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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Absolute and Complete Time

    (These are just suggestions to think of; eventual applications need more discussions, particularly 2)

    1) Stop using "Today" and "Yesterday".

    Example: this post is dated "Today, 21:49". So I can't know what day it was posted - unless I do a Refresh, which was otherwise unnecessary. In addition, that date will change - which again is unnecessary.

    We should remember that names as "Today" or "Yesterday" are relative to the time when the phrase is pronounced; those relative names are OK in live spoken talks (in your home for instance - not on TV!), where that spoken time is obvious; they are not when the phrase is persistent, as is in written material; you never see a book "printed last month", you see "printed Feb 2005".

    On TV, and now on the internet, some failed to realize that the materials, while immediate as are phrases pronounced in family live talks, are persistent (TV can always have been registered and later broadcast, with no way for you to know), which requires the dates and times issued absolute and complete (too bad most TV and media channels ignore this!).

    On the Internet the problem is increased by some young programmers too happy to show they are able to program things as "Today" and "Yesterday".

    2) Use a unique TZ for everyone.

    When I want to point to a previous post, how do I tell its time,to help readers to find it? There is no convenient way, since the time is displayed to each user in his particular preference. At least when the post to point is mine, I can as I did in that post; convenient for me, but already inconvenient for readers, who (most often) have different TZ.

    This is about the same problem as in physically meeting: when you go from Paris to N.Y. and meet other people there, you adapt your clock to the local time, you don't say "at 20 hours 30 GMT + 2", you say "at 14 hours 30" (or "at 2 hours 30 pm").

    Then may be we should think of displaying the time to everyone the same way, in particular in the same TZ, which would be the local time of the forum; people like me would just have to change time, but first this woud be easy, second this would touch just of part of us all (In addition, this would recall where the forum is located, which is more friendly! BTW, thanks gain for the friendly welcome to new users a me a few days ago).

    Paris, Mon 28 Mar 2005 21:22:20 +0200

  2. #2
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    I'm not quite sure I understand your point. The times displayed on the posts are the relative times for the time zone you are in (assuming you have the time zone set in the control panel). It helps to show the timeliness of a post.

    So if someone posted at 7am your time, you would see "Today 07:00" or "Yesterday 07:00" or "Mar 28 2005 07:00" depending on when you look at it. Since I'm six hours behind you, I would see "Today 01:00" or "Yesterday 01:00" or "Mar 28 2005 01:00" which is the timeliness relative to me. It just shows how recent it is. Why make people think?
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Bleys's Avatar
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    You can set your time zone from the "Time and Date" section of the Edit Options panel of your MySitePoint.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMaxwell
    So if someone posted at 7am your time, you would see "Today 07:00" or "Yesterday 07:00" or "Mar 28 2005 07:00" depending on when you look at it.
    On when I downloaded (or refreshed) the page, not on when I "look at it". Which requests I refresh to know which day actually it was posted; as the page I am watching in my browser can have been last refreshed days or weeks earlier. As I explained... (BTW there is no "Mar 28 2005").
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMaxwell
    Since I'm six hours behind you, I would see "Today 01:00" or ...
    Which makes impossible to me to refer that post using its time.

    For instance, your post to which I am replying right now, appears or will appear:
    • right now in my browser as "Today, 21:25";
    • right now in your browser, as "Today, 3:25 p.m.";
    • in a few days in my browser as "Mon 28, 2005, 21:25"
    • in a few days in your browser as "Mon 28, 2005, 3:25 p.m."
    • in other readers' broswers, still with other times.
    So if I want to refer to your post in a later post of mine, how do I call it: "your post of Mon 28, 2005, 21:25, Paris Time"? Most people will have too hard time to find and recognize it.

    {Bleys too seems to have missed what I said. My apologies if I wasn't clear enough. I built the time system in UNIX for our lab's large CAD application in 1993, and there was not a single problem since - including at Y2K; dates and times accurate for the last million years after handling all transitions: 1582, year zero, TZs...}

    Paris, lun. 28 mars 2005 23:29:25 +0200

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin
    Which makes impossible to me to refer that post using its time.
    So use the post # in the top right corner of the post.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Bleys's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what you're suggesting, though, since everyone is in a different time zone. Are you suggesting that we pick one time zone and stick with that? I'm willing to bet most people do not have the problem you have and would much rather be able to pick their timezone--so that won't happen.

