At 10:47 PM -0400 5/19/02, Tom Neff wrote:
In this case I will call John crotchety, because he is being
uncollegial and unconstructive.
Uncollegial, yes; unconstructive, no. It is quite constructive to say
to someone "your idea has been discussed in depth repeatedly for the
past seven years and no one has made any headway towards a solution".
It is constructive to not have the same discussion a zillion times so
that there is room for other, possibly useful discussions.
This is not to say that you can never come up with a solution in this
problem space, only that saying "I have a vague idea I want to talk
about" is not useful. If you sit and think about it, and come up with
something good, and read the various discussions from the past six
years about this and determine that your solution doesn't fall into
the same problems that similar solutions have come up with, then by
all means bring it up.
There is, or ought to be, a difference between healthy skepticism
and a closed mind; or between good-humored, informed rebuttal and
snide, reflexive swatting away.
In the same light, there is a difference between a fresh discussion
and a rehash of old discussions that went nowhere.
A forum like this one brings together some of the better minds on
the Net, and it actually is possible that useful ideas could be
Of course. It is also possible that it would just be a waste of time.
I wish that John would encourage such a possibility instead of
trying to shout it down.
He wasn't shouting; and some of us wish that people who have big
ideas do even a tad of research on them before assuming that everyone
wants to talk about them again.
Really and truly, this has been worked on seriously by hundreds of
people (some with serious funding) during the history of the
Internet. You probably can't name one of them because they didn't get
--Paul Hoffman, Director
--Internet Mail Consortium