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Annoyed by OpenSUSE's forums

When I have the time, I like to look around to see what things - good or bad - people are saying about Linux Format. Today I came across a forum thread about Linux magazines, where a number of folks were praising LXF (yay!) and at the same time annoyed that we hadn't posted a review of 11.3 and also complaining that it was too expensive (boo!), so I decided to reply to their messages.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, one of the admins contacted me to say they were embarrassed by what I had written, because it "basically constitutes spam", and my post was deleted. I don't have the patience to deal with that kind of community, so rather than argue my case I'm just reposting my message here so that anyone who wants to read it can. Believe it or not, I really do want people to pay as little for LXF as they can!

(NB: most of the things I say are replies to other people in the original thread - you can read it here)

==

Hey!

Sorry, I'm a bit late to this thread.

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words about Linux Format. I would agree with robertsmits that paying newsstand prices in the US is expensive - try the URL we give out in our podcast for a really good price: http://tinyurl.com/podcastlxf

Using that URL, you can subscribe to 13 issues for around US $110 and save half your money. We also have various special offers in the magazine; you might want to shop around to get the best price.

yester64: Amiga Format was awesome! I still have my Amiga in a cupboard, along with a handful of favourite games - Xenon 2, Detroit, Cannon Fodder, etc. That said, I use to pick up Amiga Power too. They used to print one letter from their name on the side of each magazine so that when stacked them up it would read AMIGAPOWER. I remember one chap writing in asking them to make a special edition with a "D" on the side because they wanted to spell MEOW I'M A GRAPE GOD for some reason. Ah... great days.

<< Why LinuxFormat don't wrote about openSUSE 11.3 >>

We do have a review, but it's in the October issue. OpenSUSE is quite unique among distros in that it can be sometimes have a very long release candidate cycle, so we always wait until the thing has been released as final before we even start thinking about it. Owing to the long delay, we put the review online here: http://www.tuxradar.com/content/reviewed-opensuse-113

<< they are outrageously expensive and full of tedious adverts. >>

I don't think anyone could say that Linux Format is full of adverts - in fact, we have very few! That said, I have recently been offering free adverts to various good causes - the FSF has a half-page with us every issue, and we've also helped LinuxFund, LugRadio and OggCamp. I hope these don't offend too much!

Anyway, my email address is paul.hudson@futurenet.com - you're always welcome to get in touch with feature ideas, or even complaints that we run too many adverts!

Paul

--

Paul Hudson

Editor, Linux Format

www.linuxformat.com

==

Update: two of the moderators on the OpenSUSE forums have emailed to apologise for deleting the post, calling it an overreaction. My original post has now been restored, and as far as I'm concerned we can put this whole thing behind us.


Your comments

Thanks for the post

Looks as if someone is being a bit touchy.

Perhaps...

Perhaps we should all copy the above to the openSUSE forum to give the moderators an idea what SPAM is really like! No! On second thoughts, DON'T!!!

As for the cost, it really makes a nice change for those of us on this side of the pond to get something cheaper than our Brothers and Sisters in the States. Seeing how we normally have to put up with paying a £UK to buy a $US worth of goods; now you know how it feels guys! In my opinion LXF is well worth the money and, remember, the adverts keep the cost of the magazine down.

Ridiculous...

What is the point in running a “forum” if you don't allow people to put their side of the point.

It's just plain rude to remove an upbeat personal posting from a keen supporter of the community.

It's not on. I think you should leave OpenSUSE 11.3 out of your great magazine for an extra month – in case newsagents think you are spamming them with it ;)

Andrei B

I'm a member of openSUSE

I'm a member of openSUSE Forums, but I was a reader of LXF well before that! I contributed to the thread that you referred to, with my initial mention of LXF, and want to fully endorse what you said. I was surprised and disappointed with the moderator's response here, as I think they misunderstood the context (or intent) of your post. You have considerable depth of experience with Linux, and made significant contributions of knowledge to the Linux community via your excellent magazine. I hope you will visit again when things have settled down.

