Re: Math mode wackiness in memoir class.

In article <1152554625.211771.112910@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
Mark Mephinasony <twisted0n3@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
blmblm@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

[ snip ]

Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I infer from the above that you
consider your time more valuable than that of the people who have
replied to your posts.

No, I consider it equally valuable. I reserve the right to skim or
ignore posts when they are part of a large batch of mostly diatribes
and invective. So, I expect, do they; goodness knows that some of the
responses to my posts give ample evidence that the responder didn't
read my post very carefully first. So how come people who start
flamewars can skim, but people who get attacked but never threw any
first punches must read everything carefully, in triplicate, before
they dare pipe up? That's quite a double standard, and it penalizes
exactly the wrong people with extra work.

Your original post was a request for help with a specific technical
question. My thinking is that, yes, that *does* oblige you to
read any responses more carefully than you might read responses
to other kinds of posts (posts stating an opinion, for example).
Yes, there *is* a double standard at work, and IMO it's working
exactly as it should -- the burden of understanding is on the
person who is receiving technical help for free, rather than on
the person who is providing it on a volunteer basis. (I suppose
there could be some people here who are actually getting paid for
their participation in the group. But it seems unlikely that most

And then there was the exchange in which someone suggested that
you add "\nonstopmode" (or whatever it was) to the beginning of
your source file, and you thought this was meant as a command-line
option, and much confusion ensued, all of which could have been
avoided if you'd read more carefully.

To recap:
There were a dozen new posts to threads I'd posted to in c.t.t. that
day (not to mention maybe 200 additional, unrelated new posts). Most of
them were long, and long on invective and short on useful information.
Needless to say, rather than spend a good eight hours reading and
rereading everything carefully, given this sizable load of material I
skimmed it all instead. Perfectly reasonable, and expecting me to
behave otherwise is quite unreasonable.

The only posts you needed to read were the ones in the thread
you started. Even Google Groups' interface makes it possible to
do that, doesn't it? Given the volume of your postings, you seem
willing to devote a nontrivial amount of time to participating in
Usenet conversations, and it seems to me that on some occasions
you would be better served by spending more of that time reading
and less of it writing. Is there really no happy medium between
a cursory skim that misses important information and spending eight
hours reading a dozen posts? (Well, perhaps "a good eight hours"
was exaggeration for effect.)

I guess your mileage varies on a definition of reasonable behavior;
if I post a request for help, I think it's reasonable for anyone who
replies to me to expect me to read his/her reply fairly carefully
before responding and asking for more help.

[ snip ]

Finally, I reach that particular post and see something starting with a
slash that's supposed to make it halt on error. I figure oh goody,
there's the command line option I asked about earlier, and stick it in
my batch file. Nothing wrong with this behavior, either.

Not a capital crime (and it *is* more logical that something like
this would be a command-line option), but when it didn't work, maybe
it would have been useful to read the suggestion again more carefully?

[ snip ]

* In any event, it wouldn't have mattered if the poster had given me
what I'd implicitly asked for -- a command-line switch, rather than
something else cleverly disguised as one. When someone wants to modify
logging/reporting/interactivity behavior of a job, they are asking for
a command line switch. Remember that.

Maybe this will be useful advice for someone else; I know that based
on the interaction so far I wouldn't be inclined to spend my time
composing and posting a reply I was fairly sure would not be read

(Yeah, yeah, what am I doing right now .... <shrug> )

[ snip ]

People sometimes get defensive when their favorite tools are attacked.
It's not optimal behavior, but it's reality.

An attempt to cause a tool to be improved constitutes attacking it?

I may be misremembering, but my impression is that your suggestions
for improvement are sometimes worded in a way that seems more hostile
("I can't believe people put up with this!") than constructively
critical ("this is a good tool but it could be better").

