[nSLUG] [META] Re: Announcement: :nSLUG-talk Mailing List

Mike Spencer mspencer at tallships.ca
Wed Mar 12 16:59:51 ADT 2008

Jon> As an outcome of yesterdays discussion about off-topic posts and
Jon> related issues, an nSLUG-talk mailing list has been brought to
Jon> life.

Joe> I felt a great disturbance in the nslug, as if millions of voices
Joe> suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear
Joe> something terrible has happened.


I was going to stay out of this but...

I think, Jon, that you got it backwards.  The new, alternative list
that you needed to create was NSLUG-hard-tech-strictly, possibly or
even preferably moderated.

A mailing list is not like a 1-hour seminar wedged tightly into your
hysterically busy, 12-hour professional work day. If it were, there
would be no time for idle chatter.  "We have just 55 minutes between
grand rounds and afternoon surgery to demonstrate the use of the
Schuknecht Hook in the Silverstein prosthetic stapes procedure."  All
business, all the time.  Those who want that should have a moderated
mailing list where a designated list-deity ruthlessly /dev/nulls
digressions and un-subs persistent OT-offenders.

An ordinary mailing list is much more like a week-long workshop or
conference, only it goes on even longer.  Everybody is There because of
a shared interest in hand-forged iron or stapedectomy or Linux or
whatever and no one wants to spend the whole week getting drunk or
talking about NASCAR.  But people having extended conversations
*digress*.  It's in the nature of a conversation.  It's how you get
acquainted with people beyond their purely technical expertise.
Exchanges in the heavily time- and resource-constrained context of the
clinical or industrial workplace that take place on company time are
abnormal and, in the usual human context, border on pathological.

Okay, so it can get out of hand.  I was at a big blacksmithing
conference in '76.  Someone discovered that this really old geezer
from rural Georgia (USA) had over 40 years experience sharpening plow
points with a power hammer -- a totally obsolete technical skill in
the rest of the world.  So they asked him to step up alongside the
invited demonstrators -- world-class heavies of sculpture, metallurgy
and art-metalwork -- to do a demo.  Which he did to great acclaim.
And the next thing we knew, he had his Bible out and was preaching a
fire & brimstone sermon to his audience.  A bit out of hand but all in
a day's enjoyment of the opportunity to meet blacksmiths from all over
the world.

A typical mailing list does not benefit from draconian management of
efficiency and S/N ratio.  Expecting the latter to approach 1.0 or
even much exceed 0.5 is unrealistic without rigid moderation.

My 2 cents worth.  If this gets me flamed or banished to the the
low-priced spread, so be it.

- Mike

Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~. 
mspencer at tallships.ca                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^

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