[Dixielandjazz] unwritten rules new scenario

steven holzer slholzer@iquest.net
Fri, 13 Sep 2002 17:36:47 -0500

Should I be posting this? Perhaps. Perhaps not.  I  don't have a lot of
bones to pick with anybody, but maybe I havea few relevant comments that
willspur some usefulthought.

Don Hale posted a message under the above heading in which he (rather
spuriously, I think) asserted that  most of the off-topic messages
posted to this list seemto be fromBobRingwaldobjecting to what he
percieves to be other
listmembers off-topic wanderings. He then went on to defend the tendency
of members on this list to wander off-topic. So now for something on
each question,anda little something for each side.

First, in defense of Mr. Ringwald. Don, you exaggerate. I track this
list religiously, and Bob's reminders are no more than are demanded by
the extent of the traffic. If Bob, or someone like him, were not willing
to occasionally voice these reminders, the abuse would probably be even
worse and most of us would be belly-aching about it. Many feelings would
be hurt and the list would soon lack the chummy character that I think
distinguishes it from many others.

Stay tuned for more about off-topic posts. 

Now for something about Don's good points. Don observed that the
relationships which develop between members and what they perceive to be
a very special online community of more than mere correspondents is
partly responsible for the tendency to wander off-topic. We get to know
people on this list ( a lot of people actually) and we tend to want to
share things with them, all at once. His point, then, seems to be that a
certain amount of looseness among friends is not only forgiveable but
inevitable and desireable. I can't help but agree. The free-wheeling
nature of this list adds to its charm. You get more than opinion and
information, you get a sense of personality on this list that is lacking
in more controlled forums. It is a beautiful thing, and it will wilt and
die if you try to restrain it too much.

That being said, no one on the list should forget that there are limits
to everything. The notion that one little post can't do any harm
snowballs to a huge mess if extrapolated across the entire list. How
many people stop to think whether it adds anything material to a
discussion when they rush to post a "Me, too." message to the entire
list. Beauty and light notwithstanding, there is a remarkable lot of
self-editing that doesn't happen in our society and, yes, also on this
list. In the exhilaration of participating in a global conversation, we
often forget that it is not really a conversation but more like your
thirty seconds at the podium at a public meeting. And saying that "he
has a delete key, doesn't he" is not the pat answer to that that some of
us seem to think it is. Even assuming that all of the unwanted dross is
clearly labelled (we all know it isn't), you can still spend
considerable amounts of time picking out and deleting the less
desireable posts unread. If I asked you to give me back the hours of my
life I've lost doing that, could you do it? It is no trivial thing.

I think that those few people on the list who come close to being
responsible for its operation probably agree to some extent with Don
Hale. If they didn't, they would be far more stern with the perceived
abuse than an occasional reminder notice and we would all be the poorer
for it. Let's give them credit for that. 

Let's also remember that they are sustaining the list, and that those of
us who take advantage of it are doing so at their forbearance. It
behooves us to consider their purpose in creating and maintaining the
list and to honor that purpose by not unduly commandeering the list's
resources for private purposes or abusing the good nature of the list's
members by subjecting them to obviously off-topic discussions. If you
maintain an address book, you can tailor your communications to the
appropriate audience and never incur the wrath of Bob at all. Let's not
confuse a bit of laziness with the righteous exercise of the First
Amendment. It doesn't wash, people.

I have been on the list for a few years now. When I first joined, I was
a fairly frequent contributor. The longer I'm on it, the less often I
feel compelled to take the podium. I don't think the list is that much
poorer for it, and I'm not either. I have learned judgment and
discretion as I age. I highly recommend it.

Steve Holzer