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our first infraction denouement
Early on the morning of May 24th, I enforced for the first time the
new list policy of timing someone out for sending more than 7 messages
within one day. At the time, I asked for feedback from all of you. I
am exceedingly grateful that all of you who took the time to respond
also took my advice and responded to me directly rather than writing
to the list. Such compliance is unfortunately all too rare, so I
can't describe how glad I am when I see it. Thank you all for the
time and consideration you put into sharing your thoughts!
As for those thoughts...
In what looks like an astonishing degree of ambivalence it appears
that four of you thought I did what I should have, four of you thought
that I should have been lenient (see below), and four of you were
overtly ambivalent enough that I wasn't completely certain about how
to interpret your responses. Finally one person appeared to think I
should have been more lenient, but then in a response to my personal
mail made it clear that at least in retrospect they thought I'd done
the right thing.
The two basic arguments I got suggesting that I should perhaps have
been more lenient were along the lines of a) since George is a
valuable participant he should perhaps receive special consideration
or b) since George was out of town for an extended period prior to the
infraction then perhaps allowances should have been made on that
To be blunt I'm not even a little bit convinced by the first argument
in general irrespective of whether or not it might be applied to
George in particular. To the best of my ability to adhere to
everyone's wishes and keep the list close to its charter, I have run
this list as a democracy. It is not an aristocracy and it never will
be as long as I have any say in the matter. Providing information
doesn't give you carte blanche to ignore good netiquette.
The second argument is slightly more compelling to me, but upon
reflection I think that a desire to respond to a lot of messages at
once cries out for consolidation of responses into one (or a few)
longer messages. There are a variety of reasons for this which I will
go through with anyone who wants to know, but the bottom line is that
for this particular issue size doesn't matter; number does. The
logistics of mail distribution and the manner in which people
cognitively process "how much mail I get from that list" are affected
much more strongly by the number of messages the list gets than they
are by the total number of words or kilobytes that fly by.
Participants should take account of that fact when choosing to
participate, and if they won't do it voluntarily then I'll try to see
to it that they do it via coercion. If you can think of another way
I'd like to know it because thus far it's eluded me.
As a comment on this specific case: I looked back at the ten* messages
sent by George on May 22nd. Using a few simple rules (i.e. a) if a
message contains only one sentence then it should be compiled into
another message, b) don't send messages that merely duplicate what
others have already written and c) don't send messages that are
devoid of information relevant to dinosaur paleontology) I easily cut
George's ten messages down to four. I will provide a message by
message analysis to anyone who asks for it.
* I previously stated that George had sent 8 messages on the day in
question. That was based upon the date that listproc distributed the
messages. Two of his messages were sent out on the morning of the
23rd even though he sent them on the evening of the 22nd. Whenever
possible, in the future I will count messages according to the day
they were sent since that is the date over which you as
message-submitters actually have control.
In summary, since I'm not getting a strong sense that the list in
general wants the policy to change, I think the current policy should
If you would like to discuss this (or anything else about list policy
and/or administration) please take it up with me directly so that we
can keep this sort of traffic off the list as much as possible.
Mickey Rowe (email@example.com)