Response netiquette (was: Words for People - Summary)

Subject: Response netiquette (was: Words for People - Summary)
From: Cathy Krusberg <ckberg -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 1997 07:21:59 -0800

DICK_MILLER -at- hp-vancouver-om10 -dot- om -dot- hp -dot- com writes:

> Bev:
>I'd like to offer a different point of view on your comment on
>great list netiquette. I benefit greatly from public discussions
>of these issues, and feel comfortable choosing which responses I
>read. As long as the flurry of activity doesn't overwhelm the
>server, my preference is for public responses, so I can learn,
>too. Not everyone does as good a job as you have at summarizing
>the reponses and posting the summary.

[Bev's praise of "great list netiquette" for those responding by
private e-mail is reproduced at the bottom of this post for those
who missed it the first time.]

I think the key to whether 'tis better to respond onlist or
off is in the complexity of response required. That is,
has the poster presented a short answer question or an
essay question? In the case of the latter, onlist responses
are, or can be, more appropriate, to allow for the sort of
discussion that Dick suggests. When short answers are the
desired result, however, onlist responses result in many short
posts with very little meat and much repetition.

Case in point: On a list that I recently subscribed to [name
withheld to protect the guilty], someone posted two very
simple questions regarding individual subscribers' Net access
capabilities and asked that answers be sent to the list.
What absolutely slew me was that the post began "Please help
me design a more intersting listserv by answering the following."
(Okay, okay, the poster didn't mean that the resulting onlist
answers would make the list more interesting, *but*....)
In other words, this wasn't a clueless new subscriber who was
still figuring out the difference between click and double-click;
this was a listowner, or at least someone with some say-so in
running the list. (Which I guess doesn't preclude cluelessness
or newness.)

I privately e-mailed the person and asked: Why onlist responses?
The reply included the following:

> having large amounts of eMail deposited in your box
> is common whenever you are a subscriber to a mailing list.
> At least, that has been my experience.


> I make use of the "Delete" key whenever I feel the need.
> Perhaps you could use the Delete key if you are not
> interested in reading the responses to this survey.

I really wish I knew what to tell this person. I thought
everyone who had been around the Net for any appreciable time
knew that if you wanted to do a short answer type survey,
you ask that respones be privately e-mailed. Clearly, I can
learn something from the "intuitive" thread I've been seeing
elsewhere on this list! ;-)

Incidentally, there was nothing about the questions likely to
result in any kind of discussion: The request, as I said, was
for individuals' Net-access capabilities. It was not topical
to the list.

(BTW, can anyone advise me on what I *could* tell this
person to explain my reasoning? Is there a general source of
netiquette -- as opposed to, say, the guidelines for techwr-l --
that I could refer to? Since this is not a tech writing topic
specifically, offlist responses would probably be more
appropriate. ;-) )

Posting a summary of short answers does not preclude discussion.
It simply takes less bandwidth in giving the basis for that
discussion. So while I can empathize with Dick Miller and
Sabahat Ashraf in their desire for a chance at onlist discussion,
I have to stick with Bev's decision on this one, and on this
sort of topic -- for short answer questions, private e-mail
responses and a summary remain appropriate. If items presented in
the summary inspire a discussion -- let's have at it!

Cathy Krusberg
Internet: ckberg -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

Here is Bev's praise of techwr-ler netiquette

>So, this message is a mass Thank You and a summary of your
>responses. I received 22 replies.
>Something else I noticed in all these replies: All but one was sent
>directly to me, not to the list. Kudos to everybody for great list
>netiquette. Eric should be proud! 8-)
>Bev Parks
<parksb -at- emh1 -dot- hqisec -dot- army -dot- mil>

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