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  1. #1

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    Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    The discussion begins here. If possible, move posts to this thread.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    All the mods have to do to solve this problem, is to declare a few of the web-sites of
    "trustable VB6-community-members" as "the only allowed exceptions to the general rule"
    (which currently is, to generally not provide Links to any Dll-Binaries, <sigh>).

    These sites could then host the C-compiled-Binaries (along with the VB6-wrapper-sources) - perhaps offering
    SHA-Checksums for them in addition, along with Download-Links to these "special kind of combined projects".

    New additions to these "allowed sites" would then require to contact these VB6-developers first
    (which were probably following the discussion of some new wrapper-development anyways) -
    this way certain pre-checks could be handled without wasting any "man-power" on the side of VBForum-mods,
    before such a package is brought online...

    That's all.

    FWIW, I hereby offer, to provide such a service - and I'm sure e.g. Tanner will as well.

    Olaf
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    As discussed in the original thread, I don't think it is feasible to expect your average VB6 programmer to build all of their third-party libraries from source themselves in order to be able to use them because:

    • It's beyond the capability of many of us. Often the reason that we've chosen VB6 vs. C is ease of use. Expecting many VB6ers to have the skills to get all the tooling together to build massive C libraries is being optimistic at best. I would expect many threads to devolve into long discussions on how to build the third-party libraries instead of being directly related to the thread topic.
    • It's wasteful. Our time to volunteer here is often limited and if we can expend it on the VB-side of the equation instead of on the C-side, I think that's a win for the community. If 1 trusted member is handling the binary builds, and others are contributing source against that single build then we are better off then asking everyone to commit time to producing their own builds.
    • Source code is only marginally safer than the compiled binaries when the compiled binaries are retrieved from a trusted source. While you can inspect the source, are most of us doing that? Does anybody look through all of Krool's source for his huge and popular Unicode Common Controls library before trying it out? I suspect not. Could Krool go to the darkside and hit us with a malicious update to his source? Of course, but we trust that he wouldn't do that. So what's the difference if we get a binary from a trusted member? Effectively zero.


    To that end, I see the following options:

    • VBForums can allow binaries from "trusted" users. Who is a trusted user would need to be defined, but maybe something tied to a combination # of posts, reputation points, and/or time as a member?
    • VBForums can allow links to binaries on other sites. This seems "good enough" to keep the forum admins "off-the-hook" for any problems people might encounter by downloading malicious software that may get posted, but maybe there would be issues with ending up on Chrome's malicious site list (for example) if bad links are posted here?
    • We can move to another platform and leave VBForums behind. My last choice personally, but are there any other sites/forums out there that the community knows about that might be suitable?
    • We port any third-party source in pure VB6 so they can be used by the community. Yeah right
    • We do none of the above, and lose all access to some incredibly useful and powerful extensions to VB6. That just seems like missed opportunities all for the sake of avoiding occasional problems with malware.


    Anyway, that's my two cents.
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    ex-Administrator brad jones's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    I have no issue with linking to github for public projects that need to have a DLL or other executable as long as the source code is available as well.

    It is correct that some rules should be interpreted in a less "strict" way. We do interpret some rules less strict and we also give more flexibility to more trusted members. Of course, members who jump into other people's threads to push their own agendas, become less trusted (regardless of post counts/tenure), especially when those agendas have already been discussed with such members. For those members, rules are likely to become more more strict. Some rules, such as the avoidance of executables on the forum, are also regulated by people outside of the forum (such as QuinStreet's security team), and thus there is going to be a lot less flexibility.

    So to reiterate the key point - I have no issue with links to github for public domain projects, if executables are needed and the source is available.

    Edit: There is also our utility bank, but that requires source, etc.)

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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Quote Originally Posted by brad jones View Post
    I have no issue with linking to github for public projects that need to have a DLL or other executable as long as the source code is available as well.
    The above statement is still not really clear to me, so let me ask very concretely for something I plan to do the next days:

    - I plan to push the VB6-Sources (mostly VB6-Class-Files) for a conveniently usable, new libCURL-wrapper to GitHub
    - libCURL is really difficult to compile (esapecially when ssl and ssh support are needed) - so I'm using one of the recent binaries which were produced from e.g. the Suse-Linux CompileServices for MingW-Win32...
    - so my VB6-Wrapper-Sources on GitHub do have 4 Dlls finally in their \Bin\ subfolder:
    ... VB6CurlWrapper.dll (the COM-based VB6-ClassWrapper which can be compiled with VB6 from the Source on GitHub
    ... libcurl.dll 'a binary from C-sources, compiled by the OpenSuse-CompileService
    ... libeay32.dll 'a binary from C-sources, compiled by the OpenSuse-CompileService
    ... libssleay32.dll 'a binary from C-sources, compiled by the OpenSuse-CompileService

    GitHub itself has no problem at all with that - or what's contained in the Bin-Folder of their Repo-Service.

    But my concrete question is: am I allowed to link to such a repository as described above from this Forum, or am I not allowed to do so?

