[rc5] Reform the mailing list

Andrew Glazebrook andgla at hna.com.au
Wed Jul 2 23:32:30 EDT 1997


While I don't have a major problem with the mailing list (though it can be
a little bothersome), I believe it is turning some people away from the
effort (sheer volume and petty OS wars). I'd like to suggest a two pronged
method of solving (or helping to reduce) the problem.

a) A distributed help system. Instead of having e-mails go to the main
list, have them go to rc5help at distributed.net or something similar. Then
have the e-mails split up and sent between volunteers to answer - a lot of
people ask questions which can easily be answered (particularly when
something obvious is wrong like the web server). Possibly even different
e-mail addresses could be selected based on client (so that way, for
example, mac users would send to machelp at rc5.etc, and it would be
forwarded between a few different people to reply to). A helper mailing
list would be useful as well, or a contact list of those who know the
nitty gritty about the clients (or whatever) - that way those who have
better things to be doing (such as enhancements) only need to answer the
questions once on that list, and the helpers can pass the information on.
It would also avoid some of the guestimation that goes on in the main list
(not that this seems to be a major problem).

b) Make a moderated mailing list. Similar to the main one now, but where a
moderator kills off those infantile messages about OS wars that the rest
of us don't want to hear. Not an announce-list (which already exists), but
a genuine discussion area free of the chaos of the main list. The current
main list could then be kept, or not - I don't have a real preference.
Perhaps a better option would be to pull to one side messages from the one
person if they send more than one a day to be checked by a moderator (with
those who often need to post more frequently being free of the

I think that a) in particular is well worth implementing - I suspect many
people only subscribe to the list for help, and don't appreciate the sheer
volume and nonsence of some of the posts (and reduce the volume on the
mailing list). For people to take part in this effort over the long-haul,
as much pain should be taken out of it as possible. Being able to take
part in discussions is great, and even if you have nothing of value to
add, it is nice to be able to observe. Some sort of option needs to be put
in place between the open slather list and the announcement list, and I
think a moderated list would suit that role well.


a) I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find ten people (or even twenty) to
work on the help service. With it set to rotate the help messages between
them (so one to helper 1, the next to helper 2, the next to 3 and so on),
the load should be fairly minor on each person. It should also help those
taking part to feel better cared for when they get a personal responce.

b) I'll encourage people who know more about the mailing lists and what
can, and can't be done with them to work this one out for the moment :-).

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