John Meyer wrote:
> Hi, I was wondering if anybody had any ways in which they steered OT
> conversations back on topic and how long do they allow a tangenial
> conversation to go on on their list.
Ask 100 list managers and you'll probably get at least 100 answers.
I've used all of the following strategies:
1. Post on the off-topic thread and try to make it more relevant. This
usually requires SOME relevance be present in the first place, it would
be challenging to steer a thread about Windows 95 back to a discussion on
body surfing, for example.
2. Send the poster(s) private notes suggesting they drop the thread or take
it to e-mail. On many lists your subscribers will do this, too, usually
less politely than I do.
3. Make PUBLIC posts saying that the thread is no longer welcome. I find
this works almost all the time, though it might take another 24 hours
for the last round of posts to straggle in. I prefer to handle this
disciplinary matter myself, on occasion some of my subscribers will
post or send me private e-mail to suggest some thread go away, I
generally ask them to let me be the 'bad guy'. (That probably means
my tolerance level is slightly below that of my subscribers.)
4. Threaten to and/or suspend posting privileges for people who continue
the off topic thread. Fortunately, I have a built-in four day waiting
period for new subscribers, implemented by a daily job which copies the
subscriber list through a series of three three intermediate files and
then to the posting list, so all I have to do is take someone out of
the active posting list (and possibly one or more of the intermediate
holding files) and the posting privileges are restored anywhere from
one to four days later, depending on how long I choose to suspend them.
I do this for ALL obvious copyright abuses, BTW, it gives me a line of
defense should I ever get sued or threatened by a copyright holder for
posts sent to my lists by subscribers. I generally treat all
disciplinary matters as private, but on very rare occasion I have posted
about disciplinary action taken.
I've never had to permanently suspend someone's posting privileges,
though I do have that capability.
5. Kick the offender(s) off your list completely. In over 7 years of
running sports lists, I've only had to do this about a half dozen times.
(Anti-spam measures not included.)
As to when to pull the plug, it sort of depends, I usually do it when my
gut reaction to another post on the thread is 'Oh no, not ANOTHER one!'.
But some of the best ON-TOPIC posts have come about as a result of OFF-TOPIC
threads that stimulated more relevant discussion.