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It appears to me that the signal/noise ratio is declining on this
list, and I'd like to a) take another step to improve the situation
and b) ask you all to play a more active role in moderation.
For part a)
I'd like to add a rule to the moderation decision-making strategy --
8) Although topics may be allowed to drift, a message will be
rejected if it is not at least tangentially about dinosaurs (or at
least about paleontology) and if it doesn't bear on the scientific
content of a previous message.
Using the rules of moderation as they currently stand, I couldn't see
a way to reject the "Happy Easter" message or the "I'm going to be
unsubscribed for a while" message, even though I'd rather not have
allowed them onto the list. I'm also pretty sure I wouldn't allow
complaints about the weather...
If nobody objects strenuously to the new rule, I'm going to start
enforcing it on Saturday. Please feel free to discuss it with me, but
I'm not likely to let the discussion go onto the list unless I and
whomever might object are having difficulty reaching an agreement. If
and when enforcement begins, I'm going to add the rule to the publicly
accessible moderation guidelines which you can get via the web
ftp (it's here in /pub/dinosaur-moderation) or e-mail (send the
message "help moderation" (in the body of your message and without the
quotes) to: firstname.lastname@example.org).
As for b) above, one of the current rules of moderation states:
6) As stated above, if more than three people complain about a
given thread, I will stop accepting messages in that thread. As of
this writing, no one has complained about any of the threads. I
established this rule to ensure that the decision to end a
particular discussion did not rest in the hands of the moderator
alone. I realize that this particular solution to that problem has
problems of its own, but as an initial guideline it made sense to
So far I've only had one such complaint. I'd like to open up the
spigot a little bit and invite you all to complain. Any time you
think I shouldn't have let a message (or set of messages) through to
the list, I'd like you to tell me. Don't worry about me taking it
personally even if you're angry. As some of you can already attest, I
have a reasonably thick skin. I'd actually like to hear complaints
because it's the only way I can see of ensuring that people are
getting what they want (and not getting what they don't want).
Thanks for reading and sorry for temporarily adding to the problem.
Mickey Rowe (email@example.com)