Tree/threaded messaging (was: Turning rn into a threaded newsreader)

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Bela Lubkin

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Jan 26, 1990, 4:10:43 PM1/26/90
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In <1990Jan23....@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> Steve Peltz writes:
> The idea of a tree structured file is not new. It was tried over 10 years
> ago on the PLATO system (which is where notes comes from also). The idea
> proved to be mostly unworkable, mostly due to the complexity offered to
> the person doing the reading. You can never figure out where the heck you
> are in the tree!

In <15...@well.UUCP> Jef Poskanzer writes:
> I agree that it's a difficult problem. I co-wrote a tree-structured news
> system in 1979, and the reaction of our users was the same. However, this
> doesn't mean that tree systems are inherently flawed. Maybe there's a
> nice interface but no one has found it yet.

The two BBSes named in my .signature (XBBS and Pyrzqxgl) are
tree-structured boards. They use different software but essentially the
same interface. Both are largely discussion boards -- neither has
downloads. Each is about as active as a busy newsgroup (~100
messages/day). You can always figure out where you are. The interface
DOES take some getting used to, but after a couple of hours of
exploration, it is easier to use and more intuitive than any other
messaging system I've ever worked with.

I'm deliberately not describing the interface because I would rather see
a description or three posted by inexperienced users.

There would be no scaling problem using this interface with USENET --
the scale is the same, if each newsgroup acts as a single "BBS".
However, I am not sure how the X/P interface could deal with missing
articles (articles that arrive before the article(s) to which they are
replies). It could probably be done.

Call. Play around. Persevere -- the interface is NOT what you're used
to, it'll mess your mind at first, but it is very easy after a little
practice. (First thing to note: it uses single-character input -- don't
hit return if you don't have to).

(Note that XBBS is *NOT* Sandy Zelkovitz' XENIX BBS software -- it's
completely unrelated (stands for "eXperimental BBS") and may or may not
predate XENIX BBS).

In <1990Jan25.0...@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> Steve Peltz writes:
> I think the problem is not necessarily in the interface but in the cognitive
> problem when WRITING something. Where do you put a response? Are you
> responding to the original note that what you were reading was a response
> to? Or are you responding to the response you were reading (thus starting,
> or continuing, a new chain)?

You post under the article most directly related to what you have to
say. If there are several, they should be logically close in the
article tree, so the detail of your placement is unimportant. If your
article needs to be in two places because it covers two widely differing
aspects of the discussion -- it ought to be two articles. If it links
together two aspects -- well, XBBS deals with this problem by being
graph-structured rather than pure tree-structured. You can link your
post two all the parents it needs.

I've crossposted to alt.bbs, where different set of people is actively
pondering the same problems.

Bela Lubkin * * // fi...@gorn.santa-cruz.ca.us CI$: 73047,1112 (slow)
@ * * // be...@sco.com ...ucbvax!ucscc!{gorn!filbo,sco!belal}
R Pentomino * \X/ Filbo @ Pyrzqxgl +1 408-476-4633 & XBBS +1 408-476-4945

Taine Gilliam

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Jan 27, 1990, 9:31:38 PM1/27/90
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fi...@gorn.santa-cruz.ca.us (Bela Lubkin) writes:

> In <1990Jan23....@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> Steve Peltz writes:
>
> The two BBSes named in my .signature (XBBS and Pyrzqxgl) are
> tree-structured boards. They use different software but essentially the
> same interface. Both are largely discussion boards -- neither has
> downloads. Each is about as active as a busy newsgroup (~100
> messages/day). You can always figure out where you are. The interface
> DOES take some getting used to, but after a couple of hours of
> exploration, it is easier to use and more intuitive than any other
> messaging system I've ever worked with.
>

Magpie provides a VERY tree based structure. It too is confusing
to those who expect a flat file type BBS but once learned
provides a very powerful structure.

The ease of finding items of interest in the tree is a great
benefit. It does require some initial planning be done to prevent
mutant trees, however.

taine

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