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#1 2010-03-28 19:02:42

Xyne
Moderator/TU
Registered: 2008-08-03
Posts: 5,688
Website

"Necrobumping" can be a good thing

I just saw this thread in the "new posts" list.

I think it's a good thing that raj7095 posted the information that he did. Presumably that thread came up when searching for ways to install .deb packages on Arch. The information about dpkg in the AUR may help others who come across the same thread after a similar search in the future.

The "no necrobumping" policy has gone a bit overboard. It makes sense when someone posts questions in dead threads or solutions to extinct problems, but not when someone adds useful information which may still be relevant to anyone who finds the thread. Arch forum threads come up in many internet searches for specific questions. They're useful sources of information and many of them remain relevant for years or longer because they don't deal with anything too temporally specific (e.g.. bugs in older versions).


Note that I'm not criticizing tomk. He's just enforcing the policy as he's expected to do and most of the mods would probably have done the same thing.



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Not all zombies are bad.

Last edited by Xyne (2010-03-28 19:03:25)

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#2 2010-03-28 23:52:04

skottish
Forum Fellow
From: Here
Registered: 2006-06-16
Posts: 7,931

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

It's tricky because a lot of the community is pushing the 'Report' link for old threads. It happened with the thread that you're talking about. Without a doubt there's a gray area here and rAj7095 did get a helpful post in. But what to do? We gratefully have a proactive community that's coming at the forum from all different angles. Someone posts in an older thread and someone else says WTF...

With that being said, Ed is chained up for reason. Sometimes zombies have a tendency to do undesirable things, even if they were once your best friend.

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#3 2010-03-29 11:24:41

.:B:.
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2006-11-26
Posts: 5,819

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

While the post in itself may contain useful information, the question always is whether the OP will still be looking for a solution. He probably won't, especially after such a long time. Otherwise the thread would be still active.

Even closing zombie topics won't remove that information; it's not like we're deleting the post.

As for this specific type of information, dpkg is in the AUR and I knew that before. I have to have picked that up somewhere, so the information is around already. There are very few cases in which posts in dead topics contain such exclusive and valuable information (I am not being condescending towards the poster in question) that you cannot find it elsewhere with some effort. I wholly appreciate people wanting to be helpful and posting that information, but I think in such cases the wiki is a better place than a dead topic, as relevant as the information may be. Maybe it even justifies a whole new topic, but I am not fond of topics being opened just for the sake of giving people a heads-up - but that's just me. The forum is intended for discussion and interactive help, the wiki is more of a knowledge base. They both have their purposes.


Got Leenucks? :: Arch: Power in simplicity :: Get Counted! Registered Linux User #392717 :: Blog thingy

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#4 2010-03-29 12:12:08

Xyne
Moderator/TU
Registered: 2008-08-03
Posts: 5,688
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

@skottish
Obviously use mere mortal forum dwellers don't see the reports. I can understand how that could lead to a more automated "check the date and lock" mechanism.

@B
You don't seem to consider that forum threads come up in searches (e.g. Google, not just local forum searches). Even if the OP is long gone, other people looking for a solution to the same or a similar problem will find that thread. In this case, someone looking for a way to insall deb packages will probably find Raj's post and be happy that they did. Raj himself probably found the thread while looking for the solution and decided to add it for the next person. I doubt that he was just digging through the forum graveyard looking for somewhere to post.

I agree that such information is better off in the wiki and I don't think people should post random "heads up" threads. My point is that if the thread itself is one of the first hits for that search then it should be ok to add useful information to it. Ignoring nostalgia, I would presume that old threads are kept mostly because they can be useful (autopruning dead threads would be easy). Making them more useful is just added value.

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#5 2010-03-29 12:49:30

drcouzelis
Member
From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 2009-11-09
Posts: 3,476
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

If necrobumping is never ever tolerated, why aren't threads automatically closed after a certain amount of inactivity?

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#6 2010-03-29 13:10:43

.:B:.
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2006-11-26
Posts: 5,819

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

How do you think we are gonna monitor those threads? There are thousands of threads around, and I'm not sure it's worth scripting something to loop through last posts and decide to close them. Doing it manually would be even more insane.

It's like impounding people's cars or taking their driver's licences because they might exceed the speeding limit.


