3 weeks late, administration trivia

deborah deborah at suberic.net
Fri Apr 13 18:24:39 EDT 2001

Okay, so I've just bought a house, and peeled all the wallpaper
off all the walls, and Passover is almost over, and I'm catching
up of my email, and my enormous project is done at work, So I'm
finally sending off a mail I should've sent off a couple of weeks
ago when the topic first came up.

First of all, of the topic of off topic posts: one of the great
dilemmas I've seen people on many mailing lists I've been on
struggle with is the balance between topic and community.  On a
good list, many people become friends, and wants to chat all the
time.  On the other hand, some people have subscribed to the list
just for on topic messages, either because that is where their
interests lie, or because they simply don't have the time for
Internet friends, or because they don't socialize in that way, or
for many other possible reasons.  I've been on some lists where
the list maintainer splits the list into two: a low-volume, on
topic only list, and a high-volume chat list.  As many people
have pointed out, our on topic discussions segue in and out of
topic and of chatting constantly, so that would really work for
this list.  I've been on other lists the I've felt compelled to
leave, because I feel that despite the theoretical topic of the
list, in actuality the list consists of a group of friends, and
other people, whether or not they are interested in the topic,
are not necessarily welcome.

Now, I think our list is great.  In my opinion, we never make
people feel unwelcome, and though there's certainly a core of
people who post most often, I never get the feeling that that
core group is a clique, wishing the rest of us would just go
away.  In fact, those of you who post all the time go out of your
way to welcome delurkers (which Dragon NaturallySpeaking just
heard as "the workers" which I'm trying to take as symbolic of
something).  I also think we do a really good job of dancing on
that thin line between on and off topic, moving around topics
which can certainly bring us back to Diana Wynne Jones, such as
food and fantasy. :)

On the other hand, this is an extremely high-volume list.  We get
an enormous number of postings per day.  (Which is great, even if
I personally can't stay caught up!) There are some people of the
list who subscribed only to read about  Diana Wynne Jones, and
for whom the volume of the list is difficult, but worth it when
the list stays on topic.  Now it's one thing to shift in and out
of topic all the time, but I have to admit that I personally was
overwhelmed by several hundred off topic messages about food.
The subject was fascinating, but I just didn't have time to go
through my mailbox, and I was never sure when the list was going
to drift back on topic.

So I feel like it's a little bit dangerous to bring this up,
because since that discussion two weeks ago, I've actually been
overwhelmed with the list for an opposite reason: the huge volume
of really incredibly interesting on topic posts.  I want to read
every word of every message.  I have a million things to say
which I know I'll never find time to write (about deus ex machina
in Year of the Griffin, about urban fantasy (which I've always
called "fairy punk", to follow the formation of "steampunk"), and
about the general confusions of Time of the Ghost, and how it
reminds me of Hexwood).  In other words, the list has been
brilliant, and I love the way that somebody will segue off topic
for three messages, and then somebody else will bring some random
point straight back to some obscure topic from Diana Wynne Jones,
and a whole new thread will start from that.  So I don't want to
say anything that could possibly be taken as criticism, because
it absolutely no way do I mean to criticize -- basically I'm only
answering a question that somebody asked two weeks ago about how
much I really meant it when I asked people to label off topic

So the short answer is, you guys rock my world.  The long, and
basically unnecessary answer is that we should periodically
remind ourselves that there are many lurkers on the list, who are
interested in being on the list about Diana.  But you all know
that. ;) (basically I'm just paranoid because of the list I
mentioned above, and how much like a little clique it got.  But
we're not like that here, so I'm preaching to the choir I think.)

Oh, the only other topic I had to mention was that the reason we
had that downtime a couple of weeks ago is because Northpoint,
one of the largest DSL providers in the nation, pulled their
plug.  We managed to find a new home for the server within 24
hours.  Sorry.:(

deborah at suberic.net
In plain then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?   -- Paradise Lost

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