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ADMIN: off-topic posts and related issues

  • To: iris-l@Rt66.com
  • Subject: ADMIN: off-topic posts and related issues
  • From: Tom Tadfor Little <telp@Rt66.com>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 11:17:24 -0700

I decided to wait for a smattering of opinion to appear on this subject
before posting about it.

I think there are two separate issues here.

First, there are the suggestions that are stated in the list policies
(or are just common sense) that some people just haven't taken to heart yet.
This includes keeping one-on-one email OFF the list, using ACCURATE
subject lines, and signing your messages. When these "rules of the road"
are ignored, the result is clutter. And, as should be apparent to anyone
who's read the last couple days of messages, that clutter can add to the
frustration level. We run the risk of losing good people from this list
by the careless proliferation of clutter.

Second, there is the issue of how narrowly focused on irises the
conversation should be. I have always taken the attitude that this is
your business, collectively, as members of the list. The list is
unmoderated, and I personally prefer "open" conversations to restricted
ones. So, as the list policies say, a certain amount of off-topic
conversation is expected. Someone who wants *strictly* serious iris
talk will be disappointed with Iris-L. It is not a list restricted to
professionals and business-like exchanges of information. It is an
open conversation among people interested in irises, rather like the
"social hour" at an iris convention. Irises will certainly be a common
focus of discussion, but general gardening talk and random chit-chat
are bound to make an appearance too.

My experience with internet mailing lists--those that are open to the
general public and are hobby-oriented rather than academic or professional--
is that the best ones are conversational and tolerant. Lists that have
"tough" policies about off-topic posts tend to make people uncomfortable
and become very stiff. I have left other lists because they were too
serious for me, and I have also left lists because they were not serious
enough. Iris-L, in my experience, fits in the middle ground when compared
with other internet mailing lists intended for open discussion.

I say all that as an explanation for why I have no intention of stepping
in and establishing strict criteria for what is off-topic here. That
really is up to you. BUT, those of you who like the chit-chat, please
take note: your decisions about what to post *do* have consequences.
Good people who love irises are getting annoyed with this. In any
social situation, it is a good idea to keep in mind the feelings of
others who are present.

No list will ever please everybody. But we can take a big step in the
right direction by killing the CLUTTER that I described at the beginning
of this message. Learn how to use your mail program. Learn how to THINK
before you use it. Read the list policies and pay attention to them. If
we all do that, then the on-topic/off-topic problem will shrink to a
more manageable size.

I like the list to be open and friendly. But with that freedom comes
the responsibility to show consideration for the many subscribers who
come here to hear about IRISES and are annoyed by thoughtless clutter
and off-topic threads.

One rule: THINK before you SEND.

Cheers, Tom.

Tom Tadfor Little                  telp@Rt66.com
Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA)
Telperion Productions  http://www.rt66.com/telp/

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