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Off-Topic Postings to the ACGA List

  • Subject: [cg] Off-Topic Postings to the ACGA List
  • From: "Anna Wasescha" ariel@tc.umn.edu
  • Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2003 21:00:54 -0600
  • Importance: Normal

Title: Message

In the last few weeks, we have had a lively discussion about off-topic messages related to the Iraq War being posted on the ACGA list.

We heard from some subscribers that they did not want to read about politics on this list. We heard from others that they were fine with hearing about politics or other matters that might be considered "off topic."

There was some discussion of creating a second list. Most of you who responded to that suggestion did not like the idea. At this time, we will not be creating a second list.

Another proposal was to block messages to the list that are not related to community gardening. Everyone who is a member of this list can automatically post to the list. There is no mechanism for blocking subscriber postings. 

(If someone were to show a tendency to abuse the list, we would work to correct the situation on a case by case basis.  Michael Yount and I are in the process of developing guidelines that make it clear what constitutes abuse of the list.  We will be posting these guidelines separately to make it easier for people on the list to comment.) 

There is indeed an expectation that community gardening will figure in with all postings. The list protocol says: "Please use this list to post information about community gardening events and opportunities,  to ask for information on community gardening projects, and to connect with other community gardeners."

As a list manager, I would like to say that I view the conversation we have had about off-topic messages and messages with political content as indicative of the strength of this electronic community. We are a community over 500 people interested in community gardening for a huge variety of reasons - diversity characterizes us and our opinions, as a result, are just as diverse.

Really good communications systems and the ability to disagree respectfully are essential elements of a healthy community. (In this case, our community is the international as well as North American collection of people who are invested in community gardening enough to want to read about it on a daily basis.) I think we need more conversation about what is important to our communities and our community gardens, not less. If we had the technical capacity and had we censored postings with political content, we would never have had the occasion for the animated conversation of the last two weeks.

That said, we can help each other out and lower the irritation level by using the "subject line" to alert readers to what lies ahead in the full message. It would be nice to connect the dots as best possible. Subscribers who want can ask for their messages in digest form, which  means one e-mail a day that contains all the postings of that day.

Michael Yount and I are the two volunteers who manage this e-mail list for the ACGA, by the way We're mostly busy blocking spam from non-subscribers and only occasionally get called upon to take a more active role in this list. There is no official ACGA writer who answers queries about community gardening, but it is our great fortune to have Adam Honigman serve as the unofficial "ask the expert" advisor on this list.  More than anyone else, Adam has shaped this electronic conversation, punctuating his thorough answers with regular calls to join the ACGA (for less than the cost of a pizza and two beers) and his mantra that all community gardening is 50% gardening and 100% political.  In light of this current conversation about off-topic postings, Adam's observation seems all the more insightful.

Anna Wasescha
Farm in the City and ACGA List Manager
1312 Dayton Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota  55104
651.646.8733 (phone)
651.646.0034 (fax)

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