    Further... why would you want to refer to a post by it's date? That seems counterintuitive considering, as we've all said, everyone is in different time zone. Rather, refer to a post by it's number (which you can get by click at the number in the upper right hand corner of each post--the part of the URL that says "p=######" is that posts's specific number... for example your last post is 1783750) or by it's title, or by it's contents. Those are much more accurate and descriptive ways of referring to a specific post, anyway.
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  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin
    Which makes impossible to me to refer that post using its time.
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMaxwell
    So use the post # in the top right corner of the post.
    Which lets me refer it using its number, not its time.

    I agree that the number is very useful - and I often use it. But numbers don't tell as quickly how old a post is; a post 10 numbers above can be 3 minutes old, a post 1 number above can be 10 hours, or 10 days, or 10 months. Times when without TZ also don't help here.

    I never encountered someone referring and even linking other posts as often as I do. If you do, you will soon find that people often speak of things without knowing them, even without trying to know them, even without reading the very posts you have brought the links to them. If you do want get a chance that some read it, you have to point (when it's the case) that the post is in the same topic, and give some info about it; in that info, giving the time is very important. It happens too (in some French forums particularly) that the reference links don't work; then the time will help the ones who really want to find it, even if the number already helps. Time actually helps in such cases when everyone is speaking in the same TZ - which is the case on many French forums, and would be on other forums using what I proposed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bleys
    Rather, refer to a post by it's number (which you can get by click at the number in the upper right hand corner of each post--the part of the URL that says "p=######" is that posts's specific number... for example your last post is 1783750) or by it's title, or by it's contents.
    I use this daily and already used it on this forum, right in my intro, in that post (#9 of Sat 26 Mar 2005 17:39:00 +0100, appearing in my browser as "Mar 26, 2005, 17:39").
    Quote Originally Posted by Bleys
    Those are much more accurate and descriptive ways of referring to a specific post, anyway.
    They are more accurate on some sides - and less on others, as timeliness; so, different ways of referring complete each other, and there is no reason to prevent one because an older one already exists. When something is possible one way, is it a sufficient reason to prevent from doing it another way? Wouldn't this be some sort of NIH syndrom (Not Invented Here)?

    Paris, mar. 29 mars 2005 08:39:15 +0200 edited 08:43:50
    Sorry, my connection is botched, resending my edit 08:52:25

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Bleys's Avatar
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    I understand what you're saying, but being that SitePoint has users from all around the world, there it no way for us to address that except by converting to one standard timezone and no longer allowing people to choose their own. That's not going to happen. Unless you have another idea... I'm all ears, but it looks like you're out of luck.
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  9. #9
    ********* Genius Mike's Avatar
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    I think he's simply referring to using a proper date format. A thread posted on "March 28, 23:00 PST" will always have been posted on that exact time, even to someone else on the other side of the planet. That's how timezones work. Refresh the page, and that time will never change.

    Though I'm not sold on the idea, as I never download the pages, but for someone who does, I can understand your frustration.
    Mike
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    My error

    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin
    (#4 of Yesterday, 14:29)
    (BTW there is no "Mar 28 2005").
    Sorry for this erroneous (and unnecessary) addition: I saw it as in the French "Mardi 28 mars 2005". Stupid me...

    Paris, Tue 29 Mar 2005 11:32:45 +0200

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Cosmonauts in their vehicle don't use their own TZ

    Quote Originally Posted by Bleys
    there it no way for us to address that except by converting to one standard timezone and no longer allowing people to choose their own. That's not going to happen.
    This is exactly what I meant, including the "not going to happen", hence my first phrase in the first post of this topic ("...just suggestions to think of...").

    Another case similar is the one of cosmonauts from USA, Russia, Japan, France, in the same vehicle: are they each issuing the time in their own TZ? I'll bet they oppositely meet all on the same TZ, most probably the one set in that purpose, and accordingly named "Universal Time".

    Paris, Tue 29 Mar 2005 11:33:00 +0200

  12. #12
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Complying to RFC 2822 3.3. "Date and Time Specification"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike
    I think he's simply referring to using a proper date format. A thread posted on "March 28, 23:00 PST" will always have been posted on that exact time, even to someone else on the other side of the planet. That's how timezones work. Refresh the page, and that time will never change.
    Exactly. I was showing the drawbacks of relative times (relative to the day we are right now, as "Today" or "Yesterday", or relative to local time, as when TZ is omitted).

