Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mailing Lists

I am subscribed to a couple of philosophy mailing lists. One is a kind of general purpose announcement list. The other is focused more specifically upon my areas of research interest. They are both useful sources of professional information. They can have their amusing moments too.

Lurking on these lists, I have noticed a puzzling phenomenon. Some new person will subscribe to the list, often without having read too carefully about the rules and focus of the list. They will then post something, that is not really too appropriate. One common sort of message might say something like,

"Hello, I am new here, so I thought I would introduce myself..."

Messages of this kind a little annoying, but are not really too bad. However, what I find amazing is the number of list members who will reply to these folks, telling them all the things that they are doing wrong.

It would be one thing to tell these people in a private e-mail, but to post such a message publicly, seems a bit mean. The way both lists seem to be set up is such that the default setting sends replies to postings just to the poster. Thus, these people have to go to all the effort of filling in the CC: field, to ensure that their message goes to the entire list. My question is, why do these people do this? Also, is this not the job of the Listowner, if it is anyone's job? I am always puzzled by these self-appointed list guardians. Although I am certain that their intentions are good, why do they act this way?

Another curious list type are the people who start yelling "take this discussion off the list" after a couple of posts on a particular topic. There are many announcements that are of little interest to me. I delete them, or perhaps forward them to someone who might be interested, who does not subscribe to the list. It is not a big deal. Am I just a tolerant type? Does anyone know of any serious studies that have been done on this kind of thing?

The CP


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