Got Leenucks? :: Arch: Power in simplicity :: Get Counted! Registered Linux User #392717 :: Blog thingy

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#7 2010-03-29 13:56:34

ngoonee
Forum Fellow
From: Between Thailand and Singapore
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 6,834

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

What Xyne mentions about google searches is the main reason necro-bumping CAN BE a good thing. It may be worthwhile for some leeway to be granted (at discretion of mod), unless this unduly taxes the mod.


Allan-Volunteer on the (topic being discussed) mailn lists. You never get the people who matters attention on the forums.
jasonwryan-Installing Arch is a measure of your literacy. Maintaining Arch is a measure of your diligence. Contributing to Arch is a measure of your competence.
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#8 2010-03-29 14:01:00

litemotiv
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2008-08-01
Posts: 5,026

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

.:B:. wrote:

How do you think we are gonna monitor those threads? There are thousands of threads around, and I'm not sure it's worth scripting something to loop through last posts and decide to close them. Doing it manually would be even more insane.

just a simple

if (post_age < x)
{
print 'reply button'
} else {
print 'replies closed'
}


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#9 2010-03-29 14:08:47

ngoonee
Forum Fellow
From: Between Thailand and Singapore
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 6,834

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

litemotiv wrote:
.:B:. wrote:

How do you think we are gonna monitor those threads? There are thousands of threads around, and I'm not sure it's worth scripting something to loop through last posts and decide to close them. Doing it manually would be even more insane.

just a simple

if (post_age < x)
{
print 'reply button'
} else {
print 'replies closed'
}

I'm pretty sure its not that simple....


Allan-Volunteer on the (topic being discussed) mailn lists. You never get the people who matters attention on the forums.
jasonwryan-Installing Arch is a measure of your literacy. Maintaining Arch is a measure of your diligence. Contributing to Arch is a measure of your competence.
Griemak-Bleeding edge, not bleeding flat. Edge denotes falls will occur from time to time. Bring your own parachute.

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#10 2010-03-29 14:33:50

drcouzelis
Member
From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 2009-11-09
Posts: 3,476
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

.:B:. wrote:

How do you think we are gonna monitor those threads? There are thousands of threads around, and I'm not sure it's worth scripting something to loop through last posts and decide to close them. Doing it manually would be even more insane.

I apologize, I could have sworn I saw another forum that implemented that feature, but after looking at that forum again I realized I was wrong.

I get the feeling that, in most cases, people who necrobump just don't realize how old a thread is when they post. Do you find this to be true? Does that change how it should be handled?

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#11 2010-03-29 15:18:43

.:B:.
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2006-11-26
Posts: 5,819

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

Most people don't realise that indeed. I'm sure there can be some leniency, but imho it is a bit futile to go posting solutions in a dead thread. Sure, it can be of use to other people, but as I said the chance you're the only one that has that information is minimal.

As for the feature: I have no clue how much of a coding effort it would be. I certainly wouldn't want to do it manually tongue.


Got Leenucks? :: Arch: Power in simplicity :: Get Counted! Registered Linux User #392717 :: Blog thingy

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#12 2010-03-29 15:24:38

moljac024
Member
From: Serbia
Registered: 2008-01-29
Posts: 2,676

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

Perhaps warn the user with a dialog that he is about to respond to an old thread and ask them if they are sure they really want to reply.
That could take care of unintentional necrobumping.


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#13 2010-03-29 17:20:14

hatten
Arch Linux f@h Team Member
From: Sweden, Borlange
Registered: 2009-02-23
Posts: 736

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

In another forum I frequently visit, www.openlierox.net/forum , they have that if the thread is older than 90 days you get some big red letters proclaiming that. Very useful.


EDIT: Days, not minutes >_<

Last edited by hatten (2010-03-29 17:20:54)

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#14 2010-03-29 17:30:48

Acecero
Member
Registered: 2008-06-21
Posts: 1,373

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

We should consider making exceptions to this 'necro-bumping' rule, for all the ambiguity that it creates. I notice not all the topics in the forum get closed even after 6-month posting inactivity. Such topics in "GNU/Linux Discussion" and "Try This" often than not, get bumped by users and the topic still remains relevant after +3 years. This adds more information for the interest of others.

We could take information from zombie'd topics and add them to the wiki, but wouldn't it be more relevant to hold on to the topic and allow future interjection that later could be used to add even more information to the knowledge base of the wiki?

