[techtalk] Re: meta-stuff

Deb Richardson deb at thepuffingroup.com
Mon Nov 29 22:50:29 EST 1999

Note: I'm crossposting this to grrltalk, issues, and techtalk because
telsa brings up some important points which could have an effect on all
these lists.  Apologies to everyone who gets this message more than

Telsa Gwynne wrote:

> But since this is techtalk, and since we seem to be discussing
> etiquette, is there any real reason why Reply-To is set to the
> list? There's an article detailing reasons why it can be a bad
> idea at http://www.unicom.com/pw/reply-to-harmful.html 

I have read the article at that link a couple of times now, and in the
early days of LinuxChix I made the decision to leave the reply-to to the
list because there were only a few of us here, and conversations kept
drifting off the list into the nether-regions that are "offlist".

That situation has changed, however, and as of 9:15p (EST) today, the
subscription numbers are as follows:

grrltalk: 193
issues: 130
techtalk: 240
grrltalk-digest: 51
techtalk-digest: 61

It's quite the burgeoning community now, really :)

This in mind, I think that it might be time to change the reply-to
address from "list" to "sender".  What this means is, unless you
specifically reply to the list (by selecting the appropriate option, or
by specifying the list address), your response will go off-list, to only
the person who sent it.

Why is this a good thing?  Well...I refer you to the article whose URL
is above.  It will cut down on the number of flames, rants, and too-fast
responses that end up spamming the list.  I really do like it when
people think about their posts before they send them.  I don't want
these lists to degenerate into the typical flame-wars and off-topic
meanderings that tend to plague many lists.

I would like to know what people think about this.  I am strongly
leaning towards changing the reply-to fields, but I would like to hear
your opinions before I make a final decision.  I suspect that the
majority of you will understand the reasoning and agree.  Either way,
since I'm soliticing opinions, the change won't be made until next week
as I'm going to be away on business for a few days.

If the change does happen, I'll give plenty of warning.  The change
could be annoying and awkward at first, but I suspect that everyone
would get used to it soon enough.  :>

[following paras are slightly snipped]

> Re-reading the article ... there's one thing on there that Linuxchix 
> doesn't appear to have which it -might- end up needing. It's the sort 
> of thing you don't want to have to need, but...
> ... what you do when someone really doesn't
> care about list rules (or guidelines, here. They're rules on mine :)).
> I'm sure many of us have been on lists where meta-issues flourish,
> spammers proliferate, and interesting topics vanish due to the
> actions of a few people.

Indeed, and this is something I very much wish to avoid.  
> On the list I run, it goes something like this:
> If things get really bad, I email the person/people privately,
> and tell them why people are upset and why I'd like them to
> stop, hold off for a bit, or rephrase their arguments to
> arguments rather than flames.
> If that gets ignored, another private email, warning them
> that the next warning will be public and anything after that
> will result in an unsubscription.
> If that gets ignored, then the public "I am asking X, Y and Z
> to stop/take it off-list/cool off; and if they don't, I'm
> unsubbing him/her/them" arrives.
> If that gets ignored, then unsubbing.

I think this seems quite reasonable.  For the record, I have sent
off-list warnings to various people (who shall remain nameless) in the
past months.  These warnings have had the desired effect each time.  The
warnings I send are basically "this is what you're doing and why it's
inappropriate, please stop else I will be forced to unsubscribe you".  

This approach is, of course, in no way "official", and someone really
has to be overtly disruptive before I'll send a warning.  I know that we
all have our off days, and I am as guilty as any for firing off flames
that would have been better sent to /dev/null.  All owners of the lists
where I've done this, however, have demonstrated veritably saint-like
patience, and I endeavour to emulate that.  I can get annoyed if someone
is persistent enough, and when that happens, I send my warning.

To date, I haven't had to send a "public warning", but I think I'm going
to take telsa's advice in this.  After two off-list warnings, there will
be one public warning.  If all those are ignored, I will weild my
list-owner powers judiciously.

I haven't had to do this yet, and I can assure you that I will agonize
about it at great length before I do so.  I am a staunch defender of and
believer in free speech.  "I may not agree with what you say, but I will
defend with my life your right to say it", and all that.  BUT, my job on
these lists is to ensure that they remain a comfortable and hospitable
environment in which women can discuss Linux and other open-source
related topics.  If I get slack on that, the whole purpose of LinuxChix
goes straight into the bin.  

If you _do_ think I'm getting slack in this, _please_ email me about
it.  Some days I just don't have time to read all the lists I'm on
(including my own) so I can get a bit behind.  A quick note in my inbox
saying "if you haven't seen yet, there's trouble on techtalk" (or
whichever), would bring the matter to my immediate attention, rather
than languishing in my "lists" folder to be perused in a more leisurely
For that matter, if you have any suggestions about how you think
LinuxChix could be better in any way, please feel free to email me at
any time.  

- deb

deb at thepuffingroup.com
deb at linuxchix.org
deb at oswg.org

techtalk at linuxchix.org   http://www.linuxchix.org

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