LtU etiquette

I'd like the thank everyone who took the time to offer suggestions and ideas.

Because of the importance of this issue, I am posting this as a new home page item.

Reading the discussion, it seems some things are in need of clarification. Lambda the Ultimate was created by me and by the LtU community to serve our needs and interests, and though these are quite broad, LtU was never intended to be the single programming language site on the net, nor will it ever attempt to be one. There are many other sites, and if the style of discussion here seems too highbrow for what one has in mind, other sites are available. In the same vein, LtU cannot replace language specific sites, and is intended to explore topics that are of general interest. Code examples are more than welcome, provided they are enlightening and instructional, we were never only about theory.

LtU has large and vibrant community, with diverse interests and skills. The main thing uniting us is our interest in programming languages. If your interests are sincere, you belong here. As you become part of the community, you naturally have a larger impact on the topics under discussion. Luke, for example, is a long time reader and contributor and yet he asks whether specific subjects are appropriate. If Luke finds a topic to be of interest to the community, I for one would be happy to learn about it. The same goes for the other editors, and most long time readers who aren't editors as well. Luke and others ask me (or other members via the forum) about items they are unsure of - because they care about the site and the community. They are genuine members of the community. Sincerity is key.

This is part of the culture of LtU, and I don't think technical solutions are needed or helpful in maintaining it. I am also unsure how to explain this culture in a FAQ, but we will give it a shot, since many mentioned this as a problem. Several good suggestions were made in the previous thread, and we may lift them and create a more detailed FAQ.

It seems most members like LtU the way it is (or used to be), and we should try to make as little a change as possible, to counterbalance the recent problems.

Now for more specific measures:

1. Signatures will be eliminated - effective immediately. Personally, I also don't like pseudonyms, but I will not mandate this preference since people raised good counter arguments when this was last discussed.

2. I will be more pro-active when it comes to deleting posts that don't seem sincere. Most responses in the previous thread seemed to be ok with that. I might ask other editors to assist, since I don't have the time to do it myself. Voting seems too complicated, and I don't think it is appropriate for the kinds of problem we had in mind.

3. Banning - it seems no one is really against banning real trolls. I am not sure how to do this (since users can create new accounts), but I think we will keep the option to do this, and use it if we find it appropriate. I think I will not ban users before discussing the matter with at least one other editor.

4. We need to add links to various other PL sites (comp.lang.misc, C2, etc.) to the FAQ.

5. The FAQ links to the Getting Started thread, we should link to other introductory threads. If you have suggestions on what to include, use the comments to tell us.

6. We are in the process of starting a LtU-Wikipedia about PLs. This will take some time but will also help.

7. Regulars should be more pro-active in politely letting newcomers know when they post items that aren't appropriate. If you, as a LtU regular, are unsure about your objection, it is best to mention it publicly. Thanks!

Finally let me end by reminding everyone that posting here isn't a right, it's a privilege. The LtU community, even though ad hoc and without institutions, is strong enough a community to maintain the atmosphere of polite and sincere discussion we are used to having. However, in cases where it proves necessary, we will remove topics and posters that undermine this goal.

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Personally, I also don't like pseudonyms

I, for one, would be happy to change my username to my real name, if there's some way to do that. (I hesitate to just create a new account; it seems, er, trollish.)

--John Stracke


I don't have a problem with pseudonyms myself. But I would never, for instance, submit a paper for publication with a pseudonym. I would think anyone who wants to be taken seriously would feel the same way. I guess I tend to take pseudonyms as an indication that a person does not necessarily want to be associated with their words, and so their posts should only be taken as seriously as their name is.

Edit user account

You should be able to change your user name, when logged in, by clicking on "my account" in the left menubar, then "edit account", then change the first field, "Username", and press Submit. Let us know if that doesn't work...

Isn't this mostly an LtU UI issue?

It seems that the LtU CMS (Drupal?) knows both the user name and the full name, but it chooses to use the former when displaying the names of posters. I don't really care whether or not my name is shown as "rici" or as "Rici Lake" (I answer to both, and I don't regard either of them as a pseudonym -- the latter is what actually is printed on my passport, and the former is an obvious and common contraction), but I prefer to use the contracted version as a username; I suspect many people have the same bias. If people want to see full names rather than usernames, couldn't Drupal simply be taught to show them that way?


As Ehud mentioned, the last time this was discussed there was some desire to maintain the option of using pseudonyms. We're respecting that, and not enforcing the use of full names, merely expressing a preference for it (which we'll be adding to the upcoming guidelines). I don't think a technical solution is the issue here.


To clarify: Using John instead of John Smith isn't the problem. It's choosing a handle like: Wizard_of_Oz (especially is you haven't even read SICP and aren't from Australia).

And here I'd thought

that the Wizard of Oz was Belgian?

(Hi, Peter!)


PL Wikipedia

6. We are in the process of starting a LtU-Wikipedia about PLs. This will take some time but will also help.

I think that the cliki at is the best one of these around now. I imagine that Faré is likely to want to share the database in some way.

We are in the process of sta

We are in the process of starting a LtU-Wikipedia about PLs. This will take some time but will also help.

It is a great idea to start a wikipedia on PL's.But i do not like starting another wiki because it is just like writing another dictionary because the words we need are not in the existing one.We should extend the existing one.

Instead we can look at wikipedia and add pages/modify or delete content in existing pages to be more accurate. By doing so we can ensure that the content is in a place where most of us look at.This would also remove some complaints that wikipedia is not accurate sometimes. Probably, this is the right time to fix it.

