A Comment Analysis Fest

In the aftermath of my Slashdoting, I had started browsing the comments of places that linked to the story I broke on the web1 about OpenBSD having been saved. I've noticed a few comments on sites that have linked to my post which I would like to take the time to address.

The first comment is this little Jem2 from Paul Graham's news site.34 This first comment, well lemme just quote it:

brandonhsiao 3 days ago | link

Have to agree about IRC. If your product is something hackers–especially "hobbyist" hackers–use, IRC is still a great way to get feedback. Back when I ran robot game [1], IRC was basically the de facto way to request features and report bugs.[1] robotgame.org/robotgame.net


corin_ 2 days ago | link

IRC is still great, however I disliked this line:> This episode just goes to show that IRC even in the 2010's continues to be one of the most expressive, influential, and effective communications mediums on the Internet.

Because this story on its own really doesn't show that at all. "Group A needed money, told people about it, and a rich person gave them money" could just as well happen on HN, Twitter, etc.

So5 the first commenter offers the idea that if you are using something developed by hobbyists, IRC is a great way to get feedback. I tend to find something close to the contrapositive to be true. If you use something developed by hobbyists, IRC is actually an incredible way to get support. People who develop things as their hobby, as a rule of thumb, generally appreciate bug reports but damn your feature requests unless you feature requests align with their interests. What you consider a feature could for them be a bug. Unless the request you offer can explain to them eloquently6 and convincingly7 a hobbyist isn't going to want to make you happy for a pile of warm fuzzies. Hobbyists want to fix thing that affect themselves, and if their values align with ideas like compiling on Vaxen, mk68k, and amd64 equally; the complaint that shit doesn't work on your system might fly, hell it might soar if they value portable code and care about errors illuminated by running the same code on multiple platforms.

The second commenter quoted here can be just as if not more informative though.

IRC is still great, however I disliked this line:> This episode just goes to show that IRC even in the 2010's continues to be one of the most expressive, influential, and effective communications mediums on the Internet.

Because this story on its own really doesn't show that at all. "Group A needed money, told people about it, and a rich person gave them money" could just as well happen on HN, Twitter, etc.

A problem for many people is that while many people can identify the rich and successful they can not find ways to present their ideas to the rich and successful. A greater problem though is probably that they cannot solicit from the rich and successful why their ideas are doomed.8 In response to this episode of Ms Piggy dosing Kermit with Caverject and proceeding with abuse; I have to suggest that no, this story could not have happened on Hacker News, Twitter, or any other platform than IRC.

One thing people have to try to understand about the rich and things that go with being the rich is that they get to choose the venues they follow. In this case OpenBSD's plea, should it have never touched IRC would have never encountered this potential donor. Mircea Popescu, from what I know of him, personally as of his involvement in Bitcoin only really cares to converse on IRC. He does however have people in his hire who go about this internet and website world collecting information. Throwing something up on a secondary medium like Twitter or Hacker News offers no guarantee that the information you might consider relevant ever makes it to him.9

Seriously though IRC is exactly what everyone wished for during middle and high school without knowing that they wanted it. IRC is more cross platform and more expressive than AIM, MSN, or Yahoo were. Where else can I ask the bot controlling the channel to provide ;;ticker and then follow up with ;;lasers when things are going my way.

Let us try to clear this up a bit more though. People who have things. People who control things. Those people are the people who matter. If you suppose someone like Jack Dorsey who cares primarily about Twitter, maybe that would be the medium that matters most to him. The truly tricky thing, what really fucks people up, is that the Internet doesn't have a single layer that can be isolated and tested for truth. Sure, there are websites. there are also tweeters, additionally there are patrons of news aggregateors, but in this case, Someone primarily on IRC found a cause primarily on IRC he wanted to fund. It fucking worked.

No amount of "any arbitrary venue I suppose" can work in this same way. People who matter don't or won't care to go dancing through trying to find the dancing queen. They just want to do some fucking business. They are probably going to assume all of the imortant business that can be done on *nix is going to have been mentioned in IRC. Your inability to put your idea in their venue is not the failing of your audience,but your own personal failing.

Also, yes, the failings that lead to these dilemmas tend to be personal. At least I offer something resembling a price sheet you can use in evaluating how far from failure you want to buy yourself. Shalom.

  1. Yes, there is a lot more to the Internet than the web even if you discount the darknet stuff I don't find a compelling reason to get involved with.  

  2. Yes, Jem rather than Gem. Gems have inherent value, Jems work the stage.  

  3. Yes I am continuing my series of posts on how Silicon Valley can get into Bitcoin. A necessary element of part 3 of those posts and beyond though is a solid temporal separation from the publication of part 2. Should anyone wants drafts or preprints they probably ought to make me an offer that makes me go "wow, such coin." Commision for a consulting gig might be more reasonable though for a purchaser in terms of information offered and the personal level of customer service available. For cheapskates I might be willing to offer the date that I am pushing part 3 to the web for some token amount.  

  4. The model proposed for monetizing content offered in the previous footnote might seem noxious to the hopelessly naive, but has worked well for both Bloomberg and Thompson Reuters for quite some time. I dunno that there are many, if any, other people who have the same reading and projections on a Silk Road free Bitcoin ecosystem who aren't already running a Bitcoin service more lucrative than what consulting might bring them. I however for psychological reasons I desire to work though would prefer to have some sort of employer. If some VC type would offer me a one year contract that payed 100 BTC on acceptance and 250 BTC after year and for which renewal was negotiable… I might not be averse to that. I might actually be incredibly amenable provided you offer a point of contact that has the technical ability to know that my posting a GPG key as I have means that you can send me an email.  

  5. Yes people complaining about IRC are doing so on a web site where the use of tables makes copypasta look this horrendous. Hashtag #Irony!  

  6. because for the older and more experienced they appreciate aesthetics of things they read.  

  7. i.e. You can make them want what you want.  

  8. Yes, you can look at Gates versus Linux devs to find an occasion where the "rich and successful" would have given poor advice when you look at the server side software industry in retrospect, but Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer did not make their fortune in the operating system market. They made it developing interpreters for BASIC and then later on they marketed other developer tools. In past and current Microsoft lineups Windows and Office have always been sideshows while Visual Studio has been the product. If this point eludes you, reading lists that lead to and enforce [with even more ferocity than Richard Sherman], this conclusion may also be on the market.  

  9. Checking the comments on this blog would reveal that he indeed does seem to read this blog personally, at least from time to time. Reading this blog regularly would suggest that he also is on a certain IRC channel regularly and there is a strong possibility he reads this blog personally with the intervention of his staff being a merely occasional outcome.  

2 thoughts on “A Comment Analysis Fest

  1. could just as well happen on HN, Twitter, etc.

    This part is really funny. Sure, it could have happened. It did not in fact happen. By the same token, an education could just as well be obtained by going to MIT. It didn't actually happen, this, but hey… it could, right ?

    I could have left this comment on various other blogs, or on twitter, or wherever. And yet…

    • Well, there's only so many venues with text on the Internet that a person can reliably follow. I wonder how many MIT grads could have actually gotten an education if instead they had gone to podunk Small Liberal Arts College and podunk Regional State University instead?

      Also interesting is how long it might take before some Silicon Valley sort like Paul Graham might take the offer I left in the footnotes. There would probably be some sort of value to their having me as their Nick Saban coaching the pool of Bitcoin Startups in their incubators into sucking less, or at least pointing out which Startups should be cut from the roster and relegated to the practice squad or worse.

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