    Quote Originally Posted by brad jones View Post
    ...We do interpret some rules less strict and we also give more flexibility to more trusted members. Of course, members who jump into other people's threads to push their own agendas, become less trusted (regardless of post counts/tenure), especially when those agendas have already been discussed with such members. For those members, rules are likely to become more more strict.
    Just in case the above remarks were meant for me (because I received kinda like a "warning" from you in a private message in parallel to your post here) -
    do you mean, that only in my case such GitHub-links would not be allowed (because of some "agenda" I allegedly pursue)?

    Olaf
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    ex-Administrator brad jones's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    The statement you quoted seems pretty clear considering the person that said it (me) is above the moderators and admins that are on this forum daily.
    If the source code is available for a project, then linking to github would generally be allowed at this point. We are not going to create an absolute rule. We've found that there will be those that look for loopholes in any absolute rules created, and we know there will be exceptions made on a case-by-case basis for any rule. For example, if a project has a fee associated to it (licensing), then we might choose to remove the link even though the source is open.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    I don't believe the site will ever allow the direct attachment (not talking about links) of compiled code outside of the Utility section, and then only as described. There have been incidents in the past that has made this necessary. At least one of those incidents was quite entertaining, but mostly if you didn't blithely try out the .exe to help the poster. Now, in that case, the poster was a member of pretty modest and brief standing. However, I remember at least two cases in the past where somebody was able to post using a different members account, one of which is pretty much lost in the mist of time, but I can totally see it happening in today's world. In that ancient case, the user got banned due to the unauthorized use of his account by somebody (might have been a roommate or sibling), but no other harm was done. So, an ounce of prevention is wise, having been burned in the past.

    When it comes to sites like GitHub, we obviously have no control over what is posted there, and sometimes a link to such a site is the only reasonable solution to some kinds of problems. As with anything, the buyer must beware about things like that, and decide for themselves whether to make use of any compiled code located there, keeping in mind that just because there is source code doesn't necessarily mean that the binary is compiled from that source. Also, the snake thread had source included with it, but it was several posts in before anybody took the time to actually look at the source code closely enough, at which point it blew up pretty good (the language censor was much more lax, at the time, since that behavior, understandable though it was, would exceed the PG rating).

    The problem arises when a person uses such a loophole to advertise something. This is naturally going to be somewhat subjective, especially since the CodeBank and Utility forums can often be seen as something akin to advertising. If you have any question about any specific post, feel free to PM a moderator before you post it....well, up to a point, I guess, since the character limit on a PM is MUCH shorter than the character limit on a post.

    EDIT: Whoops, crossed over Brad. Still, to somewhat misquote Lincoln: Sorry about the length of the post, I didn't have the time to write a shorter one.
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    ex-Administrator brad jones's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    EDIT: Whoops, crossed over Brad.
    I liked your answer better.

    Between the two posts, hopefully there is clarity.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    brad jones, Shaggy Hiker, thank you for the answers.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    I don't know if I'll ever understand the rules re: links to binaries, and there seems to be a bit of an inverse favourtism going on here at times (instead of an idea of "trusted" members, there's a feeling of "blacklisted" but contributing members).

    So I don't expect any logic anymore, which is a bit disappointing from a forum for programmers, but I can live with that because I have to (it's not my playground, so if I don't like it I can just go home).

    I think it is a bit of a shame though for the following reasons:

    1) There seems to be an inordinate amount of effort expending to sideline some of the last few members of the community who are still happy and excited to give away their work and knowledge for free (with or without source), just because they don't fit some ill-defined mold of what the mods/admins want.

    2) I do like the old-school forum feel where we aren't just always formally discussing work on specific issues, and threads can drift off a little bit, but there's still some interesting conversation going on. I know we just look like screen names and avatars here, but I value and enjoy the conversations with all of you individual human beings around the world - including the arguments and dissenting voices!

    That said, it definitely feels like the environment here seems to be getting increasingly toxic. I think there are some people with hurt feelings that just can't let go, and are subsequently being vindictive. Some formerly valuable longtime contributors have become little more than shadows of their former selves, and now seem to spend most of their effort tilting at windmills.

    It would be nice if there were a simple answer, but I suspect there isn't. MPEBCIDAH. Many problems exist between computer, input device, and humans
    Last edited by jpbro; May 30th, 2017 at 08:32 PM.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    There's another issue, too. Some of the long time members....are getting kind of old. If you've seen these faces around for years....that's because it has been years. I've been on this forum for 15 years, and there are folks who were around when I signed up. This may be more of an issue than people realize.

    Rules for code posted on here are easy. Rules for links...not so easy. People get banned for straight up advertising, but at what point is a thread about some helpful project advertising?

    The basic problem is that creating a set of logically consistent, airtight rules has only two easy answers: Everything goes, and nothing goes. Since those two are clearly not desirable, you end up with the problem of coming up with some rules in the middle. This can be done quite easily as long as nobody tries to push the boundaries. As long as nobody is looking for loopholes, then the rules can be less than solid. Heck, at that point they can even be totally arbitrary and nonexistent. After all, you can live with arbitrary rules if you aren't trying to figure out where the boundaries are, and you can live with gaps, as well.

