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For 2023 - we are now fully retired from IT training.
We have made many, many friends over 25 years of teaching about Python, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, Java, C and C++ - and MySQL, Linux and Solaris/SunOS too. Our training notes are now very much out of date, but due to upward compatability most of our examples remain operational and even relevant ad you are welcome to make us if them "as seen" and at your own risk.

Lisa and I (Graham) now live in what was our training centre in Melksham - happy to meet with former delegates here - but do check ahead before coming round. We are far from inactive - rather, enjoying the times that we are retired but still healthy enough in mind and body to be active!

I am also active in many other area and still look after a lot of web sites - you can find an index ((here))
Flying tonight

Have you ever checked in at an airport, prior to an overnight flight to the UK ... wandered up to the departure lounge, and looked around at your fellow travelers. The more there are, the more crowded the plane. And perhaps you've unfairly stereotyped them too - thinking that the families with young children running around are going to be disruptive, and the people who don't fit into a single seat in the waiting area probably won't fit into a single seat on the plane. And as the crowd grows, you're beginning to realise that it's likely to be 'every seat taken'.

Two thirds of passengers are male - [ref] and that can be up to 80% on business flights [ref]. Passengers on business flights tend to be a little older too [ref] - two thirds over the age of 35. So the stunning young lady, seated on her own and waiting to board the Mexico City to London flight I took in August was certainly not "your regular traveler". I will admit to thinking to myself "goodness - I wonder if she's on our flight" and decided that she was probably going somewhere far warmer than Gatwick; those shorts would be really cold in England, even in high summer.

Well ... it turned out that she was on our flight, and indeed was seated next to me ("oh good - she'll fit into just one seat, even in economy") ... and during the flight, I learned once again not apply a set of stereotyping rules - all you can get is a general overview, and not anything specific. That must be left until you know the individual better.

On forums, such as the Coffee Shop, we have a hierarchy of members - from guests and newbies through to senior and hero members. A handful of members are invited to become moderators - primary function to greet newcomers and provide helpful information, secondary function to keep eyes and ears open and offer a gently restraining influence (or less gentle on rare occasions when 'gentle' doesn't work). And from that handful, there are a couple of administrators who are all-powerful, but trusted and mature to the full extent that the forum owner knows they will always act well even in the heat of the moment.

But as well as that formal heirarcy, there's an informal one too. There are junior members who are regarded as oracles well above their formal rank, there are members (such as myself) who have a very patchy knowledge and will ask "should know better" questions, and there are others who will lead, and others listen, in the same formal rank. And it's all the more startling when you look to compare statistics like the average time on the site per post made, and the proportion of posts that are topic starters v follow ups.

As a moderator, I have to take the formal hierarchy into account as I follow up posts - blow a gentle not of caution, answer a question. But should I take regard of the informal too? Now that is a difficult question.

On one hand, I should treat everyone as an individual case, but on the other hand the rules and direction should be equally applied. The question arose again this evening, with a report of a follow up post that verged on being a personal attack on a fellow member. But then looking to see which member was the 'victim', I found that it was a member who almost courts controversy at times, and has let me know "I can look after myself - you don't need to step in on my behalf" in the past? My decision? To post a follow up on the thread. To indicate that it was getting near to the limits, and that it had been noted (and reported). Letting the posters know that they shouldn't go much further.

Would I have made the same decision if the instigator wasn't XxxxxxXxxxx but Zzz? Probably not; I would have come down somewhat harder on the originator of the reported post - but then, such are forum metrics, I doubt whether he WOULD have gone anywhere near a personal attack on Zzz. Such is the informal hierarchy and the closed loop of relationships that everyone feeds and grows on.

