anyway.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

You still don't get it. Your points are all so tri (1.00 / 1) (#65)
by NDPTAL85 on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 09:47:59 AM EST

There is absolutely no point to debating the semantics of email replies. Get a grip. When the person above us said the internet is not your life YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED!! Look I use a *NIX OS as my main system and I know all about FTP and IRC and wget and so on and so forth. Does that make me a better netizen? Absolutely not. This AOL bashing has got to stop. If someone uses an easy to use GUI based online services such as AOL and all they want is to use IM, Buddy Lists, AOL email and the AOL browser then THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! Should all drivers know the thermodynamics of an automobile engine? Should all airplane passengers know the physics of flight in relation to gravity and wind resistance? HELL NO! The problem here isn't the newbies. The problem is you. You are bitter. You are angry that the newcomers to the net couldn't give two shits that AOL isn't the entire internet or that all you need is an ISP that supports PPP connections to use a browser....etc. I'm so sorry to tell you this but that shit is just trivial to most people and their lives. They aren't geeks and thats not a bad thing. It would be so unproductive and such a waste if everyone were as enthusiastic about computers and technology as we are. Whats worse is that in every profession there is someone like you, bitter cold and spiteful with a dark soul as their only companion. As someone much older than me I hope you have enough time left in your life to discover the truly "relevant" aspects of existence.

[ Parent ]
Huh ? (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by Fred_A on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 08:57:55 AM EST

If someone uses an easy to use GUI based online services such as AOL and all they want is to use IM, Buddy Lists, AOL email and the AOL browser then THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!
Who ever said there was something wrong with that ? On tre contrary, I think it's a good thing that new services appear. I never really got the point of IM but it seems to be immensely popular and lots of people use it. Int's a new toy, people have fun with it, that's the point. Things evolve.
Should all drivers know the thermodynamics of an automobile engine?
Certainly not. However aren't all drivers required to know what the rules for driving are ? If a driver knows what the thermodynamics of the internal combustion angine are but has no idea what red lights or "stop" signs are, this does make him a far worse driver than grandma who only knows that there is a go-faster and a go-slower pedal but knows when to stop and how to behave on the road.

I'm afraid your response is quite besides the point. All I'm saying is that a community needs common rules and that those are currently disapearing or being replaced by inferior ones. This lowers the value of the community and it's set of tools for everybody. I have adressed all this in numerous other posts here.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

rules? where? (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by Abstraction on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 01:22:01 AM EST

I'm afraid your response is quite besides the point. All I'm saying is that a community needs common rules and that those are currently disapearing or being replaced by inferior ones. This lowers the value of the community and it's set of tools for everybody. I have adressed all this in numerous other posts here.

Care to point me to a reference for these rules of yours? Most new people on the internet don't even know these 'rules' exist, nor do people explain the 'rules' to them.

I do agree with you for the most part however.

[ Parent ]
Read FYI 28 Netiquette (none / 0) (#96)
by simon farnz on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 07:06:30 AM EST

Available at ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/fyi/fyi28.txt

This standard has been around since October 1995 and was supplied with my first set of Internet Access software (the Turnpike suite).
--
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]

Some of the "rules" (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by Fred_A on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 03:54:09 AM EST

Care to point me to a reference for these rules of yours?
Here are examples of rules that are no longer part of the required learning to get on line:
Learn proper usage
Email and Usenet quoting is a typical example
Learn (and care) to use the tools
How many times have you been asked a question you didn't know the answer to but found in under 10 seconds with a search engine? Happens to me all the time.
Respect the resources of the network
spam spam spam, lovely spam.
Communication is the point of the network
Poorly written web sites (and I don't mean personal pages here, but corporate sites), 31337 speak and such only hinder communication.
Those are the basic ones that come to mind. Someone pointed to FYI 28 (RFC 1855) "Netiquette guidelines" which aims to educate users on some of these issues. Such "netiquette" documents are still found in most of the ISP's installation packages but who cares to read them?
Of course, like everybody else, when I get a new toy, I want to play with it now. But I do get back to the documentation eventually. Lots of people don't.

