Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(November 2001)
 

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Subject: Re: "I know this is off-topic, but...."
From: Vince Sabio <vince @ vjs . org>
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 16:18:32 -0500
To: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>, <list-managers @ greatcircle . com>
In-reply-to: <B8291707.1A1B%chuqui@plaidworks.com>
References: <B8291707.1A1B%chuqui@plaidworks.com>

** 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 
off-topic threads.

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 
off-topic list.

Hope this was of some use, Chuq.

Cheers,
Vince




Follow-Ups:
References:
Indexed By Date Previous: Re: "I know this is off-topic, but...."
From: "Jim Poston" <jim.poston@bigfoot.com>
Next: Re: "I know this is off-topic, but...."
From: J C Lawrence <claw@kanga.nu>
Indexed By Thread Previous: Re: "I know this is off-topic, but...."
From: "Jim Poston" <jim.poston@bigfoot.com>
Next: Re: "I know this is off-topic, but...."
From: Rik van Riel <riel@conectiva.com.br>

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