Talk:Dennis Ritchie

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Added a younger picture, without a beard


Usenet is a strange place[edit]

I commented out this quote, although I agree dmr was likely to say such.

* Usenet is a strange place. ** {{cite web|url=http://groups.google.com/group/comp.lang.c/browse_frm/thread/d024a2f831f81e2c/465ede5dc776f39d?lnk=st&q=dmr+group%3Acomp.lang.c&rnum=4&hl=en#465ede5dc776f39d | title = Google Groups : comp.lang.c|date=2006-08-23}}

This quote and source has several problems I think.

in another certain guy, named Richard Heathfield, like below:

"Usenet is a strange place." - Dennis M Ritchie, 29 July 1999.

  • If this citation is appropriate, again, obviously not to post to Google Groups quote, I guess. It was rather likely an USENET post. Or just in a talk, or in a presentation. Anyway the date for this quote should be back to this date.
  • But who is this Richard Heathfield from UK? He might be identical with this Richard Heathfield, one of co-author of a C book ([1]), then he would be an expert in this field so his citation could work as a reliable source. But I have no further information to confirm it.
  • And even if so, Mr. Heathfield give no idea where rms had said the quote in concerns.


How should we treat this quote? Thought? --Aphaia (talk) 20:35, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

Apart from the questionable provenance of these attributions, I think there is a problem of Wikiquote:Quotability#Originality of the quote. Very many people have said that very many places (real, virtual, and allegorical) are strange. Simply saying that "X is a strange place", for some value of X, is not sufficiently original to include in a compendium of quotations. ~ Ningauble (talk) 13:19, 27 October 2015 (UTC)
For USENET users it would be very known quote, partly because it was said by dmr; his Wikipedia article contained this quote (cf. a mirror anyway.--Aphaia (talk) 21:50, 29 October 2015 (UTC)


  1. Dennis Ritchie started the thread "A primeval C compiler" by sharing the source code of a very early version with the comp.lang.c newsgroup, and mentioning some peculiarities of the early versions.
  2. Richard Heathfield posted the first reply, in which he jokingly treated Ritchie like a newbie who posted something off-topic.
  3. Several posters discussed whether Heathfield's post was just stupid trolling or was a brilliant joke. In reply to one, who pointed out that Heathfield's post was not really directed at Ritchie, but was a joke on the newsgroup, Richard Heathfield replied with this:
Indeed.
I have a new sig block. I am rather foolishly proud of it, for a reason which I'll leave you to guess. (It shouldn't be too difficult.)
--
Richard Heathfield
"Usenet is a strange place." - Dennis M Ritchie, 29 July 1999.
Richard Heathfield, 29 July 1999
I have reviewed the entire thread (719 posts), and observe that although Dennis Ritchie was following it (he replied about some other peculiarities of the early versions) he never once acknowledged anything posted by Richard Heathfield (apparently on the theory of "Do Not Feed The Trolls").
Conclusion: It shouldn't be too difficult to see that this is not a genuine attribution to Dennis Ritchie; it originated as a deliberately false attribution posted as a joke by someone who was trolling, and foolishly proud of it. ~ Ningauble (talk) 19:12, 30 October 2015 (UTC)

If the attribution is bogus, then "bogus" only means "cannot be demonstrated to be accurate to the satisfaction of sufficiently picky observers". The quote is perfectly genuine, but I can't prove it. It originated not in Usenet but in email. The above history is more or less correct as far as I can remember, but it is not complete. Once I'd posted my "stupid trolling/brilliant joke" (take your pick), I lost my nerve and emailed an apology to Dennis Ritchie. He replied, in email, that he hadn't seen my Usenet reply until my apologetic email had prompted him to look for it but that, if he had, he'd have gotten the joke. He then said (in response to the uproar that had followed) something like "the reaction is most peculiar", and his final sentence in the email was "Usenet is a strange place." I immediately adopted this as my sig block quote. And to answer another question (from the above commentary) at the same time, yes, I was the lead author of "C Unleashed", although I should warn you that being the author of a C book in no way suffices to guarantee that one is an expert on C! Regards, Richard Heathfield 94.174.109.57 19:14, 30 July 2017 (UTC)

Tochange[edit]

D'ennis R'itchie Jslee1301 (talk) 00:57, 10 January 2018 (UTC)