[linux-dvb] Cross-posting linux-media, linux-dvb etc

Bob Cunningham FlyMyPG at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 22:20:10 CET 2009

I had previously viewed this list, and the linux-media list creation discussion, from my narrow perspective of wanting to get a single device working, so I only read list traffic that seemed related to that goal.  The overall reality far is larger than I had initially suspected.

Reading this thread makes it clear to me that the various lists we're discussing means that the general topic of Linux video/audio media is:
1. A very large topic!
2. A "basket of snakes" that a) are intimately interconnected, and b) won't be easily untangled.

In the early days of the Internet (1981, for me), we created Usenet newsgroups instead of mail lists.  The newsgroup creation process (http://www.faqs.org/faqs/usenet/creating-newsgroups/part1/) ensured the focus and audience were agreed to (outside of the alt domain, of course).  The Usenet newsgroup naming system also provided a natural hierarchy for list refinement and specialization, so a top-level group would be created, with sub-level groups added only when needed.  Most importantly, an initial newsgroup FAQ would be generated that would be automatically posted every month, and updated as needed (it was a permanent thread).  

With the complexity of linux media, and the needs of the users, developers, and testers, I'd recommend creating and periodically posting a list FAQ that provides the following:
1. An overview of the purpose of this list, access methods (vger, gmane, etc.), including how to search the archives.
2. Pointers to other relevant lists (each of which would have complementary FAQs).
3. Links for newbie users (including things like MythTV and hardware compatibility pages).
4. Links to newbie developers and testers (repository locations, building from source, etc.).

Hopefully, a periodic FAQ can help limit repetitive questions, reduce total traffic, and go a long way toward satisfying the needs of all list subscribers and posters.  

The alternative, creating more lists with narrower focus, seems impractical at this point.  Splitting the "basket of snakes" into more baskets seems to mean we'll just have snakes everywhere, each trying to be in every basket.  The underlying problem seems to be that the current Linux media architecture (as created and maintained by developers) doesn't map cleanly to user perspectives and applications (webcams, DVRs, video production, etc.).  It's a many-to-many mapping that may be difficult to optimize into any practical number of smaller low-traffic lists with limited cross-posting.

Would a set of FAQs, one per list, be useful to help manage this situation?


