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Re: netiquette on other lists

on Wed, Apr 16, 2003 at 01:38:29PM +0200, Rudy Gevaert (rudy@zeus.ugent.be) wrote:
> This has actually nothing to do with Debian, but I couldn't find any
> other list, and I am wondering what the thoughts are of the debian
> users about the following.
> Most of the subscribers here, must be on other lists too.  How does
> netiquette get handled on those lists?
> E.g.  I'm in the third year of computer science, but have to do also a
> couple of course in the second year.  Each year has a mailinglist
> where we can discuss course problems, or computer related stuff.

As is indicated deeper in this thread:  you maintain these lists.

You don't mention whether or not the lists are officially (or
implicitly) supported by you, or by the school.  Or what your
alternatives are.

I've subscribed to several nontechnical lists in which the clash of
cultures was too great and I simply left.  Clue migration is always an
option.  If you can't change the list, try setting up a clueful one,
often under the guise of a moderated and/or invitation-only list.

It's also useful to enforce rules uniformly and from the start.  And to
be fair about it.  Gentle reminders are the best policy, as are widely
established rules (unless the list caters to and embraces eccentricity).
I've had some particularly bad encounters myself with the list-Nazi at
LUGoD, Peter Jay Salzman.  The problem being a combination of unusual
rules, misapplied rules, arbitrary enforcement, censorious intent, and
ham-handed interventions.  A light touch is best.

I run a few forums myself, and have had to take direct actions only once
(though people on this an other lists may have recieved my suggestions
for improving readability and presentation of their posts).  That
instance was someone who'd long been associated with the group, has a
history of mental illness (this is all grossly public, I wouldn't
disclose it otherwise), and has been through many cycles of requests to
change, improve, and/or modify his behavior.  The cleanup actions were
simply too demanding of my time.

> The third year list, follows the netiquette guidelines rather good,
> but the second year they don't care that much.
> I made it my point from teaching them to quote below, don't use html,
> and don't send spam to the list.  But the more times I ask the poster
> the more rude answers I get.  I try to explain why it is better not to
> post in html, why it is better not to quote at the top, why it is bad
> to reply a random thread and change the subject.

See above and ask yourself if you're being reasonable and appropriate in
your approach.  It might also help to find if there are others who
appreciate your efforts.  Most rules of (n)ettiquette are a concensus
reality, and if the concensus is against you, so be it.

Ultimately you either have the right to ban people from a list or not.
If you don't, then there's the "clue migration factor", being largely
that the s/n of an unmanaged list falls over time until the high value
participants cease and move elsewhere.  You end up with noise, shouting,
cacophony, and spam.

It would also help to make clear that the guidelines (not rules) are
established _to foster communications and improve the value of responses
received_.  The benefit of compliance is an improved value of the list.
Eric Raymond's etiquette guidelines in this regard are good.

University environments are notoriously full of short-term inhabitants,
often with a sense of privilege, omnipotence, and invulnerability.  On
the one hand, it makes for a difficult community to establish standards
with (long-term associations of those with an understanding of
consequences and mutual benefit would be the other end of the spectrum).
On the other hand, you might find yourself in the position of being able
to demonstrate that privilege can be revoked, false omnipotence has
consequences, and most of us are, in fact, vulnerable.  Don't expect
this to be teribly rewarding in the short term.

> The bigger part follow the guidelines, but there are alwasy a couple
> of that don't.  And always go shouting, yelling at me.

Ignore them.

Act to enforce rules.  I'd say that two private, and one public
chastizement for most matters (though no second chances for spam,
threats, or violence), preferably with a leadership of n greater than
one, is sufficient.  At that point, posting privileges are revoked.  In
an educational setting you might also have access to departmental or
administrative procedure, though I'd use this with great discretion.

> It's true I'm almost the only one that says something about it, but I
> hope to think that other people think the same but don't want to play
> the marthyr.

Then don't.  If you don't need to provide the service, walk away from
it, and/or set up an alternative, which you do control, elsewhere.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
   Keep software free.         Oppose the CBDTPA.         Kill S.2048 dead.

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