Need help to understand a phrase

Max Bowsher maxb1 at
Fri Feb 10 18:04:44 CST 2006

Hash: SHA1

Jim Blandy wrote:
> On 2/10/06, CĂ©lio Cidral Junior <ccidral.newsbox at> wrote:
>> I need help to understand a phrase which is in the first chapter (I'm
>> brazillian). The point where it's knocking me down is "some
>> well-placed prods", and can be found in src/en/ch01.xml, at line 108,
>> revision 1990. Dictionaries didn't help me this time. Can somebody put
>> it in other words, please?
> Here's a literal rephrasing:
> "With the help of some guidance from Brian Behlendorf and Jason
> Robbins of CollabNet,"
> To "prod" someone is to poke them; in this context, it means to
> encourage them or to make recommendations about a particular direction
> to take.  A "well-placed prod" is probably a poke in some sensitive
> area of the body; in context, it suggests that the recommendations may
> have been rather strong.
> So the suggestion here is that the Subversion team at that point had
> some disagreements with Brian, Jason, and Greg, but ended up following
> their advice anyway, and things turned out for the better because of
> that.

I don't interpret that phrase that way at all - I certainly don't think
it implies disagreement.

To me, "some well-placed prods" means roughly the same as "some
carefully targeted publicity", though with a much more informal tone -
and that informal tone implies to me that the 'publicity' probably took
the form of personal communications with friends and colleagues, rather
than, say, published advertisements.

In this interpretation "well-placed" doesn't carry any connotations of
"to a sensitive part of the body" - rather, it suggests that Brian
Behlendorf and Jason Robbins used knowledge of the community/industry to
direct their efforts to people who they knew would be interested.

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