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Trouble with the system



I apologize to all (including myself) for the length of the
following.  I don't take the subject lightly, and I saw no way to be
simultaneously brief and thorough.

I will say this again below, but just to be sure everyone sees this
before responding... *ANY* responses to this message (or any other
message about dinosaur list administration) should be sent to me,
rowe@psych.ucsb.edu, and/or Mary, MKirkaldy@aol.com, and *NOT* to the
dinosaur list.  As I wrote in:
http://www.cmnh.org/fun/dinosaur-archive/1999Jan/msg00018.html

   Go a few rounds with me before *we* agree that it is appropriate to
   bring your concerns out in front of the whole list.

Many of you may remember a time when I was more of a public presence
on this list and that back then I made several attempts at making the
dinosaur list as democratic as I could.  In response to Mr. Kinman's
concerns about my "aggressive moderation", I will briefly return to
that mode and ask that people clearly vote on the choices I will
provide below to determine the course of my subsequent interactions
with Mr. Kinman.

Mr. Kinman is not exaggerating when he says I have been "increasingly
hostile" toward him.  Perhaps his public behavior during the past two
months will suggest to many of you why that is -- I've had to shout as
loud as I could in order to get him to pay any attention to me at all.
In general, he has continued on in his merry way as though he hasn't
been receiving my messages.  Should any of you like, I will privately
send you my most recent message to Mr. Kinman so you can see my
unvarnished opinion of his merry way.  In any case, in direct
opposition to our stated preferences in more ways than one, his only
response to my last message to him has been his act of "civil
disobedience".  Apparently Mr. Kinman is most comfortable arguing in
front of an audience.  Without the audience there are no political
points to gain, huh?  (Note my Kinmanian use of a political jab there;
Mr. Kinman, I hope you found it annoying just so you might perchance
begin to understand how you sound to others.)

As policy, Mary and I generally do not want issues such as this aired
on the list, because (for the bazillionth time), 1) this list itself
and its administration are not dinosaur science, so messages about the
list, its administration, or its participants are off topic and 2) as
soon as a person's behavior becomes a topic that person (or their
"allies") will feel an often inescapable need to publicly defend their
actions, character, whatever and thereby compound problem number "1)".

In that vein I will try to walk a fine line by pointing out some of my
motivation without trying to influence what any of you think of me as
a person (translation: this message isn't about me, so please don't
read it as though it is)...  one of the main reasons that I have been
trying so hard to rein in Mr. Kinman is that his contributions to the
list have caused some professional paleontologists to leave and others
to remain silent thinking "what's the point in trying to battle
*that*?".

Do you want to be informed about dinosaur science by people who have
dedicated their lives to the the acquisition and study of data, or to
those who can at best kibbitz from the periphery?  While we certainly
don't try to discourage people from submitting messages based upon
their positions in life, it seems to us that our purposes are best
served if those who do the most to answer questions and proffer
opinions are those most qualified to answer relevant questions.  Since
our chosen topic is dinosaur science, such people are generally going
to be actual paleontologists or people studying to be same.  Am I the
only one who finds it ironic that Mr. Kinman is complaining about his
"censorship" in the same message in which he advocates that our
resources would be best spent, "collecting and studying the fossils"
-- two activities that (to my knowledge) Mr. Kinman has rarely if ever
performed?  Is that irony not compounded by the fact that Mr. Kinman
-- as is his wont -- is expressing his opinions in entirely political
terms?  We should listen to Mr. Kinman because he is allied with Peter
Dodson and Michael Benton?  What?  He's being suppressed because those
who disagree with him are like "playground bullies"?  What?  You
didn't notice the critiques of your METHODS a couple of weeks ago,
Mr. Kinman?

In a forum dedicated to scientific discussions I greatly prefer to
eschew politics to the greatest extent possible.  Mr. Kinman -- going
so far as to label his actions as "Civil Disobedience" -- appears to
me to want nothing other than to partake in politics.  What I am about
to do may be considered unfair because I don't think Mr. Kinman will
faire any better in politics than he has in science, but I am not
above allowing another individual to be hoist by their own petard
should their actions suggest to me it would be a just outcome.

And so I ask all interested parties to register a clear vote for one
of these two courses of action.  If you are willing to let your vote
be made public you might also send a copy of that vote to Mr. Kinman
directly (but not to the list -- I might excerpt to the list any
discussions that are sparked by this, but again I ask you not to
discuss list administration without our explicit approval ahead of
time).  Your choices about how I should treat Mr. Kinman (one last
time, write to me and *NOT* to the list):

     a) Stop complaining to Mr. Kinman about his messages to the
     dinosaur list except when his violations of policy are
     essentially inarguable.

or:

     b) Try even harder to prevent Mr. Kinman from pushing his
     politics on the list.

In "a)" I would include as inarguable violations such things as: three
people complain about his messages within a span of three days, he
posts something about creationism, he ignores a thread ban, he posts
eight or more messages in a day, etc. (see www.dinosaurmailinglist.org
for more) but would not include, for instance, when he starts riffing
on totally off-topic issues such as whether or not life should be
broken down into the three domains: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukaryota,
or when he sends several messages over the span of a few days
explicitly admitting that even he recognizes he has no expertise
relevant to the questions he's answering etc.

Under "b)" I would include the formation of a new mailing list called,
for example, KinmanSystem@yahoogroups.com to which we would forcibly
re-direct any and all discussion of his <insert your favorite
adjective here> classification system.  I would also continue to
rattle his cage as hard as my own sense of decorum would allow on
occasions when I felt he wasn't living up to the standards that Mary
and I hold for what we wish this list to be.  And yes, if I had to
keep doing that as often as I've had to over the past year or so I
would, without farther public notice, decide that he is not a welcome
participant.

I will tally the votes for one week, and then report to the list the
results.  I will abide by the results until such time as I start
getting new complaints from others that Mr. Kinman is annoying them
and/or degrading the list (should "a)" win) or that they miss him
(should "b)" win).  At such a time (not less than one month from now)
a new vote might be held.

Please vote early, but vote only once unless asked again.

Mr. Kinman claims:

> I await my punishment for whatever he chooses to charge me with.

I charge him with attempting to use the dinosaur list as his own
personal political platform, and thereby usurping from it its purpose
as defined by us at dinosaur list management and by what we perceive
are the desires of most who have signed onto the list or who regularly
read our archives.  I await your verdict.  You need not be a
subscriber to vote.  In lieu of a closing argument I offer more of
Mr. Kinman's own words from shortly after he became a participant:

http://www.cmnh.org/fun/dinosaur-archive/2000Jun/msg00564.html

and:

http://www.cmnh.org/fun/dinosaur-archive/2000Jul/msg00074.html

indicating that his outlook has not profited from his tenure on the
dinosaur list.  Has our outlook profited from it?

Thanks for your indulgence and feedback,

--
Mickey Rowe     (dictator at large: rowe@psych.ucsb.edu)

P.S. For those of you who do not know, Mary is a clone of me.