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Re: Idea for determining what users use

From: Kim F. Storm
Subject: Re: Idea for determining what users use
Date: 31 May 2003 01:47:49 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50

The more I think about this proposal, the more I dislike it.

So if I have a vote on this, it's a definite NO.

For the un-informed public (read journalists, m$-evangelists, etc),
putting such a feature into emacs could be used to bad-mouth the
GNU project for installing "SPY-ware" on the users' systems.

Furthermore, I think the benefits of the proposed features are very
limited, and that our efforts are better spent on new features.  As
Stefan has pointed out, there's already a warning if people are using
a package in the obsolete directory -- I think that's the right
approach: Tell the user that the feature is considered obsolete, 
so if he disagrees, he should send us a bug-report.

There are some technical problems with the "simple approach" too:

How are we going to present the question to someone who upgrades
from an older version of emacs who loads one of the obsolete features?
I guess he will presented with the question after loading of his
emacs is complete.  That adds further complexity if he has loaded
multiple obsolete packages.

And we don't really get realiable measurements this way either:

Consider a user who finds a feature that we have marked obsolete and
decides to try it out ... SURPRISE, he's asked whether he wants to
send mail to the emacs team about actively using this feature ...

Well, he hasn't had a chance to try it yet, so he may do one of
four things:

1) Answer yes (causing the mail to be sent), and actually like
   the feature, so he continues to use it.

2) Answer yes (causing the mail to be sent), but then finds
   the feature is useless, so he doesn't actually use it.

3) Answer no -- because he's doesn't want us to spy on him.
   And maybe be aggrevated at the same time...

4) Answer no -- because he doesn't know whether he's going to use it
   yet, but he intends to tell us the next time he loads the feature
   if he likes it.  But I assume that we are not going to ask him
   again (because we wrote something in his .emacs).

That means that only in one of four cases do we get a useful
answer, and probably get a number of false answers too ....

And then there's the problem of not being able to send mail from
emacs in some setups.

Finally, what if only one or two users report using a specific feature
-- is that enough "audience" to keep an obsolete feature?

Richard Stallman <address@hidden> writes:

> We have no good way to determine if anyone still uses a feature.
> Maybe we can create one.
> Imagine a function called note-feature-used.
> You call it like this:  (note-feature-used 'foo "Foo").
> The first time you call it, it sends mail to
> address@hidden with subject Foo,
> asking you for permission to send it,
> and it records (setq foo t) in your .emacs file.
> If you call it again, it does nothing.
> We could put these calls into various files and functions 
> in order to find out (after the next release) whether anyone uses them.
> _______________________________________________
> Emacs-devel mailing list
> address@hidden
> http://mail.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/emacs-devel

Kim F. Storm <address@hidden> http://www.cua.dk

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