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Re: Terminology questions + fetch more articles wishlist


From: Enrique Perez-Terron
Subject: Re: Terminology questions + fetch more articles wishlist
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 17:39:55 -0000

Joel Reicher <address@hidden> wrote in message news:<address@hidden>...
[snip]
> Now on to your questions...
> 
> >    a. Having read what I want in group I have recently "subscribed"
> >       to, I want to see if there has arrived more news since the
> >       summary buffer was formed.  I look around in the menus, which
> >       should I choose?  Catchup?  Catchup all?  What is "Catchup to
> >       here"?  Would one of the "Mark" entries be better?
> 
> Catching up means your newsreader will mark all of the articles in
> that group as `read'. Consequently, the default display of the group,

Aha!, so 'catch up' really means 'I give up to ever catch up, I will
never have time to read these'.

> which only shows `unread' articles, will not list those articles. You
> can still direct gnus to list them if you want.

How?
 
> "Catching up to here" is a way, in gnus, that you can mark a bunch of
...
> "Mark" can mean two things depending on what you're reading, so it
...

And how do I get an updated list of available articles?

Is there a menu entry for this?

Since I wrote my questions I have found that there are two commands
with promising names: gnus-summary-rescan-group, and
gnus-summary-reselect-current-group. What is the difference?

Of course, trying it out might tell. 
My point is that as a user I don't want to try out just to find I
regret having tried. I wish there were some menu entries with names
more suggestive of what I will get.

(I know this is also a question of getting used to things. If I get a
list of new articles, and the list of articles I just read disappears,
I sort of feel lost.  Likely an 'anal-retentive personality trait'. 
However, I realize it is unnecessary to have the old list around, just
stop worrying about all those threads that got no more contributions,
and just look at those new posts and followups. Only when I still need
to go back to the parent articles I can use ^ or A T.)

Right now I am writing this article using Google's web interface. As I
write I switch to the Emacs window to try some things out.

When doing C-x C-s (gnus-summary-rescan-group), I get a question on
how many articles I want to see, and I press enter for the default of
600+. I get a summary buffer where all lines are in a blue color, and
the leftmost column has the leter 'O'. There is a line with my name
it, this is my original post. There are no other articles in the
thread. This surprises me, since I have seen three followups in the
Google interface. Today is Sunday 13, 17:00+0200, the OP was on Friday
11. The first response was dated Saturday 12, 8:00 GMT, 17 hours ago
now. Is my ISP's news server feeding me so belatedly?

When I try Esc g (gnus-summary-reselect-current-group), the summary
buffer is reduced to a mere 5 lines. (Help! What happened? Can I get
the other articles back? Did I actually read them all?) Three of these
lines are followups to my post. How could I know this is what I would
get? Fortunately I recognize the subject line. In a few days I will no
longer remember what I used for the subject line. How can I then check
if there are any more followups to my post?

The documentation line that accompanies these commands (e.g. see M-x
describe-mode, and middle click on them) say "Exit and reselect the
current group" and "Exit the newsgroup, ask for new articles, and
select the newsgroup" respectively. It is not easy to infer from that
what will happen when I use these commands.

Having read a little here and there in the gnus manual, I used '!' to
mark the three followups to my article, and A ^ to get the parent
article. The parent article (my post) comes green, underlined, with an
R in the leftmost column. Trying to mark it with '!' does not seem to
have any effect.

Doing ESC g once more removes the OP. In the meantime I have
(involuntarily) strayed into the first article of the next thread, and
I tried '!'ing it before doing ESC g, in order not to loose it since I
have not actually read it. This works, the article is there after ESC
g. This time I retrieve the OP using A T. Now the article appears blue
with an 'O'. '!'ing it works. ESC g once more and it is still there.

Can you see that the user interface has some potential for
improvements?

But I am not sure what the best improvement would be. Gnus is a quite
large program with an incredible array of functions, and a specialised
vocabulary is hard to aviod (or avoiding could be a cure worse than
the problem).  Perhaps some additions to the index would be nice, and
more additions to the glossary.  Probably the entire terminology could
use a rework aiming at making gnus more accessible to newcomers.  That
will certainly put off most old-timers, as to them, all these words
mean just the right thing. After all, Gnus is for its current users,
not for luring random strangers into the fellowship?
 
