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The price of freedom

Posted by daniel on July 4, 2003 at 4:33 AM PDT

My wife's email includes offers to lengthen appendages she doesn't have by 27%. The spam filter finds most of them, but she has to take the time to delete them and once in a while comes across a graphic picture of a squirrel or a topless woman. Spam, like telemarketers, is unwanted and inappropriate contact that most agree should be stopped. At Java Today we are puzzling over what to do about comments that aren't offensive so much as they are inappropriate.

John Mitchell recently wrote a blog entry titled Sitting With The Audience. The main point was that folks putting on developer conferences should mingle with attendees more. The first two talkback items were responsive and then the third began with an introduction and continued:

I am interested in getting the good Knowledge of JSP/Servlet , can anybody help me how shd i go about it...i mean what is the best way ...

The poster did have the good manners to identify themself. The post itself isn't offensive. On the other hand, it has nothing to do with the thread to which it is posted. John indicated as much in a polite and restrained response to the poster. If this were posted to a wiki page, the page would have been refactored by some reader with the non-relevant post removed. But when should a comment posted to a talkback be removed?

I've included a link to Dave Hyatt's Surfin Safari blog in today's "Also Today" stories that explains why he has removed comments from his blog. Although his details are different, here's his take on irrelevant posts.

In the real world this would be clearly impolite, somewhat akin to interrupting someone in the middle of a conversation in order to babble about a completely different subject, so what makes you think it's any less rude to do it in my blog comments?

That makes total sense. Imagine several of us talking about conference organizers and sponsors hanging out more with the attendees. Suddenly someone blurts out "how do I learn more about JSPs and Servlets?" What would be the appropriate response?

Today, I'll open up the comments for this blog entry. Let me know how you think we should handle irrelevant posts.

In Also Today, Tim O'Reilly recently blogged about a set of guidelines for web aware applications in the spirit of the Apple Human Interface Guidelines. In "Guidelines for Network Aware Software" O'Reilly asserts that more applications should be network aware and that they should be some set of guidelines to make sure we're all on the same page. You can also find Dave Hyatt's comments on inappropriate behavior in "Disabling Commints in Blogs."

Steve Mallett, the Java Today news editor has gathered the following Java Today News Headlines: "JBoss 4 DR2 Released with expanded AOP, JDO, JMS Features" ,"Java Gui Builder 0.6.5a released", "Crackers organize vandalism contest", "Get the Latest Version of Jameleon", and "Morphon XML-Editor now free of charge".

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