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RE: Info tutorial is out of date

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Info tutorial is out of date
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2006 10:33:42 -0700

    > Another in the Mouseless-That-Roared camp, eh? A small, but very vocal
    > and militant minority, apparently. Vent against he who seems to speak
    > for the lousy moused masses of nasty newbies. It's OK; I can take it;
    > I have to, for the noobs' sake ;-).

    Well, there are about 100 people on the Emacs project list, and 3 have
    taken exception to your m[o]usings.  Even assuming the other ~97, none
    of whom has yet voiced an opinion on the matter, are confirmed habitual
    mousers, that leaves 3% of users as mouse haters.  The point is, you
    don't have any decent statistics and neither do I.

1. I'm *not* a mouser. Except to click links sometimes, I use keys in Info
(and Emacs). This is not about what I use or what you use or 27% or 97% of
emacs-devel use; it is about how best to teach newbies about Info.

2. Most people never speak up on an issue. That doesn't say anything about
where they stand on the issue, or even if they care about it at all.

3. If mouse vs keyboard practices are relevant to this discussion at all
(it's a discussion about the Info tutorial, remember?), then the users to
measure are *not* the 100 emacs-devel subscribers. People who don't use
Emacs, and Emacs newbies, are the target audience for the tutorial, not us.
This is an important point - what you or I do daily with mice and keyboards
is unimportant (irrelevant) to the design of the tutorial. The tutorial is
not for us.

4. The reaction to my post from 3 people who don't use a mouse was all about
*them*, not about the target tutorial community. It was all about their own
anti-mousing, and ~zero about the ideas in my post for improving the
tutorial. IOW, their own anti-mouse button got pushed somehow, and any real
debate on the ideas I raised was drowned.

I'm glad, BTW, that I don't often use the mouse, myself; otherwise, I might
have felt targeted by the reaction and tried to defend mousing as somehow
superior (which it is not). As it is, I know your reaction is misplaced. I
only wish the real issues were discussed, if there is disagreement on those.

5. I raised lots of ideas about emphasizing the important Info stuff. People
don't need to agree with all of those ideas, but there was little uptake on
them, except from RMS (and, later, from Thi). Does lack of response to my
main suggestions mean that 100% (minus RMS and I) don't support the ideas? I
don't think you can fairly reason that way.

Mousing or not seems to be a hot-button issue for those who don't use a
mouse. To me, it is a non-issue. I don't promote use of the mouse, and I am
all for recommending in the tutorial (and elsewhere) that newbies learn to
use keyboard commands.

You missed the point - it's about *what Info is about*, and it's not about
`n', `p', `u', and `d'. It's about finding information. The easiest and
quickest way we can bring newbies to the real information is what we should
aim for. Teaching `n' etc. up front is a wasteful distraction from the real

    > Next week I'll do battle with those (even more ferocious) who hold
    > that only UPPERCASE characters are pure, clear, truthful, and
    > sufficient; lowercase being but a lying distraction designed to take
    > our focus off the true aim of STRUGGLE against the dominance of
    > MongrelMulattoMixedCharacterism. Compared to the luddite lowercasians,
    > the mighty mouseless are a small piece of cake (or is it cheese?).

    Drew, you've hit a raw nerve.  Whether one uses a mouse extensively or
    not is a highly emotional thing, on a par with whether one uses
    Microsoft Windows XP rather than GNU/Linux.  Your original post was a
    rant, and you used lots of loaded words and phrases (like "shortcut").
    You shouldn't be too surprised at getting flamed a little bit.

I don't care if I'm flamed; I enjoyed the exchange, as entertainment.

My original post was not at all a rant; the fact that you see it that way
says something about your hot button.

My followup posts to your rants were sardonic and meant to be humorous. But
I'm not on a rant to promote mice - far from it. I have nothing I'm pushing
here; even my suggestions for the tutorial are offered with no special drive
behind them.

Key bindings *are* shortcuts - what's wrong with that? 1) They are commonly
called "keyboard shortcuts" by many people. 2) They are shorter (quicker) to
use than clicking menus and links with a mouse - don't you agree? They are
shorter (quicker) than using `M-x' - don't you agree? What is it about
"shortcut" that sets you off?

    I think there are a lot more pure keyboard users out there than you do.

Who knows? I tried to offer some objective info - do you have something to
add to that?

Keep in mind that the audience to be measured for mouse/keyboard use is not
the members of emacs-devel, or even the users of Emacs; it is the non-users
and the new users of Emacs, for the most part.

    I also think that not encouraging frivolous mouse use is a Good Thing.

I'm not encouraging mouse use, "frivolous" or otherwise. I proposed that we
get to the heart of the teaching matter in Info right away, using the
obvious tools available that everyone knows how to use: links and buttons. I
didn't weigh in on the keyboard vs mouse issue at all - I didn't even know
there was such an issue - it's your hot button, not mine. I mentioned
mouse-usage statistics in my followup to your rant because I think it's a
mistake to orient the entire Info tutorial to the use patterns of a tiny

I don't mind accomodating that minority (and I suggested a couple ways that
could be done); what I object to is hijacking the tutorial, distracting
learners from the subject at hand - which is what Info is.

(Yes, "hijacking" is inexact here, since the tutorial already has that
orientation. But it has that orientation, IIUC, only for historical reasons,
not because emacs-devel decided that keyboard shortcuts `n', `p' etc were
the most important thing to teach first.)

I don't see the point in making the first half of the Info tutorial a battle
for keyboardism against creeping mousism. Get the new users to the info on
Info right away. Bring them to keyboard heaven afterward.

    I'm not going through the rest of your reply in detail, because that
    would just get repetitive, bore everybody to tears and make us both
    unpopular on the list.

Thank you.

    Suffice it to say I agree with your main points,
    those which weren't about WIMPs and mice vs. real men.

Thank you again. Perhaps we can discuss the details - of disagreement, for
example - of the main points.

    > So let's spruce it.

    Glad to end on a not[e] of agreement.  :-)

As am I.

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