It’s hardly an original thought, but why does the off-topic group at the Embarcadero forums still exist? At my time of writing (I’m doing so in advance of actually posting BTW), it’s dominated by some American guy whining about supposed censorship from political opponents — typical ideologue, he assumes everyone else is ‘really’ as politically obsessed as himself, and so finds political motivation everywhere regardless of how non-political the words of others appear to be. In response to what turned out to be only a temporary banning of him, a supporter writes:

Nobody will be left to post here if it goes on, the whole newsgroup will stop to exist. Nobody posts a lot here anymore, not like a few years ago anyway.

To which I can only reply: good riddance. The group does only harm to Embarcadero (a technology company, not a low-rent rival for The Huffington Post or Pajamas Media) for hosting it.

PS: while the off-topic group has its dubious prominence (it’s proudly listed near the top of the forums homepage), interesting technical things like Eli Boling’s blog are buried away. Admittedly, this largely saves him from the ‘you’re all a bunch of idiots who don’t know what they’re doing’ crowd, but still…

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19 thoughts on “

  1. Do what I do if you find the newsgroups drive you insane – stop reading. If it is just 1 newgroups, just drop that one.

    I found I had to drop them all.

    • Well, I don’t read it as such — it was the fact that I went to the forums via the web interface recently (I usually use NTTP), which makes the thing’s existence quite obvious (as I said, it’s listed near the top, and doesn’t require an additional click to see it, unlike the technical groups which are grouped by product). The basic point, though, is that it doesn’t make sense *for Embarcadero* to host it in the first place.

  2. You say that off-topic does “harm” to Embarcadero, but fail to provide a logical defense of your claim. What “harm” do you think off-topic does?

    • So, I provide… an illogical defence? A logical offence? More seriously, my main point is that providing a forum for something entirely unconnected to their business provides no value for Embarcadero, and to the outside, presents only an unprofessional aura (as I pointed out, off-topic has a higher prominence than the technical groups on the forums homepage). The commonest rationale for its defence — that it prevents political ideologes spewing their childish crap on non-tech — is patently spurious given (a) the forums are not an unmoderated anarchy (thus, posts can be — and are — deleted if they get out of hand) and (b) off-topic is mainly frequented by people who hardly ever (if at all) post on the technical groups (thus, off-topic regulars going somewhere else won’t impact the forums’ primary purpose as Embaracedero-sponsored peer support groups).

      • So, I’m guessing that your argument is that off-topic appears “unprofessional”, and THAT is how it causes “harm”. I’m not so sure that providing a heavily-moderated catch-all forum appears “unprofessional”, at least not enough to offset the positive benefits of having a place where the Delphi community can gather to engage in a little lite banter. There are too many things destroying the Delphi community already, let’s not add yet one more nail. Where else can we get together and do the cyber-equivalent of sitting around a bar BS’ing?

        • ‘Unprofessional’ is ultimately a purely prudential standard: being ‘professional’ in the sense of ‘keeping to the task’ means customers and potential customers will only focus upon your actual business when evaluating it. The risk of being ‘unprofessional’ is that you needlessly alienate those who do not share the beliefs of those you give a platform to. Obviously, the risk would be rather greater if it were Embarcadero employees rather than a small section of Delphi users who were frequenting off-topic, let alone if said employees were to talk politics on company blogs. Nonetheless, why risk being offputting to outsiders at all?

  3. Because, if it didn’t exists, the normal on-topic newsgroups would get littered with off-topic messages and make life very uncomfortable for people only interested in on-topic items.

    • Not with proper moderating, preferably by someone who abstains from getting into such debates (or indeed, *any* debates on the group(s) he or she moderates). As it is, posts with obvious personal attacks get deleted – you wouldn’t ask for a ‘personal attacks’ group surely?

      • Are you volunteering?
        As you well know, the embarcadero newsgroups are _not_ moderated. And they shouldn’t have to be.

        • As you well know, the embarcadero newsgroups are _not_ moderated.

          Depends on how you define ‘moderated’ — TeamB’ers can (and do) delete and move posts and whole threads, and that’s all the ‘moderating’ I was referring to. I didn’t mean to intend all posts should be read by moderators before they become visible.

          For sure, this limited ‘moderating’ is not perfect in practice, partly (primarily?) for a reason I’ve already suggested: one key ‘moderator’ does himself get into mindless ‘debates’ on a regular basis. Nonetheless, when particular posts do get deleted, they generally do so very quickly, making prescreening unnecessary IMO.

      • In case I didn’t make it clear: I wasn’t talking about personal attacks making anybody uncomfortable. I would get uncomfortable because off the number of off-topic items as such (regardless of their content).

        • I wasn’t talking about personal attacks making anybody uncomfortable.

          I know — I was making an analogy. If personal attacks are *already* deleted (as opposed to being redirected to a special ‘personal attacks’ group), why not political crap too? In other words, saying ‘but it will only clog up the other groups’ is fallacious since only bad moderating (in my limited sense) would allow such a situation to happen.

          • Fine, but you seem to be missing my point. Personal attacks and political crap are not the only forms of “off-topicness” that you can experience, but the only kind of “off-topicness” that can justifiable be addressed by the type of moderation you suggest. And that is indeed already happening.

            Call me strict or intolerant or whatever, but I simply don’t want _any_ posts in the on-topic newsgroups that are unrelated to their subjects. It detracts from the value of the on-topic newsgroups – and that’s not just reading them, but searching them as well.

            Having the off-topic newsgroup has great value in that respect as it serves as a point to which you can refer people that are not engaging in any “moderatable off-topicness” but still are discussing something that does not pertain to the subject of an on-topic newsgroup.

            [Replied to below – CR. (I’m seriously tempted to give up on the nested comments…)]

          • Personal attacks and political crap are not the only forms of “off-topicness” that you can experience, but the only kind of “off-topicness” that can justifiable be addressed by the type of moderation you suggest.

            Well, if off-topic was full of ‘know of a good Mac newsreader’-type posts, that would be fine. Even with the apparently stricter policy in recent times, however, they’re still in the minority. IMO, *any* political or semi-political posts (including any of mine!) should be deleted straight away, or at least, the posters asked to stop, being reasonable people.

            Call me strict or intolerant or whatever, but I simply don’t want _any_ posts in the on-topic newsgroups that are unrelated to their subjects.

            And, obviously, I’m not disagreeing with that (though non-tech is a bit tricky). Moreover, the creation of the ‘computer industry’ group was a good step for this, though at the same time, this lessened the point of the off-topic group IMO.

  4. Interesting post and comments.

    If a message thread in another newsgroup gets off the subject, it’s nice to be able to politely refer people to the off-topic newsgroup rather than saying “you’re not discussing Delphi so this conversation has to stop”.

    Good point about making the blogs more visible. All the postings are avialable from the blogs.embarcadero.com feed and on twitter.com/embarcaderotech. We’ll continue looking for more ways to make that information available.

  5. Did anyone try google groups:

    [Deleted links. I suggest you give your real name if you want to post links like that, especially the second – CR.]

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