Re[4]: Just FYI

Subject: Re[4]: Just FYI
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 1996 11:08:00 -0600

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.

Which ignores the subject lines (such as on this thread) which are *not*
informative about it's content, as well as blank subject lines and digest
receivers, along with those who have connections which charge them by
message received, not read, or by connect time, or.... the list goes on and
on, but I'll stop there. You're still coming across as saying "It doesn't
bother *me,* so if it bothers anyone else, tough!"

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.

Interesting. I haven't seen a single poster, including yourself, say that
the majority of messages posted to this list were worth their time to read.
You yourself imply just the opposite in your opening paragraphs. If there's
anyone who *has* posted that they find every message posted to this list
(or even the majority of them) worthwhile, then I apologize for missing it.
Those are the facts I was basing my statement on. If you've any which
contradict them, I'd like to see them.

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.

I'm not sure where you want to go with this. Obviously, if the list now is
not as it was originally created, and you approve, then by extension you're
approving of those who refused to accept it "as it is" and changed it, so
you can't therefore simply disapprove on general principles of people
refusing to adapt themselves to the list. On the other hand, if you really
don't approve on general principles of people refusing to accept it "as it
is," then you're siding with those who want to keep the list as it was
originally created. So which is it?

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?

Because that results in lots of lost information.

Because of the nature of Internet we can subscribe to many lists, or skim
through many newsgroups and FAQs, search many databases. That wondrous
ability isn't served well, nor is it allowed to serve *us* well, if we
still insist on keeping *all* information in just *one* list. That's like
having a file drawer with no dividers, just dumping everything in the one
compartment. Even though many of the members of this list use Unix, or
Windows, or whatever, many also do not. The one thing the people of this
list have in common is *not* Word, is *not* Frame, is *not* independent
contracting or consulting. It *is* technical writing. We should be
considered an authoritative source for info on *that* topic. If *we* also
keep knowledge of Frame, for example, and do not give it to the Frame list
(if there is one; I don't know, not being a Frame user) we fragment the
knowledge base of Frame, and knowledge is therefore lost to the Frame list,
and to the Internet community as a whole. Further, if it gets about that we
have that knowledge here, and only share it among ourselves, then we
suddenly will have lots of Frame questions (not just on features that you
might consider TW-specific, but on *all* features) filling up our
collective mailboxes on the off chance that it, also, is something we're
hoarding. Even hitting the delete takes time. There are some days I feel I
spend half an hour or more simply deleting unread messages I don't want to
read, and there are plenty of days where I don't have that extra time.

I heard someone complain that the Word list lacks expertise. I submit that
one of the reasons it does is because we seem to want *this* list to be the
source of information on Word, when it seems perfectly clear to me that the
information belongs on the Word list. It's not the Word list's fault; it's
the fault of those who feel that their time is too valuable to spend on
that list, while at the same time figuring *our* collective time is *not*
too valuable to spend on whatever *they* want to spend it on. (And before
you ask, yes, I spend time lending expertise to other lists. I figure I owe
it to the net community to return something to it. That debt is not
limitless, however, and so I am *not* on the Word list. I would put the
question to the group as a whole, however. How many of us *do* give back to
the Internet which makes us -- the techwhirlers -- possible? I don't want
you to answer to me, that's not the point; answer it for yourselves.)

Virtually everything on the Word list would be
irrelevant for me, so why should I subscribe to it?

You're losing me again. Is this the same person who claimed to have no
trouble at all deleting a tremendous number of posts to get down to the few
that mattered? That it wasn't possible to pile the crap too high because of
the utility of the magical delete key?

More points arise here. there's no minimum time for a list subscription.
Subscribe, get an answer, and leave. Or search the list archives and the
list FAQs. All of these are quite possible, and all show more respect for
the time and schedules of your colleagues than simply barging in and asking
the question.

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.

And probably as large or larger pool that will have their time wasted by
your query, because they don't use word. But it's only your one query? Yes,
but what's acceptable for one list member is acceptable for all. Therefore
it's acceptable for 1400 (whatever the list population is, but I figure
that number is close) messages which you have no interest in and which
don't apply to you or to tech writing to clog up your mail box every day?
Is that your position?