Most new people on the internet don't even know these 'rules' exist, nor do people explain the 'rules' to them.
Those people would know the rules exist if they only looked around them for a few minutes. Or read the docs that came with their MegaISP CD.
And people do explain, I do it all day long. Others do as well. Others yet are so fed up with the whole thing that they have given up.
And if you look at the result of the poll that came with the story (I know it's not a very scientific method of measure), you'll see that appart from the ob-silly-answer "make them use Unix", the first answer to "what should be done with newbies" is "Educate them". So there is hope :)

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

what? (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by darthaya on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:49:52 PM EST

Who are you to define what "internet" manner is?

Are you some kind of internet aristocrat? :-)



[ Parent ]

Defining manners is a matter of consensus (4.50 / 2) (#77)
by Fred_A on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 08:47:27 AM EST

Who are you to define what "internet" manner is?
Manners are defined by usage. Who defined that saying "hello" and shaking hands was good manners in most of the western world ? Who defined that holding a door for the person behind you was good manners ?

General agreement defines what good manners are. In the case of the Network, there used to be a general agreement that suddenly got drowned out with a massive arrival of new users. Now there is no longer a general agreement and I believe we ought to have one again. If only because it worked better when people adhered to some kind of common standard.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Elitism ? (3.75 / 4) (#35)
by Fred_A on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 01:29:03 PM EST

I'm afraid this doesn't make sense to me. I don't care who's part of an elite, or if there even is one. When I start to care, is when people's ignorance which is all too often voluntary (the "I can't be bothered to learn how it works, I just want to use it" crowd) interferes with the usefulness of the set of tools I use.

And I believe I have every right to criticize people who don't have the basic politeness of learning the usage of a community before joining it.

It may not be your life, but the Internet is a big part of mine, my job is to get companies online, create their networking infrastructure, design their Internet applications, and in some cases, explain it to their users. I spend most of my time online, either working or accumulating data so that I at least stay current. If to you the net is just a hobby, fine. To me it's the tool of my trade and I'd rather deal with people who have learned how to use it, for everyone's profit.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

well, maybe you should (3.88 / 9) (#27)
by flummox on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 11:11:52 AM EST

remember where you came from. i think it is a major problem. most "older" people forget that they were once in the same boat of the people they now think are causing problems. were you born with all your internet knowledge, or did you have to start from page one somewhere down the line??

now, i do agree with your opinion. but, i also see this as a shitty attack on people who wish to use the internet, and not the best way to invoke change in your favor. maybe you should be bitching about AOL or Prodigy or any of the other ISP's with nothing better to do than mail out cd-roms with free offers to morons. maybe if the internet wasn't shoved down people's throats as "the next best thing since sliced bread", we wouldn't have all these shitty yuppy users.

but, also, i think we all need to realize that when you use something new, you have to learn it. and, the best way to learn it is to ask people who know. ask the users. the people who have been doing this for 5 or 10 years and can help. by giving these "newbies" a hard time, not only are you alienating them. the attitude you portray will eventually effect how they use the medium. seriously...

i think it is a mistake to "attack" the "new users". why? because you won't win. there are more "newbies" than veterans. it is stupid to think that you can hold the internet in your grasp and keep it the way you want it. you said yourself that the internet is a network of people, right? well, if you want to interact within a social gathering, you have to accept the fact that you are opening yourself up to the whims of the masses. if the "newbies" want to do something a certain way, it will happen that way. simply because someone, some company (AOL) will come along and make it easy for idiots to do so. or, they will do it the AOL-way simply because they don't know any better...

i don't agree with that at all. i feel it is better to educate people to fit into the environment. not change the environment to fit the people. it doesn't even make any scientific sense to do that!!

but, regardless, you can't sit there and bitch. that is not the solution to this problem. you have to act upon it and try to make the internet the place you would like it to be. don't just sit back and watch it move from a really great place to meet people and learn, to a shitty run down place where scum and villainy reigh supreme. or even a basic idiot's network...

