Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(February 1997)

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Subject: Re: Educating large masses of users (was: Re: fresh horror from AOL)
From: Cyndi Norman <cnorman @ best . com>
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 1997 14:03:31 -0800 (PST)
To: mcook @ pcusa01 . ecunet . org
Cc: list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM, cnorman @ shellx . best . com
In-reply-to: <9702022106 . aa23532 @ pcusa01 . ecunet . org> (mcook @ pcusa01 . ecunet . org)
Reply-to: cnorman @ best . com

   Date: Sun, 2 Feb 1997 21:06:38 -0500 (EST)
   From: "Merrill Cook" <mcook @
 pcusa01 .
 ecunet .

   On a simpler level, how about: people send an unsubscribe message
   to the list address. It gets filtered and forwarded to the list
   owner, who unsubscribes them manually. The lesson? "To
   unsubscribe, you don't have to learn anything or RTFM; just reply
   to the list address, someone will take care of it." That's the
   message we give.

   Sounds like a recipe for cluelessness and dependence to me.

Agreed.  And it makes the problem worse for those lists that don't have
that filtering "feature."

My list now does have that feature (part of the mandetory
software) but I still get more such messages going through to the list than
getting sent to me.  The filter sends to me instead of processing...which I
think is good cause then I can tell the user they did it wrong and educate automatically doing it for them, they have to resubmit it
correctly.  But, being a computer, it doesn't catch half the times when it
should (like filtering for the alternative commands one is supposed to use
like subsingle and alias (I mean duh!) or catching common mispellings or
when there is a space before the command or when the command is just in the
subject header).

Even with its problems, I'd still rather have it...but only since it sends
the caught posts to me.  But it ain't a solution and it doesn't solve the
larger problem of not following directions.

I like what someone else said about having the
must-authenticate-subscription feature (I have that too...though I can
choose to disable it).  It has elminated the "how did I end up on this
list?  I never asked to be on it!!" messages and I like that it screens out
those who are too clueless to follow the directions.  I will help people
who write me saying they can't figure things out but I don't want to make
things easy for those who make it on the list by accident.  And the
post-by-subscribers-only feature is a dream come true.

I'm still working on the info files for people though.  It's way hard to
educate people.  If I keep the directions (say, the file on how to
subscribe/unsubscribe/post) down to about 30 lines (lots of nice crisp
white space, short lines, etc), people start making mistakes and
complaining that the directions are not clear enough.  If I double the
length to account for more clueless users I get even more errors and people
complaining that the directions are too long, they just tossed them.



"There's nothing wrong with me.  Maybe there's                     Cyndi Norman
something wrong with the universe." (ST:TNG)                   cnorman @
 best .

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