Findlay Student Messages: IMPORTANT!!

Subject: Findlay Student Messages: IMPORTANT!!
From: Tom Stuckert <stuckert -at- LUCY -dot- FINDLAY -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 01:53:25 -0400

I am the instructor at the University of Findlay who asked that students in an
introductory tech comm course subscribe and post messages to the TECHWR-L
discussion group.

The purpose of this assignment was to acquaint students with the ways in which
discussion groups can be used to enhance one's effectiveness as a technical
communicator as well as encourage the use of such discussion groups.

The purpose of the assignment WAS NOT to call into question the professional
integrity of my colleague at the University of Findlay nor discredit the
institution. The assignment was also not intended to generate the kind of
innuendo regarding my competence as an instructor which, in many cases,
bordered on malicious defamation.

If you have further concerns regarding the above, please post to my e-mail
address. Before doing so, however, I would appreciate your consideration of
the following:

NET ETIQUETTE: While it might seem unbelievable to some, students in
my tech ccomm classes WERE provided with instruction regarding proper
use of the net. You must consider, however, that while many might
believe the "rules" of net etiquette to be well established, consistent
and well-known, I have not found this to be the case. The "rules" are
being made as conditions dictate and often vary from one discussion
group to another. If you do not believe this to be the case, you
either have limited experience with a variety of discussion groups or
are carrying self-deception to a new level. Much has been made about
the one student who posted his/her message in all caps. Yes, we all
know what this means, but if minimal discretion is used, one would
quickly realize that the message could not possibly have had "shouting"
as its intention.

SPELLING AND GRAMMAR: I am quite surprised at the sudden concern over
spelling and grammar. This concern has not, to my knowledge, been raised in
this group or any of the many other discussion groups I have worked
with in the past. It is worth noting that several of the posts which
were highly critical of myself and my students contained grammatical and
spelling errors. Is it ironic that when a message from a "professional"
is posted with errors it does not attract the kind of criticism as when
a student posts such a message? "Let he or she who is consistently
without error post the first flame."

APPROPAIATENESS OF POSTS: It might be an absurd question at this point,
(yes, I did misspell appropriateness) but what exactly is considered
appropriate? Granted, the "good looking chicks or big boned ladies"
message was unexcusable. However, there is a limit to the control I can
exert over the content of the messages my students post. The other
messages seemed appropriate although a few may have seemed a bit
unsophisticated (please remember, this is an introductory tech comm
course). In addition,as I have monitored TECHWR-L over the past year,
I must say that many of the queries and comments have often bordered
on the absurd. Yet, these posts did not attract the kind of flaming as
did the messages of my students. Why? Sorry folks, I am NOT (with the
exception of the "good...ladies" post) going to apologize for wasting
your time!

my sincere thanks. You are to be commended for the open mindedness you have

TO THOSE WHO SENT NEGATIVE RESPONSES to my students' posts: In your zeal to
guard the integrity of the profession of technical writing, you have
discouraged and confused. Ridicule cannot be a part of any discipline or
profession, and one's ego should never be enhanced at the expense of those
who are attempting to learn such a discipline or profession.

I am obviously very disappointed at many of the responses to my students'
queries and resent the suggestions regarding my competence as an instructor
and writer. I also regret that my colleague at the University has apparently
received numerous individual postings questioning competence as well as the
integrity of the tech comm program at the University of Findlay.

My colleague at the University has suggested that this experience might be
considered a lesson in audience analysis. I disagree. Several of my students
have asked me how the TECHWR-L audience could be analyzed so a similar
situation might be avoided in the future. The answer to this question is
difficult. I have concluded that the TECHWR-L audience is inconsistent in
its response to "student" vs. "professional" queries and comments. Unlike
many other discussion groups, the TECHWR-L is willing to accept queries
and comments which reflect an undefined level of sophistication.

Due to the above concerns and conditions, I will UNSUBSCRIBE from the
TECHWR-L immediately with no intention of ever resubscribing. In addition,
I will require that all students in my tech comm classes UNSUBSCRIBE from
TECHWR-L immediately. Some of these studentsl may elect to resubscribe
at some point. If they do, it will not be part of a course they are
taking at the University. I hope you will be more tollerant
(sp) of their

You will, I am sure, be relieved at not having what many of you consider
inane messages taking up valuable space in your list.

L. Thomas Stuckert
English Department
University of Findlay

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