Indexes for Discussion Lists (such as this)

Subject: Indexes for Discussion Lists (such as this)
From: John Gear <catalyst -at- PACIFIER -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 22:14:15 -0700

Hi,

I think I have to ask this one out loud -- doesn't seem like it will come up
in the regular course of things. I'm cross posting to the Training and
Development List., the Technical Writing list, and the Indexer's List
because they're all full of people who want to help others get information
when they need it, in the form they need it.

THE QUESTION:

Is there a way to provide useful subject lines for people to use on
their messages without getting into some kind of anal-retentive control
thing? I get several lists in digest form and am always struck by how
useless most subject lines are (my own posts included, no doubt). Instead
of being able to scan the table of contents and go to the messages with the
information I'm seeking, I pretty much have to scroll through the whole pile
trying to sort things into "interested"/"not interested."

I'm wondering whether, on lists such as this, there isn't some way
to come up with a list of "standard subject lines" and start sending it to
people when they sign up; heck, if it wasn't too long it might fit in the
digest header and it could be automatically sent to list members every
couple of months.

Ideally it would be so useful that people would want to use it,
rather than fighting it. Since lists are already organized by commonalities
of interests, it seems like it wouldn't be impossible to come up with the
frequent topics (FAQ material, etc.) and offer standard, useful subject
lines to help folks.

Or, hey, is there a way to have TWO subject lines? (Or something
that works that way.)

The first could be the usual creative and whimsical ones (like "As I
was saying ...", or "Mooooommmmmm" the latter of which was, indeed the
subject line for a long-running thread on the technical writing list) and
the second could be from the "standard" subject lines list, which is
associated with each particular list.

Long term I can even imagine trying to interest folks like Qualcomm
and other e-mail program makers to put in a feature that would let people
store these list-specific standard subject lines in memory (like address
books). When you address a message to the list, up pops the standard
subject line index for that list and you pick a standard subject for your
message. Perhaps, to let people differentiate their messages without losing
the benefit of standard subject lines, the software would put the
"standard" one in *front* of the one that you wrote when you were creating
your message but then append your creative, personal one.

I imagine that this would make lists *much* more useful for the
future, and even for the present, as it would make sorting digests and
archives *much* easier. As long as the list has the capacity to evolve, it
seems like it would be a real help to people trying to sort through the
billions of bits that will wind up in archives.

What do you think? Your comments solicited.

John Gear (catalyst -at- pacifier -dot- com)
The Bill of Rights -- The ORIGINAL Contract with America
Beware of Imitations. Accept No Substitutes. Insist on the Genuine Articles.
(t shirts with the above saying available, send e-mail for info)

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