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Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

Posted Nov 7, 2012 9:44 UTC (Wed) by farnz (subscriber, #17727)
In reply to: Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired) by Rudd-O
Parent article: Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

And you should be aware that as a direct result of your actions, LWN is missing out on subscribers; by keeping the off-topic politics on LWN, rather than asking the people interested in a discussion to join you elsewhere, you have helped reduce the value of LWN to me below the cost of a subscription.

I have no problem with your political views informing your views on the patent system; indeed, I expect that, and I respect people who include an indication of their political leanings with their suggested solution to the software patents problem because it ensures that I read your solution in the right context (an authoritarian solution to the problem has a very different context to an anarchist solution, ).

Where, however, you go off the original topic into political preaching (whatever political persuasion you are - anarchist, corporate statist, hiver, democrat, libertarian, socialist, anything), you create a large comment thread where the majority of it is not on the sorts of topics I wish to learn about when reading LWN; you thus reduce the value of this site, making it less likely that I will give money to LWN in future. If you trigger that reaction in enough people, you destroy the site's funding base, and LWN will close. The same applies whenever a comment thread stops discussing things of direct relevance to Free Software; politics is just the particular variation that you've been involved in.

That may, of course, be your intention; if not, I'd ask you to think hard about whether this is the right venue for the discussion you're having, and to suggest that people join you at other venues to continue off-topic discussions.


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[OT/META] subscriptions

Posted Nov 7, 2012 10:25 UTC (Wed) by hummassa (subscriber, #307) [Link]

Well, actually, subscribers at LWN have killfiles... think about that!
(and don't leave, long OT threads still are kind of rare!)

[OT/META] subscriptions

Posted Nov 7, 2012 11:27 UTC (Wed) by farnz (subscriber, #17727) [Link]

The trouble is that I want a killfile based on content, not on who's commenting - if Corbet and company have an algorithm that can accurately judge whether a particular comment thread is interesting to me or not, then they've got something genuinely worthy of a software patent (given the state of the art in predictive technology today). I don't want to miss out when someone's saying something topical and interesting, even if most of their output is off-topic spouting; as the expense of filtering through these big comment threads is high, the value of an LWN subscription is reduced.

[OT/META] subscriptions

Posted Nov 7, 2012 12:06 UTC (Wed) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

The comment system automatically collapses comment branches started by someone in your killfile. So a large part of the comments to this story appear pruned to me now, and I don't even get notifications. Certain comment authors are a very good predictor of off-topicness; others are a probable cause of offensive behavior or trollish posts. Yet others are a mixed bag (including myself who have been trolled into participating in this discussion), but filtering the above is usually enough to remove the worst off-topic content.

Actually this long off-topic thread has served to feed my killfile with at least two more usernames, so right now I see only 28 comments, all on-topic. Get trolled once, do not get trolled twice.

[OT/META] subscriptions

Posted Nov 7, 2012 14:31 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Aside: Gnus has had adaptive killfiles for well over a decade. But of course nobody has yet written an nnlwn backend for Gnus. (A task worth doing! nnrss won't suffice, alas.)

(Since Gnus is an Emacs-specific program, and Emacs was originally written by RMS and was the first program ever to be GPLed, this gets a bit less off topic. Not that RMS uses Gnus. No, no, he is one of the three people on the planet to still use rmail, and IIRC still uses a web-by-email robot. Whenever I think I hate change in my workflow to a pathological degree, I just think of RMS and am happy again. If RMS can function with *that* degree of workflow-conservatism, mine is clearly not too bad.)

[OT/META] subscriptions

Posted Nov 7, 2012 16:06 UTC (Wed) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

When I saw a parenthesis in an aside to an off-topic variant on an [OT/META] comment in a very off-topic thread, I had to add a digression with variations: yes, RMS is the only people I know who uses his prolific identi.ca stream (it is not as if he was to use Twitter any time soon) to point to his political blog (and archive at the same time) that in turn redirects to various leftist sources, sometimes adding URGENT petitions along the way. His system is not perfect though; there is a delay of days between blog and stream, and sometimes things are repeated. But the devotion shown is admirable, and the content is usually good, if a bit predictable.

[Ironically these last two super-off-topic comments take the thread closer to on-topic; I guess we have reached the limits of topicland and went back, it must be a round world.]

[OT/META] subscriptions

Posted Nov 7, 2012 16:03 UTC (Wed) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

if Corbet and company have an algorithm that can accurately judge whether a particular comment thread is interesting to me or not, then they've got something genuinely worthy of a software patent

I imagine that a Bayesian classifier as seen in things like Spambayes would do the trick, one again showing that something appearing patentable to one observer is most likely to be familiar and even mundane to another.

[OT/META] subscriptions

Posted Nov 7, 2012 20:09 UTC (Wed) by farnz (subscriber, #17727) [Link]

A Bayesian classifier is not enough - to meet the stated goal, the classifier has to identify cases where due to circumstances outside its knowledge (e.g. me reading LWN while sitting up with a sick child), my interests are broader than normal, and identify cases where my tolerance for off-topic is reduced (e.g. because said sick child has resulted in sleep deprivation). An algorithm that could detect my mood based purely on my reading patterns, and tweak a Bayesian classifier accordingly would be quite impressive.


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