Last edited by Acecero (2010-03-29 17:35:30)

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#15 2010-03-29 17:33:17

rson451
Member
From: Annapolis, MD USA
Registered: 2007-04-15
Posts: 1,233
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

I doubt anyone is going to put the time in to patch the bbs software to implement that, nor will the admins want to have to maintain it when they can just use the vanilla upstream defaults.

I personally am against necroposting.  Even if you don't count the posts that are people asking if the solution was ever found to a two year old problem, posts that do have answers are generally completely wrong or are irrelevant to the OP because of how software changes over time.


archlinux - please read this and this — twice — then ask questions.
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#16 2010-03-29 17:59:54

KimTjik
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2007-08-22
Posts: 715

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

Just a personal reflection: if I look for answers and find a comment in a thread with big time gaps I become uncertain to its relevance and usually keep on looking for more "up-to-date" information. You could argue that it's my fault to not test/fail/succeed every tip and tricks out there, but a thread from 2008 or something with a final answer a couple or three years later makes me hesitate.

Judging from how I work, it more useful solution would be to create a new thread where the solution is presented and provide a link to possibly related older threads. That would at least give me more confidence and it wouldn't demand any change of policy or software.

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#17 2010-03-29 18:07:31

Misfit138
Misfit Emeritus
From: USA
Registered: 2006-11-27
Posts: 4,170

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

rson451 wrote:

I doubt anyone is going to put the time in to patch the bbs software to implement that, nor will the admins want to have to maintain it when they can just use the vanilla upstream defaults.

I personally am against necroposting.  Even if you don't count the posts that are people asking if the solution was ever found to a two year old problem, posts that do have answers are generally completely wrong or are irrelevant to the OP because of how software changes over time.

^ As often happens, I agree with rson451.

A few things I would like to add:

1. The current practice and guidelines for necrobumping were inherited by the current forum moderation team.  The policy was predicated by our predecessors.
2. The logic and practical application of the guideline hinges on the size of the moderation team in proportion to the size of the community, as well as the limitation of the forum software in its vanilla state.
Allowing necrobumping creates more work for the team, and would further necessitate the ability to split threads in order to fairly and effectively moderate them.
3. The community immediately and invariably reports necrobumps.
The vast majority of forum reports are to alert us, not to spam or abuse, but to necrobumps.

I realize that there is no perfect solution. However, those that believe that necrobumping can be a good thing must also realize that they are in the position of telling me what they need, whereas I am in the position of,  "I'm telling you what I've got."
As far as google searches, I think it is a bit unfair to bring that into the conversation. Whichever results are yielded from a google or forum search, it is ultimately the human being who must discriminate amongst data to arrive at whatever is the most relevant, (and current).

In my view, the community seems to be generally in favor of the current practice, which though imperfect, seems to be working.

I am also open to further discussion, though.

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#18 2010-03-29 18:23:36

litemotiv
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2008-08-01
Posts: 5,026

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

the current way of moderating necrobumped posts seems to cost a lot of people a lot of time:

- people (un)knowingly writing posts in old threads
- people browsing those threads, noticing the age and then writing a report
- a moderator reading these reports, checking the thread again and then closing it for necrobumping

this just doesn't seem efficient, the logical approach would be to either 'let everyone post everywhere' or 'technically disallow posting in old threads. we have technology for a reason, use it!

the forum is a "tool in use" just like an installed piece of software on a computer. the vanilla-argument is - in my personal opinion - nonsense. you either adapt the software to do what you want to enforce, or you let people be. if you create a single svndiff or patch or whatever, only the forum admin will have to do 30 secs of extra work each time the forum is updated. that's a) his job (yea i know it's unpaid, but still), b) a whole lot more effective if you want to enforce "banana" behaviour since it saves hundreds of people time from there on.

Last edited by litemotiv (2010-03-29 18:24:18)


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#19 2010-03-29 18:36:38

Misfit138
Misfit Emeritus
From: USA
Registered: 2006-11-27
Posts: 4,170

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

litemotiv wrote:

... the vanilla-argument is - in my personal opinion - nonsense. you either adapt the software to do what you want to enforce, or you let people be. if you create a single svndiff or patch or whatever, only the forum admin will have to do 30 secs of extra work each time the forum is updated. that's a) his job (yea i know it's unpaid, but still), b) a whole lot more effective if you want to enforce "banana" behaviour since it saves hundreds of people time from there on.