the key word here is ignorance. new users are ignorant to a lot of things. but, the mistake we (the veteran's) will make is the stubborn refusal to adapt to the influx of new people. AOL saw an opportunity to give people what they wanted. and, as a result, they have changed the way people around the world think of the internet. ever have someone ask you "what is your screename"?? oh, boy!! don't ever ask me that unless you want a half hour soap-box session from me how ignorant you sound asking that stupid question. but, that's just it. people out there actually think AOL is the internet!! and this is where our problem is...

we need a "geek marketing department" for the internet. a place where people can go to learn (uninhibited by shitty veterans who wish to attack newbies) and actively share in the community that is already established. and, we also need to allow for some "changes" to be made to the current perception people have of this network. if we don't allow for change, then a revolution, not evolution, will happen.

and, if the people won't change it for themselves, the government WILL step in... trust me on that.

hope this added some light,

cap'n flummox

...bring me my cheese...

Newbies not ignorant - they are lazy (3.88 / 9) (#36)
by cod on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 01:50:16 PM EST

I think most of the problem is laziness. I run a site for a non-profit group and at least once a week I get an email asking me 10 questions that would require detailed answers - 9 of which are answered on the web site. Are these people too ignorant to know to read the site? I don't think so, they knew enough to find the site to email me the first place. They are lazy and want everything spoon fed to them. MS and AOL have perpetrated the myth that the Internet is easy - just point and click and away you go. The Internet is not about software, its about people...

Just tell them (3.33 / 6) (#41)
by jstormer on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 03:46:14 PM EST

to read the FAQ or look around some more, and come back if they still have questions. Just calling them lazy isn't going to solve anything, it just might make them lazier.

[ Parent ]
the more details the better (4.00 / 3) (#69)
by noahm on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 01:23:34 PM EST

Even better would be to reply with "The answer to this question is at..."... "The answer to this one is here..." and give them direct URLs to the specific answer they want. It sure beats explaining the same stuff over and over again, and may help them to realize that they could have found the answer to the questions themselves without bugging somebody with more important things to do.

But then again, I think I'm probably giving people more credit than they deserve.

noah

[ Parent ]

Detailed replies (4.00 / 2) (#81)
by Fred_A on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 09:19:19 AM EST

[ ... ] give them direct URLs to the specific answer they want. It sure beats explaining the same stuff over and over again, and may help them to realize that they could have found the answer to the questions themselves [ ... ]
This is indeed what one should do. However this quickly turns into a full time job and thus becomes impractical. When I ran a site that provided some reference material I ended up writing a kind of FAQ answering the most common questions (including "I have to turn in a paper on this subject, can you give me all the data?") and sent that in reply to most of the mail I got. Even then it took a fair chunk of my "email time".

So in this case, like in the "how can we educate newcomers" topic I've developed elsewhere, the real problem isn't the feasability but the fact that there is so much to do that it quickly becomes overwhelming.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Provide a link to information (3.50 / 4) (#73)
by skim123 on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 04:47:21 PM EST

Supply the user with information. I run a Web site and have Outlook setup with several various Signatures that are not really signatures, but replies to the most common questions. So, if I get an email from someone asking a common question (maybe get ten or so a day), I can just reply to the message, insert the sig, and send it off.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Difference between the old and the new. (4.22 / 9) (#38)
by Rasvar on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 02:31:14 PM EST

The "old-timers" know their way around. They can adapt and can still fall back on old methods. It never fails to amaze me how many folks say 'I didn't know you could do that,' when I pop open an ftp client and easily pull items from an ftp site instead of using a browser. It boggles them even more when I use a command line ftp client.

The idea of using ssh or telnet to get to a system from anywhere on the net is lost on 90% of the folks out there. To them, if it is not email or in a web browser, it must not be the net.