[ snip ]

On the other hand, users are exactly those best qualified to point out
flaws or room for improvement. In fact, users that are not developers
are better for that job than users that are, because a lot of problems
with a lot of software stem from an unclean separation of the user
interface from some implementation details, and developers, who know
the latter by heart, simply tend not to notice these or, if they do,
don't find them problematic. Also, developers may base their assessment
of putative flaws/nonflaws on esoteric test cases; ordinary users base
theirs on how it actually performs in production circumstances in the
real world, and on what things bother them or cause them
confusion/trouble/awkwardness/don't work when they attempt production

In general I agree with you here. But user feedback can be worded
along the lines of "this is junk!" or "this is good, but wouldn't
it be even better ....? " -- and I suspect the latter is a lot
more likely to get a response. I would think it would also help
to give the impression that you're asking, not demanding, if the
software in question is something you aren't paying for.

a) Users are able to report difficulties, either with the usability or
the actual functionality, without difficulty. -- This means without
prejudice, and without hoop-jumping of any sort, such as (as commonly
encountered, esp. with commercial software) having to complete any sort
of registration form, having to divulge personal information that is
irrelevant to the goal of solving the user's problem or making the
developers aware that users are having the problem, having to login to
anything (other than their Internet account itself of course), or
outright having to pay money.

Here, the "without prejudice" appears to be being violated.

Oh well, I'll probably be sorry I asked, but -- what's *your*
theory on why other people report getting good help here, and your
experience is different?

My thinking is that it's just good sense, and not even particularly
unreasonable, to cater a bit to the prejudices of people who are
giving me technical help for free.

[ snip ]

d) Development is active, preferably on a release early, release often
basis, with separate stable and unstable branches.

It's pretty bloody obvious that this isn't happening. We have
third-party mods that basically are LaTeX2e with bells on, rather than
major fundamental fixes to deeper flaws that have been identified. And
the recurring vaporware promise of LaTeX3 RSN -- which has been
promised for years, without anything actually appearing that ordinary
users can download and use. If development is active at all, then, it's
clearly not on a release early, release often basis, which means users
with gripes have little hope of seeing their concerns addressed before
the sun goes nova.

Sure. Why do you think this is happening, or perhaps more importantly
how do you think it could/should be fixed? Are there people who are
getting paid or otherwise rewarded for maintaining/enhancing LaTeX
who aren't doing their jobs? Are there not enough such people?
How could we get more, or get people to contribute even without any
reward beyond the satisfaction of a job well done? I'm not sure
nagging them, or making what appear to be demands rather than requests,
will be effective.

what you consider an enhancement someone else might regard as a
waste of time.

Often what one user considers an enhancement others consider a waste of
time. As long as the proposed feature can be turned off/avoided by
those uninterested in it, this does not support any argument against
its inclusion.

Sure it does -- if the resources available for adding features are
finite. As, apparently, they are.

[ snip ]

Oh, and notice the extra ">" in front of the "From"? That is, as
far as I can tell, part of your posting as provided to me by my NNTP
server. (Anyone else get the same thing? or not? artifact of
posting through Google Groups?)

A Google Groups employee has recently been interfering with my postings
through GG. Initially, they disrupted my postings to a specific thread
in another group -- first, a bogus "posting limit exceeded" message (if
real, whatever "limit" was claimed was set ridiculously low); followed
by one followup appearing as nothing but "- Show quoted text -" when I
saw it listed the next time I checked the group after posting it. When
I examined it (by clicking the link), I saw that a single > character
had been added. At this point I began to suspect intentional
interference rather than glitches.

[ snip ]

Remember the post someone else made, with the extra ">" in front
of a line-starting "From", which you commented on? That also was
posted through Google Groups. So I don't think it's just you, and
I'm inclined to suspect buggy/misfeatured software rather than
deliberate interference.

[ snip ]

that any further discussion is apt to be colored by the history.

That is wrong. History is irrelevant. If I ask a new question here,
anything that's passed under the bridge is irrelevant. (Note the word
"new"; a question I'd asked before that had been answered before may be
another matter.)

Well, here's another place where mileage varies, I suppose. It seems
perfectly reasonable to me for someone considering replying to a
request for technical help to consider whether the requester is likely
to make good use of a reply, and history would seem to me to be a
useful guide in that regard.

Do I need to change my posting preferences to change name after every
question then?

That would be one way of dealing with the "got crosswise with the
regulars" problem, I suppose. I can think of others.

B. L. Massingill
ObDisclaimer: I don't speak for my employers; they return the favor.

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