Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

A comment on the pace of macosxhints... Site News
Most of you have probably noticed that the pace of new hints has slowed down over the last month or two. Where there used to be 10 or more hints published daily, now you're seeing four or six or perhaps even fewer. To stave off the already received (and more expected) "Why aren't you publishing as many hints?" questions, here's a brief explanation for the decline in output...

The biggest reason for the decline in the hint count is simply that we're nearly exactly between major OS X releases (six months since 10.2, six months? until 10.3). So a lot of the easy, obvious stuff has been found and published already. When 10.3 comes out, there will be another spike in hint count as everyone explores the newly added features. I've seen it happen with 10.0, 10.1, and 10.2, so I'm pretty sure it will happen with 10.3! This happens on a more minor scale when major apps such as Safari are updated (which should be soon, in fact).

The second reason for the decline is that the macosxhints.com database is quite extensive now, with over 3,000 hints published since we launched. This means that even though I may get 10 to 12 submissions a day, I end up deleting seven or eight of them as duplicates. So save your fingers some typing and do a search before you submit a long hint! If you're not sure if something's been published, and searching didn't help (please search first!), send me a quick email ("Hey Rob, have you run a hint on such and such?"). I can usually verify quickly if a hint would be new or not.

The final reason for the decline in the hint flow is simply that I haven't had as much time to work on finding new hints as I have in the past. Since about early February, this is primarily due to the book project wrapping up. So where I used to spend a couple hours each evening poking, prodding, and researching the net, now I'm spending that time editing chapters! The good news is that we're going to press in a few weeks, after which time, I'll again have more free time to dig for hints. As an aside, the book is shaping up very nicely, with well over 500 of the best hints from the site, and over 300 screenshots to help explain things more fully than are done so here.

I made a decision very early on in macosxhints' existence that I would not run much in the way of Press Releases or general "filler." I wanted 100% content 100% of the time. I'm still holding to that mantra, which means you may even see days here on macosxhints.com where there may be no hints published. That doesn't mean the site is dying, or I'm ignoring it, or anything like that. It just means that there weren't any true hints worth publishing on that particular day. There are lots of great sites out there that provide news content and press releases; I have no desire to try to 'compete' with any of them, so macosxhints.com will retain its "hints only" focus for as long as I'm involved with it. The upside of that decision is you get useful content, but the downside is you only get useful content when it's there to be had! ;-)

-rob.
    •    
  • Currently 2.25 / 5
  You rated: 4 / 5 (8 votes cast)
 
[3,931 views]  

A comment on the pace of macosxhints... | 21 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'A comment on the pace of macosxhints...' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: dave@mmu on Mar 25, '03 10:34:05AM

As long as you keep on going as you currently are, macosxhints.com will still be my Number 1 mac site, right at the top of my Safari Mac Sites drop ddown list.
Keep it up Rob, well done lad.
Dave

---
Dave L



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: Tonex on Mar 25, '03 11:41:47AM

still my number one site, always will be as long as it does exactly what it says on the tin! Keep up the good work, you've saved me tons of frustration since you started. Thanks

---
Remember - in a million years we'll all be dust, and none of this will matter



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: soufle on Mar 25, '03 11:56:29AM

No fluff!

Indispensible web site!!!

No new hints, no new postings. I can live with that.

Keep it up!

---
The box said windows XX or better so I got a Mac!



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the use of duplicate information
Authored by: j-beda on Mar 25, '03 12:15:31PM

In no way do I want to increase your workload any, but I was wondering if you do anything other than just trashing those submissions that are duplicates?

Do you send people a note saying "this is the same as hint1234", do you add it to the comments for hint1234, or do you tell people to add it as suplimental material for hint1234, or does it just get trashed?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Notes sent...
Authored by: robg on Mar 25, '03 12:36:42PM

On duplicates, most of the time I send a note. It's not all the time (I've probably received 200 hint submissions about command-clicking on the title bar of a window to show the path; I don't think all 200 of those people got notes). Overall, though, I'd say I send a note about 75% of the time on duplicates.

