> Date: Thu, 07 Jul 1994 07:48:16 CDT
> From: Grayson Walker <gwalker @
> To: Michelle Dick <artemis @
> Subject: Re: How to handle threats from disgruntled members
> The members of the list are YOUR customers. Customers expect service,
> nothing more. Your list is a service.
My list is a service which is provided free of charge and for which I
receive absolutely zero renumeration. I am a volunteer. This places
these so-called "customers" in a very different category. My primary
concern is providing an adequate forum for discussion while minimizing
my time commitment. This is, I believe, a very reasonable stand to
take since I am a volunteer for this task.
This "customer" expectation you have described is only valid if these
folks were indeed paying a list maintainer for the service. Then they
would and should reasonably expect to be catered to, pampered, and be
treated as if "the customer is always right".
But that's NOT what we have here. We have volunteers donating
time, resources, and knowledge to provide an information resource.
That is no longer a seller/customer relationship. It is now more
along the lines of a cooperative collection of participants.
> I've seen a few complaints from
> people whose customers don't follow the "correct" procedure -- almost
> as if there is an intent to "punish" the customer for failing to follow
> the procedure. Absurd!
Only if you view the mailing list users as customers have paid for a
service. They have paid nothing for it, and the person running the
show has received nothing for his efforts.
It is not all that absurd when the volunteer is trying to do
everything he can to keep the monster of a list from consuming all his
spare time (some of us DO have real lives, you know). So let's look
at it from the other end. You'd think that list users would have some
sympathy for those of us who are donating a substantial portion of our
time to providing them with an information source, and would be
willing to do what they can to help us out, by following the simple
guidelines we set forth. These aren't arbitrary guidelines: they
exist to make things a little easier for us. Instead all we get from
some of these folks is complaints about things not working right,
complaints about us not acting on our requests within finve minutes
after they sent it, complaints about the archive site, or the absence
of an archive site, or about not getting their mail, or about getting
too much mail, or about people abusing the list, or about people
sending out remove requests to the list, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum.
I guess I've been doing this for too long.....
> The frustration of your customer suggests that
> the procedure is flawed. I am on MANY lists, and it is very common for
> people to send administrative requests to the entire lists. The solution:
> adapt to the customer.
But that one "customer" has just ticked off thousands of other
"customers". So which "customer" do we adapt to? The one who sent
the message, or the hundreds whining about it? If the former, then we
quietly process the request and everyone gets used to the idea that
that's how administrative requests are handled, and more "customers"
are inconvenienced by people sending administrative mail to the entire
list. If the latter, then we do something similar to the very thing
you are objecting to. Either way we make some of our "customers"
unhappy. So NOW what do you suggest?
Decision and Information Sciences
Argonne National Laboratory