    This is a larger issue in society. As long as nobody tries to take advantage of a system, you don't really need rules. This can be seen as a culture where everybody "fits in". What generally happens in such societies is that anybody who tries to follow a different path gets thrown out...or worse. On the other end, you have a society where everything is allowed unless it is specifically prohibited, and all are free to go whatever direction they want within those boundaries. In the first case, all are flowing in the same direction anyways, so if there are holes in the guides, nobody will notice because they aren't going that way. In the latter case, everybody is going in every different direction, and the guides have to be air tight....simply because it's expected.

    So, which are we? The conformal society needs few rules, but penalties for non-conformity tend to be utterly harsh. The non-conformal society has to have LOADS of rules, because somebody is always testing the boundaries, so every situation has to be covered. It's a more permissive, freer, society in some ways, but a misery to most people in it as they are burdened down by regulations. Many internet forums are 'anything goes', or nearly so. This community has always had more restraint, mostly personal restraint, which is why I've remained here and pretty much nowhere else. Not everybody wants to live that way, though. If you want to push the boundaries, then the boundaries will become increasingly defined and the rules will become increasingly more rigid and codified over time. That's just how systems work. So, we live by the personal restraint of the members, and if that ceases to be a thing, then we will inevitably live by the draconian restraint of mods and admins.

    Where we go, and what we become, is largely up to the members. I hope we will continue to have no very clear line when it comes to links to external sites, but if people insist that the mods have to come up with a rule and everybody live by it....you won't like that rule, and neither will I.

    Still, the characters from 15 years back, now mostly all gone, are also mostly older. So....GET OFF MY LAWN!!
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Oh yeah, I was also going to add: If you can come up with a simple, airtight, rule that keeps advertising off and lacks serious loopholes (or maybe doesn't lack them, even). I'd be interested in hearing about it. I can think of one, but it's more permissive than I'd like...and I can easily see how to circumvent it.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    @Shaggy - thanks for your very reasonable perspective.

    Regarding "advertising", I think that at least deserves a concrete definition...IMHO some members have been accused of "advertising" just because they link to binaries without any access to source code, even though there is no mention of/requirement for money. For me the confusing bit is that there seems to be no commensurate issue with linking to other closed-source binaries from "reputable" sources like Microsoft.

    Second - I think there might have to be a different set of rules for VB6 vs. .Net stuff, especially regarding binaries and "advertising". The truth is that the VB6 market is almost non-existent at this point re: conventional motivations for advertising. Developers once spent hundreds of dollars per library in droves for third-party libraries, but I doubt that is the case any longer. So is anyone really advertising paid binary-only solutions for VB6 users here anymore?

    To that end, I think that on VB6-side there should be a presumption of innocent until proven guilty. Chances are that anyone who is offering anything to the community is doing it in goodwill, no?

    As an aside to anyone reading who tries out code (source or binary, from here or anywhere else) - can you please make sure to do it in a VM with not access to the host, network, etc...? That will protect you from just about anything save for some catastrophically bad malware that can jump through virtualization and hit the host.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    @shaggy - I didn't get much into the "old guy" stuff, but I appreciate those comments too.

    My post count and join date are a bit deceiving. I have contributed a bit more to other forums, and have lurked around this one for a while before deciding to hop on the vbforums bandwagon. Basically, I'm an "old guy" too! But just because I am old(ish), doesn't mean I want to be stagnant or overly nostalgic, I still want to contribute and move VB6 forward in the way *I* think it deserves...as I suspect the other "hangers on" think it deserves too. I hope vbforums can find a way to accommodate that, for the sake of the community and the forum.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    I don't know if I'll ever understand the rules re: links to binaries
    The rules are actually pretty simple: it's not allowed. If there's to be no discretion from the mods that is the only position we can take that protects both the membership and QuinStreet's interests.

    However, we all recognise that an absolutely strict policing of those rules wouldn't create a forum that you wanted to be part of. So we do allow you to bend and break those rules as long as we feel you're not doing any harm or doing anything that makes us feel uneasy. We apply that discretion a lot which probably creates a feeling that the rule doesn't apply any more, but it does. It applies by default and we allow exceptions

    I've no doubt that when a mod removes a link or an attachment from one of your posts it can feel like your being told off and treated like a naughty schoolboy but that's not the way we intend those actions to come across. It simply means we saw something that made us uneasy and so we acted to nip any potential damage (either to yourselves or Quinstreet's interests) in the bud. I've no doubt we're often incorrect and there was actually nothing to worry about (we're human, after all, and we make mistakes) but we have to make judgement calls if we're to allow you any freedom to post/link to utilities at all and, not to labour the point, the alternative is to completely disallow it... ever.