But why did my 'incident' this evening remind me of Gisela? Was it her Risotto recipe? No ... the young lady was traveling on her own to London to complete her doctorate on formal and informal hierarchies within on line communities - and I couldn't help being reminded of one of the most interesting and technical / web conversations I have ever had on a transatlantic flight. I hope her thesis is going well, and that our little community, should she have looked at it at all, is seen in a positive light. I suspect she has looked - she was telling me (once she knew I was into the rail thing) about how few trains stop at her local station of St John's ... and I was telling her that when I used that line as a child, there were four platforms and not two ... but tat the place was still missed out by an awful lot of services that stopped at all the OTHER stations on the line.
(written 2009-12-05, updated 2009-12-10)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G903 - Well House Consultants - Running and moderating forums and social media sites
  [22] Falling out over the silliest things - (2004-08-21)
  [29] Silence is Golden - (2004-08-26)
  [115] Expiration dates or times on web pages - (2004-11-12)
  [130] Spelling and grammar - (2004-11-25)
  [204] The confidence to allow public comments - (2005-02-06)
  [231] Feedback as lifeblood - (2005-02-28)
  [248] Use me, but use me effectively - (2005-03-16)
  [424] How not to run a forum - (2005-08-24)
  [516] Open source questions? Anyone can ask. - (2005-12-03)
  [651] Please Register with Opentalk - but just once! - (2006-03-19)
  [806] Check your user is human. Have him retype a word in a graphic - (2006-07-17)
  [828] Freedom of speech and freedom to post - (2006-08-10)
  [841] Forum help - a push in the right direction - (2006-08-21)
  [919] Freedom for X is denial of privacy for Y - (2006-11-09)
  [923] Why shouldn't I spam? - (2006-11-13)
  [948] Running an on line campaign - (2006-11-27)
  [1088] Why use BBC code not HTML? - (2007-02-21)
  [1190] Save the Forum - A regular clean sweep - (2007-05-17)
  [1362] No Thank You - (2007-09-23)
  [1472] The Horse goes on and on - (2007-12-15)
  [1485] Copyright and theft of images, bandwidth and members. - (2007-12-26)
  [1523] Ive just received an email from myself. Should I be worried? - (2008-01-29)
  [1532] Comment spam blocked. Please comment via Forums - (2008-02-05)
  [1539] A forum is not always the best vehicle - (2008-02-14)
  [1563] Guidlines for posting on a forum - (2008-03-04)
  [1569] I dont care - goodbye - (2008-03-09)
  [1578] Please don't shout at me! - (2008-03-16)
  [1595] First Great Western Weekend - (2008-03-30)
  [1678] Software - changes and delays. But courses must run on time! - (2008-06-15)
  [1759] While the world sleeps ... - (2008-08-19)
  [1923] Making it all worthwhile - (2008-12-04)
  [1972] Pettifog and forum boards away from public view - (2009-01-03)
  [2103] Ask the Tutor - Open Source forum - (2009-03-25)
  [2116] Why do we delay new forum members through authorisation? - (2009-04-03)
  [2156] Stopping forum spam - control of the signup process - (2009-05-04)
  [2162] Admins thoughts on banning a member from a forum - (2009-05-09)
  [2177] Preventing forum spam - checks at sign up - (2009-05-12)
  [2254] Forum membership - a privilege not a right - (2009-06-22)
  [2386] Computing under the influence of alcohol - (2009-08-29)
  [2526] A reluctance to move from old shoes to new - (2009-12-05)
  [2569] How to run a successful online poll / petition / survey / consultation - (2010-01-10)
  [2781] The 500 pound question to get you started - (2010-05-26)
  [2820] Netiquette for forum newcomers - (2010-06-20)
  [3479] Practical Extraction and Reporting - using Python and Extreme Programming - (2011-10-14)
  [3910] Identifying your real customers and keeping them well informed fast - (2012-11-02)
  [4017] Acceptable User Policy / vexatious interacter - (2013-02-24)
  [4025] Backups, Codebase, Strategy and more - dealing with forum incidents - (2013-03-03)
  [4065] Handling requests to a forum - the background process - (2013-04-17)
  [4234] Change to Libel and Defamation laws from 1st January 2014 - (2013-12-31)
  [4239] Facebook marketing - early experiences - (2014-01-19)
  [4283] Can a legitimate forum post become illegal a year later? - (2014-07-11)
  [4307] Identifying and clearing denial of service attacks on your Apache server - (2014-09-27)
  [4315] Welcoming genuine forum posters quickly - but turning away off topic advertisers - (2014-11-16)
  [4403] The unbalanced relationship between customer and provider - (2015-01-21)
  [4492] Almost so wrong, but perhaps it's right for some? - (2015-05-11)

Back to
A reluctance to move from old shoes to new
Previous and next
Horse's mouth home
Forward to
Melksham Christmas Lights
Some other Articles
Melksham - new Tuesday Market
Taking a knock over Santa
Santa Special, 2009
Melksham Christmas Lights
Flying tonight
Using JSPs, Tag Libraries, Java Beans, Tomcat in one short example
An update on legal changes from the FSB?
Plan your application before you start
Integrated public Transport - what could be done for Melksham
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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