Yes, the net is being dumbed down. These folks will just go along and won't be able to get around a restriction placed upon them in the future. Cattle to the slaughter. You are going to end up with a two tier internet. Your every day person, who has no idea and the folks who know the net and then your true tech folks who will probably end up be cosidered troublesome becuase they posess knowledge. It is really up to the folks who know to protect the ones that don't from themselves. Yes, things like email ettiqute are lacking. I have kind of thrown my hands up on that. I do it correct way with those who know it and do it the bad way with everyone else becuase they don't want to learn and the software makes it too easy for them to continue that way. I am not going to hop in front of the slaughter house blades for these folks. It is up to them to learn their way out. I make initial offers. If they come back to me, I will help.

I'm not predicting the end of the net. It will be here a long time. It has already been perverted from what it was and could have been. It is owned by the corporations now. It isn't going back. The age of free exchange is what is dead. IP lawyers have made sure about that. We are just going to have to deal with what we have been dealt. I'm just hoping that as things get more and more corporate controled, that things don't get to the point where someone with "old knowledge" is considered dangerous. Yeah, somewhat 1984ish; but I think it fits.

You do have a point (3.75 / 4) (#57)
by jcolter on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 03:27:55 AM EST

Not to contradict my earlier point about the Internet being better then ever but... I agree that my friends and family have a difficult time understanding relatively simple Internet functions. Like FTP and HTTP being protocols and not magic. I think that possible if a *nix system would have prevailed in the desktop wars (or something that has used TCP/IP for a while, people would understand these processes more intuitively.

I always expect when explaining the idea of logging into ports to get responses of "oh, that's all there is to it". Unfortunately, they look at my like I am explaining higher mathmatical functions. I blame AOL and Microsoft, for helping people to get "on the internet" as opposed to "connecting to other computers using TCP/IP". Not that the later has much sex appeal.



[ Parent ]
when I was a web newbie. (3.30 / 10) (#39)
by roachgod on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 03:31:28 PM EST

Ahh...many years ago that was. back in middle school.

AS it happened. I picked up much of it all rather quick. ftp, usenet, the web, irc, what have you. and I did it off an old dos box. because that was what I had to play games on. But the weird thing was, every time I asked a question on how to do something, to make learning it easier, all I got in return was, 'damn newbie' or 'ha ha look at the stupid newbie' ad nauseum.

And now my younger brother has gotten on, while I am at college, and whenever he needs to know something he calls me first, because if he doesn't all he gets is 'damn newbie' or 'ha ha look at the stupid newbie' ad nauseum.

I think we need to realize that his is part of the 'old' net culture as well. And if you want to make people not learn how to do things, then the easiest way is to insult them whenever they try. so who is to blame for people not knowing how to do things?
well, for one, all the people out there who just insult them when they try. And of course the newbies themselves for not learning despite that. and finally, the fact that in many cases easily finding usefull information on how things work. as far as I can tell there are usually two schools of documents. those written for those who know most of everything all ready. and those that are written for people in kindergarden, and only show a few basic things so that you can get around, but never REALLY explain how everything works. for newbies there has to be a beginner THROUGH advanced thing for all the topics. They may be lazy, but if we make getting better easy then it won't be as much of a problem now would it.
Considering all the people I hate in the world, I don't think suicide should be a sin, it should qualify one for sainthood.

Ha Ha! Stupid newbie! (4.00 / 5) (#40)
by jstormer on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 03:43:15 PM EST

Those "Ha Ha! Stupid Newbie" people are just lamers. That old "lets bash the newbie" stuff needs to go away. Most people, if you tell them that they suck enough, will just give up or just not seek help and just continue to do what they were doing.

[ Parent ]
where does he ask? (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by boxed on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 06:18:36 PM EST

The worst I've been subjected to is "RTFM" (in programming channels) and being ignored. If you get that kind of response, you're asking in the wrong place.

[ Parent ]
"damn newbie" replies (3.75 / 4) (#59)
by Fred_A on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:51:15 AM EST

[...] every time I asked a question on how to do something, to make learning it easier, all I got in return was, 'damn newbie' or 'ha ha look at the stupid newbie' ad nauseum.
I see this all the time both on Usenet and on IRC. It's extremely frequent in Linux groups/channels. I find it extremely irritating myself since I've always enjoyed helping others out.
In Linux groups it usually takes the form of "It won't work because you run RedHat and are therefore a moron since all real users run Debian". It has gotten to the point that I now suspect Debian of including a subliminal brainwashing tool in their distribution.

