Findlay Fiasco: A Laid-Back Perspective

Subject: Findlay Fiasco: A Laid-Back Perspective
From: Bev Parks <bparks -at- HUACHUCA-EMH1 -dot- ARMY -dot- MIL>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 19:08:27 MST

I've been relaxing at home for the past two weeks and
downloading my email only once or twice a week. Because of that
laid-back schedule, I downloaded all the Findlay mail and
resultant posts all at once.

Reading all those messages in one sitting, and not being under
typical work deadlines, I was able, I believe, to see it all in
a little bit different light. I watched three days of
misunderstandings, attacks, and counterattacks unfold in only 30
minutes. What a disaster!

I made the same assumptions and had the same fears as most of
you did, but mine were rapidly allayed as I read yet another

The first Findlay message I read was a reasonable request, yet
obviously from a student. I formed no particular opinion.

The second message was the "big-boned ladies" message. I thought,
"Oh, great. Another spammer." (You see, we've all too recently
had an unpleasant experience with a persistent anonymous

The third message was another reasonable request from a student.
At this point I had concluded that some instructor must have
given the techwr-l subscription information to his/her students.
I even made a comment to this affect to my husband, who was
sitting behind me at his own computer.

The fourth message was the one about dolphin research. I started
to have my doubts and was again considering the "lone spammer"
possibility. (The aforementioned anonymous spammer would also
occasionally inject an on-topic question.)

But then the following three or four Findlay messages were
somewhat legitimate, if not entirely on-topic to the list. I
settled on the technical communications 101 theory and assumed
that list members would help where they could. (Me? Get a job,
I'm on vacation!)

After that I started to see the responses from list members.
Most were *not* positive nor supportive. It took reading a few
of them along with the responses from college faculty for me to
realize that, even though *I've* seen the "whole picture," those
list members firing off the flames were still in the emotional
state I was in 10 minutes ago when I thought we were being
bombarded by another spammer. For those people it will have
been another full day yet before they've seen all the student's
messages and come to the same conclusions I had.

My purpose is not to try to smooth things over--what's done is
done. But it was very interesting to see how we (people) react
to input as it trickles in. If we had known in advance that there was
more to the picture, we would have waited and reached our
conclusions *after* all the data was in. But we started
processing and sending output as data was received (email may be
fast, but it is still leagues behind the processing speed of the
human brain!) and so our conclusions were faulty.

There were a lot of unknowns and assumptions on both sides (The
students didn't know of our recent experience with spammers and
we didn't know the student messages were valid. The two
left-field messages (dolphins and big-boned ladies) were
probably the catalyst of our faulty conclusions. Had those two
messages never appeared, the student messages probably would
have been recognized off the bat for what they were, and handled
accordingly. That's not to say that some people still wouldn't
have complained some--but I think the consequences would not
have been so devastating.

Well, it's a good thing I'm on vacation. I'd never have the time
to go on so incessantly at work. 8-)

If you read the whole thing, thanks. I hope it made sense to

Bev Parks =^.^= bparks -at- primenet -dot- com

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