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.
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
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.