[pct-l] Flame exchanges re annoying posts

Dan Hogan dhhogan at hughes.net
Fri Jul 27 15:20:17 CDT 2007

I used the following in an Email list I once managed.

The natural life cycle of mailing lists.

Every list seems to go through the same cycle:

1. Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves, and
gush a lot about how wonderful it is to find kindred

2. Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting
to the list, and brainstorm recruitment strategies).

3. Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthy
threads develop, occasional off-topic threads pop up).

4. Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than
others; lots of information and advice is exchanged;
experts help other experts as well as less experienced
colleagues; friendships develop; people tease each other;
newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience;
everyone -- newbie and expert alike -- feels comfortable
asking questions, suggesting answers, and sharing

5. Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages
increases dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to
every reader; people start complaining about the
signal-to-noise ratio; person 1 threatens to quit if
*other* people don't limit discussion to person 1's pet
topic; person 2 agrees with person 1; person 3 tells 1 & 2
to lighten up; more bandwidth is wasted complaining about
off-topic threads than is used for the threads themselves;
everyone gets annoyed).

6. a. Smug complacency and stagnation (the purists flame
everyone who asks an 'old' question or responds with humor
to a serious post; newbies are rebuffed; traffic drops to a
doze-producing level of a few minor issues; all interesting
discussions happen by private email and are limited to a
few participants; the purists spend lots of time
self-righteously congratulating each other on keeping
off-topic threads off the list).


b. Maturity (a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the
participants stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up
briefly every few weeks; many people wear out their second
or third 'delete' key, but the list lives contentedly ever


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Dan Hogan 

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