I buy LXF far less often

I buy LXF far less often because of its declining relevance outside the Ubuntu / Canonical / Novell community. There is so little coverage of programming issues outside the Novell remit and every issue that is covered has an Ubuntu angle.

Since the centre editorial was taken over by Canonical staff (and even Dr Brown ended up schmoozing with Canonical hospitality), LXF has really gone downhill.

Calling your post spam may

Calling your post spam may have been a bit over the top, but I think openSUSE's mods have done the right thing by restoring your post.

Long live LXF (and openSUSE)!

You have to love (hate) the

You have to love (hate) the passion that some users have for their favorite distro. Myself, I am less interested in reviews of the distro I currently use, because I more than likely have upgraded by the time the review comes out. I like to see reviews of other distros that I might like to try out or haven’t seen before.

I would have to say that LXF is a bit expensive here in the USA, but considering the speed that it arrives in my mailbox, and how educational I find it, well worth the cost. The cost is no more than that of a professional society that I belong to in order to receive their publication.

You're not being entirely fair.

There seems to be some overreactions on both sides.

The way you posted

The first two lines:
"Hey!

Sorry, I'm a bit late to this thread; we put out a free book on learning PHP with LXF135, and it kinda tired me out!"
I have seen several spammer that begin postes like that, so I can kind of see why it would be mistaken for spam. The OpenSuse forum has also had some problems with spammers recently and have tried to crack down on spam.

@Everyone

Hey!

<< Perhaps we should all copy the above to the openSUSE forum to give the moderators an idea what SPAM is really like! >>

I know you're joking, but I'd just like to clarify that doing this would be a very bad idea indeed.

<< I think you should leave OpenSUSE 11.3 out of your great magazine for an extra month – in case newsagents think you are spamming them with it ;) >>

Ha! Actually, we're providing two versions of OpenSUSE 11.3 with LXF136, so you guys get a double dose!

<< There is so little coverage of programming issues outside the Novell remit and every issue that is covered has an Ubuntu angle. >>

Sorry, but I think this is a troll.

<< Since the centre editorial was taken over by Canonical staff >>

That, however, is slander, Gnuthrough. Care to come through with your real name rather than hiding behind internet anonymity?

<< You have to love (hate) the passion that some users have for their favorite distro. >>

It can definitely have good sides and bad sides. Usually I'm lucky enough only to encounter the good sides, but I would say that we sometimes get an incredible amount of angry mails through for our letters page.

<< You're not being entirely fair. >>

I'm not really adding much opinion in the blog entry, just writing up what happened and providing the original post. Like anyone, though, I do overreact from time to time(!), but at least here we've all managed to come to a solution everyone is happy with.

<< I have seen several spammer that begin postes like that, so I can kind of see why it would be mistaken for spam >>

If they had some sort of automated spam checking/deletion system, I'd agree.

Paul

post update

I have been following that thread and the following was posted yesterday afternoon:
"Originally Posted by malcolmlewis
Hi All
The post deleted has been restored and I have sent an email to Paul apologizing;"

That is all ;-)

openSUSE Forums Administrator

Hi, Paul, everyone -

Quite a spirited discussion here - I noted that Paul indicated in this blog entry that his post had been restored, and he considers the issue resolved now.

I just wanted to put my 2p in on the discussion as well, both as a member of the openSUSE forums administration team, and as a US-based fan and subscriber to Linux Format for the past 5 years.

In the openSUSE forums, we are very aggressive in dealing with spam; we provide access to the forums both via a web interface and via NNTP. Having open NNTP access is a great benefit to users who have accessibility needs or who prefer to take the forums with them (using a solution like Leafnode) for offline reading. At the same time, this also opens us up to the possibility of a fair bit of spam, both from the web interface and from the NNTP interface.

