MOO-cows Mailing List Archive


An alternate proposal for MOO-Cows

Ok, here's the proposal for a new way to handle MOO-Cows posts I mentioned
earlier..  (Andy, if there's anything I forgot feel free to jump in and
correct me) It's based mainly on Puff's solution some time back that keywords
be added to subject lines which could then be easily filtered against by
people who weren't interested in various types of messages.

(note that this way of doing things doesn't preclude the other suggestion
about replying to individuals and posting summaries, but it may make it
somewhat unnecessary)

The problem with Puff's solution was, quite simply, that nobody remembered or
bothered or whatever to do it.  A few people tried it for a while and then
gave up when it didn't catch on..  Moreover, half of the people who did
remember to do it probably couldn't remember what keywords were proposed to
figure out which one they should use, and gave up (that's basically what
happened with me).  If it weren't for these problems I think the system would
have worked fairly well and would have given us a lot of additional

Proposed Solution

The obvious solution, therefore, is to make keywords in the subject header
mandatory for posts to this list.  Those posts which don't have a valid
keyword in their subject line would simply be bounced back to the sender with
a note telling them they need at least one, and a brief list of some of the
most common ones (this could be handled extremely easily with any of the
numerous mail filter programs out there).  Those who wanted a full list of
keywords to refer to could send a request for a list to the listserv at
moo-cows-request and it could send them a full listing of available options.

In addition, there would be a set of "official" keywords, at least one of
which must be present for any message, and "auxiliary" keywords, which aren't
required or even regulated, but could be used to indicate sub-categories or
common types of posts..

Note:  As a side option, the mail filter on the MOO-Cows list could also look
for words like "subscribe" or "unsubscribe" in the header/body of messages it
bounces back due to lack of keywords, and if it finds them add an additional
note about how to use MOO-Cows-request, etc.

Keyword Options

This is what Andy (ThwartedEfforts) and I came up with for a good list of
official keywords (at least one of which would be required for every message
sent to MOO-Cows):

Server-related issues:
  SERVER   - Server internals, server design issues, how it talks to the DB,
DB-related issues:
  PROG     - General area for questions/issues about MOOcode programming.
  APROG    - (Advanced PROG) This is for programmers who know what they're
             doing and have been programming for some time to discuss
             advanced issues regarding MOOcode design and use.  (the
             existence of this category wouldn't be publicized to newbies..
             people would have to read the list long enough to figure out
             that it's available and what it's for, which should help weed
             out some of the newbies who think they know more than they
             actually do posting all their stuff under APROG instead of
  CORE     - stuff about various core DBs (LambdaCore, JHMcore, etc) and
             future developments in the core-DB world ("is anybody planning
             on making a SomeKindOfThingIWant core?")
  NET      - Interfacing your MOO with the outside world, and all the issues
             that it includes.. how does one make netmail work, what's a
             MOOnet, gopher stuff, WWW stuff, FTP stuff, etc, etc.
Startup/Administration issues:
  SITES    - "I have/need a site for a MOO."
  COMPILE  - "It won't compile."
  NEW-WIZ  - Questions about how to do basic wizard stuff ("How do I make
             someone a programmer?"), Issues for people starting a MOO, etc.
  ADMIN    - Questions about general administration issues ("How do I keep my
             MOO from becoming an IRC channel?")
  SECURITY - "I found a security hole!", "Help! my wiz account was cracked!",
Information/Coordination issues:
  DOCS     - "Where's the FAQ?"/"Here's the FAQ!"/"Any documents available on
  HELP     - "Can someone come to my MOO/get in contact with me personally
             and look at this?"
  PROJECT  - "I'm working on this/planning on this/thinking about doing this,
             anyone want to help?"
  IDEA     - "This would be neat for someone to do, but I can't do it."
Maillist issues:
  MOOCOWS  - "We need a better way of organizing posts to MOO-Cows.."
General stuff:
  NEWS     - General announcements: new patches/add-ons/developments/etc.
             in MOO-dom. (this should always be accompanied with at least
             one other keyword to indicate the general area the announcement
             deals with, but this should be the primary keyword).
  OTHER    - Anything which doesn't fit in any of the above categories (this
             should be used very infrequently)

