Hi folks -
I administer an unmoderated canine breed mailing list ... about 500+
subscribers ... discussion is generally chatty and friendly. Stated list
policies prohibit, among other things, off-topic posts and rude behavior
(both of which are implicated below).
Recently, two subscribers were feuding ("my dog can beat up your dog," or
something inane like that). Most of this battle occured *off-list* via
private email. One of the two combatants (Party A) sent an email to the
other (Party B) saying (in sum): "I have been using a program to monitor
your outgoing email, and I know that you are saying unkind things about me
to others. Stop or I will sue you." (Party B sent me a copy of this
email later.) Party B got scared and posted an (off-topic) message to
list: "Everyone on this list should watch their step. Private email is
being watched." Needless to say, the list goes nuts and everyone wants me
to take some action.
I investigated further. By private email, Party A does not deny that he
said he was monitoring email, but claims he made it up to frighten Party B
into submission. I do not have (nor do I have the ability to acquire)
evidence either way. After a strong private lashing from me, both parties
agree to bury the hatchet. However, many subscribers are still looking
to me to take action against one or both.
If something like this happened on your list, would you take action
against either party (i.e., suspend posting privileges or ban from
If so, for a period of time or permanently? If not, why not?
Does the fact that most of this fight occured (mostly) off-list influence
Would you report your findings and/or your decision to the list?
N.B. I have already made a decision on these questions, but have some
second thoughts. I will report what I did and what happened if there is
- Matt Kleiman