    When we do get it wrong let us know. But do it politely and quietly, send us a PM. I hope Olaf will back me up that I, personally, have back-tracked on decisions I've taken in the past that worked against him. He's provided me with information I wasn't aware of when I made the decision and I've reinstated posts where he was able to convince me that my initial decision was unfair. I'd do the same for any member and I'm sure all my fellow mods would do the same. But if you try to have that discussion in the public forum it can come across as an attempt to publically undermine us, even if that's not how you intend it.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't have discussion like this in public and I'm sure they help to achieve an overall understanding of where we're likely to apply discretion in the future and where we're not. If you want to get a greater understanding of how our minds work then a thread like this is ideal, but if you want to get us to rethink a particular decision then a polite pm is far more likely to get the result you're after.

    There seems to be an inordinate amount of effort expending to sideline some of the last few members of the community
    That statement concerns me because we certainly don't want anyone to feel victimised. You haven't explicitly said it but I think you're referring to the VB6 community. If that the case then I think the reason is simply that a lot more of you are making your utilities available on the VB6 side than there are on the .Net side and that means, in turn, that we're going to have to remove binaries from you more often. That's probably something to do with the unsupported nature of VB6. .Netters can blithely sit back and wait for Microsoft to fill the gaps for us, 6ers have to fill those gaps themselves.

    But no, we're not out to get you and we don't want to drive you out. You still make up a substantial portion of the membership (possibly the majority, depending on how you choose to measure it) and we don't want to lose you. I get the impression that we're the de-facto support and knowledge base site for VB6 these days. We would not want to jeopardise that.
    Last edited by FunkyDexter; May 31st, 2017 at 05:38 AM.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Quote Originally Posted by jpbro View Post
    Second - I think there might have to be a different set of rules for VB6 vs. .Net stuff, especially regarding binaries and "advertising". The truth is that the VB6 market is almost non-existent at this point re: conventional motivations for advertising. Developers once spent hundreds of dollars per library in droves for third-party libraries, but I doubt that is the case any longer. So is anyone really advertising paid binary-only solutions for VB6 users here anymore?
    I really like this point, because it puts into words something that I have been slowly moving towards, myself. It really DOES feel to me that VB6 is becoming something different in the way it is talked about and the way people work with it. Lots of languages, including .NET and Javascript (the two I work with most, these days), seem to be running as fast as they can in as many directions as they can, so it's a challenge to keep even conversant on the topics. Meanwhile the language being used around VB6 seems to be more like that used by any enthusiast group about a historic thing. The knowledge level can be profound, the passion...rather transcendent, but progress (if there is any) tends to be slow and stately, as opposed to the "herding cats" frenetic pace found in bleeding edge languages which can be all flash without substance.

    So, the feel of Classic VB seems like it is changing, to me, and I would be inclined to let the rules in that area change to reflect the difference. Having said that, I will probably go dark for the rest of the week and say nothing more, but that's not due to a lack of interest, just a lack of internet (my tent is not wired).
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    ex-Administrator brad jones's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Quote Originally Posted by jpbro View Post
    Regarding "advertising", I think that at least deserves a concrete definition...
    The linking to or promotion of a product or service, which can include a web site. Backlinking is the most common form of marketing I see on forums (less so on this one than on some of the others owned by QuinStreet).

    Quote Originally Posted by jpbro View Post
    Chances are that anyone who is offering anything to the community is doing it in goodwill, no?
    While many people contribute for goodwill alone, there are those that are looking for backlinks or other exposure to drive other products they have. As such, they tend to be the ones that push the rules, ask for clarifications, and then try to find loopholes that then cause more explicit restrictions to be put in place that make it harder for those that are doing things altruistic to have a harder time contributing. As stated by those above, the more explicit we make the rules, the more difficult it becomes for everyone. Of course, even if we are explicit, rule 0 always applies.

    Brad

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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Quote Originally Posted by jpbro View Post
    @shaggy - I didn't get much into the "old guy" stuff, but I appreciate those comments too.

    My post count and join date are a bit deceiving. I have contributed a bit more to other forums, and have lurked around this one for a while before deciding to hop on the vbforums bandwagon. Basically, I'm an "old guy" too!
    I know. Not about you, specifically, but just look at the When Did You Start Programming thread over in Chit-Chat. All those folks who I felt were my age (I turn 50 in a month), talking about working on stuff when I was still sucking my thumb....like...the 90s.

    Seriously, though, when I started, there were a bunch of 20 somethings. At that age, you are generally just getting into the work force, and may be job-hopping a fair amount. The world is open to you. Now, it seems like most of the common posters are getting long of tooth. Heck, I'm 15 years older than when I signed up, too.

    So, why is this? It may be the forum, but considering all the proliferation of social media options in the world, it is just as likely that things are just changing. When I started, I had a shelf of books, since that was all there was. Then there were forums like this. Both of those options still exist, and I still use both. But what other options are out there? More than I know of, that's quite likely.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Please accept my apologies for the delayed reply - I had to take care of other business, and since I like to take care to be considerate and insightful in these "political" posts, it can sometimes take me a while to get back into the right head space. I also appreciate the thoughtful responses from the mods and admins.

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    The rules are actually pretty simple: it's not allowed. If there's to be no discretion from the mods that is the only position we can take that protects both the membership and QuinStreet's interests.