If the community majority wants this, and the backend admins agree, then so be it. Again, you're telling me what you need, and I'm telling you what I've got.

It might be wise to Flyspray it.

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#20 2010-03-29 18:44:18

beroal
Member
From: Ukraine
Registered: 2009-06-07
Posts: 235
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

Agreed with OP.


we are not condemned to write ugly code

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#21 2010-03-29 18:49:17

ninian
Member
From: United Kingdom
Registered: 2008-02-24
Posts: 694
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

beroal wrote:

Agreed with OP.

+1

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#22 2010-03-29 18:55:21

jasonwryan
Forum & Wiki Admin
From: .nz
Registered: 2009-05-09
Posts: 18,840
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

I think there is a level of agreement that, for the most part, the mods judgement in managing zombie threads is mostly spot-on. I tend to agree with Xyne that there are some older posts that would benefit from having newer information appended to them - even if it was only a link to an up-to-date thread.

Why not just keep the existing practice and functionality and where someone feels strongly that a thread shouldn't be closed, they can hit the report button and include a rationale for why it should remain open?

I realize this has the potential to increase the workload for the mods, but it would be for a very small number of cases (you would hope) and would still encourage the community to focus on the present cases.


Arch + dwm   •   Mercurial repos  •   Github

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#23 2010-03-29 20:30:09

.:B:.
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2006-11-26
Posts: 5,819

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

beroal wrote:

Agreed with OP.

ninian wrote:
beroal wrote:

Agreed with OP.

+1

Regardless of your position, I think we can do without the power-posting wink.


Got Leenucks? :: Arch: Power in simplicity :: Get Counted! Registered Linux User #392717 :: Blog thingy

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#24 2010-03-30 01:47:25

Xyne
Moderator/TU
Registered: 2008-08-03
Posts: 5,688
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

Well, this took a wrong turn somewhere.  I definitely don't want an auto-prune function on this forum (although I'm surprised it isn't built-in, but I've only adminned phpBB before, so I have no idea what's available on the FluxBB control panel).


It seems that several posts ignore the fact that there are different types of threads. Some threads pose questions which depend on specific package versions. Some threads are only relevant to the OP, Some threads discuss general approaches to recurring problems. Most threads in Community Contributions are effectively timeless as long as the OP is still active on the forum (This is just an example of a type of thread. Luckily that forum seem to be rightfully excluded from the necrobumping rule, although some people do make worried excuses when posting in older threads).

My argument is simply that context should be taken into account and that it should be reflected in the policy. I understand that it may be simpler to operate in search and destroy mode and it works out well most of the time, but sometimes it discourages people from making contributions which would clearly benefit others (if they come up in searches, then people will read through them so adding useful information to them is a good thing).



p.s. A direct consequence of the current policy is the flood of necrobumping reports.

Last edited by Xyne (2010-03-30 01:49:25)

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#25 2010-03-30 02:17:42

Allan
Developer
From: Brisbane, AU
Registered: 2007-06-09
Posts: 10,409
Website

Re: "Necrobumping" can be a good thing

Pruning is built in, but we do not want to prune because the information is still useful.

I think we (the moderator team) are reasonably good at not closing topics in Community Contributions, Try This, Off Topic due to this rule (unless we really want the thread to die...).  So lets not consider those sections.

The problem here is that there is no foolproof rule to decide when a thread is too old to be useful.  We have had threads from the very early days of the forums bumped recently and they were clearly not adding further information to the topic.  So those can clearly be closed.   

We also get threads bumped to provide "solutions" to problems that are just fixed in "update the package" where it is clear the original problem was fixed upstream.  While that is potentially useful, closing immediately after is fine there.

Then there are thread that are bumped to say "I have this problem too".  Most of those are not really the same problem but may have similar symptoms so a new thread is more appropriate.

From monitoring the reports, those are the most common bumps of old threads.  So overall, I think we have the right idea in closing them.  But there are of course exceptions that need addressed.  I do think providing more information in the wiki instead of bump a forum thread is a solution to most issues presented.  Perhaps some threads can be left open after a bump, but if we start enforcing rules at our own discretion, the amount of angry emails we get will rise (some of them are quite amusing really...).  It is a lose-lose situation for the moderation team.

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