Re: Improving the Quality of the List

Subject: Re: Improving the Quality of the List
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 19:27:27 -0800 (PST)

"Dan Emory" wrote...

> Most of us recognize the utter futility of polling several
> thousand list members for their opinion
> on some workplace-related or narrow editorial issue
> that mainly requires the application of common
> sense by the person who initiated the thread. That person is the
> only one who is in a position to know and understand all of the
> factors prerequisite to deciding how to proceed. Almost inevitably,
> such threads drift rapidly away from the original issue, and
> spiral into nonsense that only the Delete key can cure.

I'm going to defect from the TECHWRL elitists camp and head over to the
commoners on this one.

It isn't futile. People new to the profession don't have all the experience and
common sense of old timers (plenty of old timers are clueless as well). How
else are they to gain that experience unless they have some kind of forum to
make an ass out of themselves? You can't get any combat scars if you never fall
down - or something profound like that.

Furthermore, people who post inane questions often serve as fodder for bigger
or more interesting issues. I agree, some people post some really lame messages
here. But, so what. God gave us delete keys for a reason.

> I wish more people would initiate threads with what
> is essentially an essay describing their approach to
> (or analysis of) substantive matters of interest to
> those of us who are NOT decisionally challenged.
> Threads initiated by well-thought-out essays
> could frame the subsequent debate, and identify
> the issues and factors that (in the originator's opinion
> at least) might deserve further discussion.

I find such posts to be a bit pretentious. First off, we have no way of really
evaluating if the author of said essays is any kind of an authority or
experience.

Moreover, not all of us think in "manifesto mode." Long, detailed manifestos
on the intricacies of text inserting may be great for a text book. But in the
ephemeral domain of the Internet. People just don't care for it. I do not
consider Internet postings very reliable and usually ignore long meandering
posts.

Essays are also not very practical. They originate in theory and not practice.
Personally, I think the best discussions are spawned from "real world" issues
and not pre-digested essays.

> I've tried the essay approach 5 or 6 times since I
> joined the list several months ago (most recently
> my post about FrameMaker text insets). Interestingly
> enough, they have, in most cases, produced
> very few responses. I'm not sure what that
> implies about the list members.

Sometimes less words are more.

This list has quality. It is just hidden inside a lot of crap. There are some
very interesting topics and personalities here. You just have to wade through a
lot of "So, what mouse de-gunkification utility is standard for Solaris?" type
questions.

However, if you visit any public forum you'll find that is the case everywhere.
Try attending a city council meeting someday. When I was a journalist in
college I had to do this. Oh God it was horrible. The people who got up to pose
questions were flaming morons. Most were religious flakes who wanted the city
to endorse their twisted view of the universe and lock up everybody else.
After about an hour of this, one guy stood up and actually posed a really
interesting question about city water usage. That spawned some interesting
discussion among the city council for about 10 minutes. In the midst of
stupidity, there was a glimmer of hope.

The point: there is never a shortage of stupidity in the world. Like entropy,
stupidity has attrition on its side. Intelligence on the other hand is rare. So
enjoy the intelligence and forget the stupidity.

You can't rewrite the I/O driver for the universe.

Andrew Plato

Twice the pretentious profundity of the other canned tuna:
http://members.home.com/aplato

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