URL or Post?

Alain St-Amour alainstamour at mail.com
Sun Aug 24 13:32:58 MDT 2003


My practice has been to post the entire article to the list simply to ensure that we have it. As you pointed out, URL’s can disappear or change.

But URL’s aside, articles themselves can also disappear or change which, I believe, is another reason to have a record of that article somewhere. Should we establish a standard for posting articles?

This standard should:

1)	Reduce bandwidth size
2)	Reduce download time
3)	Ensure access to the articles
4)	Require minimal effort in implementing and maintaining


1)	Developing a list strictly for posting articles.
2)	Posting articles directly to www.marxmail.org
3)	Based on the 2nd suggestion, these postings could generate a regular newsletter-type digest that would give the URL and a paragraph or two about the article. The site www.informationclearinghouse.info has a similar newsletter and it’s pretty handy.

I don’t know whether these suggestions are feasible or practical, but I look forward to some feedback.

Alain St-Amour


Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2003 21:44:04 -0700
From: "Eli Stephens" <elishastephens at hotmail.com>
Subject: URL or Post?

There have been a number of comments made recently on the question of
copying entire articles vs. quoting a key paragraph or so and then providing
a URL. Also questions of minimizing bandwidth are always raised.

It strikes me that these are not as simple questions as they might appear. A
basic problem is that there are two different kinds of divisions on the list
(aside from political ones):

1) People who have broadband or other types of "always-on" connections vs.
people who use dialup
2) People who receive the list postings as email vs. people who read it
online (most likely on the "Latest 100 messages" page, and/or on the
Archives page).

These divisions will therefore cause you to be affected differently by
different choices.

ACCESS TO THE ARTICLE: If I'm reading Marxmail offline (i.e., I've
downloaded my email), now I might appreciate a complete article, because if
someone just quotes a small excerpt or even none at all and just a URL, then
I can't just click on the URL to read the article. On the other hand, if I
am online all the time, then whether I'm reading email or reading Marxmail
on the web, a quick click  takes me to the article in question without
"polluting" the list itself with unneccessary bandwidth.

AVAILABILITY OF THE ARTICLE: Some articles are available only by
subscription. My personal habit (I think I've done this once) is that if the
"subscription" is free, and is just an annoying "fill out some web form so
we can capture your (probably bogus) info" thing, then I feel free to grab
the article and post it to save others from wasting their time on the form.
On the other hand, if it is a PAID subscription, I would think that is NOT a
good idea to do, since it is undoubtedly a copyright violation and puts
Louis in financial danger. However, there is another "availability"
question. Many newspapers have a policy that the most recent 30 days are
available online, but after that can only be accessed by paid subscribers.
So if you post such a URL, after 30 days someone reading this in the
archives won't know what you are referring to since the URL will be a dead
end. And people DO consult the archives (I certainly do).

RELEVANCE OF THE ENTIRE ARTICLE: In some cases, one or two sentences or one
or two paragraphs really tells the list everything they need to know; the
URL is really provided as a reference but not as a particular encouragement
to followup and actually read the whole article. In other cases, the entire
article may be worth reading, and the one or two paragraph excerpt may be
just a "teaser" to encourage people to read the entire article. In the
former case, it's pretty clear that the entire article should NOT be posted.
But in the latter case, we go back to the access and availability questions

BANDWIDTH AND CONNECTION TIME: Entire articles posted do consume bandwidth,
but they can be read offline (by those reading email). URLS consume less
bandwidth, but they require people to be online to read them, and hence may
cost a user MUCH MORE because of the huge increase in connection time. In
the U.S., most people's connection time is "free", that is, they get either
unlimited access for their money or a large number of hours. But not
everyone is in that position, and this is definitely not true in other
countries. And even when the connection time is not causing extra charges as
far as the Internet access itself, there still can be additional phone
charges for those on dialup connections, not to mention tied up phone lines
which not everyone appreciates.

One problem is that I doubt that Louis or Les really knows the situation
(e.g., mail vs web, dialup vs. broadband) of even the people on the list,
nevertheless people not on the list who are reading the Latest 100 and the
archives, therefore, it becomes harder to make decisions which are based  on
this information which  doesn't exist. In the end, of course, I subscribe to
the notion that this is Louis's list and therefore Louis makes the rules,
but I think it's worth realizing that this question is NOT as simple as it
may seem at first glance.

Hopefully this bandwidth was worthwhile, even if not political.

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