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Re: Terminology questions + fetch more articles wishlist

From: Joel Reicher
Subject: Re: Terminology questions + fetch more articles wishlist
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 17:39:56 -0000
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3

address@hidden (Enrique Perez-Terron) writes:

> > 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'.

Pretty much. :)

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

Various ways.

`P' will proceed through previous read articles. If it's done at the
top of the summary buffer, it will retrieve currently undisplayed
articles from the server. I think it goes backwards by article number,
and so the ordering of retrieval will be a little
artibrary. Nonetheless, it will thread as it goes, incorporating newly
displayed articles into existing threads.

`^', as I've already said, will retrieve the parent of the current
article. `A T' will retrieve the whole `sub-thread' of the current

>From the group buffer, entering a group which has no unread or ticked
articles will display (or offer to display) all of the articles that
exist on the server for that group. This effect can be asked for
explicitly by prefixing the group-entering keystroke with C-u, and
optionally the number of articles to display. There are different
effects for positive and negative numbers. See the info file in the
group buffer section.

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

Typically, you do this from the group buffer by pressing `g'. I'm
beginning to suspect you want to leave gnus sitting in the summary
buffer, however. My understanding is that this use is not typical --
people usually read (and switch between) many different groups.

> Is there a menu entry for this?

I don't know. I don't use the menu. :)

> 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?

The latter will not check to see if there are new articles, I
think. You should use `C-h f' to see what emacs functions do. It's
*very* useful.

Also, I hope you're not using these function names to invoke the
function. Nearly all of this is bound to keystrokes.

> 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.

There are many ways to get information about a function or
keystroke. In general they are *emacs* facilities, however, so you
should familiarise yourself with emacs (I'm talking about stuff like
`C-h c', `C-h k', `C-h C-f', etc.).

> (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'. 

Most posters will include enough context/quoted text from the article
being followed up. If they don't, use `^'. If there are no followups,
surely there's no need to worry at all? :)

If you still are worried about the absence of followups, that's a
strong hint you were interested in the original article for its own
sake, and you should probably tick it, or somesuch.

> 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?

News is more, umm, `distributed' than you might think. As I suggested
in my other post, you should read about news in general to understand
these kinds of effects.

> 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?

M-g is actually exiting the group, doing a `g', and reentering the
group, so the newly regenerated summary buffer won't display articles
you've now read.

You can probably rely on gnus not to fail to display unread articles
(hmm, too many negations there...).

> 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.

Perhaps you can suggest how it could be described more clearly?

> 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.

You can't mark `negative' articles. If I've understood it correctly,
since gnus retrieves the parent according to message-id, it doesn't
know the article number the server has given this article, so it
`invents' an article number, and this number is negative. Marks,
however, have to correspond to the numbering the server uses, so it's
pointless to mark articles that have been incorporated into the
summary this way.

The only way around this that I can think of is to get all of the
articles in the group by entering it with a C-u prefix, or at the very
least enough of the old articles that the thread is covered. This is,
after all, pretty much what `A T' has to do for it to work.

Alternatively, do you *really* need to do this? Can't you just tick
the child article and retrieve the parent with `^' every time you want
to re-read it?

> > 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.

I think the manual presupposes knowledge of what a killfile is.

> 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.

There's a difference between `limiting' (hiding), and marking as read.

The score is just some metadata associated with the article. It could
probably be used to do almost anything in the summary buffer.

> > >    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.

I'd say that's about it, yes.

> > >    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?

No, limiting is different. I'm a little hazy on the difference though.

> > > 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?

You can use scoring to pick out articles written by you and their
followups, but I don't think it's possible to tick or otherwise mark
the article at the time of posting, because the newsreader won't know
the article number until it's been retrieved from the server after


        - Joel

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