[Air-L] Change of default reply setting on air-l

Michael Zimmer zimmerm at uwm.edu
Mon May 11 07:35:43 PDT 2009

I tend to agree with Jeremy's assessment. While I think the Org should  
make efforts to remove messages from the archive if privacy/ 
confidentiality concerns arise (and should find a host that allows  
editing of archives), the Org would likely have section 230 protection  
from any legal liability (at least in the US), if that's the motiving  


Michael Zimmer, PhD
Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies
Associate, Center for Information Policy Research
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
e: zimmerm at uwm.edu
w: www.michaelzimmer.org

On May 11, 2009, at 6:25 AM, jeremy hunsinger wrote:

>> A) Briefly, a member of the Executive Committee suggested we make  
>> the change
>> based on the following considerations:
>> This will eliminate emails, intended to be sent privately to  
>> another member
>> of the list in response to a list post, being accidentally  
>> broadcast instead
>> to ca. 2,000 list members.
>> - and thereby entering our uneditable archives on Dreamhost.
> actually we can edit those archives if necessary.  However... I find  
> it very questionable that the group would necessarily be forced to  
> serve the mistakes or carelessness of individuals.
>> We've seen a fair number of these - I'm guilty of more than my  
>> share, and so
>> perhaps I'm more sympathetic to this consideration.  Very, very  
>> fortunately,
>> so far at least, most of the emails have _not_ passed on comments or
>> otherwise revealed information in more than mildly embarrassing  
>> embarrassing
>> fashion.
> I think this is a minor point.  we have had few and I mean ... very  
> few.  I'd say we have 1 for every 10 on the cultstud-l list.
>> For that, we've had more than one request from respected - and  
>> certainly
>> competent - list members to eliminate such emails from the archive  
>> record.
>> Given our arrangements with Dreamhost, this is more or less just not
>> possible.
> we shouldn't e doing that anyway, but it can be done.
>> All of this raises the central worry that there exists a good  
>> possibility in
>> the long run of the list that someone will indeed post to the list  
>> a note
>> intended for a particular individual, but one containing very  
>> sensitive /
>> confidential information, the publication of which on list could  
>> easily have
>> disastrous consequences for the individuals involved, and perhaps  
>> others.
>> Worst-case, some of us are concerned that this might make AoIR  
>> legally
>> liable / open to suit.
> get a lawyer.  I don't see this.  before this would happen, we would  
> just edit the archive.  You just contact dreamhost, and they'll send  
> you the tar.gz, you take out the message and send it back.
> If this is a huge concern, then move off dreamhost to a listserv  
> with easier access.
> The solution shouldn't be to hamstring the community because of a  
> theoretical possibility.
>> B) To be sure, other points of view - very much along the lines  
>> that have
>> now been extensively (and, thank you, very cordially) expressed by  
>> several
>> list members - were in play in our discussion as well.
>> And: what was under discussion was a _trial_ run of the change, to  
>> see how
>> far the concerns that such a change would dampen community  
>> conversation,
>> etc., turned out to be true.
>> (Hence my echoing the empirical sensibility of Nicole Ellison,  
>> above.)
> a trial run is daft.   this list isn't for experiments even by the  
> exec.  it is the primary means of communications for the association.
> we specifically chose against using an announce list back in the  
> day, we had that option, to make this an announce-reply to sender  
> list, but we didn't because it hampers people's capacity to talk to  
> many people at once.
>> C) There was, however - and believe me, the irony is not lost on me  
>> - some
>> miscommunication across the course of our email exchanges, such  
>> that our
>> stalwart System Officer Holly Kruse understood the decision to have  
>> been
>> made and one to be implemented.
>> 2)  So, while the change was made prematurely - the upside is that  
>> it has
>> evoked just the sort of discussion that will be helpful to the  
>> Executive
>> Committee in making any long-term decision on this matter.
>> (As someone deeply committed to Habermasian and feminist  
>> understandings of
>> democracy, it is clear to me that potential norms must be openly  
>> discussed
>> and considered by those who will be affected by their possible  
>> adoption.)
>> In light of all of this, I propose the following:
>> a) now that the change has been made, and that voices both pro and  
>> con are
>> being raised - rather than switch back without further ado, I  
>> suggest we
>> keep it in place for the time-being.  This will have the further  
>> advantage
>> of giving us some empirically-based sense of what effects will  
>> really follow
>> from the change.
> No, we shouldn't.  It will just stay in place if you leave it in  
> place, within a week people will begin to change their norms and  
> expectations to the list.   I've already had people reply to me  
> directly from the list when they've mean tto reply to the list itself.
> I hate to say it, but there is really no reason to make this  
> change.  I see that some people might be for it.  But i think the  
> majority see that it substantially changes the nature of the list in  
> ways that detracts from the nature of AoIR.
> This is something that should be voted on before it is changed,  
> voted on by the members.  It is akin to something like founding a  
> journal, changing membership fees, etc.  This is the main  
> communication medium for the organization, changes should not just  
> be decided for the organization.  A vote at the annual meeting or  
> referendum during the upcoming election seems necessary before  
> letting this change in place.
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