«« The Path Forks Thanks, Everyone »»
blog header image
Noise on PlanetEclipse

As PlanetEclipse gets larger it will get harder to sift through all of the blog posts that fly by every day. It's just a simple scaling problem.

After a few weeks of watching the site, I'm noticing that there are quite a few posts that aren't related to Eclipse on PlanetEclipse. This makes it even harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. With this kind of signal noise the scaling problem will only get worse. I'm not sure that we were completely clear about the kinds of things that were intended to appear on the PlanetEclipse site but maybe now is a good time to do that.

Hey Ed, maybe PlanetEclipse needs some brief and informal posting guidelines? Or at the very least ask people politely to submit a separate RSS/Atom feed of posts only in their Eclipse-related categories, instead of their normal blog feed with everything. That's what I did and it's quite easy to do with a blogging tool like Movable Type.

If you've submitted your blog on PlanetEclipse and need help getting an Eclipse-only RSS or Atom feed set up, I'd be happy to help. Just give me a shout.

Just to be clear: if the unwritten rule is that anything goes on PlanetEclipse then that's cool with me. I just think we should say that somewhere, so that people know what to expect.

At the same time, after a certain amount of growth I think it will be harder and harder to extract value from the site if it continues along its current path. That's just my opinion and there are precedents. The same thing happened with Microsoft's blog aggregators last year: they just became bloated and generally useless.

Posted at May 20, 2005 at 10:44 AM EST
Last updated May 20, 2005 at 10:44 AM EST

I think the signal to noise ration is actually very good.
The best one can do is encourage people to have an eclipse specific rss feed.

» Posted by: RefuX at May 20, 2005 11:20 AM

I agree: the ratio is quite good right now. The site is very useful.

I'm just worried what will happen when PlanetEclipse has ten times as many feeds pouring into it. Given the current rate of growth that might be a lot sooner than we think.

» Posted by: Ryan at May 20, 2005 11:25 AM

I was thinking the same thing about Eclipse specific RSS feeds when I was trying to determine the connection between Star Wars and Eclipse.

If the noise ratio rises too high I will stop reading, and I'm sure others will too.

» Posted by: Alex at May 20, 2005 11:46 AM

Yep, I completely agree -- the only reason to read PlanetEclipse is for the Eclipse news...

» Posted by: Rich at May 20, 2005 12:28 PM

I agree with this. Personally I would have liked to limit planeteclipse.org feeds to Eclipse committers, contributors and Foundation staff, because those are the atricles I feel add value to planeteclipse.org. If you agree with this, feel free to open a bug (https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs) so others can comment/vote.

I will start enforcing Eclipse-only feeds, and I will remove any non eclipse-related posts without notice. Otherwise, as others have suggested, PlanetEclipse will be useless.

Thanks for the suggestion, Ryan.

» Posted by: Denis Roy at May 20, 2005 12:36 PM


Thanks for posting this. I agree that we should ask for Eclispe specific feeds. I think we should leave it up to the blogger to determine what is appropriate for Eclipse.


» Posted by: Ian Skerrett at May 20, 2005 12:49 PM

Denis, I'm thinking that making PlanetEclipse for Eclipse Foundation staff *only* might be a bad idea. I like the concept of PlanetEclipse being a "meeting place" for Eclipse Foundation staff and the user community (remember, PlanetEclipse started with only users). A mix is a good way to start constructive conversation between Eclipse committers, staff members and the users as a community of stakeholders.

Maybe you could have a separate "planet" or aggregation with only Eclipse Foundation staff members in another area/URL. But I would still prefer to see the mixed staff/user version as the primary PlanetEclipse.

» Posted by: Ryan at May 20, 2005 01:12 PM

>I'm thinking that making PlanetEclipse for Eclipse Foundation staff *only* might be a bad idea.

Actually, my suggestion was "Eclipse committers, contributors and Foundation staff".

What happens when PlanetEclipse becomes an aggregate of 10,000 blogs, composed of 5 foundation members, 30 committers and 9965 ordinary users? I agree that userland Eclipse blogs are useful/interesting, but after a while they will overpower PlanetEclipse.

With the current setup, it's not a matter of /if/ PlanetEclipse becomes too crowded to be useful, but /when/.

This is only my personal opinion. I like reading the posts from Eclipse committers and from Ian, Mike and Ed because I feel like I'm getting some "interesting inside information" right from behind-the-scenes, whereas reading posts on how one person uses RCP to do XYZ, or that "SWT sucks" would be best handled by planetrcp.org or planetswt.org, because they are communities in and of themselves.

