[Air-l] The list

Steve Jones sjones at uic.edu
Sat Mar 16 13:50:47 PST 2002

Be assured that the AoIR executive committee has been discussing the 
issue of whether to have posting guidelines for some time. While none 
of us condone unethical and inappropriate behavior, we do have a 
dilemma (or more than one, perhaps). While we can filter e-mail that 
comes from an individual, one can just as easily change addresses and 
re-post. Making the entire list moderated (so that each message is 
"screened" by someone before posting) is a possibility, but will make 
the list less synchronous than it is, and, depending on future list 
traffic, may require considerable effort. (For the record, I find 
that air-l has been relatively low-traffic). And how will someone 
feel about the moderator, the possibility of moderating being 
agenda-driven, the possibility that such a possibility will cause 
someone to second-guess the motives of an agenda-less moderator, etc.?

My thinking about e-mail lists in general is that, without 
engagement, those who post inappropriately end up finding another 
list to bother with. Perhaps I'm wrong. But I don't think it would be 
hard to filter messages one's self, that is, without resorting to 
technological means, by looking at who they are from.

An important thing to keep in mind is that there is also the 
potential issue of AoIR, as an incorporated not-for-profit, to in 
some ways become "exclusive." A condition of our gaining permanent 
501(c)(3) status from the U.S. office of the I.R.S. is to not put up 
significant barriers to membership and to be a "public" organization, 
and I'd be a bit concerned that by keeping people from "speaking" 
we'd have another serious issue on our hands. Another way to put that 
is that we are not "just" a list. On the one hand we routinely engage 
in such exclusion, for instance by virtue of choosing which papers 
are accepted to our conference. On the other hand we are up front 
about so doing, and there is a process, involving more than one 
person, of determining who is invited to the conference to speak. But 
we don't prevent anyone from attending the conference and speaking 
during Q&A, for instance.

These, among other things (such as attentiveness to the variety of 
understandings of what "guidelines" are), are the kinds of things 
we've been grappling with.

I'll be happy to hear from anyone concerning these matters, 
preferably (I assume) off-list.


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