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The coming change...



Well you've heard rumblings, tomorrow we're going to try a new
experiment.  As I've said before I can't continue putting into this
list the amount of time that I've been putting into it.  For nearly a
year I've been trying to transfer the reins to the Dinosaur Society.
They have the desire to take over, but their resources are limited, so
they don't expect to be able to put into it the time that I've been
putting in either.  At my suggestion they've decided to see how much
time I can limit myself to spending on the list if it's not moderated
(the goal is five hours/week).  I suggested this course because things
are different now than they were when we decided to switch to
moderation last year.  I'm sorry that I couldn't take the time to do
another opinion poll like I did last year prior to switching from
unmoderated to moderated.  Twelve days from now will be the third
anniversary of the day I became the owner of the list.  It's high time
for me to move on...  (Fans of Frank Herbert may recognize the
reference when I say that a little voice in my head keeps saying
"Disengage!")  The rest of this message is meant to reassure you and
tell you what I expect to see as a result of the change.

First off, one of the primary reasons for the switch to moderation was
that traffic on the list was so high that it was difficult for people
-- particularly me -- to keep up.  With the newer version of listproc
that we're using now, it's possible to put a clamp on the rate of
message flow even without moderation.  The software can be configured
to accept a limited number of messages per day.  I'm planning to set
that number to 50.  However, that number includes error messages
(e.g. bounced mail) as well as legitimate messages, so most days you
won't get 50 and other days -- if there are a lot of error messages --
I may "reset" the tally so that you could conceivably get more than
50.  The main points here are that a) the number of messages per day
won't go through the roof as a result of the change, and b) even
though I can't be holding individuals to quotas any more, every
message you send potentially prevents someone else from sending a
message that day, so try to use the bandwidth wisely (as if you need
another reason for that! :-) To allay fears -- any time that the
lists' daily quota is exceeded, excess messages will be queued for
delivery at Midnight that night.  Those messages will thus be counted
as part of the quota for the next day.  No messages will be lost as a
consequence of the quota.  If 50 messages per day starts to seem like
it's too few or too many, we can discuss changing the number.

Second off, here's something I'll be curious to see if anyone really
notices.  Somewhere along the line last year (probably when I received
a message that didn't have any carriage returns) I started down the
slippery slope of reformatting messages prior to distribution.  Since
I won't be able to do that after the switch, you may notice that
messages won't always look so "pretty", and attributions won't always
be so clear.  Some people (e.g. those that are occasionally called
Tim) might want to start making sure that when they compose a reply
they stick in the author of the message to which they're responding.
Else every message they respond to will have ostensibly been written
by "you".

Third off, editorial comments will be a thing of the past.  I'm sure I
just heard a big cheer because that was another slippery slope I
slipped on.  I've gotten much more heavy-handed than I intended to be
when we made the big change last year.  It's hard to resist when it's
so much easier to reply to people that way than to start another
message form scratch.

Fourth off, since we can't prevent particular messages from
circulating, we may have no choice but to use the only other
"moderation" type of power we'll have.  The listprocessor can be
configured to reject messages sent from particular addresses.  I don't
expect this to be a problem -- in the past I've used that method only
to prevent SPAM (if you don't know what SPAM is in this context, just
thank your lucky stars) from appearing on the list.  At the moment I
can only think of one type of infraction that might cause an
individual to be banned, and that is our good old friend fossil
advertising.  I rejected a message today because it contained pointers
to a site where various fossils could be purchased.  The message I
rejected was not directly an advertisement -- the person expressed
dismay that the objects in question were for sale and I have no reason
to doubt that person's sincerity.  If such a message were posted next
week, it would result in a warning.  If the person repeated the
offense, they'd be banished.  If a person openly advertised the sale
of a fossil here (i.e. the advertisement was ostensibly the direct
intention of the author) that person would most probably be banned
without warning.  Before I make the switch, the welcome file for new
subscribers will be modified to include stern warnings on this subject
(as well as some descriptive history of the list).  All of us involved
with the maintenance of this list feel quite strongly that the list's
resources should never be used as a tool for buying and selling
fossils, so I won't entertain any discussion of this issue.  At the
moment I can't think of any other likely scenarios that will result in
your being removed from the list, but PLEASE don't take this as a
challenge for you to find another way :-)

Fifth off, to prevent spam and other unauthorized use of the list,
posting to the list will be restricted to subscribers only.  Prior to
moderation that was the setup on lepomis also.  As many of you know it
can be a headache when you think you're on the list but because of
changes in the way your outgoing mail is addressed listproc thinks
you're not.  With the old software my intercession was necessary in
these cases.  With the new software I've heard a rumor that you can
handle the problem yourself.  I'll verify that and give you an
explanation of how to do it if the rumor turns out to be true (my
source was a reliable individual, but I haven't found evidence of the
truth of their assertion despite having spent a good bit of time
looking through the manuals...)

Sixth off, to make sure this is clear, I will still be the owner of
the list after the switch, so for the moment you'll still write to me
with any subscription problems.  There's no set date yet for when I'll
be stepping aside.  I anticipate the time to be at *least* two weeks
away.

Seventh off, listproc is pretty good at filtering out requests which
are sent to the list rather than to listproc.  You shouldn't have much
to fear that we'll suddenly be deluged with unsubscribe requests (and
subscribe requests definitely can't get to the list since
non-subscribers can't post messages).  Just in case you were worried
about that...

I hope I haven't forgotten anything...

--
Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@indiana.edu)