[no subject]

From: Bill Burns <BillDB -at- ILE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 1997 16:07:00 -0700


I'm not sure if you're the one to whom I responded since my mailer does
not provide any routing information other than the origination address
(which is why members of the list frequently request that participants
use signature lines). If my comments concerning that issue or the
active/passive distinction seemed abrasive, I apologize. That wasn't my

To the list--

Certainly this list has its share of curmudgeons, and I agree that far
too many messages have an acerbic tone. Sometimes, however, folks get
quite defensive when someone provides constructive criticism in a
straight-forward manner or when someone points out some of the errors or
drawbacks in an approach. I can think of a few instances when list
members have commented on being flamed when they had only been informed
of mistakes or oversights. We need to be sensitive to each other when we
disagree or when we refute, but sensitivity only goes part of the

We also need to remember the limitations of the medium we're using.
Critical responses in e-mail (however constructive) can seem much
harsher than they would in other media simply because the context often
creates ambiguity. So in addition to being sensitive to others'
feelings, we also need to have a little faith that list members are not
necessarily trying to one-up us or knock us down when they respond.
Let's not be so ready to assume offense.

I've witnessed some pretty nasty flamewars of late. (Just hang out on
the Thomas Pynchon list for a few weeks, and you'll see some of the most
eloquent and vitriolic lambasting ever contrived. Ironically, the least
volatile list I've ever followed was for traditional karate.) This list
has not yet deteriorated to the level of Pynchon-l, and I don't think it
will. If we work to treat each others as colleagues and professionals,
we can avoid the pitfalls on both the sending and receiving ends.

Bill Burns
Technical Writer
billdb -at- ile -dot- com

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