LIST Options Change

Subject: LIST Options Change
From: Steve Owens <uso01%eagle -at- UNIDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 1994 10:25:09 +0700

Saul Carliner says:
> Like many of you, I welcome substantive discussions on technical
> communication. Misdirected personal messages, endless discussions
> of minutia, nitpicking, flaming, and three people providing essentially
> the same information hardly qualify as substantive discussions. They are
> a waste of other subscribers' time and system resources.

This is quite true. Also quite beside the point. The question is not
whether the elimination of the above elements is desirable, but whether
the format change is a good way to accomplish that. It is not.

First, you're inconveniencing me (not to mention other responsible
posters) with this change, instead of inconveniencing the people who
are responsible for the "noise." This is wrong in principle. Empower
people to defend themselves (by making it easier for them to sort
messages, by making it socially acceptable to berate offenders <via
private e-mail!>), don't try to disempower the offenders (which
doesn't work - see below).

Second, instead of trying to move people to responsible behavior
(socially enforcing good posting practices, good editing practices),
you're trying to institute a technical fix. This almost always fails.
Technical fixes are good for technical problems. This is not a
technical problem.

Third, this flat-out won't work in the majority of cases. People will
still post nit-picking, minutia, flaming, and duplicate information,
it'll just be less convenient for people like me to filter it out.

Fourth, there is a better alternative. Encouraging people (by social
means) to learn and use good posting practices will be more effective,
less restrictive to those who already use proper posting practices,
and in the long run, more sensible.

Steven J. Owens
uso01 -at- unidata -dot- com

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