Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(June 1998)

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Subject: Re: Finding A Listowner
From: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 09:15:59 -0700
To: "Roger B.A. Klorese" <rogerk @ QueerNet . ORG>, Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
Cc: Jason L Tibbitts III <tibbs @ hpc . uh . edu>, List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <Pine . BSI . 3 . 95 . 980611083641 . 26055A-100000 @ queernet . queernet . org>
References: <v0401170bb1a52f5150bf @ [207 . 167 . 80 . 70]>

>listserv anyway.  And most people who are too stupid to put it together
>send it to the posting address.

I wouldn't use the word stupid. There are stupid users out there, but
mostly, it's new/naive users. A lot comes down to handholding and education.

>Well, we're at 100+ lists (plus digests plus hidden owner lists), and
>about 30,000 aggregated subscriptions -- not huge, but not tiny.

Apple is 150 lists with over 100,000 unique addresses subscribed (many to
multiple lists. Total subscription base is 150,000). and plaidworks is
another 50ish lists with 8,000 subscribers (about 6,000 unique). just for

>  And the
>number of staggeringly frustrated notes we get a week indicate that the
>process has to become RADICALLY simpler... which means both better
>engineering and a shorter path to a human.

I've been putting a LOT of work into doing just this the last year or so.
All my majordomo stuff is front-ended with procmail, and I use procmail to
try to help users get what they want done done (redirecting common problems
to the right address, for instance), or returning customized messages
explaining errors and how to resolve them. I've found that simply returning
the Majordomo help file doesn't answer user's questions, so I try to
intercept the most common mistakes and send back something customized for
that mistake.

My sites now have exceptionally low error rates, which is good, but I've
still got some warts to clear up. I'm rewriting the rewritten documentation
one more time, and doing some major revamping to clear up some issues I
have with it. And then I'm going to take 48 hours of e-mail, every bloody
piece of it, and track exactly what happens to each piece, to make sure I
don't have any hidden staked-pits or black holes, and to make sure the
numbers I'm evaluating this beast on are really accurate (for one thing, I
can't really judge how many people don't START the subscription process.
And I don't have solid numbers on how many send a subscribe, but never
follow through on the authorization. I do know how many have problems with
the authorization, and that's tiny, but I need better metrics on just how
intimidating the mailbacks are. My not-rigid numbers show it's not a major

> List-managers should consider
>if they can handle the load under the worst case -- where every subscriber
>is a clueless newbie who sends "Dear Mister Domo, what am I doing wrong,

I disagree. That's like saying nobody should drive unless they know how to
fix anything that might happen to the car along the trip. A driver should
be skilled at driving the car and able to handle emergency situations (like
changing a flat tire), but if the engine falls out, it falls out. That
doesn't mean you shouldn't drive if you can't do a ring-job on it on the

Chuq Von Rospach, Plaidworks Consulting (mailto:chuqui @
 plaidworks .
<> + <>
 (Hockey fan? <>)

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From: Rich Kulawiec <rsk @ gsp . org>
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From: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
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