» Posted by: Denis Roy at May 20, 2005 01:48 PM

Very true, Denis. I guess the first step is recognizing the potential problem ... and then figuring out how we could deal with it.

» Posted by: Ryan at May 20, 2005 03:12 PM

Just for the record, Denis runs planet eclipse, not me. I kind of enjoy the occasional off topic post, like the Star Wars one, but that's just my opinion. At the top of the page it says "Planet Eclipse is a window into the world, work and lives of Eclipse hackers and contributors." Unless you work and live at eclipse.org, then that's more than just Eclipse.

» Posted by: Ed Burnette at May 20, 2005 10:19 PM

I think it would be a good idea to keep the entries to being Eclipse-related. Because that is what people typically come to PlanetEclipse for: to read what is new and interesting about Eclipse.

Also, it might be good to limit the entries to 100 or 200 words. That way, an article wouldn't dominate a reader's screen. I've seen other aggregators which do this automatically.

It is important to have the user community, as that is where the Eclipse rubber meets the user road. Its good to get feedback from people who actually do use Eclipse because without the users, there isn't much of a community, no matter how large the Foundation itself (including committers) is.

BTW, if anyone needs help with filtering their feeds, I've got a program that filters my TypePad feed, which is hosted, so that it only contains Eclipse-related entries.

» Posted by: Luis de la Rosa at May 20, 2005 10:41 PM

I'm not too familiar with PlanetEclipse, but if posts are getting off-topic, or you're tired of reading stuff that just isn't really that interesting, them some sort of moderationg scheme, ala slashdot, may be needed. This way, if someone posts stuff about how swt sucks, then it can be modded down, and you don't have to worry about seeing it. Also, stuff that is interesting, and pertinent, will get modded up, and will be easier to find. Just a thought. I'm not familiar with planet eclipse, so I'm not sure how well it would work. But I know that it works somewhat well for Slashdot.

» Posted by: Kibbee at May 22, 2005 02:26 PM

It's hard to get that managed. In the times I managed planet-eclipse.org I tried it using filter rules for those that did not provide an Eclipse specific category. I also remember that I had a specific STOP rule for product/plug-in anouncements not related to Eclipse.org. However, filter rules are easy to cheat if the blogger wants it.

BTW, we should continue to discuss this on https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=96264.

» Posted by: Gunnar at May 23, 2005 02:09 AM

Denis said: "Actually, my suggestion was 'Eclipse committers, contributors and Foundation staff'."

Planet Eclipse started as a community site and now you'd prefer to shut the user side of the community out? Sure, that might give a higher concentration of 'interesting' content but you're excluding a whole group of people. I agree that volume will be a problem in the future if we keep adding "regular users". I'm not sure how to handle that.

When I said "noise" I was referring to non-Eclipse posts -- not posts from uninteresting people, or people that aren't in the "club". On a community site where opinions are respected, everyone should have equal footing. Otherwise you've got something completely different with different results ... you're broadcasting instead of discussing.

The reason I'm making a bit of a fuss about it is that I don't think the people that came up with the Planet Eclipse idea had that kind of exclusion in mind. But I don't speak for them, I'd rather they spoke for themselves.

I don't like the idea of changing the tone of Planet Eclipse so drastically now. But in reality it's being run by the Foundation, and you guys can do whatever you want with it.

If the Foundation wants to have a place to *broadcast* the opinions of staff/contributors/committers I encourage that (and I would probably read it). But this exclusive group is in the minority of the whole community and that kind of site would have a completely different impact and function.

The Foundation could make that kind of aggregation site somewhere else instead under the banner of a "community site" like Planet Eclipse. Like what Microsoft has done with the MSDN blogs.

After reading blogs and community sites for years, that's just my opinion.

» Posted by: Ryan at May 24, 2005 09:38 AM

Ryan, I agree with you 100%; On one hand I want everyone to participate but on the other hand if everyone participates we'll have too much information. What to do, oh what to do...

Thanks for opening up the bug, Gunnar. I agree with you that maintaining filters is a) time consuming and b) easy to defeat, and these are the main reasons why we won't filter any posts on our end.

I'll post something on planeteclipse.org inviting community feedback via the bug. In the end, it's never my decision or the Foundation's, but the community's decision as a whole.

» Posted by: Denis Roy at May 24, 2005 11:34 AM
Search scope: Web ryanlowe.ca