Re: slamming

Subject: Re: slamming
From: Debbie Molis <dmolis -at- MLJ -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 1997 18:52:13 -0500


I don't think what you wrote was necessarily abrasive. I do, however, feel
that an answer in response to Steven's request for information on resources
was demeaning and unnecessary. When I read it, I was taken aback.

I've been reading this list's comments for months and months. But this is
the first time I am posting to the list, in part because I've been afraid of
being WRONG. There is a tendency for some to at least be inconsiderate. In
fact, I was slammed on this list for something I said in private and which
the person posting to the list apparently misunderstood.

Enough is enough! The list has already had this discussion about not
attacking people not too long ago.

The real issue:

If so many emails are abrasive and offensive to others, unintentionally or
not, we really need to consider how our professional work is interpreted by
readers. Are we demeaning/insulting to them, do we talk over their heads?
If we cannot communicate effectively among ourselves, how can we communicate
effectively to our intended audience?

We are above all communicators, and as such should know better than to use
language that is offensive to those who read our personal and professional

That being said, now that I've taken the plunge, I will continue to
contribute to the list, regardless of the risks of being slammed. I believe
that most people on the list who regularly have something to contribute are
not abrasive, and it is worth a few abrasive comments to become more
knowledgeable about what I do.

Debbie Molis
Technical Writer
dmolis -at- mlj -dot- com

At 04:07 PM 3/26/97 -0700, you wrote:
>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
> TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
>to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
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TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
Search the archives at or search and
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