    In facts I should have been less tolerant and open, I should go further and recommend barely complying with RFC 2822 3.3. "Date and Time Specification", which is already:
    • mandatory (or nearly) by that RFC (despite the inherently unofficial RFC status)
    • done in 95% of email and news message headers (just check the source of a few mail or news messages, by hitting <Ctrl><F3> if in Outlook Express),
    • recommended in PHP Manual, Date/Time (see "r" in the "format character" column of the table).
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike
    Though I'm not sold on the idea, as I never download the pages, but for someone who does, I can understand your frustration.
    You do download the pages into your cache. And even if you don't use it, when you leave your computer at work hibernated (or keeping it any other way from shutting down), and next week come back to it, when you see a page on screen, you don't necessarily know or remember if that page is the one you refreshed 3 minutes ago, or another, not refreshed since 3 days; so if you want to make sure of the date/time, you have to make an additional refresh, that otherwise would be unnecessary.

    (I assume that, as many heavy Internet users, you have permanently a dozen browser pages open, and IE \Tools \Options \Internet Options \General \Temporary Internet Files \Settings \Check for newer versions of stored pages set to Never .)

    PS. I recognize I should have stayed on my very question, 1 of my initial post ( 1) Stop using "Today" and "Yesterday" ); adding right now the 2 ( 2) Use a unique TZ for everyone ) was anticipating too much, and blurring the 2 questions into a single mix.

    Paris, Tue 29 Mar 2005 11:33:15 +0200
    edited ("PS") 11:41:55

  13. #13
    ********* Genius Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin
    (I assume that, as many heavy Internet users, you have permanently a dozen browser pages open, and IE \Tools \Options \Internet Options \General \Temporary Internet Files \Settings \Check for newer versions of stored pages set to Never .)

    I actually have that set to "Always", as I'm on a fast connection with no download limit And since I mod these forums, I need to have up-to-the-second results when I load a page.
    Mike
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  14. #14
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike
    I actually have that set to "Always"...
    I guessed it, as both preferences have always existed, and yours is common among forum handlers, whose majority don't mind lose some info, but can't afford spending a hit on <F5> or being 1 second later than someone else on a new post.

    I am right now behind a fast connection (20Mbps), and stick to my "Never" - for the same reasons but opposite preferences: I strongly defend my ability to see the page either in its newest state (which just requires hit <F5>) or in the previous state, inaltered (which requires "Never"); I prefer accurate, safe, reliable, complete and precise info, allowing me to compare and verify, above being up-to-the-second (opposite to up-to-date). And I feel hard-offended each time a site forces refresh (which fortunately isn't the case at SitePoint), thus destroying some of my information, against my will (since I chose not "Automatically" but "Never").

    Both behaviors exist and will continue. I maintain that mine is the one of people the most numerous - but the most silent and forgiving - and this, more and more (people tend to switch to it after years of browsing, and will continue as long as IE and other big browsers don't fix their cache handling).

    Paris, Tue 29 Mar 2005 12:33:20 +0200

  15. #15
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Display Toolbar with a small TZ scale?

    Mike, I see on this map (zoom=8, "Province") that your location (Penticton, BC, Canada) is near Vancouver, thus probably today (if you are already in summer time) UT-7 (UT-8 DST); if so, your last post, appearing to me as "Today, 11:12", was for you "Today, 02:12", so you got late to bed, and may wake up not before it is about "Today, 16:00" for me, or later .

    Another way to make all this easier would be an optional small Display Toolbar, one of the tools being a small TZ scale, where all the 23 or 24 TZs would be lined so user could chose one TZ with a single click on that TZ and immediately get the whole page displayed in that TZ. But forums are now mostly national/local, and such tool is probably not worth mulling for more than a few minutes fun anyway.

    Paris, Tue 29 Mar 2005 15:33:25 +0200

  16. #16
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    PST and PDT; TZ and TOG; UTC and GMT; Internet Date & Time; PHP date

    See updated and completed information in PST and PDT; TZ and TOG; UTC and GMT; Internet Date & Time; PHP date.

    Versailles, Wed 31 Jan 2007 10:53:05 +0100

  17. #17
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Does it really matter?

    The current set up works just fine for 99.9999&#37; of SP users so why change it?

  18. #18
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Anyone wants Replace "Today" with "Fri 16 Mar 2007"?

    1) Anyone would like to see "Today" and "Yesterday" replaced with the true date in the top left of each post (initial post, suggestion #1)?

    2) Anyone has something to say about eventually using the same TZ for everyone on the forum (suggestion #2)? As I said, it could be thought of (even without thinking of an eventual application soon): people usually express time in the same TZ when meeting and discussing in the same place, e.g. in a narrow physical place (like an office room) or a small virtual area (the planes discussing on the same frequency around the terminal area of an airport) or else. Why wouldn't we do the same when meeting and discussing in a virtual place like a forum? For instance, the forum could display for each user the time in GMT in each post.

