ADMIN: Comments and stuff--read me

Subject: ADMIN: Comments and stuff--read me
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 22:55:51 -0600


Just finished a flurry of ADMIN activity, including updating
the posting rules, subscription Q and A, and form letters
to some extent, tweaking the list configuration, and
changing the list footer a little. If you have any questions

You'll notice in the footer (or just under the TOC in
the digest version) that there's a new line for:
Subjects: JOB:, QUESTION:, SUMMARY:, ANNOUNCE:, or none of these.
Please try these topic labels out--use them just as I used
the ADMIN one in the subject of this message.

Many people have suggested something like these labels,
and this seemed like the easiest way to try it out.
I'm aware that the copyediting list has a much longer and
more involved list, but I'm not yet entirely convinced that
these topic labels will be very effective. I selected these
particular labels because they require little thought and
don't get into gray areas--any message is clearly described by
one of the labels, or it's something else.
Simplicity seems a key to make this work.
(If you want to make up your own, feel free, though.)

Depending on how effective these are, how well received
they are, and how my personal e-mail runs, these topic
labels could eventually be built into the list,
effectively giving us multiple parallel sub-lists. For example,
I might subscribe to ALL and get all messages regardless
of topic. Someone swamped with work in a lousy job
might subscribe and choose to get only JOB postings.
Someone else might want JOB, SUMMARY, and OTHER,
while others might choose ALL but not JOB.
Lots of power, lots of flexibility, and a partial solution
to the flood of mail.

The problem with this mechanism is that it fundamentally
doesn't work well with unmoderated lists (like this one).
We all know how often subject lines aren't accurate. If this were built
into the list, inaccurate subject lines would prevent people
from getting the miscategorized posts. The ONLY way for
these labels to work effectively is if virtually everyone uses them

If you have comments, please send them to me offline.
I'll open the discussion on the list if it seems warranted.

Keep in mind that this is all completely hypothetical
at this point--the jury is still out. Let me know what
you think. Even if everyone on the list mails me and says
we should do this, I won't implement it unless most of
the messages on the list reflect some categorization
along these lines (think simple).

>Edited and culled from the Listserv Documentation:
>6.7. Using list topics
>List topics provide powerful "sub-list" capabilities to a list. When properly set
>up and used, topics give subscribers the ability to receive list postings in a
>selective manner, based on the beginning of the "Subject:" line of the mail >header. It is important to note the following points about topics:
>* Topics are best employed on moderated lists. This makes it possible to
>review the "Subject:" header line to make sure that it conforms to one or
>more of the topics defined for the list before you forward the post to the list.
>Not only does this help catch simple errors (such as misspellings of the topic),
>but it also allows the moderator to add a topic into the subject line if one is
>not already there.
>* If you employ topics on unmoderated lists, your subscribers must be well-
>educated in their use. Otherwise, there is no point in using them. Messages
>that do not conform to a specified topic are lumped into the reserved topic
>"Other" and are distributed only to subscribers who have explicitly defined
>"Other" as a topic they wish to receive. Therefore some subscribers will
>receive the message and some won't, and it is problematic as to whether the
>message will actually reach the entire audience for which it is intended.


>The colon after the keyword TOPICS: is optional, and TOPICS= is also accepted.
>The subscriber should not forget to include the special OTHER topic if you want
>to receive general discussions which were not labeled properly. On the other
>hand, if the subscriber only wants to receive properly labeled messages it >should not be included. ALL does include OTHER.
>Finally, it is important to note that topics are active only when the subscriber's
>subscription is set to MAIL. Digests are indexes always contain all the postings
>that were made, because the same digest is prepared and sent to all the
>With the "Default-Topics=" keyword, you can also set default topics for users
>that will be effective as soon as they subscribe to the list. For instance,
>* Default-Topics= NEWS,BENCH,OTHER
>would set the new user to receive topics NEWS, BENCHmarks, and any
>messages that are incorrectly labeled.

Eric J. Ray ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
TECHWR-L Listowner

Posts: mailto:techwr-l -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu
Commands: mailto:listserv -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu (e.g. SIGNOFF TECHWR-L)
Archives:,, or
Subjects: JOB:, QUESTION:, SUMMARY:, ANNOUNCE:, or none of these.

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