This can clearly be seen as an issue which directly concerns very
many technical authors, and therefore it is an acceptable topic for

I'm sorry, but I fail to see how one list member's inability to use his or
her tools is "an issue which concerns very many technical authors." I fail
to see how it has to concern anyone besides the one who cannot use the
tool. If it's something I can help with, and there's reason to believe so,
email me privately and I'll do what I can to help. But I don't see what
there is about the situation that gives the list member the right to bother
those who don't use Word. (My impression is that "those who do not use
Word" makes up the majority of the list membership, but I don't have enough
data on that to do more than speculate.)

So, back to my original point; the vast majority of this list's
content is relevant to technical writers.

The only way I'll accept that statement as true is to change "relevant" to
"interesting." But the purpose of the list is to be *both* relevant *and*

Surely this is a positive step rather than
the unthinkable retreat which you seem to be suggesting it is.

No, it isn't positive. It's encouraging list members to cocoon themselves
into a tight little corner of the universe, building up a fortress of
knowledge they keep to themselves and do not share with Them. (You know who
They are, don't you? They are all those Other People out there. You know,
the ones who aren't Us.)

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.

I think you're getting inconsistent again. "It wasn't started to discuss
what techwr-l doesn't discuss, it was started to discuss what we couldn't
discuss on techwr-l." The "Off-Topic" list was started to provide a forum
for those topics which were interesting to techwriters, but which were
judged by some on the membership to be Not Relevant (the point usually
glossed over here is that this "some" often included the listowner, who
should be accorded status as Sole Authority on that subject). How does that
*not* apply to the point under discussion? My suggestion was to take those
topics to that list; it's what the list was born for.

As far as I'm aware, none of the members of the new list have left

For which I, for one, am grateful. And that's my point. It's perfectly
plausible and acceptable for onr person to be a member of more than one
list, and to have discussion A on list 1, discussion B on list 2, etc. I've
never once suggested people leave this list, nor that certain topics never
be discussed anywhere. I would simply suggest that topics be discussed in
the relevant lists. By all means, be a member of both lists. Heck, be a
member of 100 lists! Enjoy the diversity of the Internet! Death to One-Stop
Shopping! But also respect those who make this diversity possible, and
respect the boundaries.

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 should be allowed to become whatever the owner of the list *wants*
it to become. If you, or I, or anyone else, doesn't like it, we're free to,
as you suggest, start another list. But we are *not* free to tell the
listowner what is (or is not) on-topic for the list, nor are we free to
dictate to him what should be done with the list. That's where freedom ends
and responsibility begins.

As such I and all other authors have a vested interest in ensuring
that it discusses issues of interest to all technical authors.

There seems to be a complete and fundamental confusion running through your
post between interest and relevance. The words are different, they mean
different things. If you switch most of your statements over to "relevance"
our differences would be minor. As long as they remain based on "interest"
our differences are major and irreconcilable.

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

And I'm saying that *your* version of the list is both contrary to the
stated goals of the list and contrary to the intentions of those who
created it, and further has already damaged its role as a resource for
technical writers.

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.

Wow! Your mailer must be a wonderful thing, to allow you to delete portions
of a digest without ever downloading them first! (Um, you *do* remember
that the words you were responding to, as were your original words which
prompted them, were in the context of digests, don't you?)

What are you talking about? Nobody is being accused of anything
stronger than wanting a list which has a different role to this one.

Really? Hmm. then where did these words come from? (and I quote)
>Are we returning to the era of the witchhunt? Is Senator McCarthy
>back with us?

Not yet - it may come though. I wouldn't mind betting that - at some point
- someone complains about the plethora of 'on- or off-topic' discussions,
on the grounds that these are themselves off-topic. After all, if you have
a debate, someone will always try to stifle it.

I could have *sworn* those words came directly out of your message.

Where exactly do you get off talking to list members in this way?

Where do *you* get off trying to tell the listowner what is on-topic for
his list?

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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