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Manila; Moderation done right; Breadcrumbs for NetBeans

Posted by timboudreau on June 24, 2008 at 7:41 PM PDT

Here's three blogs in one (I know, I know, you're not supposed to do that):

My friend Geertjan and I just did NetBeans Day Manila, in the Philippines, followed by two days of plugin-writing training at the University of the Philippines. The students were wonderful and bright and motivated and it's always a joy to teach to people who are really interested in what you have to say.

There's a conversation going on on the mailing list for bloggers on this site - there's been a big issue with people posting comments that consist of 500 porn URLs and such. Back when we were little-bitty NetBeans-the-tiny-Czech-startup we had this solved on our mailing lists - 100% spam-free - a lot better than I can say for how things were after we joined Sun. The system was incredibly simple. My friend, and later, roommate for two years Karel Zatloukal, came up with this brilliant and blindingly obvious system - his becoming a manager was a huge loss to hackers everywhere. It's dead-simple:

  • Any incoming message is delayed for 30 minutes
  • There is a "hot-list" who get messages un-delayed
  • Any "hot-list" member can bounce a message they deem to be spam

The result is, you geographically distribute the responsibility for moderation among members of the community who care about that community. And the general public (non "hot-list" members) never, ever, ever, get spammed.

This seems like such an obvious solution. There are legitimate objections to this approach for mailing lists, although it worked well for us - the immediacy of conversation is reduced, because any incoming message will reach its recipients only a half-hour after it was sent. But for blog comments? It seems pretty ideal.

Anyway, I wanted to share that approach so that it would not be lost to history. It worked really, really well, and I highly recommend it. In our case it was a copy of majordomo hacked within an inch of its life, but the model is simple and easily repeated on any similar system. I feel like most moderation systems for mailing lists and blog posts are still stuck in the stone-age, and I've experienced vastly better almost ten years ago.

Lastly, at the booth in Manila last week, someone commented to me about a new "breadcrumb" feature in IDEA or Eclipse that they wished NetBeans had. I thought, gee, that would take about 20 minutes to implement, and set about doing it. Well, 20 minutes to get the rough draft. Another few hours to really make it useful. Geertjan already blogged about it (do a text search for "breadcrumb"). It's now available for NetBeans 6.0 and 6.1 on the plugin portal at this URL and should be available in the 6.0 and 6.1 built-in plugin managers soon.


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