A couple of other keywords, suggested as generally accepted (but ignored by
the MOO-Cows bouncer) "auxiliary" keywords would be:

  LAMBDA   - For issues pertaining to the LambdaCore (since it's such a
             widely used core which people tend to talk about a fair amount)
  SUMMARY  - For posting a summary of responses someone has gotten to a
             question, etc.

and so on..  Other auxiliaries could be brought into use as they become
necessary without much fuss or any change to the setup of the list (since the
MOO-Cows bouncer doesn't even care about auxiliaries), just a general
consensus of what they mean by the people who use them..

Suggested format for subject lines

The following format would be required (by the filter) for any subject lines
of posts to MOO-Cows:

<KEYWORD>: <subject> [(<KEYWORD>) ...]

Where the first "<KEYWORD>:" would be the main category, which would indicate
the most significant aspect of the message, and also how it should be sorted
and such by mail filters.  Following the colon would be the subject of the
message, and optionally following that, in parens, would be any additional or
related keywords pertaining to the message which might apply.  The first
(main) keyword would be required to be one of the official categories
mentioned above, while the additional keywords (in parens) wouldn't be
regulated by the MOO-Cows bouncer, and could be either official keywords or
"auxiliary" keywords..

NOTE: All keywords must be in caps (this makes them easily distinguishable and
matchable by automated things, as well as setting them apart from the actual
subject line).

A few examples:
  SERVER: what is with panic() and log()?
  NEWS: update on in-db parsing docs available (DOCS)
  DOCS: Where can I find the FAQ?
  SECURITY: Found a hole in $player_db (CORE) (LAMBDA)
    (indicating a security hole pertaining to core databases of the
     LambdaCore variety)

New Subscribers

Of course, new subscribers to the list should be sent a list of keywords and
instructions on how to use them..  it should be fairly simple to add this into
the "welcome" message which is already being sent out to new members..
Actually, this might as well be the same document as people could request from
the server should they want a list of keywords later on..

Bounce Message Format

Here's an example of what someone would get back if they sent a message
without including at least one valid keyword in the subject in the format
specified above:

  ATTENTION:  A message you sent to the MOO-Cows mailing list did not have
  an appropriate subject line and is therefore being returned to you.
  All posts to the MOO-Cows list must have a subject of the form:
    KEYWORD:  Subject
  where KEYWORD is one of the official categories for messages accepted by
  this list.  A few common keywords are:

  DOCS     - For looking for or posting documentation (such as FAQs and
             manuals) regarding the MOO
  COMPILE  - For compilation or initial startup problems with the MOO server
  NEW-WIZ  - For questions about getting started running your own MOO
  PROG     - For questions or issues about MOOcode programming
  NET      - Interfacing your MOO with the outside world (email, web, etc)
  SERVER   - Issues pertaining to the internals of the MOO server and how it
             talks to the database
  SITES    - If you're looking for or have an available site to start a MOO
             (good luck)
  HELP     - If you have a problem which requires someone else's personal
             assistance (coming to your MOO and looking at it, etc.)

  For a more complete list of keywords, send a message to with the line:
  And more information will be mailed to you automatically.

  ------------------------ Original Message Follows ---------------------------
  <text of bounced message would go here>

Anyway, that's the idea..  what do people think?  It seems to me it'd be
pretty easily implemented by just sticking a filter program on the front of
the moo-cows list which would check the format of the subject lines, and
adding a little documentation, and with this system, readers could set up
their own filters to fine-tune just the areas they're interested in looking

For example, someone who's just reading the list to keep up to date on things
could filter out everything except NEWS, SECURITY, DOCS, and PROJECT, whereas
someone who's interested in helping newbies could pay attention to PROG,
COMPILE, NEW-WIZ, and HELP too, etc.

So..  what do people think?  Is it worth trying?  (I think so)

     Alex Stewart - - Richelieu @ Diversity University MOO
           "For the world is hollow, and I have touched the sky."


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