Chat: Off-Topic Debate

Subject: Chat: Off-Topic Debate
From: "Margaret L. FalerSweany" <mfsweany -at- MTU -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 1996 14:47:55 -0500

I have been lurking, listening to the debate over who decides what's proper content for this list, wondering why most of those topics named inappropriate are so-labeled. Actually, I've found most of the debates about ageism, consulting problems, resources to use, interesting and valuable, but I can see that others might not.

Perhaps two suggestions that would make it easier for people to carry on discussions yet also enable those who haven't time or interest in particular threads to more easily filter messages:

1) For those who wish to delete items not of interest, we could/should make the subject lines more informative as to message content. Frequently, I find it impossible to determine what the message is about. Three other lists I'm on do so with common keywords, e.g., JOB, CHAT, TOOL, OFF-TOPIC, BOOK, PRACTICE, CforP[paper/proposal], ETHICS, TofC[table of contents]. With these as "headers" of the subject line, it's easy to delete messages that are of no interest to me (I'm not looking for a job nor in a position to offer one so I delete all job ads). Slightly interested in Tools, I can quickly scan the rest of the subject line to see if the software is of interest--if the software is named. Surely this group could come up a number of signals that would enable readers to use their delete key when appropriate _and_ can write more informative subject lines than FYI, Help Needed, etc.

2) One of the difficulties appears to be relevance to technical communication. Perhaps, we all need to think about tying our comments back more specifically to technical communication, perhaps even blatantly at times.

M. FalerSweany
Rhetoric & Technical Communication
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI 49931
mfsweany -at- mtu -dot- edu

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