Re: Mailing List Quality (Was: Certainty, Experiments & Facts)

Crosby_M (
Mon, 30 Sep 1996 13:42:00 -0400

Robin Hanson wrote:
"I think the net is in great need of some innovate alternatives to the
stark alternatives of open vs. moderated lists. One idea I've played
with is a list pair, one open and one closed [snip]"

Peter Voss wrote:
"I'm in favor of some such list. I have just unsubscribed from
transhuman list and am about to unsubscribe from the extropy list
because even just scanning the often 40 or more messages a day is, to
me, not worth the benefit - too many insults, too much irrationality and
too much shooting from the hip. Yet, there are a number of very
knowledgable, highly intelligent and polite writers on these lists. I
like the concept of peer reviewed contribution admission to a public

Depending on Internet traffic congestion and how often you check your
email, the number of messages you receive at any one time can now
approach 100 (I found 67 when I went into the office and checked last
Saturday afternoon, and many more came in while I worked), and it's
likely to get even worse if the list stays open and more people on the
net become interested in Transhuman and Extropian ideas. I now think
Peter's right and some alternative for busy and/or serious readers is

One alternative I have in mind seems simpler and more open than Robin's
idea and would guard against Kathryn Aegis's concern about a closed list
"degenerating into intellectual insularity".

The idea is that there would be a second list available where the
participants in a particular thread, or series of related threads, could
regularly post a summary of what their thread had been discussing. This
would require some extra effort by those participants to summarize and
integrate their ideas. If people on opposite sides of a debate couldn't
come to a consensus on what the summary should contain, each 'side'
would be free to post their own summary.

The fact that particpants would have to make this extra summarizing
effort might help insure that the second list wasn't so noisy as the
open list and provided the desirable "common sense of what [the]
community is seeing," that Robin mentioned. Of course, some people like
to 'always' start their own threads and often post essay-length pieces.
I guess if no thread developed on the subject and the poster thought it
was worthwhile, they could be free to forward their piece to the second
list after a while.

the bigger problem is that I'm not sure how this approach would help
those who want to receive newsy type information (e.g., conference
announcements or calls for comments regarding some formal research
effort) but don't have the time or interest in ongoing thread debates.
Perhaps there could be a third list for this type of information?

No solution is going to be perfect and this approach could be subject to
abuse. One way to supplement this approach, though it adds quite a bit
of complexity, would be to have the summary list be a Web archive that
does not get mailed out until a review committee has had a chance to
purge any spam that might have gotten in there. I'm too much of an
Internet & Web novice, however, to know whether this idea (selecting and
mailing out Web documents) is practical. Then, like the closed-list
idea, there's the problem of who would (and could) serve on this review

Mark Crosby