    However, we all recognise that an absolutely strict policing of those rules wouldn't create a forum that you wanted to be part of. So we do allow you to bend and break those rules as long as we feel you're not doing any harm or doing anything that makes us feel uneasy. We apply that discretion a lot which probably creates a feeling that the rule doesn't apply any more, but it does. It applies by default and we allow exceptions
    The rule is simple, but the exceptions are not - I guess in part that's what I meant by not understanding the rules. Perhaps I should have said, I don't know if I'll ever understand the exceptions to the rule, or when/how they might be applied. Sometimes it feels a bit arbitrary, and sometimes it feels like certain users are being picked on.

    The other part of my comment re: not understanding the rule is that I don't know if I understand why it's even necessary (especially in terms of links to free but closed source binaries outside of vbForums). I'm sure there was a time that it was definitely important, but from my non-admin/mod member perspective it seems like it causes more problems than it could possibly solve.

    Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    When we do get it wrong let us know. But do it politely and quietly, send us a PM...I'm not saying we shouldn't have discussion like this in public and I'm sure they help to achieve an overall understanding of where we're likely to apply discretion in the future and where we're not. If you want to get a greater understanding of how our minds work then a thread like this is ideal, but if you want to get us to rethink a particular decision then a polite pm is far more likely to get the result you're after.
    Fair enough - it's nice to have some concrete guidance on a preferred approach to dealing with these issues. I submit that I prefer public discussion since it gives everyone a chance to chime in, but I appreciate that it might feel like there's an attempt to undermine or instigate a revolt with a public discussion. I don't think that's ever the intent, but as you said we're human after all, and it's easy for things to be taken the wrong way, or for there to be unintended consequences of our actions (on both sides of the equation).


    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    That statement concerns me because we certainly don't want anyone to feel victimised. You haven't explicitly said it but I think you're referring to the VB6 community.
    I was referring more to a perceived discrepancy in how some specific users are treated vs. others. I don't want to get into naming names, but it seems like the aforementioned arbitrariness of the exceptions to certain site rules tends to favour some users more often, while some other users get the letter of the law levied against them more often. I admit this could be a mis-read/bias on my part, I haven't spent the time to gather actual statistics on this (nor will I - there aren't enough hours in the day!)
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  20. #20
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    I really like this point, because it puts into words something that I have been slowly moving towards, myself. It really DOES feel to me that VB6 is becoming something different in the way it is talked about and the way people work with it. Lots of languages, including .NET and Javascript (the two I work with most, these days), seem to be running as fast as they can in as many directions as they can, so it's a challenge to keep even conversant on the topics. Meanwhile the language being used around VB6 seems to be more like that used by any enthusiast group about a historic thing. The knowledge level can be profound, the passion...rather transcendent, but progress (if there is any) tends to be slow and stately, as opposed to the "herding cats" frenetic pace found in bleeding edge languages which can be all flash without substance.

    So, the feel of Classic VB seems like it is changing, to me, and I would be inclined to let the rules in that area change to reflect the difference. Having said that, I will probably go dark for the rest of the week and say nothing more, but that's not due to a lack of interest, just a lack of internet (my tent is not wired).
    Couldn't agree more, and it's nice to hear that from a mod. I don't know if there's a path forward in that regard, and I imagine there could be a problem with having different sets of rules for different parts of the forums (for example, the .Netters might start complaining that the VB6ers are getting away with murder), but it does seems like the VB6 community is taking on a different character and if it were possible to accommodate that change with a bit more freedom, then this would be the place to do it. As FunkyDexter alluded to, it seems like vbForums is becoming the favoured herding spot for a lot of VB6ers as they wander in from grazing at other fields that are no longer viable.
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  21. #21
    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    The rule is simple, but the exceptions are not
    Yeah, I get that, but they cant be, that's why they're exceptions. They're subjective and therefore not codifiable unless you want us to take a very rigid and protectionist stance. I suspect you would like that position less than the current one.

    I appreciate that can seem to put you in an unfair position. We're asking you to make a judgement call on whether or not your post is acceptable without really having the full story and that means that, without you intending to do anything wrong, you will occasionally make the wrong decision and perhaps get pulled up on it. I can offer two things for you consider that might help make that feel a little less unfair:-
    1. We know you'll get it wrong occasionally and we won't hold it against you. When we pull a link or post for a closed binary it's not intended as a dressing down and it won't affect your standing on the forum. It can mean a bit of wasted effort on your part and I can't think of a good way round that I'm afraid. I guess try and avoid giving answers that are reliant on closed resources unless those resources can be easily sourced without needing to link to them (i.e. they're freely searchable via google)
    2. Try to understand the reasons the rule exists - it will help you make the right judgement. More on that below.

    I submit that I prefer public discussion since it gives everyone a chance to chime in
    No problem with that but it's a case of choosing the right place to have the open discussion. This, for example, is the right place. We've got a feedback sub forum for exactly this sort of stuff. A thread in the main forum is not - it derails the thread.