Unfortunately I have found no other solution than to ignore the offenders. Luckily these days I don't have to ask for help too often but it still happens a lot.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

the internet died in 1993 (3.83 / 6) (#44)
by gps on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 06:05:29 PM EST

By all accounts, the internet already died in the early ninties (1993 or so) when the general public started to gain access.

Before that time for the most part the only people who used it were those who had passed at least one clue test of some form or another.

Educating "newbies" (everyone who connected -after- AOL linked their private network to what once was the internet) in the ways of old is a lost cause. Newbies in those numbers define it so that anyone who was already there might as well not exist. They are a lot like the Kudzu "plant" or rabbits introduced into Australia in that respect.

The internet *began* in 1993 (3.66 / 6) (#56)
by ikillyou on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 03:13:50 AM EST

By all accounts, the internet already died in the early ninties (1993 or so) when the general public started to gain access.

Have a little perspective. For the xenophobic among the technical community, the Internet "died" in 1993; for the rest of the world, the Internet began to matter only after 1993.

[ Parent ]

Grammatical horrors. (4.40 / 5) (#46)
by factorial nine on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 06:49:07 PM EST

In addition to your mentioning of "3|337-Speek" and "Extended Character Addiction", I'm surprised that you didn't cite the abhorrent amount of individuals speaking in the "Single-character Syllabic Notation" syntax. Not uncommon in all forms of internet communication, I'm sure you've all seen it before.

"r u @ r cht rum/", or something of the sort.

I don't particularly specialize in the more advanced aspects of this notation... mh.

words without letters (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by claudine on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:40:09 AM EST

I'm surprised that you didn't cite the abhorrent amount of individuals speaking in the "Single-character Syllabic Notation" syntax. Not uncommon in all forms of internet communication, I'm sure you've all seen it before.
"r u @ r cht rum/", or something of the sort.

I suspect this is being perpetrated by people whose first encounter with electronic messaging was through SMS-enabled mobile phones. (Some phone companies actually use text messaging as one of their main selling points!) They can't cope with 80 characters per line.


--
I don't have a .sig


[ Parent ]
Text messaging is good! (3.00 / 1) (#71)
by gordonjcp on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 04:10:57 PM EST

In the UK, we've had SMS for *years*, and although it's only just become wildly popular, some of us who had GSM phones when they were still very new found it a great way to communicate.
Of course, five years ago, it was pretty hard to find someone you knew who also had a GSM phone, but hey, that's not the point.
Think of it as a really really short email, that you're notified of right away, and can get anywhere.

I probably use SMS far more than I use "voice" on my phone these days...

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Single-character Syllabic Notation (4.00 / 2) (#61)
by Fred_A on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 06:10:32 AM EST

Ah yes, I forgot those. Even though they've been around for as long as I can remember.

I do tolerate it in some contexts where you don't have much time to type such as online games, or when typing is too impractical such as when using a cell phone keyboard...

I always wonder if people use this notation because:

  • They think it's cool (as if making something harder to read was somehow cool)
  • They can't type
  • They are too lazy to type
Unfortunately I suspect that answer #3 is the right one in most cases. I wonder what happens when those people try to speak... Are they too lazy to articulate complete words ?

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

A (long) sig I saw once ... (3.83 / 6) (#50)
by coffee17 on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:48:23 PM EST

In kindergarten I learned to read from top to bottom. Ever since learning to read, I've only needed to read from top to bottom, and there'd been no confusion. I did't have to worry about what version of English a book I was reading was written in. Now, thanks to the wonders of the default format of Microsoft Outlook quoting/replying, we get to scan for the last reply header, read the context, scan up for the 2nd last reply reader, etc etc ... and somehow this jumping up and down is seen as "user friendly" ?

