** Sometime around 10:10 -0800 11/27/01, Chuq Von Rospach sent everyone:
>What do people think about this stuff? How do you manage it? Are you seeing
>the same trend I am, with people doing this more often? It seems to me
>there's some aspect of laziness here ("rather than find the right place,
>I'll ask the close place") but combined with the "know these guys are
>clueful" aspect, so there's a mixed message here. Definitely hard to decide
>where to draw the lines in the sand, so I thought I"d throw it out and see
>what others are thinking.
As you probably know, the listmoms who manage the potpourri of lists
on my server take a pretty hard line when it comes to staying on
topic. We quash off-topic threads pretty quickly, filter them at the
server (via either subject line or message body content), and often
inform the list that the thread has been killed for being off-topic
-- a not-terribly-subtle reminder to stay on topic.
We take this hard line because we've found that many of the primary
contributors to our lists tend to be busy professionals, and they
have a pretty low S/N threshold at which they will simply unsubscribe.
FWIW, it is not uncommon for us to receive off-list messages of
thanks whenever we kill an off-topic thread. It seems that the folks
who enjoy -- or even tolerate -- such threads are well in the
minority, though of course it varies from [off] topic to [off] topic.
That is to say, "there's off-topic and then there's off-topic."
As an example of one [off] topic on which we held the line, but
received a good deal of criticism from list members, we prohibited
discussion of the events of Sept. 11th on our lists (and this was not
for lack of concern over the events -- I was at my apartment 9 blocks
from WTC that day, and witnessed the entire event). We received no
messages of thanks for that one. But allowing one off-topic thread to
survive sets a bad precedent, and weakens our position, for further
Finally, I should mention that I agree with the community-building
aspect of off-topic threads -- so, several years ago, we created an
"off-topic mailing list." <g> Anything that is *not* on-topic on the
"production" lists is fair game for the off-topic list. The list has
taken on a life of its own, routinely hitting 200 posts/day, and once
breaking the 500-post mark. On several occasions, list members have
arranged to meet each other, sometimes travling thousands of miles to
do so. And we do have one marriage that has come about as a direct
result of the list. We are, however, pretty rabid about _not_
allowing any topics that belong on the production lists, and also
about moving off-topic threads from the production lists to the
Hope this was of some use, Chuq.