RE: ADMIN: Civility and content

Subject: RE: ADMIN: Civility and content
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 2003 22:23:41 -0700

Count me among those who think Eric's brought up a valid and shared
complaint. Based on earlier messages silence seems to be assumed to
agree with those who don't think there's a problem, so I thought I'd
speak up.

Derek Powazek, who has vast experience with online communities, has some
interesting ideas about the useful life span of a community. His sites
evolve in very interesting ways over time, and he's closed more than one
community only to rebirth it in a new way somewhere else. for example, has evolved greatly since he
first published the book.

Could it be that the usefulness of TechWr-L is approaching its end?
We've already seen at least three splinters happen in the last year (?)
or so. The nettechwriters group on Yahoo. The certification discussion.
And the OT list on Yahoo. These addressed three distinct needs. The
first was to support focused discussion of people concerned with a
specific tech writing issue. The second to eliminate rancorous polemics
and allow serious discourse. The third in disdain of serious discourse.
The first two would seem to be ideal topics for list discussion, but the
list didn't support either well.

I don't pretend to know the answer. I think the fact that the owner
feels the community is both uncivil and relatively uninformative is
telling. I do know that I have been wondering for a couple of months
about the quality of the discussion. It seems to be much easier to
engage people in trivia than in interesting (or civil) debate. The
numerous posts on hyphenation in the archives for June and July alone
are absurd. Frivolous drivel. Used the delete key quite a bit in the
last while. It's much easier to get people to respond to familiar
provocations than to focus on issues. Then there are all of the negative
assumptions that get read into posted questions and the focus turns on
the questioner rather than the question.

As for limiting posts, well, I think 3-5 would be an interesting
experiment. 1 is too restrictive. I really think it would reduce a lot
of the stupid tit-for-tat and ego posting. Can a number in itself make
people be more civil? Nope. This list can't impose self-awareness. But
perhaps some social controls could at least point the way. I think a lot
of the karma/modding solutions would be an enormous headache and prone
to abuse. # of posts is a pretty objective measure. Be interesting to
try it anyway.


-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-53104 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-53104 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of Eric J.
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2003 7:36 AM
Subject: ADMIN: Civility and content

As you've probably noticed, the tone and quality
of the communication on TECHWR-L continues
to decline, with a variety of remarkably rude
behavior onlist and worse behavior that's come to
my attention offlist (and there's undoubtedly
yet worse that I'm mercifully unaware of).

Oh, yeah, and much of it is just chit-chat--not
at all about technical communication. At rough
glance, I'd say that 75% or more of the messages
posted in the last two days had nothing to do with
technical communication except for the arguable
fact that they were posted by technical communicators.


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ADMIN: Civility and content: From: Eric J. Ray

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