Re: We need to start talking about group and public annotations

Brian Behlendorf (
Sat, 23 Jul 1994 01:17:22 +0200

On Fri, 22 Jul 1994, John Labovitz wrote:
> [Charles Ashley <>]
> > Agreed. What do you guys feel are the pros & problems of WIT? A good
> > place to start? How are / would you do things differently?
> maybe it's because 12 years of using usenet has affected
> my mind, but i think WIT imposes too much structure.

I feel differently - USENET is the perfect example of unstructured
discussion, for better AND worse :) Mailing lists suffer from this
at times too - anyone who was on the WWW Marketing mailing list saw
this happen last week. WIT's particular structure is good for what
CERN probably wanted - a way to classify proposals and the method
for agreeing or disagreeing to it. I don't think that particular
structure is what I'd implement here, but the *ability* to structure it
like that is a very good thing.

> for technical discussions on the level of `should feature
> X be implemented in protocol Y?' the agree/disagree model
> may work. but it seems to impose an argumentative mode
> without necessarily requiring one. WIT seems to break down
> for more mundane conversations, like discussions of movies
> (one of the early topics).
> also, i can't imagine trying to follow a continuing
> conversation in WIT. it would be nice to see a list of
> recent messages without having to enter each area of
> topic/proposal/etc.

Right - instead of the "agree/disagree" dichotomy, tags like
"elaboration" "counterpoint", and maybe the ability to bring
a thread back up to the top level when a new idea has emerged
from it, seems like a good way to go. Can one classify discourse
into a small set of types without unnaturally restricting the flow of
the conversation? I think so... but I admit it remains to be seen.

> on the positive side, messages in WIT are *much* easier to
> read than usenet messages, due to the automatic HTML encoding
> (no more courier font!). and for those who know HTML well
> enough, it looks like great fun to be able to write the
> message itself in HTML.

Yup! That's the best part! :)