OT: Moderating a busy list (was Re: 3 weeks late, administration trivia)

Neil Ward neilward at dircon.co.uk
Sat Apr 14 12:12:47 EDT 2001

Hi Deborah,

I think you have a wonderful list here with a great balance of literary
analysis to off-topic fun, not to mention some brilliant minds.  I don't
post very often, and haven't kept up with all the threads, but I do feel

I'm getting deja vu (more synchronicity?) with some of the adminstrative
topics raised.  For my sins, I am one of four moderators of the Harry Potter
for Grown Ups (HPfGU) list over on Yahoo Groups.  We have almost 1200
members, with an average daily posting rate of 80-100 messages.  We also
have a linked OT Chatter list with a posting rate of around 40 messages per
day, plus a lower-rate Announcements list.  The large membership wasn't a
gradual build; our numbers increased by 700 in the space of two months after
an interview posted on CNN's website, so we were caught on the hop,

We decided to create an OT Chatter list when our posting rate hit 150
messages a day, and it has worked very well.  We also seem to talk about
food a great deal, particularly the differences between UK and US food.  I
often find myself explaining the meanings of treacle, Spotted Dick and Lemon
Sherbets.  I found it hilarious, recently, that this list was discussing
some of the same food topics as our OT list!

People switch from the main HPfGU list to the OT one and back without too
much difficulty, but we do have to employ some fairly upfront moderating and
pointing at written guidelines to keep things in check (for example, asking
people to prefix certain unpopular topics and creating various FAQs for
reference).  We agonised for quite a while over splitting the list and one
of the strongest arguments against a separate OT list was the loss of
'community' feel on the main list.  In the end, though, the sheer volume of
messages forced our arm.

Recently, we've had some comments about the HPfGU list being cliquish and
unfriendly.  Nothing could be further from the truth, IMO, but it's
interesting that newbies can draw this impression if their posts are
seemingly ignored or if oldbies on the list point them to previous
discussions rather than reiterate their previous discussions.  I think
people easily confuse established list members' friendships and allegiances
with cliquishness - it's a bit like joining a party that's in full swing and
not knowing a soul there. For some, it's a real effort not to remain a

Anyway, that's enough about the Harry Potter list! [I can hear you all
groaning...<g>]  This DWJ list is also quite busy, but I would not recommend
the creation of an OT list unless it gets much, much busier.  A split group
can work, but I suggest that it's infinitely preferable to keep the list as
one and have everyone label their OT posts.


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