Re: Retrospective

From: Phil Osborn (
Date: Sun Oct 29 2000 - 17:07:15 MST

[Non-member submission]

Some of you may have noticed the lack of my unsettling intrusions,
insightfull commentaries, sexist monologues, boring diatribes, or whatever
category you may have chosen or not. Briefly, Hotmail screwed up my mail
during their "upgrade." Note that Hotmail is now owned by
MicroSloth. ("Oh no-o-o, Mr. Bill!) Thus, upgrades are a time to wish
that prayer worked.

Since I was no longer getting 95% of my incoming mail, I quickly signed up
with Altavista's mail service, and unsubscribed from the Extropy email list
to avoid further problems re Hotmail. I found, meanwhile, that, except for
a slight delay before the archives were posted, it is much, much faster and
easier to peruse the archives than to try to handle it via email.

Then I noticed two things: First, and this has yet to be explained, a fair
number of my earlier posts were not in the archives. (!???) Second,
virtually none of the posts that I sent in after unsubscribing from the
email list, which I spent so much time to get right, were posted. The
explanation which I received on that issue, after a couple of weeks, was
that no one had time to manually check all the non-subscriber posts, so
most of them are just dumped.

One wonders how many posts from non-subscribers - I suspect Esther Dyson
among them, for example, as she has occasionally posted to the list - who
simply cannot afford to cull through hundreds of "REs," often silly
messages re gun control or whatever, and thus do not subscribe, are also
simply dumped - a sure way to discourage further contribution.

So, I resubsribed via my altavista email account, which I quickly
discovered is a disaster, as altavista is even slower than hotmail when
ones box starts getting full. It took me over two hours just to delete the
Extropy email for a few days and find my own personal mail! Thus, I
unsubscribed again.

Anyway, this message is a test in part, as I have now been informed that an
account has been set up in response to my request such that I can post
without receiving the email.

My question is: Why isn't this SOP? Why not make this the FIRST option,
not something available only by special request? Most really productive
and smart people simply don't have time to handle hundreds of mostly inane
messages, which may be fun to a handful of the parties involved, but only
clutter up the infospace for the rest of us. I have found that using the
archives has not only speeded up my access enormously, but also has
seriously curtailed my impulse to jump in with an opinion on every topic.

My suggestion, since this topic has also emerged recently in the form of a
request for people to limit their postings, is to make non-email
subscription the standard, with the email optional.

A second suggestion, since I have been using the archives, is to make them
more user friendly. For instance, the search engine DOES NOT WORK! I
tried searching for my own name, using various options, and got all kinds
of stuff with no connection, while most of my posts never came up at all.

A good search engine that indexed threads, for example, so that the user
could locate all the threads on a topic and then look at all the original
messages first, for example - not the REs - would be very helpful.

Finally, and I'm sure that much more could be written on this topic, the
archives should be downloadable, at least by subscribers. Downloads from a
search result would be optimum, I think.

Meanwhile, both I, and, I suspect, certain other list members have much
enjoyed my vacation from the list. There is an addictive quality to these
things, which becomes visible perhaps only on its absense.


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