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Subject:TECHWR-L list management From:Sanford Carr <spcarr -at- NEBULA -dot- ISPACE -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 25 Oct 1996 10:30:44 -400
The discussion of list content seems to center around two widely
different conceptions of mailing lists:
1. The list is defined by the listowner. (tight)
2. The list is defined by the membership. (open)
(please excuse the following generalizations, they are from
observation rather than personal knowledge)
People with the "tight" concept of list content have the expectation
that the messages will conform to the posting guidelines created by
the listowner. They accepted these conditions as part of their
membership in the list and agree with them to a greater or lesser
extent. If they want to lobby for changes they address mail to the
listowner asking for modifications.
People with the "open" concept of content expect the list to be a
flexible forum that adjusts based on the postings from list members.
They tend to see the list as a community of professionals where
discussions range widely based on message content and traffic. As
long as the main thrust of the message is related to the overall
content area, then discussion, even quite extended, is good.
Conflict seems to occur most often when a "tight" list member
complains about off-topic postings. Some author(s) of the message(s)
in the thread are personally insulted and feel compelled to reply.
"Open" list members feel it necessary to take up the cause. "Tight"
bystanders jump into the fray. Message traffic becomes dominated by
arguments about what is or is not on topic.
We're all trying to maximize the usefulness of the list - for our own
individual needs. Although I mostly support the "tight" concept of
list definition, the enforcement of guidelines by anyone but the
listowner, at list origination, creates too much noise to be useful.
Since this is impractical in terms of Eric's time, the only
alternative seems to be grudging acceptance of most digressions and
the occasional private note to blatantly outside-of-guideline
I am now going to take my own advice. This is my only public posting
on this subject.