Sticking to "business"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Jul 30 18:47:47 UTC 2002

On Tue, 30 Jul 2002, sagehen wrote:

> We all know that we're not obliged to join in or even listen to all the
> various conversations that go on in a large group of people gathered
> together because of some shared interests.  A ListServ offers a place to
> gather  around a particular shared interest, but obviously doesn't require
> that no one  can have any other interests. It has the advantage over a
> party or convention in that it is possible to attend_ all_ the
> conversations if one wishes. I like to listen when Popik talks, others may
> not.  So they wander off.  What's the problem?

It is common for a listserv, particularly one that is professional in
nature such as this one, to have rules governing participation, sometimes
even enforced by kicking people off the list.  I no longer have the
instructions I got when I joined ADS-L, but I see on the ADS web site that
there is a sentence, "Completely inappropriate behavior can get you

The problem here is that a particular participant who contributes much of
great value to the list also contributes a lot of extraneous material.
He seems to have a strong need to include the extraneous material, so
complete "self-censorship" is probably not going to happen.

Perhaps a compromise could be reached?  Could Barry try to exercise
restraint in posting extraneous material (probably even those of us who
have some compassion for his personal problems and are lawyers are not too
interested in the New York City parking ticket system) and could list
members who are bothered by the "noise-to-signal ratio" try to have some
forbearance if Barry occasionally wanders off-topic?  I think Barry has
cut down his personal discussions from their peak level.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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