community etiquette and this mailing list

From: Eugene Eric Kim (
Date: Sun Aug 13 2000 - 11:09:03 PDT

I wanted to make some quick comments on how this list should be used and
ways in which we can become more efficient as a group.

At last Thursday's meeting, we talked about what should be considered on
and off topic for this mailing list. Some people proposed that we move
discussion of process and other non-technical issues to other mailing
lists. I was quick to shut down that idea, suggesting that because our
community was small, it was better to start with this list and move from

First, I feel like I was too forceful in expressing that opinion, and
really didn't give anyone a chance to express an alternative point of
view. Our processes really need to be determined by community, and I want
to make sure that everyone has a chance to be heard, and that decisions
are group decisions as much as possible. If you want to propose
alternative ways of organizing discussion, such as possibly creating
multiple lists, please do so. Also, discuss it on this list so others
can join in the discussion; don't save it for the meetings. If there are
many voices in favor of a certain approach, then we should adopt
it. Remember, this is a community experiment as much as it is a software
development project. If we try something new, and it doesn't work so
well, we can always try something else.

That said, we have to be careful about being too forceful regarding what
belongs and doesn't belong on this list. Ultimately, people should use
their best judgement on whether something is on- or off-topic. However,
if someone posts something that others consider off-topic, we shouldn't
chastise them, or people are going to be reluctant to post anything. I'm
inclined to say, when in doubt, post.

The one thing I want to avoid is being flooded by irrelevant
information. It's okay to send out the occasional link to a paper that
might not be directly relevant to what we're currently doing, but is
somewhat relevant, and might be interesting to people in the group. For
example, John's reference to Nestor was interesting in that it offered
some ideas of additional views that we could support.

However, if you are flooding the list with these links, I personally am
going to get really annoyed, especially if you aren't contributing to the
project other than by sending lots of links. Yes, there are a whole lot
of interesting papers and technologies out there, and I wish I knew about
every single one. However, I can't, and trying to inform me about them is
a waste of my time. It's a dimensionality thing, if you will (with a nod
towards Doug). Send the occasional reference, and I think that's
great. Send too many, and we get some unexpected consequences, like me
getting really annoyed. :-)


+=== Eugene Eric Kim ===== ===== ===+
|       "Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they        |
+=====  can have an excuse to drink alcohol."  --Steve Martin  ===========+

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