[MUD-Dev] Re: META: list "peerage"

Sayeed yu219121 at YorkU.CA
Thu Feb 18 02:44:05 CET 1999

With a look to the post resurrection tradition of the list, and seeing that
it's my 'application post,' (an applicable application topic, I think) I
thought I'd throw this out and see if it excited anything interesting.

At 06:01 PM 1/20/99 -0600, Raph Koster wrote:
>> From: Caliban Tiresias Darklock [mailto:caliban at darklock.com]
>> >From: J C Lawrence <claw at under.engr.sgi.com>


>> >Can you imagine the agony you'd go through if you were a reasonably young
>> >and inexperienced MUD developer with some new ideas who had to compose a
>> >post "worthy" of this list?

>No, when JCL invited me I was already arrogant and a know-it-all. :) I
>suffered no agony. Then again--saying that I was invited (and thus date from
>back then) is in itself a marker of elitedom, I bet. I bet that who invited
>you is also probably such a marker.

I tend to think I'm a know-it-all every time someone finally
pounds a new concept into my concrete lined skull.  Then I 
find another person to convince of the issue and the cycle
starts again.  I'm very pleased with the list in regards 
to this cycle.


>More frightening: how many list members never post, because they feel that
>they cannot compose a mail such as that? It also gets as the issue of what
>the nature of the list is. If the list is a research institution (which it
>is currently heavily biased towards) then that is fine. You want the
>contributors to be those who actively advance or elucidate the state of the
>art every time they open their mouth. The danger is that said state of the
>art never materializes because we're all too busy talking about it to
>actually make it happen. (I seem to recall one poster--was it John
>Bertoglio?--who stopped posting last time I made a similar comment, with the
>remark, "You're right, I am going to stop talking and start coding now.").
>There is also the danger, in a research institution, of getting too far
>divorced from reality, and ceasing to be relevant. And of course, there's
>all the lovely academic politics that probably ensue, the ossification of
>thought processes, the acceptance of assumed orthodoxies, etc.

I guess that's where new posters come in, breaking out 
Of the rut and possibly throwing new light on old issues
and assumed orthodoxies.  Unless, of course, one believes
in perfect solutions, which on some issues I find myself
positively addicted to creating.  Anyone else?

>On the other hand, much of the charm of the list is that it isn't a teaching
>institution. I daresay many of the posters would be chased away by countless
>inquiries on how to add ANSI color to their mud. (Then again, I bet that a
>good thread could probably be generated from, "coolest way to add ANSI color
>to a mud, with the most elegant implementation, and the slickest
>interface-wise and usability-wise". Is it possible we're too snooty a
>research institution to delve into that just because we see ANSI color as a
>topic beneath us?)

I think the Teaching/Discussing distinction is definitely
important.  A fine line possibly drawn somewhere around the
"How do I do this" (teach me)vs. "How do you think this would
 work" (discuss this) areas, as long as the former isn't radical
 or the latter redundant.

>The problem with NOT being a teaching institution is that the list is
>devoted to advancing the state of the art. And it's not going to advance
>unless the general caliber of endeavor improves as a result of the
>discussions here. At some point, somebody has to turn around and say to the
>general mud community, "Hey, you know what? We like, completely LICKED the
>problem of <insert topic here--uh, say, proper database backends for muds>
>and here's a detailed spec and what's more, you can use it in ANY mud
>codebase, check it out!" or else the general mud community will continue to
>develop at the current (slow) pace.

Even if its affects are felt directly only by list members who 
use discussed concepts in their Muds, I'm guessing that somewhere
along the line others in the MUD community will come across a "List-Mud"
and say "Hey, that's a cool concept, let's try that in ours."  If it's 
a good idea, then indirectly it should spread, (albeit slower than it 
might directly) and if there are any 'active' lurkers around, perhaps
it will spread even faster than we might think.

>> >I don't really have a solution to this, because allowing everyone to read
>> >this list is the Right Thing. Allowing everyone to post to it without
>> >qualification is the Wrong Thing. 

Yes.  I'm an elitist at heart. (b/c I live in a monarchy?)


>If it is any consolation, I have repeatedly heard from "peerage" people that
>they feel the same way. I feel that way regularly (the database discussion
>went miles over my head in many places). Then again, here's a separate
>dilemma: the peerage right now also seems to be the most active posters. I'd
>count YOU as one of said peers, in fact. So even this discussion about how
>the peerage dominates the list via intimidation & posting volume is
>happening only among the peerage. Maybe the rest of the list doesn't think
>it's a problem at all. Lurkers, what do you think?

Miles over my head, too.  After a few days on the list I pretty 
much accepted that many posts would be beyond me, but once I 
learned to sift through those I found what was left quite valuable.  
As for the peerage, I agree that they do create a 'barrier' to 
newbie-posts, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I find 
that "peerage-posting" often manages to say what I would have 
posted more clearly and thoroughly, and so there is really no 
need for me to add to the list-noise.

>> >Perhaps the best thing to do is to encourage people reading the archives
>> >to be afraid of the list. I think most of us were scared of it at some
>> >point, but then we realised that everyone else is still sort of lost too.

Hmmmm, I think that depends on your definition of afraid.  
Am I the only one who appreciates the "intimidation" of the 
peerage?  If people started posting more question-types instead 
of discussion-types, and if the peerage cut back on their volume, 
I'd probably, as a lurker, find the list less interesting.  As 
long as the peerage is content with posting, I have no problem with 
the situation.  On another note, do you think it's abusive of
the peerage to lurk like this?  Is it a responsibility of lurkers 
to add to the discussion from which they benefit?

>One problem about reading the archives is that they seem to be a) infallible
>b) totally comprehensive and c) easily traced back to the peerage. How many
>times have we seen threads die with a "The answer to is in the archives at
>this link: http://...."? Now, this is an illusion, because the archives are
>not any of those things except (c), usually. Plenty of topics could easily
>be taken in new directions, if the stone tablets of the archives weren't
>presented as a definitive answer quite so readily.

Definitely, even if my assumptions are correct, I'm constantly 
surprised at how much more others add to an issue I've "settled." 
As a final note, Work, Fear of Redundant posting, and Laziness to 
apply for posting privileges have been the main things keeping me 
back from posting.


yu219121 at yorku.ca

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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