Re: Response to spam

From: <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2008 16:44:38 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <>

On Jan 12, 5:04 am, joel garry <> wrote:

> > No, of course not. What an odd suggestion. I don't have to have had
> > weird experiences in the past to be aware of what is happening to
> > OraNA right now. Posts containing good content (not all of it
> > technical) are being shunted at a rate of knots down the page and off
> > the page, because of the constant arrival of new me-too '8 things'
> > posts. That's a practical consequence and not one I just made up.
> Not so odd, it explains a lot of the militarism against spam here. I
> had a very wise boss once, he was responsible for dealing with the
> most pissed off customers, and he would maintain his composure with
> such assumptions, and usually be able to ascertain what the real
> problem was as a result.

All I can tell you is, I have no odd experiences that have made me feel this way. In fact, when the whole thing first happened, I was rather looking forward to being tagged. And then one morning I posted something on the blog, checked it looked OK on OraNA and couldn't find the damn thing... because it had been shunted off by the incoming '8 things' posts. That's when I realised this wasn't actually a game of laughs.

> > The response to this has been (from Tim Hall) "It's my blog and I can
> > do what I like with it" (stuff anyone affected by what he does with
> > it, too, I suppose).
> > Tim's other thoughtful response was "I don't care. I never asked to be
> > included in the blog aggregator in the first place". Very civically
> > minded.
> At one point, I was considering aggregating oracle-l into a newsgroup,
> as I don't like the available formats. Trying to be nice, I asked
> Steve Adams if I could, and he said no. I honored that, but I think
> Tim has a reasonable point here. It may be too much to ask to hold
> content providers to every possible format that is downstream of their
> publishing. And what really would stop me from ignoring Steve's
> wishes?

Decency, I think. And being a responsible member of a wider community.

Similarly, decent community-awareness means that, whilst you (anyone) personally don't use OraNA; and whilst you didn't personally ask to be aggregated to it; nevertheless you recognise that lots of others do and you have been. Therefore, you behave decently and responsibly as a result.

If I got onto my train of a morning and decided to listen to Olivier Messiaen at full volume on a ghetto blaster, am I not responsible for the ensuing annoyance to others? I think most people would say, 'yes' to that. Yet I didn't ask those people to get on the train, to be in my carriage. So why should I care about what they think?

Well, I think the answer to that is a long one to do with mutual rights and responsibilities, and we needn't go there. Rather more simply, I do agree that it would be too much to expect a blog owner to change their template, CSS or content just because it screws up a downstream aggregator's look or feel or the owner of an aggregator site's view about what is suitable content. But encouraging a potentially exponential growth in me-too posts is nothing to do with your content, and everything to do with your behaviour, which has detrimental consequences for others you should be aware of and should, decently and responsibly, want to mitigate or avoid.

Analogy: we all have the right to develop in whatever language we like, to write whatever code we like and to have fun doing so. We even have the right to write a computer virus if we like. But we don't have the right to release it to the wild and it's a criminal offense in most jurisdictions to do so. Given that, although you have the right to write a virus in the privacy of your home, is it a particularly responsible thing to do so?

We have, I think, all seen posts in technical forums, too, that go something like this: 'I am having difficulty starting my instance. What should I do'... and the answer some wit posts is 'format c:' or 'rm -rf *'. Is that a responsible reply? Doesn't the author have some sort of moral responsibility to not post what he thinks a very obvious joke because someone very inexperienced might act on it one day?

I believe he or she does. I don't claim it's hard-and-fast and blindingly obvious, black-and-white stuff. Clearly, there are degrees and nuances. But ultimately, yes, I think an Oracle blogger does have a responsibility to be aware that their content is used in situations not of their own devising. I certainly remember cringing with guilt, for example, when I was, a couple of years back, forever changing my content management system and breaking all my feed URLs every few months or so: poor old Brian Duff was forever getting emails asking him to change the OraBlogs pickup as a result. I didn't stop changing content management systems (to some extent, I had no choice), but I was certainly aware of the grief and inconvenience I was causing 'downstream' and I **was** very apologetic every time I wrote!

> To use a somewhat ridiculous example, I was at a pizza party for some
> kids Saturday night, and one of the other parents was showing me his
> crack, er Blackberry. (He's a SS DBA, and was getting problem texts,
> I kept the chuckling to myself). So I told him about twitter, and
> told him to navigate to Awad's posts. It seems you have to log in to
> get the phone version, so we went to his regular twitter posts. Now,
> should I blame Eddie for a crapload of thumbnail images that take
> forever to load over a slow wireless connection onto a slow device?

Again, that's a question of content, and I have never said there's anything wrong with posting 8 personal things about yourself. I'm not arguing against the content. I'm arguing against the pyramid scheme nature of the thing, the viral wrapper in which this content has been placed.

Or rather, I was. That cat's out of the bag now and isn't coming back any time soon.

So now I just to look in disbelief at the community-mindedness (or lack thereof) of a number of people in the Oracle blogging community who I thought would be better than they have been.

Fortunately, I also look at some of the really big names in that same community and note that, at least as yet, they haven't stooped to participation in this act of vandalism. Or someone like Richard Foote who posted his twist on the 8 things theme ...and (the important part) **didn't** 'pass it on'. That sort of thing tells me that I'm not completely off my rocker on this one, and I notice some comments on that seem to suggest the same.

> The more I consider it, the more I think you are just totally wrong
> about that.

I think that's because you've not quite got the distinction I'm trying to make (and obviously failing) between mere content and the virallike  wrapper that's being put around that content.

No-one's asking anyone to stop posting certain stuff. No-one's dictating to anyone what their content should be. I am, however, complaining that the pyramid scheme nature of the 'game' has caused damage to important information sources, and those participating in the game should, whether they like it or not, acknowledge that fact and modify their behaviour (not their content) accordingly. Received on Fri Jan 11 2008 - 18:44:38 CST

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