[snip]
> >    c. Some days ago I decided to read to some depth about "scoring" to
> >       find out what it is, and what that is good for.  After several
> >       hours it dawns on me that perhaps it is way of making gnus guess
> >       what articles I would like to see, and suppress others.  Cool.
> >       Why must it take so long to find out?
> 
> Think about its purpose -- it is trying to rank articles for you. Even

How can I think about its purpose before I have discovered it?
While the gnus manual goes on and on with pages on how to score, they
seem to forget to tell why I should take any interest in this scoring.

Since I first wrote my questions I have found something readable about
it in the manual, but my point remains that the index does not take me
to that page, and the glossary, well, the glossary... Besides, For a
newcomer it is not quite revealing to read that articles with a low
score are marked as read. It would be clearer to say articles with a
low score are normally hidden, but can be fetched the same way as
articles that have been read.

> if you had a human doing that for you you would have trouble
> explaining what you liked and what you didn't. The complexity is in
> the user's preferences, and so the facility that attempts to support
> those preferences will probably be complex.

Agreed! Scoring seems to be a very clever way of telling gnus about my
preferences.  Especially because I hardly know myself what my
preferences are.  I will hopefully discover more about my own
preferences in the process of scoring.

> >    d. Have I found out?
> 
> Impossible to tell. Start using it if you need to. I would suggest you
> don't use it at first, however. In general you won't have a good idea
> of your own preferences until you've been reading news for a little while.

I meant: Am I correct when believing the purpose of scoring mechanism
is to have gnus suppress some articles so I can spend my time with
others that hopefully interest me more?  At the time of writing this
was a mere guess.

 
> >    e. While reading about scoring there are some uses of another word,
> >       "kill".  What's that? 
> 
> A very primitive means of ranking. When you configure gnus to kill
> articles of a certain kind it marks them as read immediately and by
> default you never see them.

Would 'hide' be a better word? I think I have seen 'hide' somewhere in
the menus or elsewhere, what is that, then?

[snip]
> > 2. I would like to have newly arrived articles added to the summary
> >    buffer without deleting the existing threads, because I want to be
> >    able to go back and reread earlier articles in the thread. I have
> >    seen there are some commands to fetch thread or fetch related
> >    articles, but I think I would be most comfortable if the thread
> >    hierarchy remained stable modulo additions. (Additions should stand
> >    out somehow.)  Is there a way to do that?
> 
> It depends what you want to remain visible. It's not exactly clear.

I want the summary buffer to stay as it was the instant before I used
the command I am asking for, except that some new lines are added at
the appropriate places, depending on the current threading in force.

> If new articles appear in a thread, gnus will group them together and
> you'll still have a thread. 

All by themselves? Or do I have to execute somme command?

> To retrieve the old articles is easy: `^'
> to get the parent, and `A t' to get the whole thread once you're at
> the root article. It's difficult to see what advantage there would be
> in having the old article headers listed in the summary buffer, unless
> you *really* like seeing the posters' names, because the subject is
> almost always the same for the whole thread. 

The names and the shape of the thread both contribute to remind me
what that thread was about, and who is this name that is now writing
another followup. Sometimes there are contributors that write numerous
followups explaining that they have been right all the time and all
other contributors are just misunderstanding them... So I might want
to see if the newest followup is from the same person, or is it just a
similar name. (I have trouble making the details of the names stick in
my poor brain.)

> If, instead, what you're
> interested in is the `shape' of the thread with the new articles
> incorporated, you may like something like this:
> 
> (setq gnus-summary-make-false-root nil)
> (setq gnus-build-sparse-threads 'some)

Thanks, I will explore these

> which goes in your .gnus file.
> 
> > 3. If my dream (see 2.) comes true, it could easily become my
> >    nightmare unless I am still able to throw out old stuff.  How can I
> >    do that without throwing out the dream as well?
> 
> This isn't really how news works. The articles are always available
> until the *server* `throws them out' (expires them). What you and gnus
> have control over is the display of the summary buffer.

always available from the server, yes, but if I cannot see them, how
can I ask for them?

On the other hand, if I have my dream come true about a stable thread
"geometry", I also need a way to say ok, now I am really finished with
these articles.

> > 4. I would especially like to keep threads that I have contributed to
> >    easily available across restarts of emacs/gnus.
> 
> Again it depends what you mean by `keep'. Perhaps you should tick such
> articles so they always display whenever you enter the group.

Tick == '!' ? Yes, that seems to be an answer. Is there a way to have
Gnus automatically tick articles written by me?

[snip]
> 
> Cheers,
> 
>         - Joel

Many thanks for the answers!

Regards
Enrique


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