[TAG] Processing the Mailbag
kat at linuxgazette.net
Fri Jun 9 18:40:37 MSD 2006
On Fri, Jun 09, 2006 at 12:19:01PM +0100, Jimmy O'Regan wrote:
> On 07/06/06, Kat Tanaka Okopnik <kat at linuxgazette.net> wrote:
> > After becoming thoroughly confused and frustrated, I decided to "assess
> > what is there and assign categories accordingly" rather than "attempt to
> > understand pre-existing categories (Tips, Help Wanted, General Mail,
> > TAG, ...)".
> Sure. When you're in the driving seat, you need to reach the pedals.
*laugh* I suspect you didn't know that I'm 5'2".
Since these days, I share my driving with a fella who's 6'3", there's a
whole lot of seat-adjusting going on.
> > The current procedure is for me to go through all the LG-related mail as
> > and cull off things which I categorize as Followup, Mailbag/TAG, and
> > Talkback. Within each of those categories, I do the following sort on
> > threads
> > :
> > [Followup] - These are continuations of previously published threads,
> > starting with a link to the URL for the previously published bit.
> > Followup threads are sorted in chronological order.
> They're not really separate. Usually, we just put add a comment like:
> This is a response to a thread in
> [[http://linuxgazette.net/foo/bar/][issue whatever]]
> The delimiters are... abitrary. The '%j' and '%%j' marks my comments.
> I'm working on making that part of the code a bit more sane... among
> other things (Ben: apologies for not delivering on the code changes I
> promised. I won't make any excuses, but... well, you've seen the poor
> state of the code I've written recently :) I *think* I've finished
> that part, but... I need to start using a revision system of some
Hm. It looks like that's basically the same as the
<p class="editorial"></p> markup that Ben requested. Your version has
fewer keystrokes but the disadvantage of being arbitrary and thus hard
I see what you mean about "not really separate", but I'd classed thusly
because I judged it simpler to know "this set requires this sort of
handling", and something which isn't a followup doesn't need this.
Additionally, I've been linking to the specific thread rather than "a
thread in <a href="issue#"> "
What would be really useful right now in revising the new script Ben
wrote would be a list of the delimiters (or rather the sorts of things
they were delimiting) to see if all the known cases are being handled
> > [Mailbag/TAG] - New threads which do not fit into either (which
> > includes the ad hoc sub-categories Help Wanted, 2-cent Tips, and
> > Offtopic/Technical.). Because the distinction between TAG and Mailbag is
> > still unclear to me, I currently consider "Mailbag" to mean "all
> > LG-related e-mail" and TAG to mean "all threads in
> > tag at lists.linuxgazette.net which are not explicitly in some other
> > category". Help Wanted and 2-cent Tips are sorted chronologically;
> > threads for TAG are sorted roughly by size, date, and possible
> > relationship to each other.
> The definition I was given whenever I helped Heather for TAG was
> "anything too long for the mailbag". I'm pretty sure Thomas has extra
> ideas about the quality of the threads that go into TAG: I have no
> idea what they are, but I think some of my choices would not have been
> his, and I get the impression that that's a bit of a sore point.
I'm not sure what you were defining here.
> > Of these, only Talkback gets its own separate page by default. This is
> > done so that the Talkback section is prominent in the main index for any
> > issue, with the idea of emphasizing the highly interactive nature of LG.
> I like it, FWIW.
Yay! That seems to be the one thing that everyone thus far has been in
> > Followup is considered a separate section rather than a subcategory of
> > TAG because it requires additional handling on the Mailbag staff's part
> > (finding and including the originating thread for linkage).
> Um... extra work? I don't know about other people, but finding the
> original thread never took me more than 5 minutes... usually about 30
> seconds with Google and a good set of terms.
It's not onerous, it's just that it *is* an extra step. And meanwhile,
separating it serves to 1) let people know that it *is* a followup, 2)
indicate that we do extend discussions past a month, 3) eliminate the
need during Mailbag editing of wondering whether all the necessary
pointers have been inserted.
This is one of the few things I've done that wasn't a regular feature
previously, and the one that seems to be creating confusion.
> > Laundrette - I don't actually sort the feed into this category, I just
> > ignore threads that I think will end up there. It would probably be
> > useful to have some active collaboration early in the process (at least
> > as far as confirmation that certain items do *not* belong in "Mailbag") .
> Well, I was usually done with the Launderette before the rest of the
> mail processing started, and most of the time I helped Heather, I just
> did the basic formatting and left quality control, additional
> comments, and the final generation of the files to her, so there was
> never really much scope for overlap (and when there was, it was
> It's usually obvious, though :)
So if I understand what you just said, Heather used to know what you'd
put into Laundrette because you'd already finished it. It also looks
like you were passing the mostly-finished Laundrette over to her for
final go-through (q.c., comments, file-gen - yes?)
Thus far, I've been *so* far behind you that it was obvious what didn't
need touching, but once TAG/Mailbag and Laundrette are sync'ed again,
going back to the old routine (or something like it) of having some
threads obviously and explicitly defined each month - nothing new in
concept, we just have to hammer out details so that it's clear what
needs to happen.
How does setting a date for comparing notes on the list of threads
headed Laundrette-ward sound?
Also, I understand you're losing net.access soon - will this affect
> > For now, I'm doing okay sorting, but I can envision a time when it would
> > be useful to have someone other than the thread-editor (maybe even a
> > team) doing the sort.
> > After this point, the real work begins. For most threads, the
> > organization/formatting within the individual thread is trivial, but
> > there are always a few monster threads. The old style seems to have been
> > "original message left-justified; all subsequent replies blockquoted one
> > level, interspersed". I tried this, and then added in multiple levels of
> > blockquoting. Ben put a stop to that by noting that it would be hard on
> > readers with narrow screens, so the current method is to have multiple
> > square brackets denoting level of reply. I intersperse where I can, and
> > when a branch is too complex, I break it off and quote enough for
> > continuity and continue from there.
> Yeah, that's probably the worst part of the mail - but mostly, the
> worst offending threads end up in my department :)
I noticed that you'd done some nice work with that sort of thing. (I
seem to recall you did some of that with a long discussion on Flash, but
perhaps I'm hallucinating.)
> > As far as thread *selection* rather than thread-categorization, the only
> > threads ignored are the unpublishable and Laundrette-type. Publishing
> > everything else (and determining thread cutoff and selection strictly
> > datestamp-defined endpoints) streamlines the process by eliminating the
> > need to ponder factors like worthiness and completion (or whether
> > something has been previously deferred).
> That was my approach, but I normally had Heather to make those
> decisions for me - most of the time, she would think of something to
> > Kat
> > (who had a very good birthday weekend, thank you)
> I hope you'll accept my belated wishes!
Oh, absolutely. Thank you very much.
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