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The List Tip Tradition

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Erika Meyer

Member info

User since: 06 Apr 2000

Articles written: 13

What is a tip?

Tipping is an discussion list tradition. As item 2 in our list guidelines describes, tipping is the way a list member voluntarily "pays" for an off-topic, chatty, or high noise-to-signal post.

The practice of tipping goes back to Webmonkey's "Monkeyjunkies" discussion list (1997-2000), and the "objunky," or obligatory junky—which was simply an obtuse name for a web development tip. Monkeyjunkies list moderator Taylor described the objunky this way:

If you post a chatty, off-topic, or noisy post in which you aren't directly asking or responding to a Web question, you need to "pay" the list for the lowered signal-to-noise ratio. So you must include an ob(ligatory)junky (spelling intentional) tip. Give us a bit of knowledge on Web publishing in any area you want that is pertinent, insightful, or just plain helpful. If you can't think of a tip, then you probably shouldn't be chatting.

In October of 1998 Webmonkey published a collection of objunkies, many from future evolters, in article called Advice from Primates. In December of 1998, a fracas ensued between some on the Monkeyjunkies list and Wired digital, eventually leading to a group of about 30 list members leaving Monkeyjunkies to form With the , kept the tradition alive.

When do we tip?

The tip is not a punishment, rather it is a way to add signal to noise, and share something cool with the community. Sometimes you might just feel like offering a tip—though offtopic or chatty posts need to have a tip, it is not necessary to include an offtopic or chatty post with your tip, especially since we now have an alternate list especially for off-topic posts: thechat.

You may feel like you don't have enough specialized knowledge to leave a good tip. This is where the generalized nature of thelist works for us. Tips, of course, should be web- or internet-related. But what may seem like relatively basic knowledge in your specialty area may not be self-evident to everyone on the list. And it can be a fun challenge to think of a good tip. Try it! Eventually you may find yourself collecting ideas for tips as you run across neat tricks and techniques in daily life.

What is the tip harvester?

Early in our history, programmers came up with the idea of collecting list tips and storing them in a database where they can be browsed and searched by members. Thus the tip harvester was born.

Once a week, our tip harvester parses messages sent to thelist, looking for tips contained within tags. Adding "type" and "author" attributes to your tip tag helps the tip harvester organize and sort tips. Tip harvester attributes are case-sensitive, so is read as different than

Try it!

Tipping is a useful challenge and a tradition that strengthens the community. Try it!

Erika Meyer lives in Portland, Oregon, USA.

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