On the other hand, when people submit things that are clearly off-topic or inappropriate (such as a hint on a piece of Windows software that makes your Windows box look like a Mac, or a Press Release disguised as a hint, or a hint on an unreleased piece of software, or a hint on where to get an unreleased piece of software, etc.), then it's just deleted without a note. As much as I'd love to take the time to send each individual a note explaining why their hint was not used, there's simply not enough time to do so.

I do use a 'double entry' method for hints, so there's always a full backup of any hint submitted (even those I deleted). I keep this current for the last several months, in case there's ever a question from someone who submitted a hint.

If you've sent something in and you're wondering about its status, please feel free to drop me a line inquiring about it. It's easiest on me if you can include the subject you might have used, or a couple of keywords I can search for ... or at worst, your username so I can search that way.

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: Anonymous on Mar 25, '03 04:04:31PM

maybe you need to recruit a new rob :)

seriously though, you probably could use some help sifting through submissions. it would require some degree of commitment, but i think you could probably find someone out there...someone who uses the site already.



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: bluehz on Mar 25, '03 04:15:36PM

Yes - like others here ? MacOSXHints is still my number one site and the place I learn most of my new OS X and Unix stuff.

But.... I have often sent in hints that I thought were worthy and unpublished at OS X hints and they have never shown up.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Then...
Authored by: robg on Mar 25, '03 04:36:18PM

... by all means, send me an email and inquire about them! It's possible my outbound email didn't work (it's flakey at times), or there was some obvious reason to me why it wasn't published.

Ideally, we could have a system where everything got published and then viewers could rate things up or down (ala slashdot) to make them 'worthy' or 'not worthy.' That, however, is probably a ways off yet.

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Then...
Authored by: bluehz on Mar 25, '03 11:48:03PM

Cool - next time I will send you a note. Didn't want to bother you - I am sure you stay busy all the time.

Speaking of the methodology you mentioned - do you remember the old Complete Conflict Compendium? It was great web site that was plain and simple - interface to a database. I think in those days it was Filemaker probably. Anyway - when you discovered a conflict or problem on Mac OS - you filled in a form and it immediately went into the database and was available for all to see and comment on. I found so many solutions to problems there its not even funny. The beauty of it all though was that it was so simple - nothing but a form and a database. Maybe you could do something like that or even a Wiki type layout where people could post, it would become available immediately, and collect comments. Then you could go through and pick out the good stuff and put it in the main OS X Hints site. A Wiki setup is a 5 minute deal.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Ratings
Authored by: jimhill on Mar 26, '03 01:53:29AM

Rob:

Listen to me now and believe me later: a feedback method that lets users of the site rate hints is a Bad Idea. The value of a hint is a personal matter, like the brand of hemorrhoidal ointment one prefers. Whether a given hint is of value to a given reader is something he'll have to decide for himself and the subject and introductory text of the hint is how _I_ decide, not a rating from people whose needs and knowledge-base I can't possibly know.

Oh, and Linux Today just reworked their site with those ghastly color-inversions on mouseover. Thanks you AGAIN for turning that abomination off in your own site redesign.


---
Mac OS X: Because making UNIX simple is easier than debugging Windows.



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: Jay on Mar 26, '03 01:51:42AM

Perfect. The last thing I want to see is another great site turn into a "portal." When I go to my cable modem ISP's site, I can find weather and sports scores, but not, say, the smtp server name or any relevant information. Thanks a million, Rob, for staying on focus.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Great Job
Authored by: alset on Mar 26, '03 04:17:14AM

I love what you're doing with this site and I admire and respect your commitment to stay true to the sites original format.

Greatest OS X site on the Net!
Keep it up!
Dan

---
free speech is the right to yell theatre in a crowded fire



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: Beernd on Mar 26, '03 08:59:35AM

Rob, just keep doing what you're doing, it's just a great site... Thanks for all your work. I'll buy your book as soon as it comes out :-).

