LtU turns 9: The year of the lurkers

Yep, it's that time of the year again: It was nine (!) years ago that LtU was born.

As is my wont, I am going to use this opportunity to say a few things in lieu a real life birthday party speech. Those of you with an historical bent may enjoy browsing the full set of birthday posts. Here they are: year one, year two, year three, year five, year six, year seven and year eight.

First, an apology. I am feeling a little guilty posting this, since I didn't post many substantive posts this year. I am still busy doing many things not directly PL related (such as this), and so have little to contribute. I prefer to lurk a bit and let others carry the burden (on this more, in a minute). I posted less home page items and more the discussion group this year, I think.

I find it hard to post as just one of the guys, a regular member of the community, however. Several times I made non-admin remarks about posts that I felt were not on topic for LtU, or - indeed - posted marginal items to the discussion group myself, only to be rebuked by many for misusing my authority or applying policies heavy handedly... So let me take this opportunity to respond from the pulpit... LtU relies on community moderation of posts. This was the mechanism we arrived when the issue of discussion quality came up. All the discussions about this are in the archives. There is no cabal. The solution was simple: members are expected to raise their concerns about problematic posts publicly, so problems and disagreements can be hashed out. Unless I or Anton post a message clearly marked as an "admin" note, which happens fairly rarely, my posts about policy issues have no more weight than those of any other regular member of the community. However, keep in mind that if I am rebuked, many others may conclude that they should refrain from voicing concerns and simply move to other sites. So instead of rebuking me when I voice my opinion - voice yours when messages are problematic (and when messages are particularly useful as well!). If you don't take care of LtU no one will.

So, the "bad news" is that many old-timers didn't carry their burden of policing, and some discussions may have suffered because of this. The "good news" is that this allowed more people to join the discussion. Not only new members (and people are signing up daily) - many people who have been lurking, sometimes for over a year, started posting regularly. This is great! Not only did this add great content, and move the discussion in new directions, it was really nice to see accounts that I presumed were dead come to life. Bet you know what's coming now, right? People who post regularly to the discussion group and think they can contribute to the home page are urged, as always, to let me know so I can make them contributing editors (that's the LtU parlance for members who post to the home page, nothing more; don't be intimidated by the title - you can post as infrequently as you want).

Another nice thing happened this year in terms of members contributing their efforts to the community. A few people volunteered to help deleting spam and spam accounts. I am not sure they want to be identified, but my thanks goes to them. I think we don't need more help on this front for the moment. Still, members should know that new spam accounts are created (and squashed) daily, and that this happens due to the efforts of several members besides the usual suspects.

The LtU "trademark" spread its wings a bit, from they days when LtU was just this blog. This happened without my involvement. Two things worth mentioning come to mind, but let us know if I forgot something important. There is a CiteULike LtU library (originally proposed here), and the a LtU twitter account (see here).

Indeed, it seems many LtU members have flocked to twitter. I am there (@ehud/@biocomputing), but as a late comer I don't have many LtU followers. Others who are better connected may speak up if they want... I am not sure if this a a good thing or a bad thing for LtU, but I guess it was bound to happen. Contributing editors should remember that LtU expects each man to do his duty and post new stuff here first!

Our tenth anniversary is coming up soon. How are we going to celebrate? LtU is a virtual community so maybe a virtual celebration is in order. Maybe we should think about planning a virtual event of some sort or another (guest bloggers, an online conference, or some other crazy idea). Alternatively, we may try to see if we can do something non-virtual... I've always found unconferences to be an appealing idea. Or maybe just LtU beer sessions around the globe... If anyone wants to pick up the glove and organize something, I am sure many here will be delighted.

Thanks again everyone. Let the nine-year long discussion continue!

I almost forgot... We had a very successful April Fools prank this year...

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Thanks for all your work so

Thanks for all your work so far.

I like the current moderating policy.



Quickie items

(Reading year 1 always reminds that we should revive the quickie items type posts - links that are perhaps not worthy as stand-alone posts.)

LtU is a valuable resource for those of us fascinated by the subject matter. Lot's of good material to explore on a continuing basis. Thanks!

(BTW, the Year Eight link is broked).

(As an aside, the number of topics has grown to such an extent, that I really need to rewrite my Python scripts that build the LtU Index, as it doesn't want to load to completion now).

(Reading year 1 always

(Reading year 1 always reminds that we should revive the quickie items type posts - links that are perhaps not worthy as stand-alone posts.)

Go for it...

(BTW, the Year Eight link is broked).

Fixed. Thanks.

I was thinking about the moderation policy...

Perhaps, for those who want to contribute a thread to LtU, we can set up a "peer review" channel for candidate threads, where any LtU member can submit a thread they want to share on LtU, and any official LtU contributor can accept or reject it and provide feedback. When a thread is accepted, it then becomes public on LtU under the name of the original poster. This has the ability to scale very well, and give the moderators much more control over what makes it on LtU. One idea for what it's worth.

Happy Birthday, LtU!

Thanks. My own feeling is

Thanks. My own feeling is that the barrier to entry should not be set too high, and I don't think there is a real problem (aside from spammers) that requires pre-screening posts.

I've always been a bit

I've always been a bit confused about LtU. How is it different from a blog? Many members use the LtU as a sort of pseudo blog (I'm guilty of this), but I think this is kind of wrong. When should content go on our own personal blog (possibly to be ignored unless your blog has a following) or on LtU (possibly noising out more appropriate content).

For example, I'm exploring a concept called "programmable abstractions" vs. "fixed abstractions" which are analogies in PL to the differences between a programmable graphics pipelines vs. a fixed one. Do I (a) post a discussion topic to LtU or (b) push this on my wordpress blog. I'm going with (b) for now, but it would be interesting to here how people think about using LtU as a pulpit.

Happy birthday LtU! This site has been a great resource to the PL community.

FWIW, here is how I see

FWIW, here is how I see it... We each have a personal trajectory, and probably many interests and ideas. Along the way we encounter interesting resources and innovative ideas that are of general interest to those interested in programming languages. LtU is a great place to share those, hear what others think of them, and so improve our own education. Other things may be better served by a personal blog. I don't see it as an either or thing at all.

Notice that the term blog does not necessarily imply a personal blog. Indeed, group blogs or community blogs (like LtU) have been around for a long time. Because the home page (the blog part of LtU) consists of posts by several people it has less of a personal voice. I tend to prefer leaving more opinionated comments to the discussion that follows an item rather than the item itself, and to post things that amuse me but are not really significant directly to the discussion group. But this is always a judgment call, and each contributor seems to have a slightly different threshold or policy regrading these things.

Lambda the Ultimate University

Thanks y'all. I think LtU has really raised the bar for PL design in the past 9 years.

Contributing editors should

Contributing editors should remember that LtU expects each man to do his duty and post new stuff here first!

each person to do his or her duty

I stand corrected. While I

I stand corrected. While I debated with myself on which version to use, I decided to use the historical phrase without alteration.