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RE: [Axiom-developer] Re: Mixing up variables: (was Re: conditionallydef

From: Bill Page
Subject: RE: [Axiom-developer] Re: Mixing up variables: (was Re: conditionallydefined functions)
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 11:51:37 -0400

On Friday, September 24, 2004 6:14 AM Martin Rubey wrote: 
> although I really (really, really) like mathaction and I'm 
> impatiently awaiting the point were the documentation effort
> gets started there,

I hear you.

> I do believe that it cannot serve as a replacement for the
> mailing list.

But it does function (in principle) in exactly the same way,
don't you agree?

In any case, since you and I seem to be the only ones who
really care about this right now and there are some technical
limitations that make it less than ideal, I think I will take
your advice and not link MathAction and the axiom-developer
mailing list at this time. In the mean time, provided that one
is also subscribed to MathAction, then simply including


in the Cc list will send a copy to the [Axiom-developer] page
on MathAction. If the sender is not subscribed, then currently
the ZWiki mailin procedure will ignore the incoming mail. This
is configurable security policy. If we wanted we could relax this
restriction so that any email sent by anyone to the above address
would be automatically archived somewhere on MathAction (attached
to wiki page [xxx] based on [xxx] in the subject line if present).

> On the other hand, you do have a point regarding "keeping a
> record of the discussion". Thus, I promise to try the following
> in the future:
> As soon as I realize that I can somehow "classify" a discussion,
> I'll create a page and continue the discussion there. (The
> prerequisite is that the discussion gets its "own" page.
> I will detail this below.)

I didn't see quite enough details below, but I think this might
be hard to achieve. Right now it is only possible for MathAction
to direct a message to a specific page in the wiki based on the
occurrence of [xxxxx] in the subject line. Messages distributed
via the axiom-developer mailing list automatically have
[Axiom-developer] added to the subject line and so if mathaction
is included in the mailing list (either by subscription or via
Cc, as in the case of this and a few previous messages), it will
only attach the email as a comment to the page [Axiom-developer].
It is only a coincidence that [xxxx] is used in both systems,
albeit for different purposes.

> On the other hand, I do *not* like the idea of having *all* 
> of axiom-developer copied to mathaction. I cannot really say why,
> it is a (probably completely irrational) feeling. Maybe it does
> have to do with some sort of privacy.

Well, as a physicist it seems that I am often in the position of
having to remind myself that it is user *perceptions* and not
facts that determine how users behave. :) You realize, of course
that email via the axiom-developer mailing list is also archived
and (quite) easily accessible via the web even for people who are
not subscribed to axiom-developer? In MathAction the situation
does seem to emphasize the web interface first with the ability to
subscribe and act like a mailing list as a secondary feature. But
really they are essential the same.

Lately I seem to be dealing more and more with the fact that
people view interaction via the web (as in the case of a wiki)
quite differently than they view material that is delivered and
distributed via email. This currently seems to be a major
obstacle to implementing active collaboration via the web. :(
> By the way, there is one big difference in style regarding 
> email exchange and mathaction exchange: When I reply to an
> email, I *always* quote the text I comment on. Since this
> produces a lot of text, I anticipate that the mathaction
> page will rapidly become difficult to read. Thus, it will be 
> necessary, that the discussion topic has its own page. Then
> all the replies will be at the bottom of the page and won't
> disturb the "expository" part too much.

As I mentioned above I don't yet know how to achieve this
technically. Perhaps a change to the way ZWiki directs incoming
email would be required. In the mean time to achieve what you
want would require the active attention of someone to edit
the [Axiom-developer] wiki page.

> There is another important detail: I think it is *very* 
> important to summarize the discussion from time to time,
> and for a "clean" look, I'd like to remove the exchange then.
> So, unless the discussion is copied (CC'd) to one of the
> mailing lists, it will be lost.

Well, the general idea would be that the axiom-developer
mail list *also* be subscribed to the MathAction wiki. But
without some careful changes to the ZWiki mailin procedure,
this would create a disastrous email loop! Right now we can
have mathaction subscribed to axiom-developer *or* axiom-
developer subscribed to MathAction but not both.
> It remains to say thank you once more for MathAction,
> Martin
> PS: How're pamphlets going?

Maybe later this weekend on

Later on Friday, September 24, 2004 6:28 AM Martin Rubey
> Hmmm, another detail:
> Martin Rubey writes:
> > 
> > There is another important detail: I think it is *very* 
> > important to summarize the discussion from time to time,
> > and for a "clean" look, I'd like to remove the exchange
> > then. So, unless the discussion is copied (CC'd) to one
> > of the mailing lists, it will be lost.
> If we do this, I'll get each message roughly four times:
> once because I regularly forget to erase my name from the
> CC list, twice because it goes to axiom-developer or the like
> thrice because the page axiom-developer on mathaction is changed
> four times because the specific discussion page is changed.
> (But I do want to subscribe to mathaction as a whole...)

I see this same problem.

I suppose that *if* we did link MathAction directly to
axiom-developer mailing list, then it would make sense to
subscribe to only MathAction, and for most users specifically
the [Axiom-developer] page, since everything would be directed
there. Ideally there would be a way for topics to automatically
branch off to their own wiki pages and some way to manage the

But my summary would be this: "If it ain't broke, let's try
to avoid fixing it ..."  :) We will leave things as they are
now for the time being.

Bill Page.

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