---
\"Perhaps nothing is true, and not even that!\"
Multatuli, Ideen 1



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: ber on Mar 26, '03 01:55:48PM

Rob, you do an incredible job with this site. Your standards make it the single most useful resource for Mac Unix hackers. Continue to let quality drive the quantity of hints. Keep up the good work. Good luck with the book. I'd like two copies please.

brian



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: pcunix on Mar 28, '03 07:51:12AM

There's nothing wrong with having even no hints. Better that than useless filler.

I do have one small complaint though. I have now and then submitted links that never showed up. There's no way for me to know why: did the submission get lost, did you just decide you didn't like the links I submitted, or what?

Perhaps you get so many link submissions that you can't even take the seconds necessary to send email saying "Sorry, but I'm not going to use this" ? That seems hard to believe - heck, I could write a script in a minute that would automate that. I'm not even looking for an explanation: it's your site, if you don't want a link I submit that's YOUR business - I don't have to know why. But a great big black hole just leaves me with no clue as to whether you ever SAW the submissions.

A similar thing happened with a tip I submitted - you decided it should be a link instead. Fine. But there was no way that I knew what happened to it except that I happened to notice that it popped up in Links. Same black hole.

Consequently, I'm not going to bother with submissions of any kind. I still read the site, but I'm not going to submit stuff when I don't even get the courtesy of a "No thanks".

---
--
Tony Lawrence
Free SCO, Mac OS X and Linux Skills Tests: http://aplawrence.com/skillstest.html



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: robg on Mar 28, '03 10:28:53AM
Tony:

Your link was just put online today (before I read your comment, I might add). It sometimes takes me a while to get to link submissions, as opposed to hint submissions, which get most of my time and attention. This site is primarily a hints site, not a link cross reference, so I focus on hints first and foremost.

However, you need to realize -- if I use a link or don't use a link, I have no way of notifying the person that submitted it -- there is no contact information given with a link submission, and I cannot assume that the submitter of the site is affiliated with the site. So links are a black hole -- they either show up or they don't show up, and I can't do anything about that. No script in the world can solve that problem, unless the core Geeklog engine is modified to require a valid email address when submiting a link. If it were, then I would use it, obviously, to let people know what was going on.

As for taking the time to reply to everyone that submits stuff, I do my very best. I'll use this morning as an example. I had 15 submissions to go through. Of those 15 hint submissions ...
  • Five were published. Each one needs to be tested (most of the time, when I can), edited, previewed, revised, then published. Very very few articles are received in 'ready to run' formats. I probably spent about an hour or so on the five hints you see here, between testing and formatting.

  • Seven were duplicates. In order for me to prove this, I need to search the site and find the reference. I do that. I then try to send an email to each person that sent a duplicate and give them the URL of the original article. I try to do this every time, but there are some days I'm just too busy to do so -- it takes about two minutes to send an email to someone saying "Duplicate hint," so when you multiply by seven, that's about 15 minutes of my time just saying "Please read the instructions." And today was a 'light' day for duplicate hint submissions.

    There's also a warning on the hint submission page about this: Duplicate hints: If you submit a previously published hint, you will not receive any notice to that effect, your hint will just seemingly vanish. So please search for duplicates prior to submitting a hint. I had to start doing this due to the high volume of duplicate submissions I receive. In spite of the warning, I'd say about 75% of the duplicate submissions DO receive an email.

  • Three were completely stupid spam attempts ("Use our XYZ program and your life will be that much better!"). I do not bother sending these people a response, as it's a complete waste of my time. They clearly knew they weren't submiting a hint, and as such, I can't spend the time to tell them what they already know.
When I choose to change a hint submission into a link or a comment, sometimes I'll send an email, sometimes I won't. In general, I try my best. Again, it depends on my workload.

Regarding your "Consequently, I'm not going to bother with submissions of any kind. I still read the site, but I'm not going to submit stuff when I don't even get the courtesy of a 'No thanks'.", I must say I'm disappointed. I've received well over 100 submissions this week alone, and I've probably send 75 emails explaining why a hint wasn't going to be used (and used 20 of the other hints). If you didn't get one, it's just because I didn't have the time on that given day, and I apologize for that. But it is a manual system, and I do my best...

