Relay-Version: version B 2.10 5/3/83; site utzoo.UUCP
Posting-Version: version B 2.10 5/3/83; site cbosgd.UUCP
Subject: A good user interface for postnews (again)
Date: Thu, 10-Nov-83 00:54:47 EST
Posted: Thu Nov 10 00:54:47 1983
Date-Received: Fri, 11-Nov-83 23:58:03 EST
Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories, Columbus
I'd like to thank all of you who responded to my previous query.
The ideas were very helpful. I now have a related question:
readnews 2.11 sorts messages, within a newsgroup, by discussion.
This way, when several discussions are going on in a newsgroup
at once, all messages within one discussion appear together.
Or at least, as far as readnews can tell that two messages are
in the same discussion.
The followup command automatically provides this information,
both by using the same subject, and by including a "references"
line, mentioning the message of the original article. However,
in using this interface, a problem has come up: lots (and I do
mean LOTS) of people do not use the followup command. They
manually post a message, often with a similar title (similar
to humans, completely different to a machine), and of course
with no references line. At least one good reason for doing
this is when readnews -p is used to dump the news to a printer.
People also like to have a cooling off time before the respond.
There may be other reasons as well.
The new postnews command already asks if the message being entered
is in response to something else. If the user answers yes, it
says to use the followup command. I'm sure you all realize how
hard it is to find the original article, and then to get into
readnews looking at that article. The typical response now is to
run postnews again, but this time to lie and claim it's a new message.
Somehow, postnews should figure out which article is it the user
is following up, and insert the proper subject and references from it.
The question is, how does the user say what message it is?
Postnews could ask for the Messaeg-ID. A Message-ID looks like
<1...@cbosgd.UUCP> and is usually not printed, although it is the
only unambiguous way to refer to a message across machine boundaries.
Or it could ask for the article number in the local newsgroup. This
information will often not be available.
Another thought is to list all the subjects stored on the machine
and have the user pick one. The list could be pretty long for some
newsgroups, and it's these newsgroups that need help the most.
Another possibility might be to have the user type in the subject
verbatim, and hunt for a matching subject.
One I think I like is to have the user type in the first 2-3 words
of the subject, and let the program go hunting. This is ambiguous
if there are lots of followups (which message is this in response to),
but it probably doesn't matter, since it's all the same discussion.
I also am not sure what to do if it can't find a match, especially
if the user does not have a listing of the subject handy.
I would appreciate any suggestions. It's important to make this as
easy as possible to use, because its use should be easy enough that
people will not try to get around it. I'm sure this group can help.