What plant it is? .....1/1 bmp

#gondwana gondwana at ix.netcom.com
Thu Oct 2 03:10:41 EST 1997

A day ago, I posted a letter, the gist of which was to say that a first
time netiquette offence of an inadvertent nature does not call for
savage attacks on the person who inadvertly errs.

I respond below to a reply made by Alan J Holmes; I apologise for
changing the order of the points covered.

> [ . . . ] some subscribers _have_ to
> pay for every byte which passes down the phone lines

The point raised here is certainly fair. And lower income people
undoubtedly feel the pinch more greatly and disproportionately. Data
transfer costs can be high indeed, and we should all accordingly be able
to choose what we pull off the wires. Moreover, it is infuriating to,
against your will, have costly and often commercially offensive material
intentionally thrust in your face by spammers. Everyone can agree that
willful spammers deserve the ire of everyone. But Juan Carlos was not a
spammer, and he was not acting with intent (see below).

As a practical matter, I am curious about the following: Cannot a usenet
download be interrupted the minute it is perceived to be undesirable? I
use Netscape on a Macintosh for all Internet functions, and I was easily
able to abort the usenet download originally in question by clicking on
the "Stop" button. Is this not available to others, who use other
browsers/email-utilities as well? It wont work for me with email, so
perhaps other platforms/applications may not offer this protection in
usenet circumstances. But if they do, it might help the people who need
to count bytes and pence, better protect themselves from this sort of

> As has been said time and time again,

Perhaps. But the very nature of usenet, especially to those who are
trying to learn about it, causes people to miss threads. Sometimes the
need to read threads is not evident from the brief title. Other times,
one's own server blocks them from view for any number of reasons.
Besides, given the growth of the Internet, there will be a continuous
flow of new people for quite some time, all of which are not privy to
what has gone before, and we must not be so haughty that we forget what
it's like to be new to something and be trying to get one's bearings.
Even you, Alan, despite your broad knowledge and impatience for those
who do not yet possess it, must have at some point been new and
inexperienced and bewildered and intimidated. Have you forgotten how it
feels? Have you never been mistaken? Made an error?

> you should
> be reserving your compassion for them [subscribers paying high costs
> of involuntary downloads] not some ignorant fellow.

I have compassion for everyone who suffers an undeserved injury: The
struggling pensioner who had to pay 50 pence for rubbish he didn't want,
as well as the inexperienced user who bumbles good-naturedly into an
arena he has never before ventured, not realizing that an attempt to
learn, become informed and maybe even have friendly cross-cultural
contact would reward him with vicious attacks for his unforgivable
crime: inexperience. The fact of the matter is, both are deserving of
compassion. Besides, the problem may be technological: It would seen
current software lacks the finesse to permit aborting an unwanted

> >shoot him! Maybe we should virtually disembowel him as well?
> Sounds good!

Childish. Unproductive. For all your wit and intellect, this comment is
more to be expected from a 13-year-old in a schoolyard. How does this
address the overall issue of education of the inexperienced to effect a
change that benefits everyone? We are looking at a problem of education
and technology, not a problem of intentional misconduct by miserable
miscreants. If you want to solve the problem, a solution needs to
address the underlying cause, rather than myopically focus on the

> He could have investigated the groups first, made a few enquiries
> as to how he should post, what he should post.

To "investigate" groups first, you must assume conversant knowledge of
usenet and the Internet. Not only is this not universal knowledge, but
indeed, if one is unaware that one is lacking information, one can't
realise that the information must be sought. Many people are bewildered
and even frightened by the 'Net, which slows down their assimilation
into this extremely arcane sub-culture. Snarls, snaps, and personal
attacks cause further intimidation, and reduce motivation for learning
and research of information. Gentle, informative communication, on the
other hand, reduces intimidation and encourages learning and sensitivity
by the newbie to issues like this.

People make mistakes. You take your own knowledge for granted and the
resulting knee-jerk reaction merely curses the darkness, but doesn't
even attempt to light a candle.

Another thing you may take for granted as well, is that not everyone has
easy access to usenet, other than through DejaNews on the web. If that
is the case, the only way to get responses to postings made through
DejaNews would be through responses supplied via email. Moreover, this
could also explain why someone lacks access to threads regarding rules
and such (as you know, DejaNews is search-engine and key-word based, so
the entire wealth of threads and topics might be invisible to her/him

> But he didn't bother, just pushed all the rubbish all over the
> world in a _large_ number of groups.  Some of them possibly
> unrelated

Perhaps my newsreader is mistaken, but I counted only 4 newsgroups he
posted to, all of which were either gardening or botanically oriented,
and his post (including his large binary) was for the sole purpose of
plant identification. Moreover, if he has reason to believe the plant is
exotic or rare in his native country, it is altogether reasonable to
post globally in the hopes that someone, somewhere on the planet would
find the plant familiar. That is, after all, part of the magic of the
Internet: that ability for all peoples, throughout the earth, to
communicate, share and exchange ideas and information. His
implementation (i.e. use of attached binary image) may have been
inappropriate, but his intentions were entirely reasonable and
consistent with the purposes of the medium.

> but did he care, not on your nelly.

The unstated assumption you are making here is that caring must be
equated only with doing all the investigation and enquiries you insist
upon, and uncaring must be equated with a failure to do these things and
with the intentional pushing of "rubbish" all over the world. Care
requires intent, but you seem to suggest as well that lack of caring
also requires intent. Therefore, when you conclude Juan Carlos is
uncaring, and imply that he engaged in this conduct either with intent
or reckless disregard of his acts on others. Q.E.D.

Not quite. As I explained a moment ago, ignorance, failure to know or
investigate, and the posting of his "rubbish" can be explained through
inadvertence and good faith lack of knowledge, and difficulty with
mastering the Internet. It would be another matter altogether if he
repeated his conduct after being warned or notified, but this is not
evidenced by the facts here. So your absolutist, easy-way-out, black and
white logic does not necessarily result in a reliable conclusion. In
fact, you really just don't know what the circumstances were surrounding
his state of mind, and you lack the knowledge (i.e. you are yourself
ignorant of the facts) to accurately judge Juan Carlos, much less to
berate him as severely as you seek to do. Juan Carlos' ignorance could
well have stemmed from good faith error...but yours stems from a willful
rush to judgment.

A little temperance is in order. People who are willing to learn the
rules should be informed of them in a friendly and constructive fashion,
and should be given the benefit of the doubt at least once. The ire and
vitriol that you and others have shown thus far should be reserved for
those who, once so informed of the rules, knowingly repeat their


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