[LINK] Commonalities between Facebook and email

Ivan Trundle ivan at itrundle.com
Mon Feb 21 20:07:23 AEDT 2011


(this ramble contains references to Facebook, and how we communicate generally: if Facebook isn't you thing, move on down to the reference to Wikipedia and beyond).

I'm not averse to having a Facebook page for Link, but I wonder about its purpose, and effect.

I've been using Facebook for some years, and have set up a few business pages and 'group' pages, but neither have been satisfactory. The main issue is focus.

Link works well (IMHO) because people know the drill, know where the discussions take place, and know how to communicate through the medium.

Facebook creates a parallel universe - one in which people can inhabit without requiring e-mail vigilance: I have friends (and friends of offspring) who rarely use e-mail, but often use Facebook.

People wishing to communicate via Facebook can do so without entering the e-mail universe, and I fear that Link could be split into two threads: one for e-mail, one for Facebookers.

Advertising the presence of Link via Facebook is trivial, but maintaining a live presence via Facebook is not.

But I'd rather go deeper than this: how do Linkers communicate, and what is their preference? So far, we've heard of different options, but have not taken a vote or opted to move the furniture.

Tony's move to the back benches does not have to mean a complete revision of the modus operandi, but there are views expressed which suggest that now could be the time to do so.

However, the inertia in Link is high, and I suspect that the move to the three amigos is a small step to make, and anything more is a complication.

The suggestion of a Wikipedia entry is valid, however. Why don't we have one? Should we? I suspect so. I also suspect that it would do more for our credibility as a community than rushing to have a Facebook page.

Nonetheless, it is possible to have a marker in Facebook to alert a different subset of the community to the purpose and function of Link - but in doing so, it is important that the page is a 'placemark' for people who would be interested in participating in the channels that we currently deploy to communicate. And nothing more, unless we want to create two different communities.

I also regard other channels, such as Twitter, in the same way. Forking the communication into different areas is a sure-fired way of reducing the conversation to a dribble.

Facebook demands a different style of communication, and is more fractured in its ability to allow conversations on different topics, or conversations between individuals and/or the group.

This was touched on in the discussion about 'reply-to-sender': there are those who prefer that the reply_to choice is reversed (Mailman offers the choice in its settings).

In my experience of running more than 150 lists, setting the reply-to option to 'poster' is a sure-fired way of killing a list, especially for those with little momentum. The purpose of a list is to promote and promulgate conversation - and Mailman acknowledges that there are as many who see 'Reply-to' munging to be both harmful and useful, depending on the circumstances.

However, most Linkers are educated and understand where the responses go, mostly out of habit, I suspect. It also cuts out the annoying 'me too' responses of many lists that I've managed.

Bear in mind, though, that some modern mail applications do not allow (easily) the option of replying to the list alone (offering only 'reply to sender', or 'reply to all', which can generate duplicates).

So long as subscribers do not bleat that they are sick of getting duplicates when some subscribers choose 'reply to all', then all is well, and we can preserve what currently exists.

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