Out of necessity, this means that dealing with spammers is one of the larger tasks our moderation staff performs - and as a fairly manual process - spammers work hard to try to be stealthy before they post their spam - and often it comes down to a judgment call. Most of the time we get it right - but occasionally, we don't - we're human, after all. :-) When we do get it wrong, though, we discuss fairly quickly if corrective action needs to be taken, and we take it as we did in this instance.

We absolutely welcome all comers (except, of course, spammers and those who are disruptive to the community) with open arms; our goal is to support the openSUSE project and users, and we take great pride in doing so very effectively and maintaining a very high quality of information in the forums.

Thank you, Paul, for your support and for all your hard work on Linux Format. One of the things I've noticed over the years is that there is significant coverage of all the major distributions, and that's one of the things I really like about the magazine. It's a quick read for me, but I look forward to every issue with anticipation, and I'm really looking forward to the review in October of openSUSE 11.3.

Best,

Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Administrator

Captcha

Well, since even 4chan.org has captcha these days, I'm giving it 2 weeks before the captcha is forever bypassed.

At the very least, on 4chan, whenever there is an unwritable word (on an ASCII keyboard) you can use the rude word that looks a bit like nigeria to circumvent it.

So these spammers aren't going to be less annoying in the coming years. My favourite is the 4chan hta spamming, that starts an hta service on windows machines, and start spamming itself with random sentences on random boards. Completely useless, and you have to be retarded to fall for it.

However, since this is 4chan… So now yet another community invokes spam.

There ought to be a law that jailed spammers like this, and put them behind bars, and had their servers sacrificed to the BIG. (BIG Isn't a God).

Also, to be constructive, forums.spacebattles.com has a neat system, where they demand that a user post in a "new user forum" before being allowed to post in the main boards. Stops spam dead.
Maybe something to think about?

Fighting spammers on forums

That's an interesting idea, Anon. Species of Antelope (love the name!) - we've actually seen some spammers who post multiple times before they actually post their spam - sometimes to get around limitations we have on links in signatures (which requires a certain number of posts be made before that's enabled). Fighting spammers, somewhat like fighting things like software patents, DRM, and other such issues, is really an arms race.

I've seen a lot of different things over the years (having participated in and managed to some degree forums since my days on BBS' back in the 80's), and I think it'll always come down to some form of human intervention. The random sentence one is interesting (not really new to me, though) because often times they'll pick things said in messages several months old and repeat them, or say something like "That's a really interesting, John, thanks for sharing!" - which can actually be legitimate or a precursor to a spam attack.

Some locales do have anti-spamming laws (the CAN-SPAM law here in the US is one of the better known laws that has had successful prosecutions), but so often the spammers we see originate in China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and countries in Africa (where we also have legitimate users) that are beyond the reach of those laws. We have ways of dealing with and identifying repeat offenders (which I won't go into since giving our secrets away would help the spammers).

Thanks for the discussion. :-)

Jim

[solved]

[solved], and we should be glad that sometimes, common sense prevails.

Enjoy

Probably an unnecessary comment, but I am enjoying LXF more and more - is it because I am learning a little bit more (and more) about Linux because of LXF?

Let the howlers howl!

I for one think you were spot on Paul. Living in Australia we too spend quite a few bob on purchasing our LXF but all in all I still feel it is darned good value for a darned good magazine.

I found that by subscribing my total dollar outlay has reduced quite markedly which makes me rather happy :-)

I see the comments from people bemoaning the coverage that Ubuntu get buy hey, they are the ones out there pushing the Linux barrow these days and getting people who may have otherwise not tried Linux to actually fire it up. I myself nowadays generally always have a copy of Ubuntu/kUbuntu installed on one of my machines or in a virtual pc so that I can experience it as compared to the other varying distros from time to time. At the end of the day it is all a Linux experience for which I am more than thankful.

Thanks for a great mag Paul and all the contributors.



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