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Re: unwritten "messages" was: On debian lists, we cc if asked

On Sun, Aug 15, 2004 at 02:50:09PM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> OK, but if I am writing my usual clear native English, there is little 
> or nothing that I can do to avoid misinterpretation of my messages 
> without second-guessing everyone's reactions. That's clearly not 
> possible, so I ask for some of the claimed tolerance of the group.

Sure, you can never guarantee that any message is going to be perceived
the way it was intended, but you can go a long way by trying to more
carefully choose the wording.  Second-guessing the average reaction
shouldn't be all that difficult in most situations.

To elaborate on why I perceive your tone as "patronizing", let's just
take the subject line "On debian lists, we cc if asked", for example:

Besides its literal face value content, "on debian lists" in that
context might be perceived as having several implications like "I don't
know what lists you've been on so far, if any, but...", etc., and the
"we" in "we cc if asked" doesn't sound like it's meant to include
the addressed list subscribers. Rather, it tends to imply that you
consider yourself to be on the side of the experienced gurus, and that
someone finally has to go telling us poor newbies how to behave.
Preferably in consise clear words, 'cos otherwise we might not get it.

I'm exaggerating, on purpose, and I could go on like this for the rest
of your original post, but I guess this should suffice to get the point

Just to further clarify things, here's an attempt at rewording your
original message in a somewhat friendlier tone:

  Subject:  please remember to cc me

  Body:  "Not a terribly big issue, but I just realized that I missed
  out on a few messages that weren't cc'd to me.  Maybe I didn't say
  so clearly enough: I'm not subscribed.  So this is just a friendly
  reminder to please cc me in future. Thanks.  Just in case you haven't
  done so already, you might also want to take a look at http://...,
  which describes the specific policy for debian lists that we all
  agreed upon."

Something like this probably would've been perceived less patronizing
by the majority of list subscribers. The efficiency of getting across
your main intents would've been comparable: (a) you'll get your mails
from now on, (b) people who didn't yet know about the referred page now
do.  And it certainly doesn't take a literature genius to compose such
content.  Also, it has little to do with being a native speaker, or
being ignorant or intolerant of multicultural realities. It's more a
matter of basic politeness and respect for other's point of views,
attitudes and feelings.

I don't think this is asking too much... or is it?

Also, please note that some of us women here have had more than enough
real-life experiences of being patronized.  And, due to the additional
non-verbal communication available in real life to disambiguate
situations, I definitely wouldn't say we'd dreamt things up.
I'm not whining... just saying how things are, to help explain why
we've become a little oversensitive to the 'relationship' aspect of any

So let's just try to not get off on the wrong foot again next time.
I'll try to do my best :)


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