The golden age(s)... (4.00 / 7) (#53)
by Havoc on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 01:12:27 AM EST

Okay, I'm hoping to capture the idea, but seeing the local time, and my lack of sleep, I'm doubting my ability to do so. Apologies if this isn't as articulate as it could be.

The golden age of the internet will not last forever. This is clearly seen by this story, and by anyone who would consider themselves an "old timer"1. With the increas in quantity and decrease in price of internet connections and equipment to use them, comes the need to make it more accessible. This leads to the feared dumbing down of things, leading to even more use, and a lower level of knowledge needed to function on the lowest level. We now require virtually no knowledge to function online, using everything the common person wants (email, web, and chat).

Now, these users have no had to learn, and are not used to having to learn how things work in order to use them (in relation to computers), so when they have an idea that would require a technology that hasn't been heavily dumbed, they pitch fits and refuse to take the time to learn. Lower entry level generates a lower likelyhood of the user actually taking time to understand how to use things. And therein lies the problem. If they do not want to learn, or refuse to, how can we bring them up to our level? I have no problem with the new users that will learn, but I think the general hate is towards those who don't.

The reason for this, I belive, lies in how they view the internet and computers. To us, they are highly complex tools that we have had to learn to use. To them, they are compliments of modern life, that come iced with cute, simple GUIs. They have not had to learn, so they do not see a reason to learn.

Anyway, holding this together as best as my tired mind can, we get this flood of perpetually stupid users who will end up teaching other users, corrupting the process of teaching someone to include unlearning the wrongs they had been taught. With time the amount of those willing, and able to truely educate newcomers will be drowned out by the stupid who think they know what they are talking about, which will in turn kill the hope of any widespread enlightenment of the internet's populance.

So, it won't last. It would be nice, but it won't.

What can we do?

Elitism. Yes, it's not cool, but it makes sense here. Form splinter groups, communities whenever one becomes too diluted. Allow others in, but only those willing to learn, willing to try and understand. Build stops to prevent the flood. In many ways, K5 has done this well. It has protection from clueless flooding (peer modding), and has a community of people who are intelligent.

K5 has several barriers to entry that really protect those who are in, without locking out those who aren't, but at the same time not providing an open gate. In many ways, K5 has it right. I just hope it will last a long time.

I'll come back and reply to this in the morning (relative to when I wake up), so if anything is garbled, just speak up.

----------
1: The speed of clueless newbies flowing onto the net seems to be increasing exponentially. Even though I am 15, I consider myself an old timer, because I have witnessed things when they were better, and with the influx of users, the time it takes to witness/experience the things that allow yourself to be considered an old timer has shrunk inversely. I have heavily used FTP, telnet, usenet, ssh, and in general the internet for years. I have even begun to favor console over GUI. I consider this, coupled with my knowledge of the internet to qualify me as an old timer.

-Dan

The possibility of hope.... (3.80 / 5) (#68)
by warpeightbot on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 01:04:00 PM EST

Even though I am 15, I consider myself an old timer, because I have witnessed things when they were better, and with the influx of users, the time it takes to witness/experience the things that allow yourself to be considered an old timer has shrunk inversely. I have heavily used FTP, telnet, usenet, ssh, and in general the internet for years. I have even begun to favor console over GUI. I consider this, coupled with my knowledge of the internet to qualify me as an old timer.
And I think he's right, and I think there's hope.

I agree with previous posters, the problem with the Internet is that the barriers to entry have been lowered by the likes of Microsoft and AOL; this combined with the dumbing down of America (face it, folks, the Yanks are the 800-pound gorilla of the Internet) to the point where "personal responsibility" is a swear word, never to be mentioned in the bounds of a public school (/mini-rant) makes for a really stupid Internet.

But I still think there is hope. There are still ISP's who know from Linux and BSD and such like, and they're growing. There are sites like K5 and User Friendly, and other sites like Yahoo or Google that enable the less-clued to add generic clue and yet other sites like LinuxDoc or Debian.org (and I'm sure these exist for BSD or Macs or even (gasp) Windows, I'm just showing my penguin-headedness here) for more specific cluefulness... and the fact that we're returning to moderated mailing lists means that there are moderators out there willing to contribute blood, sweat, and tears to the effort...

