BIG NEWS! Server Topic Filtering [ADMIN]
We (the list admins) have found a new feature in the list server software
that may provide a much better way of handling on and off topic (and sort of
off topic, etc..) posts. It would cause the list to work a bit differently
and might cause some confusion at first so we want to explain it and get
some feedback from the list on how best to implement it.
The new version of the list server can track "topics" by looking for
keywords or tags at the start of the subject line (after skipping past the
fw: or re:). It will then filter posts FOR the list members according to
which topics they wish to receive. For example, if we set the possible
[PIC], [EE], [OT], and [AD]
we can set "topics of interest to subscribers" to [PIC] only and you will
only see posts with subject lines that start with "[PIC]:" (or "re: [PIC]:"
or "FW: [PIC]:" etc...). Of course you can send a simple command to the list
server that "turns on" the other topics as well. For example if you also
wanted to see [EE] posts (not directly related to the PIC, but still about
engineering) you could send:
MITVMA.MIT.EDU?body=SET PICLIST TOPICS: +[EE] LISTSERV
Now, that is not the really good part.... here it is... <GRIN> if someone
DOESN'T put a topic tag at the start of the subject line, the list server
puts the post in a special topic called "OTHER" and if you haven't told the
listserver that you want "OTHER" posts, you wont get it! Cool huh?
The default settings for new subscribers will be with all topics including
OTHER turned ON so if they post without a topic, they will see their own
post. Also, we can set up an autoresponder that gets ONLY "OTHER" posts and
replies with a nice message that says "Um, you forgot to add [PIC]: [EE]:
[OT]: or [AD]: to your subject line, so, pretty much, I'm the only person
who saw your post, didn't you read the welcome message or the piclist.com
page?" followed by an explanation of what the topic tags mean, a mailto link
to turn off the OTHER topic (and the... other ([EE], [OT], [AD]) topics as
well), and a brief review of the list guidelines. And before anyone freaks
about looping on the autoresponder idea, we will put an [AUTOMATIC RESPONSE]
tag in and the autoresponder will know not to autorespond to posts
Now, this is all a bit backwards from the way we are doing it now; rather
than asking that people be good and add [OT] to off topic posts, we will say
that all posts are not only off topic, but also completely ignored by
everyone but the autoresponder, unless you remember to put the topic at the
start of the subject line.
To get to the list and be read by all us members who are interested in
PIC's, a person will have to type [PIC]: at the start of the subject line.
This has the huge benefit of reminding people to think about whether or not
their post is really about PIC's. I personally think that this is an easy,
automatic and very complete solution to the problem of constant off topic
posting on the list. If it's really not about [PIC]:, you can add [EE]: or
[OT]: or [AD]: and it will go though to those people.
Using the same [OT], [EE] and [AD] strings for the topic names will allow
people who have set up automatic filters, sorters and classification rules
to continue using them. I know a lot of people move [OT]'s into a separate
folder for lower priority reading.
Of course, replying to an existing post will not change at all and people
may still take a [PIC]: related thread off into never, never land, but...
admins have to have something to do right? The no-HTML thing has been such a
big help that this list may get to be semi-self running and then we can
focus on other things like improving the FAQ or archives.
Ok, sorry for the long explanation, but we think this is an important new
direction for the list and will solve a lot of problems and make life a lot
nicer for members. What do you think?
jamesnewtonpiclist.com?subject=TOPICS_YES_BUT <- please include jamesnewton
piclist.com?subject=TOPICS_NO <- please include why? jamesnewton
James Newton (PICList Admin #3)
piclist.com 1-619-652-0593 jamesnewton
PIC/PICList FAQ: http://www.piclist.com or .org
See also: www.piclist.com/techref/microchip/math/filter.htm?key=filter
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