    Of course there is the resistance to change, but...
    Quote Originally Posted by tke71709 View Post
    Does it really matter?

    The current set up works just fine for 99.9999% of SP users so why change it?
    Please readers don't mind the malicious pollution trying to hinder me wherever, whenever, however, whatever I post (and that visibly doesn't fear any opposition, even when assuming 1,000,000 Sitepoint users of which only 1 would see something to improve in the post dates... )

    Versailles, Fri 16 Mar 2007 23:30:25 +0100

  19. #19
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Bleys's Avatar
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    I think after 2 years of barking up this tree, its safe to say you're alone on this issue, Michel.

    I honestly don't really see the problem. If I know what timezone I have the forum set to display, then "Yesterday at XX:XX" makes it pretty simple for me to fathom at what time (my timezone, or any other) that post was posted.

    For example, your last post was put up at 18:30 (6:30pm) EST on Friday March 16. I know this because the forum says "Yesterday 18:30" and I know right now it is Saturday March 17 at 00:42 (12:42am)... assuming I've set my offset correctly (this premature daylight savings thing may have thrown it off).

    That wasn't very hard to figure out.
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  20. #20
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bleys View Post
    I think after 2 years of barking up this tree, its safe to say you're alone on this issue, Michel.
    Sure that when seeing in your post how they would be "welcome", none will post here asking for a normal display of Date & Time in Sitepoint forums.

    But I am sure (and you are probably too - whatever you can say) that many people would be interested - even a strong majority as soon as a significant percent of their daily correspondents are in different TZs. As you certainly know it has been done for a long time in about all the forums with a significant international audience, as early as e.g. in good old CompuServe forums when they were the best online.

    Now I understand what you want is I don't post, even if provoked by rude posts as #17 and #19 above.

    Versailles, Sat 17 Mar 2007 07:03:05 +0100

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Bleys's Avatar
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    I don't see how I have been rude at all.

    But you've been asking for this for 2 years, and no one has seemed to think it's as big a deal as you. Just because you assume that everyone agrees with you, doesn't make it so.

    I have yet to see a compelling reason to switch.

    In your first post two years ago you said you couldn't tell what day a post was made... but if you know what GMT offset you have set on the forum, and if you know what day it is (i.e., by a calendar or the clock on your computer) then it should be fairly obvious. Today and yesterday are always relative to the CURRENT time/date. After 2 days, the forum reverts to printing the actual date/time of posting.

    You also seem to suggest that these dates make it impossible to refer to a post properly (i.e., if you say, "See the post at Today 20:23" I won't know which post since that post might be called Yesterday 12:23 for me, for example). At least, I think that's what you were saying. Please correct me if I misunderstood.

    But why are you referring to posts by date? That is confusing and unnecessary. Every post has a unique number that you can use. Or you can link to it (this is the Internet, after all). In fact, that's how you referred to previous posts in your last post. So even you don't refer to posts by date... to be honest, I don't know anyone who does.

    These are all things that I and others have said in this thread before.
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  22. #22
    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bleys View Post
    you assume that everyone agrees with you
    Please stop misrepresenting what I said. Better to quote me: "...many people... - even a strong majority as soon as a significant percent of their daily correspondents are in different TZs". And please why, while constantly challenging my opinions, don't you challenge tke71709's implication of 1 million users of Sitepoint, all but one fully agreeing with the current situation?
    Quote Originally Posted by Bleys View Post
    I have yet to see a compelling reason to switch
    I have yet to see a compelling reason to not. It's simpler to display the right date immediately, than to display "Today" the 1st day, "Yesterday" the 2nd, and the true date the following days.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bleys View Post
    you said you couldn't tell what day a post was made
    What I said was:
    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin View Post
    Example: this post is dated "Today, 21:49". So I can't know what day it was posted - unless I do a Refresh...
    Paris, Mon 28 Mar 2005 21:22:20 +0200
    That example was chosen on purpose: on my PC and on that day (Mon 28 Mar 2005), the post displayed "Today, 21:49" before refresh, but "Mar 26, 2005, 21:49" after refresh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bleys View Post
    But why are you referring to posts by date? That is confusing and unnecessary. Every post has a unique number that you can use...
    You apparently don't often check posts before commenting them; or you would know that it often happens (even if NOT on Sitepoint so far and AFAIK) that a link fails, either the post has slipped to another page, or the link (as does the "#21" you are advocating) displays it alone without context and/or without recalling the threadID; in all these instances, you have to manually find back the thread and post, which is much easier and faster if you know the date, provided it's complete with hour and TZ, expressed in simple and absolute and NOT in relative or other gratuitous complication needing refresh and checking, like "Today".