I would welcome your assistance in creating a more structured system to insure that everyone gets something, as I certainly don't have the skills to do such a thing on my own. I know just enough about PHP and MySQL to be dangerous but not necessarily useful. So if you'd like to contact me via email, I would welcome the assistance with anything you think you could do to help improve the system. Barring that, however, I will continue to do the best I can do with the time and resources I have available -- basically, about two to three hours every morning before work.

regards;
-rob.

[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: pcunix on Mar 28, '03 10:52:10AM

Well, if I were more patient I wouldn't have made my comment.

I understand your problems. I run a fairly large website too, and like you, I'm it: maitre d', chef and bottle washer. It sometimes takes me days to get to submissions too, and I don't get as many as you do.

I apologize.

But a couple of questions: although you only require someone to be logged in to submit hints, your link submission could pick up the login info if the submittor were logged in, and could pass that to you. So that doesn't always have to be a black hole.

Your own posting/approval process could also pick that info up when available and send out automatic email telling the person that their submission/lin/whatever was accepted and will appear.

Likewise, you could design a simple trash bucket that looked for that info and sent polite automatic rejections. If you wanted to add comments that would be fine though it probably isn't necessary - most of your rejections probably aren't from real people anyway.

So - now that I know that it isn't quite the black hole I thought, I will add things now and then. Sorry for my impatience, but it probably doesn't hurt that other folks read this and maybe you can easily implement the suggestions I had too.

---
--
Tony Lawrence
Free SCO, Mac OS X and Linux Skills Tests: http://aplawrence.com/skillstest.html



[ Reply to This | # ]
Coding...
Authored by: robg on Mar 28, '03 11:11:26AM

All of your suggestions are valid ... but there are two problems.

The first, and biggest, is that I'm not a coder :-). I dabble in PHP and MySQL, and can occasionally do useful things (the What's New box is my code, as an example). But when it comes to adding fields to databases, getting those fields in the right spot, adding auto-responders, etc., that's where I have to say "Huh?" and plead lack of skill.

Second, I rely on Geeklog to drive the site. If I modify (or have others modify) the core engine at all, then upgrading becomes a nightmare. I've seen it -- I had a heavily tweaked site based on Geeklog 1.1, and it took the better part of five months to get all the customizations removed and recreated (in a manner that didn't tweak the core too much) on version 1.3.7. So I'm sorta stuck -- I'd love to hire someone to code all of the solutions you mentioned (and more). But if/when I do, then I can't upgrade to the next release of Geeklog very easily at all. In that sense, I feel trapped between the proverbial rock and hard place.

So the ideal solution is that all these tweaks wind up in the core Geeklog product. But that will take a lot of time. In the interim, if you (or anyone else) is willing to take a look at creating some of this stuff, I'm more than willing to pay for (some level!) of custom code work. To anyone that might be interested, please drop me an email.

Thanks for the (kind but not necessary) apology;

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Coding...
Authored by: pcunix on Mar 29, '03 05:01:13PM

Well, that's exactly why I refuse to use anything I didn't write myself on my site. It hurts me in some ways: I don't have the skills or the patience to do something like Geeklog, so I remain much less polished and awkward.

On the other hand, I gain the ability to control things MY way.

It's a tradeoff, and there is good and bad either way. You went one way, I went another. I envy the polish of MacOSXHints, but I'd never want to give up the control that I have.

I can't help you with Geeklog, sorry.

---
--
Tony Lawrence
Free SCO, Mac OS X and Linux Skills Tests: http://aplawrence.com/skillstest.html



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: theegor on Mar 28, '03 09:48:58AM

Please dump all hints to a forum, or some other venue. I'd love to see what everyone submits. Let us filter the content. We don't need a rating system. Just dump the stuff, like as in a mailing list.



[ Reply to This | # ]
A comment on the pace of macosxhints...
Authored by: pcunix on Mar 29, '03 05:04:21PM

My bet is you wouldn't like it.

I tried that on my site once. 90% crap. Moderation is important.

---
--
Tony Lawrence
Free SCO, Mac OS X and Linux Skills Tests: http://aplawrence.com/skillstest.html



[ Reply to This | # ]