Knock knock...

It has been awhile since I saw anything new from many of the oldtime LtU editors, and I am beginning to feel worried...

As you may know this is the beginning of the Jewish year (Shana tova to y'all!), so now is a good time to begin posting with renewed strength...


I am going to be away until the end of next week. I hope you enjoy yourselves while I am gone.

Early retirement?

Are all the editors on vacation, or is this a case of mass early retirement?

It has been awhile since we had a decent curry-howard story, but at this point I am sure any good link you have lying around is going to be appreciated.

Busy, busy, busy

As you can understand from the lack of new posts, I am extremely busy (and I do mean extremely).

I hope the LtU editorial team will find interesting new stuff to post until I manage to resurface...

LtU turns six!

Another year gone! What a year it has been: so many new ideas, members and occasional guests it will take a year to mention them all.

This year LtU traffic grew in an unprecedented way, and at some points along the way it seemed like we may be losing our collective identity. The LtU community was never a formal organization, of course: You are a member if you consider yourself one and contribute to the community in whatever way you find appropriate. Too many people stopping by to ask one question and leaving soon after can hurt the community. I am glad to say that the LtU community proved strong enough to handle the surge in new users, and indeed managed to persuade many of the newcomers to stay as regular members. Several prominent researchers in the field began posting here occasionally, without having to be invited. It is an honour having them among us, and I will of course try to get them to guest blog when I get the chance. It is quite fun to see that most interesting questions raised about new papers are answered by the authors or their graduate students.

The cordial nature of the LtU community, even if sometimes obscured by rants and bickering, managed to prevail and keep LtU a nice place to visit even as traffic increased and the number of new members signing up daily became astonishing.

From day one I saw LtU as a community. As such it is incredibly important to me that LtU is not just informative and has members with diverse backgrounds and skills, but is also friendly and helpful. I will not mention the specific members who always go out of their way to help when others raise questions or ask for assistance. We all know who you are. In my mind you are the gold members of the LtU community.

A new Lambda-year is about to begin, and it's great to feel certain that next year is going to be as instructive and challenging as the year just ending.

Onward and upward!

LtU: Policies document

In the wake of recent events we decided it is time to hash out a document trying to establish some basic rules of behaviour for LtU discussions.

I've enhanced the FAQ and we have created two new pages. First, there is a new policies page which tries to give some basic ground rules which should help orient new members and be useful in group moderation (i.e., the process in which old timers mentor new members on the appropriate style for LtU discussion by commenting on their posts). The second page, nicknamed the spirit page contains a set of quotes taken from the statements of LtU members over the years which may help explain the way many of us see LtU, and why we care about it both as a discussion venue and a community.

I should emphasize that the goal of these documents is not to change LtU. The goal is to strengthen those traits that made LtU what it is, and try to reduce the friction cause by misunderstandings. Thus the policies document is rather conservative and is mainly a summary of ideas posted previously.

LtU is a community site, and as I am quoted as saying in the spirit page the longer you are a member and contributor the larger the impact you have on the topics under discussion and on the nature of the site in general. Thus, this post is meant to encourage members to raise the voices and tell me what they think of the policies document. It is obviously meant as a draft, for the community to respond to. Let us know if you think something is missing, overstated or simply not to your tastes. I remind you that the goal at this point is not to change the direction of LtU, so if you don't like LtU this is definitely not the opportunity to try and change it. However if you feel you are a member of the community, this is your chance to help.

Finally, let me thank Anton who did most of the hard work putting these pages together. Without his help I wouldn't have managed to get these documents out of the door. While Anton did most of the work, I am of course to blame for anything you might find objectionable.

LtU: blog not forum!

Hi all,
During recent weeks LtU changed its behaviour so much that I can hardly recognize it. Instead of focusing on the high quality items chosen by the contributing editors and posted to the homepage, most activity is in the forum which is starting to resemble comp.lang.misc. This change is partly the result of a couple of new and prolific members, but it seems many regulars enjoy these long threads, which to me seem rather pointless, and indeed want LtU to be more like USENET than like a group blog. I mentioned my concern in the specific threads I found problematic, so you can take a look and see the specific items I think are problematic for LtU.

As a recent message here said bluntly, LtU was created initially by me, but belongs to the entire community. This is not just true today: From early days I made sure LtU was a community site, and not my own personal playground. Thus, I feel reluctant to step in and end the threads that seem to me to be un-LtU like. I urge members to read our previous discussions about LtU's style and goals, including the suggestion that members publicly raise their concerns about items that seem inappropriate for LtU.

Due to my feelings regarding the current situation and similar concerns raised by others we are considering instituting several new measures.

One specific measure which we are considering adopting is that new forum topics posted by new members will be held for approval by moderators. The moderators could include the existing Contributing Editors, but we could also invite other respected LtU members to act as moderators, if it proves necessary. Note that this refers to items created using the "(new topic)" option. At this point we are not suggesting moderating comments on existing threads and homepage items. Members repeatedely violating our regular guidelines will be expelled or put on probation in the same way the happens today (a measure we adopted after the last round of etiquette discussions). This is an extreme measure and happens very rarely.

There's also a need for more explicit site policies, to help make it clear what is and isn't appropriate. This will help in ongoing moderation efforts, since in cases where a discussion is going off track, it is easier if an attempt at moderation can simply point to a specific, documented site policy. Any suggestions for site policies from LtU regulars are more than welcome, of course.

One policy which clearly seems needed is that we should try to avoid ungrounded discussions: discussions in which someone defends an idea that they haven't clearly described, and for which there are no existing references. We should not be playing "twenty questions" with people who haven't taken the trouble to express themselves clearly - it's unproductive, and tends to reduce the quality of discussion. LtU is best used to discuss ideas that were published and argued elsewhere. It is not usually a good place for design discussions and the like.

I'd like to hear what other members think. If long time members agree with me, and with the couple of other people who emailed their concern, I think it should be possible to return to the high quality of discussions we've come to expect on LtU. If, however, most members prefer the current situation, we will need to think carefully about the future direction and organization of the site.


I remind readers that it is possible to simply read the homepage (I do it via RSS), and skip the LtU forum entirely.

Departments in need...

Some of our departments receive less attention than others. This has got to stop!

In the spirit of affirmative action, here are two departments that deserve more attention (and more new items) than they currently get:

The Logic/Declarative dept. dedicated to Prolog and other logic programming languages, as well as to other forms of declarative programming (e.g., DSLs, constraints solving etc.). It also deals with all kinds of theory regarding these issues and implementation strategies.

The second department I want to highlight is the history dept. dedicated to items about the history of programming languages, and sometimes even to items about the history of programming and CS in general.

If you are a contributing editor, consider helping these departments by posting new items to them. If you are LtU regular with interest in these fields, how about signing up as a contributing editor and helping out?

I miss you guys...

It's been awhile since you posted. You know it, and I know it. Feeling a little guilty now?! You should :-)

If you are an editor or a long time member and haven't posted for some time, chances are I am sitting here wondering where you are and what you are up to. So are many of your fans among the LtU readership whom you are probably unaware of.

In fact several key contributors are MIA. I am not going to name names, but you know who you are.

If there are issues I need to be aware of, how about dropping a line? Otherwise, just know that your absence has been noticed...


Longtime members wishing to join the editorial team are welcome, as always. Just let me know.

Contributing Editors?

I am busy. But where is everyone else?

Contributing editors, now's your chance to step up to the plate and post something cool!

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