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View Full Version : We need to do something



lrhorer
01-13-2008, 04:21 PM
Folks, we need to do something about the sheer volume of posts and especially the sheer volume of posts which are both incidental and deprecated to an application.

This being a hacking site, regular references to RTFM and "Use the search utility" are common, and that's good. The problem is, many of the threads have over 1000 posts in them with precious little in them of contemporary interest, yet a handful of said posts may be absolutely critical to an issue, and it is not necessarily the more recent posts which contain the important information. Finding and identifying such posts in the vast morass of literature here is like the proverbial needle in the haystack. What's worse, knowing that an apparently relevant post has not been superseded by a more modern one is almost impossible, especially since it is likely the more contemporary post is in an entirely different thread, or indeed even an entirely different conference.

The ever-increasing number of TiVo platforms isn't helping, either. One must try to figure out if the post, which was written concerning a Series I or Series II TiVo three or four years ago is still relevant, or not. Does the information in a post in a scrambling thread written in 2003 still apply to a TiVo HD, or not? Does the user edit the same file on a Series III to prevent upgrades as one did on the Series I and II? Has a newer, better patch been created to handle chain of trust patching than the one in a post 3 years old?

I have the time and patience to read and research a topic in order to obtain the results I need. I have neither the time nor patience to spend hour after hour reading literally thousands of irrelevant posts, especially since it has become extremely difficult to know whether a post is irrelevant or not. I've been dealing with computers on an intimate level for well over a quarter of a century, I have been hacking TiVos since 2002, and I have been fairly active on this website since 2004, yet I find myself quite confused and frustrated trying to wade through the mass of detritus when trying to figure out all the correct and more importantly best steps to take to get my TiVo HD and Series III units working the way I want. If I'm bewildered and frustrated at trying to find the information and files I need especially as opposed to information and files which seem to be correct but which will in fact brick my TiVo, I can only imagine how someone who is only moderately familiar with Linux, TiVo, and computers in general might feel.

Four years ago, the situation was quite different, and searching for what one needed would usually at most span one or two threads in a single conference, and most of the information was fairly contemporary or at least pertinent at a certain level. Today there are so many different approaches and so many generations of software in some areas and so few in others it's become almost totally unmanageable. I don't know what, but we need to do something.

jt1134
01-13-2008, 05:54 PM
I can understand exactly what you're saying, but I doubt anyone will really do anything about it. If you "have neither the time nor patience to spend hour after hour reading literally thousands of irrelevant posts", then I doubt you have the time to not only read thru those posts, but decide which ones are relevant to current tivo hacking (ignoring the numerous people who run old sw and may want that info), remove them, and still keep the valuable information. I know I certainly don't have that kind of time. Trying to get a gcc 3.0 cross-compiler going on cygwin is taking long enough, and that's what I "want" at the moment. I doubt anyone here "knows everything" and could make the best judgement call on what stays and what goes.

In theory, it's an excellent suggestion, but in practice, I doubt anyone would want to own up to the task, and I doubt they'd finish even if they did. Even if they did "finish", I'm sure I'd go searching for at least one thing that I'd no longer be able to find because it was deemed "irrelevant" by someone in a different position than myself. My first linux box was a tivo. I cracked it open less than 2 years ago. I've also found all the information here that I've needed to hack several of them to pieces. The information is all here, you've just got to learn to find it (well, and use google too). If you can't handle that, then I've come to realize why the phrase "Enjoy your stock tivo" has been repeated so many times here. Learning is part of the fun. :D

Could everything be organized better? Definitely. But if we really wanted it done, we'd be best off starting a (large) bounty and letting a senior member who has been around for a while go back and clean the place up. Alas, I doubt either one of those 2 things will ever happen. That's why I save a printable version of each "valuable" thread I find and organize them myself on my own pc. They may not be relevant to others, but they are relevant to ME. :)

Roger Dylan
01-13-2008, 06:29 PM
letting a senior member who has been around for a while go back and clean the place upI'd suggest a volunteer effort. Solicit a list of volunteers and then assign some key areas for them to review. Maybe a team of 2 to each area, who are to seek agreement on deletion of old posts. I'd say set the bar very high, at first pass, on deletions. Just clear out the really off stuff, either noise to start with or clearly outdated. I think we'd have to err on the side of caution in deleting, so the impact would unfortunately not be overwhelming.

I think Riley's maintenance of his own mf_ftp.tcl support threads for awhile was a good model; I'd guess he was trimming out about 6-8%.

Vadim would have to decide whether this relatively minor cleanup would be worth the effort and then give the go ahead to whoever the chiefs are these days. I agree that a _major_ disposal effort could easily do more harm than good; kinda like an archeological dig.

lrhorer
01-13-2008, 09:07 PM
then I doubt you have the time to not only read thru those posts, but decide which ones are relevant to current tivo hacking (ignoring the numerous people who run old sw and may want that info),
You're right, I don't, and that would be a bad idea anyway. One of the worst threads I have ever seen is one in which the moderator went through and removed all the posts he thought were not relevant. It was totally impossible to follow or to get anything out of it. Deleting all the "chaff" is not the answer.


In theory, it's an excellent suggestion, but in practice, I doubt anyone would want to own up to the task, and I doubt they'd finish even if they did.
No, as I said above, it's a bad idea both in theory and practice to talk about deleting posts form threads in a clean-up effort. As you say, valuable information would be lost, and as I pointed out, it makes the thread unreadable, worse than having the junk there. I'm very much aware of how much effort goes into producing a hacking primer and how difficult and time consuming it is to maintain it. If you will look at my tagline, you will see that I authored an attempt at a fairly complete instruction manual for TyTool. I think I did a very fine job if I say so myself, but it isn't quite finished (although it's finished enough for beginning and moderately advanced users of Tytool), and possibly never will be.