Wiki focus

We haven't yet had an in-depth discussion about what the LtU wiki would contain. However, one obvious possibility which has been mentioned is to extract some of the excellent information that can be found in the many discussions on LtU, and organize it in a more accessible form. This would not necessarily result in work that is suitable for the existing Wikipedia.

Wikipedia articles tend to be fairly terse, and focused on quickly defining and giving an overview of a subject. Take a look at the article on lambda calculus, just as one example. As an encyclopedia-like reference article, it may be reasonable, but there are many things that can be said about the subject, about the body of theory surrounding it, its connections to type theory and programming languages, related language implementation techniques, and so on, that wouldn't necessarily be appropriate in a resource as general-purpose as Wikipedia.

For these kinds of reasons, it's also quite likely that if we tried to push all the material that LtU contributors could come up with into Wikipedia, we'd face editorial resistance of various kinds, which would only slow down the work and make it more difficult to publish the material we want to publish.

If we find that we're evolving towards having many general-purpose articles which are geared towards defining terms in the same sort of way as Wikipedia, it could make a lot of sense to merge such content into Wikipedia. But I expect there'll be plenty of material that won't fit that description. If nothing else, the difference in target audience will likely make for a different focus.

You're right

Wikipedia has different goals. For example, original research (research that hasn't been published elsewhere) is discouraged.

But it is worth considering whether the content that is put into an LtU wiki is placed under a license that would allow for use elsewhere, like on Wikipedia, in the case that such content would be beneficial to both.


The LtUpedia will have different goals than the Wikipedia, which is why we are considering setting it up in the first place. One of the things that will have to be decided in the license. I haven't given this much thought yet, but if anyone has opinions - do share!

Not just discouraged...

...original research is disallowed completely.

Also, the NPOV (Neutral Point of View) policy--entirely appropriate for an encyclopedia--may not be appropriate for a forum like LtU.

But... what is the purpose of the PL wiki? (Not saying it's a bad idea; in fact I **like** the idea) Is it intended to be a semi-authoritative, community-authored reference on PL topics? Or is it likely to turn into a discussion forum/free-for-all like c2? Given that we already have the LtU forum for discussion and such (and I'll go so far as to state that an app like LtU forum is probably better than a wiki for back-and-forth discussions), I would certainly prefer the former.

Much more the former

I think that both the "semi-authoritative, community-authored reference on PL topics", and the idea of an annotated compendium of links to research, would be worthwhile goals for an LtU wiki. I agree that the "c2-like free-for-all" is to be avoided at all costs, and that discussion of wiki topics should and will be separated from the topics themselves.

Given Ltu's nature, I would l

Given Ltu's nature, I would like to suggest to have a particularly strong focus in the Ltu wiki on original research publications. Whenever a new paper is suggested on Ltu it triggers, in my case, a quest for more material explaining the background of the paper I'm reading.
It would be nice if papers could be more or less embedded in a context containing pointers to descriptions of technical terms, related or preceding publications and some text linking these two together.

Whenever I run across a phrase like: (coalgebraic) bisimilarity is an (algebraic) congruence in the discussion Distributive laws for the Coinductive Solution of Recursive Equations , I have a particularly hard time figuring out what such an article is all about. Having a wiki containing articles that explain eg categorical notions, that point to original papers introducing those notions and that summarize follow-up research, would be really helpfull.

Wikipedia is too general in such a case. It focusses on eg. category theory from a mathematical point of view, while readers of Ltu will probably like a CS point of view, including as simple as possible examples that illuminate the abstract notions presented.



Why not just remove the offending post? Or replace the content with [Admin]? This doesn't seem to get you the results you want...



I did have some hopes that the person behind this will go away, without us having to resort to such means. But it seems he doesn't have shred of decency. Currently, I am at the point I will try anything (and by this I do mean anything). I do not have the time to run around after him, nor do I want to.

I suggest disucssing this (a)in the etiquette thread or (b) in the "site discussions" forum. The current thread really isn't the right place.

Suggestions of the sort "Ehud should do more work" aren't welcome, and will not be accepted. Has the community has indeed stopped working?


I have been visiting the states for a week so missed some of the ethics discussion.

Email has a small emotional bandwith (hence emoticons). It was a serious suggestion. I hope you didn't infer that I think you should do more work. Actually, it was meant as a comment that maybe a better effect could be achieved by doing less work. [If there is no post to respond to, than maybe less people will feed the troll.]

One bad apple

No apology needed. I am just cranky...

It seems the problem is with one poster, and I think we should grab the bull by the horns. Deleting messages isn't really an effective use of our time..

[OT] Ah well

Crank it away then, read this in Phoenix:

"If life flashes before your eyes, you better make sure it's fun to watch" ;-)

Moratorium on repeating arguments

At least one debate comes up over and over again, and even the slightest of triggers can turn into statements of opinion with many levels of indentation. I'm thinking specifically of "static vs. dynamic typing." Relevant papers are fine, but general discussion of the topic should be disallowed, IMO. Are there other hot topics like this?

Nothing wrong with recurring themes... long as they are not thread-jacking. In other words, if you want to discuss a hot topic, start a new forum topic and discuss it to your hearts content. Topics of all sorts will naturally meander, but it's a pain when they all end up channeling to the same lagoon.

Oh, and another hot topic would be Saphir-Whorf (which we all know is universally accepted as true). :-)

I would argue that the dynami

I would argue that the dynamic vs. static typing arguments tend to have the folliwing characteristics:

1. Redundant and cyclic, in that each time they come up the same topics are discussed.
2. Very touchy for a lot of people.
3. Tend to result in long threads.
4. Degenerate into lower-level arguments about strong vs. weak typing and what is typing in the first place?

As such, I don't know how much more can be said about it.