Re: THANKS! Re: It's time to go

Subject: Re: THANKS! Re: It's time to go
From: MichaelHuggins -at- aol -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 05 Mar 2002 16:14:08 EST

Eric, since you invited public comments, I assume you really want them, so
I'll offer a few thoughts here.

I had never heard of this list before about 6 weeks ago. I had subscribed to
a Yahoo club last year, but this list is much bigger, more active, and more

I've been in tech writing for 16 years, worked in a variety of fields and for
a couple of very large corporations. It was a career change for me;
previously, I was in consumer credit and collections. It's all been very
interesting and challenging. I am always happy to learn more. I am a past
president of my local STC chapter but have not been active in the chapter for
some years and am really neither "for" or "against" STC.

I think I've been subscribing here for about a month or so. Here is what I
have noticed:

1. In my estimate, about 65-75% of the posts are extremely interesting,
informative, and worthwhile. I read every one, and reading most of them is
practically a crash course in issues, some of which I hardly knew existed
before I subscribed.

2. Despite this highly positive aspect, it has certainly seemed to me that
anyone who asks a question on this board runs a *very* high risk of being
demeaned, patronized, or lectured--mostly from a small group of posters,
fortunately. I find that dismaying, since I assume that many of those asking
questions may well be new technical writers with possibly less self-assurance
to begin with than those who have been in the field a little longer.

3. There are three posters whose posts are distinguished chiefly by the high
ratio of obnoxiousness to information. It's like trying to listen to someone
who has a nice singing voice but an unconquerable problem with flatulence.
One of these posters can be counted on to respond to almost any question or
comment with some comment that is at best cranky and often ill-informed.
Another commonly begins his posts by saying that the original author has been
"bloviating." Another is notorious for publishing posts whose basic subtext
almost always seems to be, "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings/ Look on my
works, ye mighty, and despair." I am not aware that anything at all is done
about these posters or their messages. Whatever informative value may lie in
their messages, meanwhile, is almost entirely lost, for me, in the obnoxious
presentation. In such a case, it is idle to ask the reader to consider only
professional issues; it is obvious that the posters themselves have been at
considerable pains to make the presentation of their posts as disagreeable as
possible. Putting powdered sugar on bird droppings doesn't turn them into a

4. In the last few days, someone published a post asking for advice about a
career crisis and confessing to a diagnosis of depression. Having been
exposed to people with substance abuse problems in the past and been alerted
to the subterfuges of which some of them are capable, and having had to take
some stern measures in my former career as a bill collector, I thought I was
capable of being hard-nosed, but I was appalled at the casual cruelty with
which some on this board dismissed or even ridiculed the distress of someone
that they couldn't, in the nature of the case, really know anything about. I
have seriously considered unsubscribing for that reason alone and am not sure
even yet whether I will stay.

5. It has become obvious to me that despite the list rule about negative and
personal postings, that rule is generally not enforced. I can't think of
anywhere to assign responsibility for that except at the door of the list
manager. I have also received off-list communication from you. I will not
describe it, since, even though you mention on- and off-list communication in
your post and invite public comment, I don't think that treating individual
instances is exactly what you had in mind. I will say generally that from
what I have seen being allowed to happen on the board publicly, and from the
attitude you have displayed privately, I have very little respect for you
personally or for your abilities as a list manager. In my opinion, you are
doing a pretty poor job. In particular, the comment in your post:

>What to do about it? I haven't any idea.

.strikes me as rather embarrassingly weak and pitiable. If you wish to run a
list, then I would say you need to get your act together and do so. If you
find you're not capable of it, then discontinue it. But at this point, from
the point of view of a new subscriber, your performance is definitely less
than impressive.

Michael Huggins

Now's a great time to buy RoboHelp! You'll get SnagIt screen capture
software and a $200 onsite training voucher FREE when you buy RoboHelp
Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

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