Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 1997)
 

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Subject: RE: Should I Moderate List to Avert Flaming
From: Andy C <acobley @ mic . dundee . ac . uk>
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 19:15:11 +0100
To: "'rgu @ world . std . com'" <rgu @ world . std . com>
Cc: "'List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM'" <List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM>

You guys are lucky, I run a Forteana list with about 300 members, and about
50 very vocal members.  Unfortunately the vocal elements of the list is roughly 
split in two, those that want more idle chat and those that want less chat more
hard core Forteana.  Sadly every three months or so one group will turn on the 
other and a flame war will ensue.  The last time this happened I turned the 
default reply option from "mail to list" to "mail to sender".  The flame war 
stopped quickly, after a few days later I turned it back to "mail to list" and all
was well for at least three months.

The whole situation is exasperated because the nature of the subject tends
to attract unconventional personalities, its hard to turn them away because
some have real contributions to make.

Moderation is not an option because:

1: Its a very fast moving field, items in the news can often need 
debate quickly. For instance during the recent Heavens Gate 
suicide tragedy the list members had identified the culprits a
good 24 hours before the media.

2: Because we debate the unusual any moderator could be accused
of imposing his/her world view on the list.  Again for instance recently 
some one joined the list specifically to put the view that AIDS did not 
really exist.  A moderator may well have been tempted to block this post
as potential flame bait and even bordering on the offensive.  However the 
list members quickly joined together in sensible debate to point the errors
in the initial argument.


As you can see  have not yet managed to resolve the situation, but I would
suggest

1: Review your "mail to policy"
2: Make sure your introductory message has some idea of the bounds of the list.
3: Threaten to remove the offending members, even if its only for a 
   week.  Do not give in to threats, if you are threatened leave them off the list
   for longer.
4: Mail the offenders individually pointing out the errors of their ways.  I usually
   send different messages to each side, taking  a different tack to appeal to
   that sides point of view.

Hope this is of some help.

Andy C

(BTW Forteana comes from Charles Fort who wrote the "Book of the Damned"  
this concerns data that science ignores, consequently UFO's, Ghosts, and 
all manner of strange phenomena are fair game for discussion)






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