    My excuses to normal readers for these replies, as short as possible given the nature and length of the questions.

    Versailles, Sat 17 Mar 2007 10:14:40 +0100

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Bleys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin View Post
    Please stop misrepresenting what I said. Better to quote me: "...many people... - even a strong majority as soon as a significant percent of their daily correspondents are in different TZs".
    This is maybe just a matter of your English (it is obviously not your first language, am I right?), and I apologize is that is the case, but the way you wrote this: "But I am sure (and you are probably too - whatever you can say) that many people would be interested - even a strong majority as soon as a significant percent of their daily correspondents are in different TZs." implies that you think a strong majority of SitePoint user would be interested in your idea. Hence why I said what I said. You needn't be so offended, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin View Post
    And please why, while constantly challenging my opinions, don't you challenge tke71709's implication of 1 million users of Sitepoint, all but one fully agreeing with the current situation?
    He's not trying to change something that seems to be working fine for nearly everyone else...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin View Post
    I have yet to see a compelling reason to not. It's simpler to display the right date immediately, than to display "Today" the 1st day, "Yesterday" the 2nd, and the true date the following days.
    The compelling reason is: this is how vB is set up, it seems to be working for everyone, and doesn't cause any trouble (in my opinion). Why fix what isn't broken?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin View Post
    That example was chosen on purpose: on my PC and on that day (Mon 28 Mar 2005), the post displayed "Today, 21:49" before refresh, but "Mar 26, 2005, 21:49" after refresh.
    Is it really that taxing to make sure you have loaded the most recent version of the page before you determine what date the post was made? Usually I am reading posts that I have JUST loaded (or within the past few minutes)... are you in the habit of leaving posts open for days or hours before reading them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin View Post
    it often happens (even if NOT on Sitepoint so far and AFAIK) that a link fails, either the post has slipped to another page, or the link (as does the "#21" you are advocating) displays it alone without context and/or without recalling the threadID;
    I'm afraid I have to disagree. I have never seen a link to a post change unless the post was removed, in which case, you needn't worry about referencing it. Further, if you link to a single post there is a link on that page back to the entire thread, and the post is numbered, so locating it in context should not be a problem. I think you're inventing problems that don't exist, to be honest.

    Listen, I wouldn't be taking such a contrary stance if you had an modicum of support for this. But SitePoint really isn't in the habit of changing things to please one member out of 160,000. It's just not how we generally operate. If you haven't been able to drum up much support for this suggestion in 2 years, I don't really foresee it happening. Sorry.
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    SitePoint Zealot Michel Merlin's Avatar
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    Please readers check ORIGINAL posts IN CONTEXT and FOLLOW LINKS

    Please readers don't rely on 2nd hand implications (or even quotes), read each person in all their original posts and their context and sub-links. Pursuing a discussion whose effect (while starting, in the last post, with a 1st kind paragraph) appears essentially to divert from the subject and links, to bloat the forum with unpleasant and useless posts, and to make me look as the cause of this, would be useless in turn. The ones interested in this sort of things can continue alone.

    Versailles, Sat 17 Mar 2007 13:47:50 +0100, edited 17:05:25
    Last edited by Michel Merlin; Mar 17, 2007 at 10:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Merlin View Post
    Please stop misrepresenting what I said.
    I find it ironic that you would post this sentence and then completely misquote me.

    And please why, while constantly challenging my opinions, don't you challenge tke71709's implication of 1 million users of Sitepoint, all but one fully agreeing with the current situation?I have yet to see a compelling reason to not.
    At no point in my post did I say anything about the number of users that SP has, ever has had, or ever will have.

    What I said quite simply was that the vast majority of SP users (and VBulletin users in general) like things the way they are and that there is no reason to change simply because one person wants a change (that would be you).

    In all my years on the Internet, and having spent years on forums you're the only person I've ever seen who wanted this change made. The fact that you're still resurrecting this thread after two years and zero people agreeing with you tells me that you're a little obsessive when it comes to this and that logic has no place in this discussion. Ahhh, looking at your profile I see that you're an engineer, that explains a lot

    With that said, can't we just get an official answer from SP saying "Thank you for comments, but no, we're not changing things" and then just lock this useless thread?


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