[mythtv-users] Please shut up!

Michael MacLeod mikemacleod at gmail.com
Tue Jan 30 06:23:00 UTC 2007

On 1/29/07, Steve Hodge <stevehodge at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 1/30/07, Marco Nelissen <marcone at xs4all.nl> wrote:
> >
> > >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.
> >
> > If you feel the urge to actually read each and every message, that's
> > YOUR problem, not anyone else's. Using a threaded mailreader, this
> > list should be more than managable to anyone who doesn't feel that
> > same urge.
> >
> That's fine if you're prepared to accept the consequence of the high
> volume, which is that people who can answer the questions might not read
> every message. The more people who help themselves by searching archives,
> wiki, google etc before asking here, the more likely people are to get help
> when they do have to resort to asking here.
> Steve

Okay, as has been pointed out earlier in the topic, this list generates lots
of traffic by it's very nature. There's no real easy way to change that
either. Resistance is futile, as they say. Perhaps some more prominent links
to gossamer-threads and some more fleshed out docs on the wiki would help,
but mostly, the list is just how it's going to be. And that's partly a
result of the kind of project mythtv is.

But seriously, if you break the list down into the number of individual
emails in a day/week/month, then you're doing a disservice to how it
actually works. There are between 7 and 35 threads a day, which suddenly
sounds much more reasonable. If you don't have a threading email client, get
out of the stone age and find one. Complaining about the list to the list
only generates more useless traffic (50 messages in this thread so far, not
counting the three spin-off threads).

Mythtv leverages TONS of technologies that aren't produced specifically by
the myth dev team, but are integral parts of the mythtv system
none-the-less. IVTV, LIRC, Xorg, Apache, XvMC, the list goes on. Frankly, to
a new user excited about getting this happening, where are you going to go
for help? The Xorg mailing list where most of the discussion does not
revolve around TV out, etc, and where your email will probably be ignored by
others who have something else they're working on, or the mythtv-users
mailing list where everyone on the list has had to successfully manage TV
out and the like?

Certainly, most questions have been answered before, and repeatedly at that.
But that people keep asking them isn't a failing of the users, it's a
failure of the mythtv project to provide a usable repository for all the
accumulated knowledge. Searching gossamer-threads is great and all, but the
signal to noise ratio is low, lots of the hits are outdated or irrelevant,
and frankly, you're excited to be part of a new community. The wiki is very
inconsistent and lots of the pages lack anything more than a very brief and
terse bit of information that's really only good for maybe giving you an
idea of some good keywords for google.

Good documentation is really hard to do, especially if you can't pay people
to write it. But not having a wealth of information IN ONE PLACE isn't the
fault of the new users, and answering the same question over and over again
is the price we all pay for that. Imagine if every word wasted on this
subject in the last couple of days in all these messages were instead words
posted to the wiki to elaborate on an article or topic there. Why, who
knows, perhaps we'd have fewer questions to answer in the future.


PS. With regards to the wiki, writing the articles but not including version
numbers for what you're writing about is silly. Users should not have to
assume the documentation is up to date because it's ambiguous. That's just
going to make users ask the questions on the mailing list. "I searched
google, found the wiki, but the page is ambiguous and I don't want to screw
anything up. Here's my problem...". Include version numbers. Use the
headline capabilities of mediawiki, so for the MythGames article there is a
section for each version of mythtv. It's easy and self explanatory.
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