Help/Off Topic issue

Subject: Help/Off Topic issue
From: Stuart Selber <sselber -at- CRAFT -dot- CAMP -dot- CLARKSON -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 1995 09:28:18 -0500


We are researching topic selection in mailing lists and would like to ask
the members of TECHWR-L to provide us with some feedback on the issue:

Describe what you consider to be "off topic" posts and why.

We would include helpful responses in an article we are revising for
_Computers and Composition_. Please email responses directly to
<sselber -at- craft -dot- camp -dot- clarkson -dot- edu>. Also, please indicate whether or not
we should omit or disguise your name in eventual publication of this piece.

Some background on the article might be helpful.

Very briefly, in this article we complicate the claim that electronic
discussion lists are free, open, and democratic spaces by looking at the
ways certain kinds of speech acts help define boundaries for
conversation. The constraints of workplace discussion, time to read mail,
and volatility of some topics are just some factors that lead group
members to attemp to regulate the content and style of "suitable" posts.
This is not criticism of discussion lists--just an argument for the
optimists among us (including us) that electronic forums, like other
communication forums, include a range of language regulating mechanisms.

If anyone is particularly interested, the draft is available from We would appreciate any
comments you might have, but describing what you consider to be "off
topic" posts and why would be generous enough!

Please send responses directly to Stuart Selber
<sselber -at- craft -dot- camp -dot- clarkson -dot- edu>.

Thanks, as always,


Stuart A. Selber
Department of Technical Communications
Clarkson University
Potsdam, New York 13699-5760
315-268-6450 (voice)
315-268-6485 (fax)
sselber -at- craft -dot- camp -dot- clarkson -dot- edu

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