    So why does the rule exist. I see a few reasons:-

    1. Protecting the membership. I don't think you've been a member long enough to remember the snake game fiasco but I can tell you that people can and do use forums like this to spread viruses. In the case of the snake game the source was actually made available but a bunch of folks still installed the damn thing before it was spotted. If the source hadn't been available it could have been much worse. Realistically, if you're a long standing member with a good reputation we're likely to overlook this reason for you... but if you're new or have a shady past then don't expect special treatment.

    2. Protecting QuinStreet's interests. This forum exists because people choose to advertise on it. If we allow people to push their own utilities without paying to advertise we undermine that. In a previous post you said it's not advertising if the utility is free. We could go round and round on the semantics of that but let's not because a) we'd never agree and b) it misses the point. If you're free utility happens to do the same as a different utility that someone is paying to advertise on forum then you're still undermining the revenue stream QuinStreet relies on. It kinda sucks that the big boys with the cash get to put their stuff up on this site and you don't but that's capitalism I'm afraid. And while my socialist tendencies mean I'm not 100% comfortable typing this, I can't escape the fact that, without it, VBForums would not exist.

    3. Protecting the purpose of the forum. Put simply this is not a file sharing site, it's a knowledge sharing site. We have a utilities section... and we require that you post the source for any utilities you share there because that way you also share the knowledge.

    4. I gather from the admins that the closed binaries cause technical problems. Some of those pages that fail to load fail because of the binaries that have been posted in them. I'm afraid I don't know enough about the inner workings of the site to explain that further but I can tell you that in a similar thread where a binary was posted, several of the mods were unable to open it in order to moderate it. There's quite an amusing discussion in the mods forum where we were trying to deal with it.

    So the general guide I'd follow is:-
    1. Is the resource Open source? If it is you can be reasonably sure that we won't object to it. If it's small enough to post on the site then please do. If it's too big we'll accept a link but try to make sure it's to an open platform - e.g. Source Forge. If's it's to a proprietary site we're likely to look at it with a lot more suspicion.

    2. If it's not Open Source, do you have the right to make it so? If it's your own utility then this is an option that will immediately mean it passes muster for posting here. If you're not willing to make it open source then that's your choice but the cost is that we probably won't let you post it. There are various utility sites that you can use but VBF, I'm afraid, isn't among them.

    3. If it's not your utility so you don't have the option to Open Source it then you probably have to accept that this forum is not the right place to be posting it. Presumably whoever owns the resource has their own means of distribution and that's the appropriate channel to use. If they don't then that's frustrating but is really an issue you should be taking up with them, not us.

    4. If it's an "abandoned" utility (a lot of the VB6 resources would fall under this category) I can see the temptation to pass it through this forum but, I'm afraid, this isn't the right platform for that. Use a file sharing site or similar. You can discuss it on the forum so folks know what to google for. (Be aware that this could smack of advertising if we think you've got a vested interest in the resource. As long as you're not connected to it we're unlikely to reach that conclusion though)

    In all honesty, I can think of very few circumstances in which there is no practical alternative to posting or linking to a closed source binary on VBF. The alternatives may not be as convenient but they are workable and will allow you to operate without violating our rules. If you do have an exception then drop a line to a mod and explain why. We're not ogres and, as long as we can see that what you're doing is useful and non-damaging, we're very likely to make an exception for you.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    @JBPro: Being Canadian, do you tend to use American idioms, British idioms, a mix, or just poutine? I was wondering because I read what FD wrote. I've learned a whole different flavor to the English language from this forum, and now I can't spell colour.

    (my father was seeing a gal in Toronto and tried to get me to try out poutine. It sounds like it could be really tasty, but my arteries were begging for mercy just from the description.)

    One thing about the different people treated differently: That's undoubtedly true, and has several different aspects to it. For one thing, I've conversed with some people fairly often via PM, while others I have never spoken to. That means that, at best, you may be seeing only a percentage (a large percentage, but just a percentage) of any conversation, which means that both parties may have information that you aren't aware of. Another piece of this is that there are people we have interacted with in other forums and in other ways in this forum (the insanity of Chit-Chat, for example), which also can change the tone of a conversation. To some extent, this is human nature. It's not a good thing, even though we frequently benefit from it. If somebody knows me, and treats me nicer because of that, it's good for me, but pretty much by definition that means that the person is treating other people worse for no reason. In fact, they are treating them worse as a consequence of the absence of any reason. Still, nobody knows quite how to avoid this.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    It seems that the key to getting special treatment is to just flood the site with posts that violate the guidelines. After a while moderators just give up and let baby have his bottle. I suppose it doesn't hurt to ask your "clan" to join the site and post positive comments on your actions.

    So I guess I can just go ahead and start posting to threads containing hot links to off-site downloads. if I do this enough I'll just be granted privileged status and allowed to do whatever I choose.

    Thanks for making this policy point clearer.

    I've been looking for a way to post links to my compiled binaries and talk them up here. Free advertising and customer support site. Cool!
    Last edited by dilettante; Jun 18th, 2017 at 04:48 PM.
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  24. #24
    ex-Administrator brad jones's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
    So I guess I can just go ahead and start posting to threads containing hot links to off-site downloads.
    We said okay only to github, and it is expected that source will still be available.

