Re: Just FYI

Subject: Re: Just FYI
From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- ANSWERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 1996 16:05:06 +0600

On 23 Oct 96, Eric J. Ray wrote:

> This is a general FYI for everyone on the list.

> I've been getting steadily increasing complaints
> about continued and persistent off-topic posts.
> I just received two messages (very kind ones
> indeed) from people who have very substantively
> contributed to discussions on this list, but
> are signing off because of the time it takes to
> separate the wheat from the chaff (my paraphrase --

Yes, the volume of off-topic messages has increased. I've been guilty
myself at times. I have little sympathy, however, for people's
unwillingness to simply press the DEL key when they see the subject
line has no interest to them. Tony Rocco commented that the sheer
number of responses indicates that there is at least some interest in
the subject. I agree for the most part.

> Several other people have indicated to me that they
> subscribed to TECHWR-L for discussions of
> technical communication, not ageism or MS Word
> or whatever.

And here we have the have the problem....the "whatever"! Whose
"whatever" is acceptable. The subscribers to this list represent a
variety of experiences, skills, interests, and work environments. I'd
say that if someone is unwilling to listen....and to help, discuss,
or even "gently" argue.... that leaving the list is probably a good
idea. Those unwilling souls are takers. They only want to take what
benefits themselves and their own narrow agendas.

> people apparently make. I'm not confident
> enough that my personal definition of
> technical communication is CORRECT to
> remove people from the list because their
> definitions differ from mine.

About the only approach one COULD take is to pre-screen every
potential subscriber to ensure that those subscribers all have the
same interests, skills, environments, etc. and promise never to
discuss anything else. I, for one, would not find a list like this to
be very helpful.

> That's the scoop. Take it for what it's worth.

I think all of us are very appreciative of your efforts, Eric. And
perhaps many of us will now think twice before posting off-topic
messages. But again it's a question of subjectivity. When it's
a problem that someone faces in his or her daily work as
a tech writer, chances are he or she is going to consider it fair
game for the tech writer list, even though it may not meet the
"universal relevancy" criteria of some subscribers.
Jane Bergen, Technical Writer
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com
AnswerSoft, Inc.

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