And then there are gems like this young gentleman. He's not the only one, either; we have a regular contributor on a mailing list I'm on, and both of them had me totally fooled into thinking they were at least 20-something with a BS. Somehow the System is allowing these well-spoken, polite propellorheads to escape... and to find and participate in the islands of sanity we have managed to dredge up for ourselves in the teeming sea of noise that is the present-day Internet.

And I think that's what we're going to have to do. Dredge up some islands of sanity, web sites and mail lists (and operating systems!) that are not dominated by the duckspeak generated by the twin Hydra of Big Business and Big Government, recruit people like this gentleman, make sure they know their history, and train them up in the way they should go... (forgetting not, however, that they may themselves have a few good ideas... like this fresh-faced kid from Finland a few years back... who'da thunk THAT, eh? :)

And do what? I dunno. But I'm sure somebody's already thought of it. Our job is to provide an incubator, a place where the idea can get thrashed out and tested and allowed to grow without some bureaucrat or lawyer saying "no, you can't do that".... and let things happen. Or help make them happen, if we're so inspired.

--
In the long, twilight struggle which lies ahead,
there is the possibility of hope.
    -- Babylon 5

[ Parent ]

The internet is better than ever! (3.16 / 6) (#55)
by jcolter on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 03:11:13 AM EST

This reminds me of a book I had to read in a communications class in college.It was called Cultural Literacy: What every American Should Know.

I got an A in the class for my critique of the book. It essentially argued that American school children are not learning essential concepts because they are not aware of our shared history. In the back of the book the author maintains a list of thousands of events, people, expressions, and concepts that he believes we all need to know about.

I would have to say its one of the worst books I've ever read. I would assume that the author by the examples cited in his book probably knows very little about youth, hip hop, punk, or rave culture. Where as most of us would assume these are important parts of understanding American society.

My argument is the internet is not the same place that it was in the early nineties. It is actually much better! Now we actually have bandwidth! Could you imagine downloading an ISO of your favorite Linux distro in 1990? I remember being a 1980s ancestor of Warez Dood(or however you think the talk) downloading a 250k file. It pretty much sucked, thank you very much.

When I was fifteen I often acted like a pretty big jerk myself, probably contributing more noise than signal. I think criticizing high school kids and newbies when in high school, and criticizing them when you are in your 20's and 30's aren't the same thing (and not all that good for you mental health). Leave the kids alone :)



The internet is better than ever! (none / 0) (#64)
by sgates on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 09:05:49 AM EST

But each of these youth cultures has a historic context. Here is the UK, punk in the 1970's was all about post-war Britain, the loss of it's empire and the final decline of classical British culture. The rave boom of the late 80's (only recently has it caught on in America) was partly a reaction to Thatcherism, which itself was linked to deeper historical threads.

Isolating punk and rave culture without any historical context misses out on the bigger picture.


[ Parent ]
I don't understand (none / 0) (#87)
by jcolter on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 05:18:30 PM EST

I am not denying that effects have causes. I'm just arguing that the current system ( re the internet)has improved since non technical people started using it. I also like the increased Bandwith! Again MO YMMV.

[ Parent ]
Back in my day... (3.00 / 3) (#72)
by skim123 on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 04:41:23 PM EST

Back in my day <insert something to gripe about here>.

Sorry Fred_A, but your writeup should have probably been under OpEd, and it does smack of "we had to walk uphill both coming and going, without shoes, and there was snow, and shaddered glass on the ground!"

In any case, I am on serveral email listservs and this topic is something that comes up every couple of months. People decry extraneous email text, HTML-formatted emails, etc., things get better for a while, but then go back to how they were.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Well, yes, it's a gripe. (3.50 / 2) (#80)
by Fred_A on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 09:05:05 AM EST

In any case, I am on serveral email listservs and this topic is something that comes up every couple of months. People decry extraneous email text, HTML-formatted emails, etc., things get better for a while, but then go back to how they were.
If people decry it then there obviously is a problem with it. The question is "what, if anything, can be done about it ?"