Learning is part of the fun. :D
Learning is most of the fun, but only if one is actually learning and not just confusing one's self or acquiring incorrect information. Outdated information can be very useful from time to time and historical information is definitely almost always so, but in order to be useful, one must be able to visualize the chronological order of the events and understand which development paths apply to the technology at hand. Four years ago doing so was not too difficult. Now it's an exercise in frustation.


Could everything be organized better? Definitely. But if we really wanted it done, we'd be best off starting a (large) bounty and letting a senior member who has been around for a while go back and clean the place up.
No, I don't think that's the answer, at all. See my next post.

lrhorer
01-13-2008, 09:36 PM
I'd suggest a volunteer effort.
I think that's the only practical alternative, unless the forum starts charging members for access.


Solicit a list of volunteers and then assign some key areas for them to review.
Not just review, but maintain.


Maybe a team of 2 to each area
I think 3 is more likely to work. Having only 2 puts a pretty high load on each memeber, especially if one decides to go a way for a few weeks.


who are to seek agreement on deletion of old posts.
I don't think anything should be deleted.


...I think Riley's maintenance of his own mf_ftp.tcl support threads for awhile was a good model; I'd guess he was trimming out about 6-8%.
Deleting 6 - 8% isn't going to help. Trimming from 1500 posts to 1380 posts just isn't much of a help.

No, I think the conversational aspect of the main threads should be maintained without deleting anything that isn't totally off-topic or offensive, and we already have moderators and the sewer for that.

Instead, I think something like the following would be appropriate:

1. For each topic, enlist the services of 3 or 4 members who are active in a particular main conversational thread. They should not be total newbies, but they don't all have to be Subject Matter Experts, either. On the other hand, an effort should be made to make at least one SME a member of each team, even if only in a consulting capacity rather than an active one. Nothing would prevent one member from serving on more than one committee, and the number of committees would be limited to the more commonly discussed topics. An individual committee might cover more than one conference. For example, the Scrambling committee might cover topics in the Series II, Series III, and Extraction support conferences.

2. In each main conference, create a set of read-only sticky topical threads consisting mostly of topical excerpts from conversational posts, links to portions of conversational threads, and links to file archives. Nearly identical but slightly different threads managed by a single committee might be created in several conferences. Thus, the Kernel Hacking thread would exist in the Series II, Series III, and Extraction conferences, but would be slightly different in each. Cross-links could exist where appropriate.

3. The thread maintainers are not necessarily encouraged to enter any posts of their own into the topical threads (the conversational threads are probably a better place for such, but there's nothing preventing them from posting in the conversational thread and linking to the post from the topical thread).

4. Whenever a newer version of a file is posted, the managers can decide whether to replace the old link or add a new link. If a different but similar utility is posted, then a link to the new utility can be added along with a brief synopsis of the differences between the old archive and the newer one.

5. Any time someone other than a committee member sees or creates a post some or all of which they think should be included in the topical post, all they have to do is ask the committee to include it in the topical post. We could even create PM mail boxes for just that purpose so the request will reach the committee members whether they have read the post or not and whether the members of the committee have changed or not.

Not only is it MUCH easier to simply select a few pearls from the pile of muck than to try and clean up the entire pile of muck, but managing the much smaller and more regulated read-only thread will be a breeze compared with trying to manage a thread with dozens of posters. In addition, RTFM responses can be much easier to generate and far easier to obey for the noobs. I think this structure in and of itself would cut way down on the chaff in the forum.

mike_s
01-13-2008, 10:08 PM
Start a wiki. Forums are made for conversation, not reference.

ciper
01-15-2008, 02:44 AM
Mike_S you hit the nail on the head

If someone starts up a wiki and all of you agree to at least add a word or even create placeholder pages for data that is important Ill help out

lrhorer
01-15-2008, 03:21 PM
Hmm. Maybe. I'm not sure what level of participation we could expect on either the user or the SME side for a wiki. Perhaps the wiki could be used to link to posts in the forum, but I'm just not sure how well it would work.

The fact the forum may have created for conversational purposes and how the members wish to use it may be two different things, and when it comes to a conflict between the intent of crreating the forum and the user's needs, the user's needs win, every time.

More specifically, I rather dispute the notion that the support thread's intent is not reference. The purpose of a support thread is - surprise, surprise - support, and a key element of that support is reference. I ceratainly have little other purpose in reading the support conferences other than obtaining reference materials and occasionally providing them. If all those reference materials were in a single, concise location outside the forum, I probably wouldn't read the forum. I certainly don't read it just to see a bunch of people chatting, and while I do enjoy posting in the conferences, I don't post just to be chatting.

For that matter, by far the most common response to a question in the support threads is "Use the search utility". If the intent were really conversation, why are memebers strongly encouraged to read the thread rather than post? If the primary intent were conversation, we would be encouraging them to post as much as possible.

mike_s
01-15-2008, 04:14 PM
Some people pound nails with rocks, too. That doesn't make it the correct tool for the job.

lrhorer
01-15-2008, 11:43 PM
That's non-responsive.

djl
01-20-2008, 10:30 AM
re: wiki - I'm not sure who's running this, but have any of you looked at http://www.dvrpedia.com/ (http://www.dvrpedia.com/Main_Page)? It seems like just the sort of thing that this thread is advocating for...

PortlandPaw
03-28-2008, 08:26 AM
I agree with djl about dvrpedia -- I've found it very informative -- but it's up to the users to keep it current!

As for the forums, my vote would be to leave them as is. There's a lot of history in here that isn't necessarily about what works best on which model. There's development history and even some personal interplay that's worth preserving.

And it can't be beat for dealing with older models!