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

Subject: Re: THANKS! Re: It's time to go
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 21:37:12 -0700 (MST)


On Tue, 5 Mar 2002 MichaelHuggins -at- aol -dot- com wrote:
>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.

Thanks! That's good to hear! I just noticed that the list
celebrates its 9th anniversary this weekend--I started
it over the first weekend in March, 1993.
I'm frankly thrilled that it continues to provide so
much value after so many years, even to experienced
technical writers.

>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.

I can see your point. Certainly it's true that some people
are rather more vocal with their opinions than others.
At times, people sound off loudly on a variety of
issues, including those about which they know little.
I think that's just an unfortunate aspect of some
people's nature, and part of being on the 'Net in
this day and age. That's a good observation, though,
and certainly I'll keep my eyes open for demeaning
or patronizing behavior.

>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:

Generally speaking, my experience in running this list
has shown that tolerance and flexibility is far more
effective and productive (if often more difficult) than
simply punting people from the list when I get the urge.
While I could silence or expel members easily enough,
I prefer to reserve such actions for extreme cases,
and simply work through lesser issues as they come
up.

That is, most of the time a gentle reminder offline is
sufficient to remind people that they really should
conduct themselves online as they would in face to face
interaction. On occasion, it's necessary to be more
confrontational, but I prefer to help list members save
face when possible, and to try to understand that, for
a variety of reasons, they may not be aware of the
impression their postings create.

Some members persist in soliciting confrontation, and
that's not a problem to manage--although it is relatively
uncommon. I've found, though, that exercising a bit
of self-control and allowing issues to work themselves
through is often sufficient to help people learn
to be productive list members. For example, as you
probably noticed, your messages have been delayed for
a couple of hours each--after offline exchanges, I set
your subscription to fully moderated. While I could
have quietly rejected your posting, I thought the points
and issues raised were important to the
community as a whole--more important than sparing
embarrassment by rejecting the message and ensuring
that it did not reach all 5000+ subscribers.

>
>>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.
>

You know, that's one of the interesting aspects of running
a large discussion list--there's no end to different
opinions and perspectives, not to mention perjorative
comments. I'll have to confess that I've never before
been called "embarrassingly weak and pitiable", but,
by the same token, I've never had a problem admitting
that I don't have all the answers or a problem soliciting
external suggestions or recommendations.

Parenthetically, I'd note that trying to impress, rather
than assist, is likely a primary root cause of many issues
on this list.
Were I to critique the performance of someone I did not
know, I'd likely approach it by identifying issues
that caused confusion, difficulty, or trouble, then
suggesting possible alternative solutions to help prevent
it. It's rare that people can learn enough from
high-level "get your act together" recommendations to
justify the time spent writing them.

Anyway, to return to the discussion at hand:
I love the irony of determining that I just can't
handle running a mailing list and discontinuing
it after giving it a try for precisely 9 years.
That said, I don't love the irony enough actually to do it.
Nor am I inclined to reward you by removing you
from the list, although I'd have done so if your
public insults had been directed at any other list
member.

For now, I'll be taking a look at some of the other
comments and suggestions, and continuing the process
of refining the list policies, procedures, and rules
to help ensure that nearly everyone can gain some
value from TECHWR-L.

Eric
ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
TECHWR-L Listowner







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References:
Re: THANKS! Re: It's time to go: From: MichaelHuggins

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