[Mailman-Users] query re "message has implicit destination"(devils advocate!)

Brad Knowles brad at stop.mail-abuse.org
Fri Sep 1 01:21:10 CEST 2006

At 8:25 PM +0200 2006-08-31, Bretton Vine wrote:

>  I view it differently. I have had great feedback and I highly doubt either
>  of the parties mentioned viewed a response as a "restraining, difficult
>  exercise". I /really/ use lists to their full advantage and with some in
>  particular have never felt my input or response was an exercise in patience
>  or restraint. It's a labour of love. You do it because it's what you do.

Maybe I'm getting better at this process than I have been in the 
past, but I most definitely held back quite a bit in my responses.  I 
did allow myself to get a bit testy, but that's about it.

It took me a while to realize that you were more playing devil's 
advocate (on behalf of your boss) as opposed to actually believing in 
some of the things you were saying.

And yes, a great deal of context is lost in e-mail.  Remember that 
about 90% of all human communication is not verbalized, and of the 
remainder about 90% is more in the tone of how you respond as opposed 
to the actual words that are chosen.  Pretty much all of that is lost 
in e-mail, leaving only the words -- and about 1% of what would 
normally be conveyed in a natural human conversation.

>  That's not to say I don't appreciate a response (some time after the fact)
>  with another avenue to explore (thanks Mark) but compare the difference
>  between "you're harping on about nothing" to "have you tried this?". The
>  latter (in hindsight) is blindingly obvious -- and yet no-one else let their
>  sub-conscious ponder the problem a while longer.

A lot of my responses were defensive in nature, responding to the way 
I felt that our entire community was being attacked, and I took that 
pretty personally.

As such, there really wasn't any time available for me to ponder the 
question in any more depth.  If I'd had that time, I might have been 
able to find a better way to convey what it was I was trying to get 

Now, I may have managed to moderate my response quite a bit, but that 
doesn't change the fundamental nature of the situation as it occurred.

>  Lists are communities. And community isn't about 'gifts' from the elders or
>  sticking to sensible rules. It's about invigorating the elders so they feel
>  like children in a toy-store again.

It should be about enabling people to contribute something and allow 
them to feel useful, in whatever way that they find that they are 
best able to do.  We don't always succeed in that goal, however.  But 
as we work towards that goal, we should find that when everyone helps 
everyone else, we all benefit from the combined strength, and the 
result is much greater than the sum of its parts.

The big problem comes when a new person comes in, or a new situation 
occurs, and one or more members of the community feels like they are 
being attacked, and how they respond.  The result can either 
strengthen the enlarged community, or be extremely destructive.

Brad Knowles, <brad at stop.mail-abuse.org>

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

     -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
     Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755

  Founding Individual Sponsor of LOPSA.  See <http://www.lopsa.org/>.

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