[Air-l] re: Lachlan's CV (or stepping OVER the line)

Rob Furr rsfurr at curie.uncg.edu
Sat Mar 16 13:29:16 PST 2002

At 02:36 PM 3/16/2002 -0600, you wrote:

>My preference has been to let the list speak first.
>This list has been going for just under two and a half years and has grown 
>from 14 members to over 1,000. It's reasonable to expect weird periods 
>from time to time, and net scholars ought to figure out together how to 
>get through them with the kind of list we want this to be intact.

While weird periods are only to be expected in any open or semi-open list, 
I'd urge the governing authority to take some action relatively soon to 
establish a minimum code of conduct. In my experience, open, unmoderated, 
academic or scholarly forums that bear on anything even marginally 
controversial tend to go through a fairly consistent life cycle, which 
eventually winds up with either an overly draconian moderation scheme in 
place on a second forum after the first one has been choked to death by 
nonessential and off-topic clutter (such as, oh, Lachlan's so-called CV) 
and arguments over the same, or plain old forum death. It is better to have 
*some* policy in place right off the bat that handles such matters as "If 
what you're posting is of interest to only one other person, don't send it 
to the list, send it directly to that person," and the like, for no other 
reason than it establishes the precedent and the right of posters on the 
list to say "That's not appropriate for the list. Don't do it again." 
Without that precedent, most people who feel that online forums are theirs 
to do with what they will will say something along the lines of "You're not 
the boss of me, you don't own this list, I can do whatever I want", and 
blithely go on their merry way. It's a variant of Gresham's Law: bad forum 
traffic *will* drive out good, unless there's some social mechanism in 
place to handle it, and if a minimal level of control is not established 
early in the life of the forum, a maximum level of control will be put into 
place later, just out of overreaction to the preceding chaos.

In short, then, while waiting for the list as a whole to decide on the 
specifics and boundaries of a list use policy, you might want to put a bare 
bones one together for the time being - the longer the list goes without 
one at all, the harder it'll be to put the complete and definitive one into 

   Rob Furr

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