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  1. #1
    BillHarris is offline Member
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    Default The Value of Old Posts

    Hi --

    I just joined to in order express my gratitude to the forum and to make a suggestion.

    Recently, I have been working on a program (an implementation of the Mersenne Twister randomizing algorithm). I ran into an odd problem. My program has to generate billions of bytes of data on every run. To help interpret the data, I simply wanted to insert commas as a thousands separator (eg. to print "1,000,000" instead of "1000000").

    Fortunately -- and thank you, posters! -- I found the answer here. However, the early posts in that thread didn't work with my Java version. Had it not been for contributors who added information several years later, and over the protests of several moderators, it still wouldn't be working.

    While it is nice for the site to elevate thread counts, sites are not judged by activity, but by quality of information and ease of use. Contrary to this, it is annoying and distracting for users to have to repeatedly search for isolated posts that deal with the exact same issue. Also annoying are moderators who continually use words with negative connotations (zombie, ancient, resurrect, "let it die", etc.) to discourage posting. The fact that nobody had anything important to add for a month or year is meaningless: A new member may know something, or an old member might think back and realize something relevant.

    The value of old threads is that they can become increasingly useful over time, as more people read and contribute new information. If each contribution makes a post more accurate, age should not matter. I submit that every student, researcher, or professional has had at least one question that was answered by an 'old' post. In fact, Google found the thread mentioned above or I wouldn't even be here.

    Moderators will disagree, of course, but I hope that the administrators will adopt a new standard -- one which allows the flow of information in a given thread to continue for as long as anyone has something intelligent to offer.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Bill Harris
    Last edited by BillHarris; 07-31-2012 at 06:44 PM.

  2. #2
    DarrylBurke's Avatar
    DarrylBurke is offline Forum Police
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    Default Re: The Value of Old Posts

    You're missing a vital point: an old thread that hasn't been needlessly resurrected is much, much less likely to show up in a web search.

    Also, if you were in the habit of reading forum posts as much as some of us here, you would know that a disproportionate number of zombie resurrections are of the nature of 'gimmedacodez' and a good share of the rest are thinly veiled spam for a commercial product, often unrelated to Java -- which naturally biases all forum moderators -- and yes, administrators (none on this forum) and forum owners (one, here) -- against zombie resurrectors.

    And even the latest information in the specific zombie you linked is long outdated; modern code that doesn't require synchronization would use a StringBuilder, not a StringBuffer. Moreover, that's one of the silliest ways to format numbers; start a thread in the New to Java section and you'll get ample guidance on better approaches. Note that that thread does NOT deal with formatting numbers.

    db
    If you're forever cleaning cobwebs, it's time to get rid of the spiders.

  3. #3
    BillHarris is offline Member
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    Default Re: The Value of Old Posts

    Hi, Darryl --

    Thank you for taking the time to discuss my opinion with me.

    You're missing a vital point: an old thread that hasn't been needlessly resurrected is much, much less likely to show up in a web search.
    Restating the argument in the positive: "an old thread that has been needlessly added to is much more likely to show up in a websearch."

    If my search engine terms result in a thread, a reactivating "w00t!!" post doesn't erase the targeted content of that thread. All it does is increment universal entropy by 1, nothing gained or lost.

    Also, if you were in the habit of reading forum posts as much as some of us here, you would know that a disproportionate number of zombie resurrections are of the nature of 'gimmedacodez' and a good share of the rest are thinly veiled spam for a commercial product, often unrelated to Java -- which naturally biases all forum moderators -- and yes, administrators (none on this forum) and forum owners (one, here) -- against zombie resurrectors.
    In the main, I agree with what you say here, though you make an astonishing leap of faith about my internet habits and offer some sweeping generalizations. However, the fact that moderators see lots of messages shouldn't deter in the slightest their ability to intelligently read and interpret them, nor should it foster an attitude of cynicism toward any reasonable poster. That would be like the cook at your favorite restaurant growing increasingly careless with your food and becoming irritated because you keep showing up. When it happens, it's time for a replacement.

    Equally, locking threads to keep out miscreants is like turning off the TV to avoid commercials. The good is sacrificed for sake of the trivial.

    And even the latest information in the specific zombie you linked is long outdated; modern code that doesn't require synchronization would use a StringBuilder, not a StringBuffer. Moreover, that's one of the silliest ways to format numbers; start a thread in the New to Java section and you'll get ample guidance on better approaches. Note that that thread does NOT deal with formatting numbers.
    I don't want to broaden the focus, Darryl, but here you draw more breathless conclusions. In this case, they reinforce the above regarding the reading of messages. For example, from my original post:

    What made you assume that I wanted 'modern' or any other kind of code?
    Why would you think that integrating a Mersenne Twister would be a beginner's Java effort?
    Why did you decide that I had the slightest interest in keeping up-to-date or appearing "silly" to a random observer?

    When I was 20, I had to chase the "latest and greatest" versions of everything to pay the bills. Now, at 61, I have the comfortable luxury of anachronism. I run an ancient Java version on a single-core machine and enjoy them both immensely. After the quadrature backend, I gave myself the trivial task of using the MT bit-shifting algorithm in a numeric separator. When my code didn't work, I chose the lazy way and googled -- not for code, but for syntax. (The post was flawed, yes, but it got me close enough.)

    In closing, I want to make it clear that I absolutely support moderators; the world is filled with junk thoughts and junk words and their diligence is an essential ingredient of web communication. My only opposition is to automatic, death-by-date thread-locking.

    I am impressed that a moderator would take the time to respond to a new member. I am also impressed by this VBulletin version. Animated-emoticons-only seems a bit childish, but for those who are not gifted with brevity, the Auto-Save feature is to "die" for.

    -- Bill Harris
    Last edited by BillHarris; 08-02-2012 at 08:18 PM.

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