Re: Re[2]: Just FYI

Subject: Re: Re[2]: Just FYI
From: Mike Bygrave <bygravem -at- INTUITIVE -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 1996 13:34:57 +-100

Arlen said:

>It's a nice sentiment, but hardly related to reality. If there's too
>much dross, digging out the gold ceases to be beneficial. How much
>crap you have to dig through subtracts from the value of what you

It depends whose reality you're referring to. I don't have any trouble at
all deleting most of the threads which appear on the list (because I'm not
interested in their subjects) - it takes me a couple of minutes at most.
That leaves me with a small core of useful and/or interesting messages,
which I can read, and then discard or keep at my leisure. That seems like
a perfectly useful list to me.

>Likewise, it seems to me the majority, not the minority, of this list
thinks it spends excessive amounts
>of bandwidth on off-topic discussions, but once the discussion comes down
>to which particular topics are out of bounds, the majority once again

Hmmm - you've used a lot of imagination in this little scenario, haven't
you? While I can't comment on your budget-balancing debate, I would
suggest that the argument you've used is based entirely on convenience and
suggestion, and not in any way on facts. The majority of the postings on
this subject have come from the "less restrictive " group (for want of a
better label) and, while I admit that this is by no means conclusive, it is
at least 'circumstantial' evidence. What are you using to support your
theory, runes perhaps?

>Ever considered that this is *precisely* the conclusion they reached
>they decided to unsubscribe?

Yes, and (as I said) if they feel so strongly about it, they've made the
right choice. Why get bent out of shape over a list which - as you go to
great lengths to point out - is of little or no use? If I felt that this
list had no value, I'd leave it as well.

>Are you asking us to fit ourselves to the list, as it was originally
>concieved, or, as it seems from the rest of the post, to fit ourselves
>your privately-held conception of the list?

Neither - fit ourselves to the list as it is. This is not an issue of
personal views of the list and its purpose - the list is there and it
reflects the professional interests of its members. As I've said before,
there are very few threads which I consider to be off-topic - I'm a
technical writer, and I can see how almost all of the threads on this list
would concern me or people like me. Perhaps your view of technical writing
is narrower.

>Oh, this *is* amusing! Let me see if I've got this right: Anyone who
>that a list uniquely dedicated to tech writing (for which subject there
>exists no other list) shouldn't be used to discuss topics for which
>already *are* lists in existence should start a new list, to be
>dedicated to tech writing. Lovely! I'm impressed.

Perhaps we could have a better laugh if we look at what you're implying -
something along the lines of "we shouldn't discuss subjects for which other
lists exist". Why not? In my capacity as a technical author I may use Word
for Windows (like many other list members) - if I did I would be an author
first, Word-user second. Virtually everything on the Word list would be
irrelevant for me, so why should I subscribe to it? On this list there is
a large resource of writers who also use Word and who are likely to run
into the same sort of problems which I do. This can clearly be seen as an
issue which directly concerns very many technical authors, and therefore it
is an acceptable topic for discussion.

So, back to my original point; the vast majority of this list's content is
relevant to technical writers. The list cannot possibly be more specific -
it deals with technical writing; covering such issues as writing skills,
tools, technique and technology development, salaries and contracts etc.
Anything more specific would have to be a subset of technical writing.
Therefore, if writers find that they are more interested in a subset of
technical writing rather than technical writing itself (and all that it
entails), then perhaps they should be encouraged to start up a new list
which deals with that interest. Surely this is a positive step rather than
the unthinkable retreat which you seem to be suggesting it is.

>Take the topics that don't fit this "too restrictive" list off to the
>list, which was formed *precisely* to be a home for that attitude. Then
>this list can go back to being its "restrictive" little self about tech
>writing, and we can *all* be happy, instead of having a war periodically
>about how *this* list should behave *exactly* like another list.

Nonsense - again you've missed the point. TechWr-L will not be moving
"back to its 'restrictive' little self", it will be moving sideways to
become something which only a minority of its members want.

The new list wasn't started because TechWr-L doesn't discuss issues which
interest or concern us, it was started so that we could discuss these
issues without the constant stream of moaing which is becoming ubiquitous
here. As far as I'm aware, none of the members of the new list have left
TechWr-L; speaking for myself, this is the list I want to be on. However,
the fact that a new (and informal) list has been created doesn't mean that
we've given up on TechWr-L and are prepared to let it slip into a model
created by a minority of its members.

TechWr-L is the main list for technical authors and will almost certainly
outlive any other list created for us. As such I and all other authors
have a vested interest in ensuring that it discusses issues of interest to
all technical authors. I'm not saying that its content should appeal to
all authors all of the time, but - equally - I'm not saying that it should
only represent a specific subset of interests within the technical author
community. Your version of the list will damage its role as a resource for
technical authors

>I *love* that! "I don't see why people can't just hit delete; oh, I know
>many of you can't but because *I* can *you'll* just have to lump it! You
>should be just like me, adapt yourselves to *my* workhabits instead of
>thinking for yourselves." A more hypocritical position it'd be hard to

Absolute rubbish. Certain things have to be accepted in this kind of
environment - like keyboards have a delete key and mail programs allow you
to delete unopened messages. If you are unable to delete an unread message
I would suggest that - as with you views on what technical authors should
talk about on this list - you're in a very small minority. Therefore
perhaps it's you who's being extremely selfish in trying to force the rest
of the list into taking account of your personal workhabits.

>Still, I must thank you. It's always amusing to hear someone rant for long
>wishing that people would just stop reminding us of the purpose of a list
>and let it be as free and open as it was never intended to be, and then
>conclude by accusing anyone who might dare to say they want to stop
>discussing the purpose of a list and get back to the actual reason the
>was created of being a censor, a fascist or a nazi.

What are you talking about? Nobody is being accused of anything stronger
than wanting a list which has a different role to this one. Is this a
suitable cause for such a patronising and offensive outburst? Where
exactly do you get off talking to list members in this way?

>Thank You! The irony is delightful!

Clearly you are more charmed by my message than I am by yours.

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