This is the point of the article. Is education the answer (is it even possible ?) or should we let it all turn into the mess it is increasingly becoming ?

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Stupidity and Ignorance: What to do about it (4.33 / 3) (#76)
by BlckKnght on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:27:45 PM EST

You think the net is being dumbed down. What are you going to do about it?

Try to teach people. Explain things, as calmly and patiently as you can. Accept that many people will not learn much in one go, but after hearing one explanation they're more likely to "get it" the next time. Spreading your knowledge costs you little or nothing and benefits everyone.

When you see a website who's design hinders your use of it, fire off a polite email to webmaster@brokensite and explain what the problems you are having. Say how it could be done better. Finally, tell them that because of the problem, you will take your buisness elsewhere until the problem is fixed.

When I help non-technical people with computers, I always try to teach them the Right Way to do the things they're struggling with. If I'm helping a friend of family member with a Windows problem, I talk about Linux and Free Software while I work, explaining why I think they are better than commercial and propietary alternatives. I'm not above outright propaganda.

The best solution to ignorance and stupidity is education. Tell people when they are wrong (politely) and teach them how to be right. Spread your knowledge and encourage others to do the same.

-- 
Error: .signature: No such file or directory


the l33t ar3 n0t n3wb13z (3.00 / 2) (#84)
by Delirium on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 03:14:04 PM EST

I don't see how you equate l33t sp3ak with newbies. This was prevalent nearly twenty years ago, and while it doesn't date back to the old glory days of DARPANET, it is quite old in the computer culture, and probably has been on the internet longer than you have.

"old" N3wb13z :) (4.00 / 2) (#86)
by Fred_A on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 03:44:04 PM EST

I have to agree that this is not new, it has existed for a longtime, mostly as B1FFisms.

However I don't think the "Rise Of B1FF" could have happened in a context where this writing style had been well known to mainstream users. Finally while it has existed in a (less extreme) form for a long time, it has now become mainstream instead of being an occasional toy.

Those users therefore are and were "newbies" in the sense that the style is only used when they are new online and that they usually grow out of the silly habit fairly quickly. Apart from the giggle value of occasional use, it only serves to hinder communication.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Will Chinese Internet users destroy the Internet? (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by Andy Tai on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 02:45:44 AM EST

China will soon have the largest Internet user population in the world. Will the Internet be destroyed because there are many Chinese people around sending non-English messages that flood the Internet? They don't use "foo", "bar", "133t", "IMHO", or "all your base." They use character sets only your unicode-capable browsers can display. Yes, as soon as Unicode is widely accapted, each Chinese character is as legimate to use in email to you as A, B and C. Don't understand it? Get a Chinese-English dictionary.

Chinese online is a good evolution (none / 0) (#100)
by Fred_A on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 03:26:22 AM EST

This would in my opinion be the example of, as another poster put it (paraphrasing from memory) "the evolution of new rules that more closely match the society". Society being in this case to be taken planetwide.

This is a good thing. And btw, although the most popular services are in English, people have been flooding the net with all kinds of languages for a while now thanks to MIME and the new ISO charsets.

I admit to regularly sending email in French (and even if I send you some in English, you'll notice that it's encoded in Latin-9 ISO-8859-15 for the European Community charset). The website I'm working on on the history of Paris is all in French (save for one English page that basically says "sorry, it's in French because I don't have time to maintain two languages, here's a list of English resources on the topic").

So this is already more or less happening. And when the chinese comme online en masse, it will probably be interesting to see what happens.

What I predict (puts astrologer's hat on) is that the various communities won't mingle much and that the "old" (i.e. English based) groups will lead their lives as before. They just won't be the dominating force on the network anymore. I doubt this will change anything in practice. Except that the DNS system may get upgraded to Unicode eventually (which would be a good thing too).

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Evolution: will newcomers kill the Internet? | 101 comments (100 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!