[mythtv-users] Please shut up!

Yeechang Lee ylee at pobox.com
Mon Jan 29 06:33:38 UTC 2007

This message is not going to make me popular. I don't care. It will
also be my only statement on the subject.

mythtv-users is way, way, way too busy. My archive of digests for the
first six months of 2006 contains 1110 digests, each averaging about
25 messages. That's 27,750 messages for those six months alone, or
about 152 a day (!). gossamer-threads.com says there have been 168,729
messages since the list started back in 2003 or so. This is an
almost-overwhelming volume for even a speedreader like me.

While many messages contain worthwhile questions on
previously-unanswered or inadequately-answered topics, and answers to
said questions, I see far, far, far too many that fall into at least
one of three camps:

1) Questions that have been covered over, over, over again on the
   list, on the Wiki, in the FAQ, in Jarod's howto and other popular
   resources, and elsewhere on the Internet. In some cases, questions
   get asked mere days or hours after the question has been previously
   and thoroughly dealt with.
2) Questions that don't contain the information necessary for others to
   help diagnose and solve the problem.
3) Questions that don't have anything to do with MythTV or, more
   generally, using a computer to record and play back televisions at

Two examples from today, 28 January 2007:

* A poster with 461 messages going back to February 2004 asked for
  suggestions for inexpensive, S/PDIF-equipped, ALSA-friendly
  soundcards. Never mind that asking the gossamer-threads.com search
  engine for "sound card optical" pulls up as the very first result a
  thread from April and May 2006 that answers this question with two
  suggestions, one of them being the same card that gets recommended
  pretty much every single time this question gets asked (about twice
  a month), as the subsequent hits to the search query show.

* A poster with 1,225 messages going back to December 2004 asked how
  to SSH from work through a firewall. His message achieved the
  dubious distinction of falling into all three of the above
3) because it was off topic (the poster, like so many others, believes
   that putting "OT:" in the subject line somehow makes this magically
   OK). Yes, he wanted to log into a MythTV system, but otherwise
   there's absolutely nothing MythTV-specific about his question. If
   he wanted to ask, there is no shortage of firewall-, security-, and
   SSH-related newsgroups, forums, webboards, and listservs that are
   more relevant.
2) because his message didn't contain enough information. There was no
   indication of whether the workplace firewall blocks just port 22 or
   SSH packets in general regardless of port. This very much impacts
   how he would solve his problem (unless the answer is "Get back to
1) because his message is very, very, very well-discussed elsewhere
   already. Just asking Google "work firewall ssh" pulls up 1,300,000
   hits, with (on the first page alone) the first and third hits
   appearing to be promising.

Two suggestions, one to Isaac in his role as the list owner, and the
other to list members in general:

To Isaac: Point newcomers in their initial welcome message to
gossamer-threads.com, wiki.mythtv.org, wilsonet.com/mythtv/, and
www.mythtv.org/modules.php?name=MythInstallRequire. Have them read and
follow Yeechang Lee's[1] Two Rules of Posting

  (1) Read a [mailing list] for two weeks before posting to it.
  (2) If you do not understand the reason for rule (1), make it a

To list members: gossamer-threads.com, wiki.mythtv.org,
wilsonet.com/mythtv/, www.mythtv.org/modules.php?name=MythInstall, not
to mention the all-purpose google.com, can answer pretty much every
MythTV-related question you can think of and most you can't. If you
can't find the answer:

A) Wait a day or two. Seriously.
B) Try searching the above resources again.
C) If still unsuccessful, then--and only
then--send a message off to mythtv-users. Provide all the relevant
information you can think of.
D) Wait. If no one responds, maybe you haven't done what C) advises
   you to do. Wait longer.
   D1) Don't "bump" your message; this is a mailing list, not a
   webboard for The OC fans discussing whether Ryan/Marissa or
   Ryan/Taylor is the better couple.[2]
   D2) If using GMail, understand how it treats your own messages to
E) If still no answer, follow steps A) and B) again.
F) Ask again, this time rephrased and with as much additional
   information you've gleaned in the meanwhile.

I am not a developer. I don't work "in IT." I am not a database
administrator. My knowledge of SQL is limited to the few lines in
Jarod's MythTV howto. I am not a professional sysadmin. I do not have
the letters RHCE, CNE, or MCSE after my name.[3]

How is it, then, that my 1920x1080p, Bob-deinterlacing, working
MythWeb-graced, custom modeline-using, auto-transcoding, FireWire- and
ATSC-supplied, RAID 6-storing, optical surround-sound, wireless remote
control- and keyboard-equipped MythTV system filled with 39 days and
13 minutes of almost-entirely high-definition MPEG-2 recordings works,
and has worked ridonkulously well[4] since day two or three of the
start of my MythTV adventures almost fourteen months ago, while
mythtv-users sees a constant influx of people--many, if not most,
answering to one of the above job descriptions--who can't get past the
first or second step?  I can only believe that it is because I learned
a long, long, long time ago how to apply steps A-F in just about
everything I do in life, whether MythTV-related or not.

[1] Yes, I am the author of these rules. They are more than a decade
old. However, their real author is that prophet so often without honor
in his own country, Mr. Com N. Sense.

[2] Ryan/Taylor, of course, as anyone who's seen season 4 can tell

[3] I work in investment banking, and not on the IT side. I deal all
day with P/E ratios and non-GAAP EPS and financial statements and DCFs
and target prices all day. I studied history and Spanish at
college. Other than AP Computer Science in high school and a
one-credit class in Java at college, I am entirely self-taught

[4] See any of the 354 message--the majority containing answers to
peoples' questions as opposed to new questions--I've contributed to
mythtv-users over the past 14 months, such as
Also see

Yeechang Lee <ylee at pobox.com> | +1 650 776 7763 | San Francisco CA US

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