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
    if I do this enough I'll just be granted privileged status and allowed to do whatever I choose.
    That is not recommended and might not work out as well as you expect.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    @JBPro: Being Canadian, do you tend to use American idioms, British idioms, a mix, or just poutine? I was wondering because I read what FD wrote. I've learned a whole different flavor to the English language from this forum, and now I can't spell colour.
    At the risk of straying off-topic here, I'll keep my answer as brief as possible. I can't speak for all Canadians here, but as someone living in a big city near-ish the US border but with a Scottish parent and some English relatives as well, I tend to use a mix of both. We get pretty much all of the American media here, so there's a huge influence that way, but my life (and the nation's history) has a huge British influence too.

    When I program I try to stick to American English for variable names and such (Color instead of Colour for example). It's surprisingly easy to switch headspaces between programming and written correspondence, but that's probably because there aren't too many differences (Color/Colour being the most common, maybe Neighbor/Neighbour or Favor/Favour more rarely), and also because you kind of have to switch headspaces for programming and writing correspondence anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    (my father was seeing a gal in Toronto and tried to get me to try out poutine. It sounds like it could be really tasty, but my arteries were begging for mercy just from the description.)
    Poutine is a nice treat every once in a while, but you certainly won't be doing your heart any favours (hey there's that "u" again)! TBH I was a latecomer to trying it because I didn't realy like the sound of it, but it can be pretty tasty (you can get it from the fast food giants up here like McDonalds, BurgerKing, etc... but I don't recommend it compared to a "proper" place. The best of course are in Québec, which is the home of poutine). Anyway worth a try at least once

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    One thing about the different people treated differently: That's undoubtedly true, and has several different aspects to it. For one thing, I've conversed with some people fairly often via PM, while others I have never spoken to. That means that, at best, you may be seeing only a percentage (a large percentage, but just a percentage) of any conversation, which means that both parties may have information that you aren't aware of. Another piece of this is that there are people we have interacted with in other forums and in other ways in this forum (the insanity of Chit-Chat, for example), which also can change the tone of a conversation. To some extent, this is human nature. It's not a good thing, even though we frequently benefit from it. If somebody knows me, and treats me nicer because of that, it's good for me, but pretty much by definition that means that the person is treating other people worse for no reason. In fact, they are treating them worse as a consequence of the absence of any reason. Still, nobody knows quite how to avoid this.
    This is a very good point, and I really appreciate your diplomatic tone - something that can be missing far too often from these kinds of discussions. They often turn too easily to mudslinging, sarcasm, anger, and defensiveness.

    I can accept that some people have extra currency in any social setting, and while it may not be a "good" thing, I also don't think it's totally without merit. It would be foolish to give everyone the same credit without regard to how well you know them. If someone has been a valuable longtime contributor to the community, then they've earned a reputation and reputations have value. That's just a fact of life, and it's often better to just accept that as part of the rules of the game and learn to work within that when you are a newcomer. That said, there are some who can abuse their reputation/position/social status, and some who are more gracious with it. I think most confrontations occur when the "less advantaged" are confronted with the former as opposed to the latter.
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    Thanks for the very detailed and considered reply FunkDexter.

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    Yeah, I get that, but they cant be, that's why they're exceptions. They're subjective and therefore not codifiable unless you want us to take a very rigid and protectionist stance. I suspect you would like that position less than the current one.
    TBH, I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer a very rigid and protectionist stance, but I could be wrong about that. I know I'd like to spend less energy on conversations like these and if rigidity would lead to that, then I'd support it.

    Not that I'm being forced to post here, so I shouldn't be complaining too much, but I do feel that you and the other mods/admins have put a fair amount of thought and time into your responses, so you deserve acknowledgement for your efforts. The whole thing just takes a lot of time and effort for all of us though, and I think we'd all prefer focusing on other tasks.

    I appreciate that can seem to put you in an unfair position. We're asking you to make a judgement call on whether or not your post is acceptable without really having the full story and that means that, without you intending to do anything wrong, you will occasionally make the wrong decision and perhaps get pulled up on it. I can offer two things for you consider that might help make that feel a little less unfair:-

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    1. We know you'll get it wrong occasionally and we won't hold it against you. When we pull a link or post for a closed binary it's not intended as a dressing down and it won't affect your standing on the forum. It can mean a bit of wasted effort on your part and I can't think of a good way round that I'm afraid. I guess try and avoid giving answers that are reliant on closed resources unless those resources can be easily sourced without needing to link to them (i.e. they're freely searchable via google)
    While I more or less completely understand the ban on posting binaries, I still don't get the problem with links to binaries (or pages with binaries if not direct links to the binaries themselves). That said, it looks like we might be about to go into circles about this, so it's probably best to agree to disagree at this point, and since you are on the admin/mod side, that's just tough cookies for me

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    No problem with that but it's a case of choosing the right place to have the open discussion. This, for example, is the right place. We've got a feedback sub forum for exactly this sort of stuff. A thread in the main forum is not - it derails the thread.
    I agree with you wholeheartedly here.

