[LINK] Maintaining the link list - changes in policy?

Robin Whittle rw at firstpr.com.au
Sun Feb 20 16:21:50 AEDT 2011

Hi Kim,

Thanks for your offer of help.  Since Tony ran the list on his own for
17 years or so, I guess Martin, Ivan and I can probably do it as a
team of three.

I think Marghanita's suggestion of a team of three or so, with an ANU
connection, was important.  I didn't want to take on the list on my
own, and I guess no-one else did.

We are doing a little amigoing over the next few days.  Martin lives
in Germany and Ivan lives in Canberra.  I live in Melbourne.  I spoke
to Tony yesterday by phone and thanked him for Link, as I often have
in emails.

I can't speak for the Martin and Ivan, but my guess is that we don't
need complex democratic processes or a change in the minimal policy to
keep the Good Ship Link on a course which is a happy continuation of
its past meanderings.  If we strike some serious challenges, which we
can't agree on a solution to, I am sure we would consult everyone via
the list.

I think only Bernard Robertson-Dunn had some criticism of the content
of the list.  Everyone else seemed to be happy with the way things
have been going.  He wrote:

> 1. of the blatant self promotion that occasionally goes on,
> 2. of the ad hominem attacks that occasionally break out.

My impression is that I haven't noticed much of this in recent years.
 However, for anyone who does have such concerns, and doesn't want to
mention examples on the list because of the likelihood of causing a
flame war, perhaps you could mention your concerns to the Amigos:

   Martin Barry <marty at supine.com>
   Ivan Trundle <ivan at itrundle.com>
   Robin Whittle <rw at firstpr.com.au>

I am in keen about reducing noise on mailing lists.  Its vital to
keeping the engaged membership.  However, I doubt if any of us have
the time and patience required to do this intensively, and I think
Link doesn't need such mollycoddling.

I understand that in the past, in general, problems such as Bernard
mentioned have been reduced by messages (off list, I guess) to those
were perceived to have engaged in them.  I guess this was from Tony,
as sole moderator, but I also understand that other Link members
played a role in this.

There are potential difficulties with off-list messages from anyone
which seek to curtail how a person expresses themselves in public on
the list, but if it is done gently and constructively (with
suggestions on how to contribute without causing the perceived
problem) then I think this can be a good approach.  If anyone found
themselves being subject to what they regard as unreasonable
non-public attempts to suppress their contribution to a mailing list I
was running, I would want to know about it.

Making the corrective suggestions on list has the advantage that this
can't be perceived as secretive suppressive pressure, but has the
disadvantage of potentially inflaming the on-list trouble, and casting
public aspersions on the motivation and judgement of individuals who
are doing their best.

The price to pay for more moderation intervention is more discussions
about the rights and wrongs of it, more and more detailed posting
guidelines etc.  Long and especially disagreeable discussion about
list moderation policies is, in my view, a strong noise signal to most

I think the current discussion is very helpful and not a distraction
from general discussions.

One thing I am really keen about is updating the subject line to
reflect the current focus of the discussion.

  - Robin

On 20/02/2011 2:02 PM, Kim Holburn wrote:

> I'm OK with the three who have volunteered, heck I'd be happy to
> help but I think those three will be enough.
> I have a couple of questions though.
> I like the link list.  It is a high volume list and sometimes I
> have used it as a network diagnostic tool(!) but I like it's signal
> to noise ratio and it's relaxed attitude.  I like how it can be
> technical at times.  Tony has had a very, very light hand on the
> tiller but the list does have direction.   He hasn't seemed to do
> much steering in the last few years, I'm not sure whether it's
> because we have got less squabblesome or he got tired of it or a
> bit of both, none-the-less it is important and with a change in the
> moderator the list will change, just as it will change over time as
> people join and drift away. So my first question here is: will we
> have a change of policy?  What would the new three like to say
> about the directions of the list and handling of difficulties?
> If this is going to be a democracy, it is a big change.  Are we
> going to take this democracy idea further and have terms?  Or just
> a one off to elect an oligarchy?
> Kim

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