Andy Walls wrote:
> On Tue, 2009-01-20 at 10:24 -0500, Devin Heitmueller wrote:
>> I spent the morning giving some consideration to the comments people
>> made regarding the merging of the mailing lists.  As with most
>> attempts at an optimization, there are cases that get more efficient
>> and cases that get less efficient.  If done properly, the important
>> cases improve in efficiency while the cases that are less critical end
>> up a little less efficient.
>> Clearly, there are two classes of users on the mailing lists:  those
>> who read it and those who read it *and* actively contribute to it.
>> One of the key goals behind merging the lists was to make it more
>> efficient for those who have to reply to emails to not have to deal
>> with duplicated content, since in reality a large portion of the
>> emails come from people who want their device to work, and don't even
>> know the differences between acronyms like ATSC, QAM, DVB-T, DVB-C,
>> analog, etc.
>> Looking at the people who have responded to this thread, and the
>> number of threads they have actually contributed on in the last year,
>> the disparity is obvious:
>> People "in favor" of the lists being merged
>> 118 Patrick Boettcher
>> 205 Hans Verkuil
>> 38 Mike Isely
>> 196 Devin Heitmueller
>> "hundreds" Mauro Carvalho Chehab
>> People "against" of the lists being merged
>> 2 Lars Hanisch
>> 17 user.vdr
>> 16 Klaus Schmidinger
>> 2 Bob Cunningham
>> 10 Tomas Drajsajtl
>> 17 Ales Jurik
>> Yup, it's the developers who are posting on a regular basis who feel
>> the pain of the two different lists.
> Just to interject, I feel the pain of at least 4/5 lists right now:
>    video4linux, linux-dvb, linux-media, ivtv-users, ivtv-devel
> So any reduction in the number of lists suits me just fine, but not for
> reasons of personal mail management, but for distribution of information
> to a wide audience.
> For example, to reach all the cx18 users, to let them know of a change
> that may impact them without any testing feedback, I have to "broadcast"
> to all the lists except the ivtv-devel list.  Then unfortunatley
> feedback from users, who for some reason or another can't/don't post to
> the other lists, is missed by users on the other lists.
> I like the lists for the interactive creation/accumulation of knowledge
> about a particular device or subsystem.  Subsystem (dvb, v4l)
> information will likely rarely crosses list topic boundaries, but device
> information will probably do so much more often due to hybrid cards,
> silicon tuners, etc.
> So on the "intake" of information
> 1) a single list helps for consolidation of knowledge, but doesn't help
> organization - that must be done later
> 2) multiple lists help for organization of knowledge, but don't help
> with consolidation of knowledge on related details from the separate
> lists - that must be done later
> So between the two postprocessing activites in the above -
> organization/sorting once it hits the single list; or searching or
> consolidating, from separate lists, knowledge on a related detail -
> a) which provides the most benefit on the amount to work done?  (Who
> benefits? who does the work?)
> b) which scheme produces/amasses "higher quality" knowledge for the
> least amount of work?
> (I'm not going to provide an answer for those, but I will note that the
> LKML appears to host discussions on many subsystems in the Linux Kernel
> in one list.  So I suspect there is some benefit to amassed, but
> unsorted knowledge.)
>>   It's the people who are actively
>> replying to issues, dealing with problems, and trying to keep track of
>> it all who want the lists merged.  That said, I personally don't feel
>> any guilt in inconveniencing a few users who are not contributing if
>> it makes it easier for the people who contribute to the list on a
>> daily basis.
>> I would love to hear more from people who have contributed to more
>> than 20 threads who think having the two lists are a good idea.  I
>> doubt there will be many of them.
> It seems like to cut the baby in half would be to have multiple separate
> users lists and one consolidated devel list.  (We had a three list
> configuration before, but development requests/bug reports from users
> were rarely discussed on the v4l-dvb-maintainers' list as it wasn't
> billed to the public on the linuxtv.org site.) 
>> I was also giving some thought to the notion of a having separate
>> lists for users versus developers.  While this works in some
>> communities, I am not confident it would be appropriate for ours.
>> Why?  Because the notion of a "users" list is only useful in cases
>> where you have a large pool of users who are willing to answer
>> questions for others.  Look at the back history of the v4l and
>> linux-dvb lists, and that is nowhere to be found (aside from a few
>> people like CityK).  The vast majority of questions are answered by a
>> handful of developers, and it is no more convenient for those
>> developers to have separate lists.  In fact, it's less convenient
>> since it results in the developers being required to watch both lists.
>>  Think of all the projects where the "-dev" list is high traffic, but
>> almost all of the traffic on the "-users" list goes unanswered.
>> Do you want a separate users list and you're not a developer?  If so,
>> volunteer to help out by answering other people's emails if you know
>> the answer.  CityK is a shining example of this - every email he
>> answers about one of the devices I did the driver for is an email I
>> don't have to answer myself, which allows me to spend more time
>> writing drivers.  If we see lots of users helping each other out by
>> answering the questions of other users, only then will I see a
>> "-users" list as a sustainable idea that is worth pursuing.
> Based on my experience with the ivtv-user and ivtv-devel list, these are
> my personal, subjective observations (Hans may have a different
> opinions):
> 1) as software for a device becomes more stable, dev list message rate
> for that device drops off and user list traffic picks up.   In this
> case, most problems become userland app or system configuration
> problems, with which many users can help, if they desire.
> 2) I believe the converse of 1) is true as well: the less reliable the
> driver software for a device, the higher the traffic on the devel list
> and the less traffic on the users list.  Problems that only developers
> are likely to address are common.
> 3) When you have a devel/user list separation, the on-topic devel list
> messages are clear red flags that get developer attenion.
> 4) Even when you have a good users list, you're still only looking at a
> small handful of dedicated users that answer a bulk of the questions.
> Regards,
> Andy
>> Devin
> _______________________________________________
> linux-dvb users mailing list
> For V4L/DVB development, please use instead linux-media at vger.kernel.org
> linux-dvb at linuxtv.org
> http://www.linuxtv.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/linux-dvb

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