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    1. Protecting the membership. I don't think you've been a member long enough to remember the snake game fiasco but I can tell you that people can and do use forums like this to spread viruses. In the case of the snake game the source was actually made available but a bunch of folks still installed the damn thing before it was spotted. If the source hadn't been available it could have been much worse. Realistically, if you're a long standing member with a good reputation we're likely to overlook this reason for you... but if you're new or have a shady past then don't expect special treatment.
    Note that for the purposes of the word "binaries" below, I'm not saying we should be allowed to post binaries here directly (especially in light of your later points), but instead I mean posting links to outside sites that host free/unpaid binaries.

    I don't think I was around for the snake debacle - I recall trying out a snake-like game at one point, so hopefully not that one anyway!

    The "source hole" still exists, and indeed your mention of the snake game illustrates the danger of running source code of any complexity beyond snippets that can be easily inspected. This is why I have trouble with the argument against links to externally hosted binaries. It could be argued that malicious source can be even more dangerous than a compiled binary (EXE anyway, if not DLL/OCX) since the VB6 IDE must be run as administrator, whereas any binaries we download would likely be run under a limited user account. The truth is, anything you get from the internet should be considered potentially hostile and first tested on a VM or some machine where you don't care if it gets infected because it's not connected to anything and you don't mind nuking it and reinstalling Windows periodically. Running any moderately complex source or binary from any untrusted source is a recipe for disaster.


    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    2. Protecting QuinStreet's interests. This forum exists because people choose to advertise on it. If we allow people to push their own utilities without paying to advertise we undermine that. In a previous post you said it's not advertising if the utility is free. We could go round and round on the semantics of that but let's not because a) we'd never agree and b) it misses the point. If you're free utility happens to do the same as a different utility that someone is paying to advertise on forum then you're still undermining the revenue stream QuinStreet relies on. It kinda sucks that the big boys with the cash get to put their stuff up on this site and you don't but that's capitalism I'm afraid. And while my socialist tendencies mean I'm not 100% comfortable typing this, I can't escape the fact that, without it, VBForums would not exist.
    This is clearly the most important one, and it's nice to see it spelled out (follow the money). It also completely makes sense, the site could not exists without revenue, so don't get me wrong I'm not complaining about that. My only argument is this: How does a closed-source but free (as in beer) compiled binary compete with your paid advertiser's products any more than an open-source and free (as in beer and speech) compiled binary? I just don't see how it follows to ban one type of external link vs. another since I don't really see a difference to your advertiser

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    3. Protecting the purpose of the forum. Put simply this is not a file sharing site, it's a knowledge sharing site. We have a utilities section... and we require that you post the source for any utilities you share there because that way you also share the knowledge.
    Agreed, I wouldn't want to see it turned into a file sharing site either. Just to re-iterate, I'm only see a possibility for allowing posting of links to other sites that have links to free (as in beer) compiled libraries.

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    4. I gather from the admins that the closed binaries cause technical problems. Some of those pages that fail to load fail because of the binaries that have been posted in them. I'm afraid I don't know enough about the inner workings of the site to explain that further but I can tell you that in a similar thread where a binary was posted, several of the mods were unable to open it in order to moderate it. There's quite an amusing discussion in the mods forum where we were trying to deal with it.
    Understood, and ditto above.

    I'll skip your "guide" (though I do appreciate you posting it) since there's an immediately irreconcilable issue between my idea and what the site is willing to accommodate, so once again I'll just be on the wrong side of the equation here and get on with life!

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    We're not ogres
    Well we'll have to agree to disagree on that one too Just kidding of course, you guys have a tough job and overall the site works well enough otherwise we wouldn't be here. So in case I haven't said it, thanks for the forum and the work you do supporting it.

    I'll close with this as I'm running out of steam on this whole thing:

    From my position on the VBF user end, the whole "binary link" request comes from a place of wanting to contribute to the community in a way that reduces some friction for certain classes of programmers/developers who are willing to use closed source (but free as in beer) libraries to modernize their VB6 apps, and that will also help it a bit less painful to work with some old software. I know that only describes a subset of those remaining on VB6, and many others are vehemently opposed to that approach for their own reasons (often seemingly just dogma, but maybe I'm just missing their points), but there are some of us out there who are happy to still be using VB6, and a mix of closed and open source is just fine and dandy.

    To those that only want open source, or only want Microsoft sanctioned libraries, or whatever, I can only say that no one is forcing them to use anything other than what they like, so I don't know why there's such a saltiness about other options, but if the site admins are more aligned with that vision, then all I will do in closing is register my disapproval based on the points raised thus far and get on with things under the laws of the land, be as they may!

    Cheers to all who have contributed to the conversation.
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  27. #27
    ex-Administrator brad jones's Avatar
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    Re: Links to binaries that is hard to compile

    I'm going to remove the last post and end this thread (close it) now.


    Not to dismiss what has been said, let me simply state: Let's be careful of how we refer to other people.
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