Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 2002)

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Subject: Re: e-postage again
From: Paul Hoffman / IMC <phoffman @ imc . org>
Date: Sun, 19 May 2002 20:08:02 -0700
To: tneff @ grassyhill . org, list-managers <list-managers @ greatcircle . com>
In-reply-to: <164094000 . 1021848468 @ [192 . 168 . 0 . 2]>
References: <Pine . BSI . 4 . 40 . 0205192211530 . 12958-100000 @ tom . iecc . com> <164094000 . 1021848468 @ [192 . 168 . 0 . 2]>

At 10:47 PM -0400 5/19/02, Tom Neff wrote:
In this case I will call John crotchety, because he is being uncollegial and unconstructive.

Uncollegial, yes; unconstructive, no. It is quite constructive to say to someone "your idea has been discussed in depth repeatedly for the past seven years and no one has made any headway towards a solution". It is constructive to not have the same discussion a zillion times so that there is room for other, possibly useful discussions.

This is not to say that you can never come up with a solution in this problem space, only that saying "I have a vague idea I want to talk about" is not useful. If you sit and think about it, and come up with something good, and read the various discussions from the past six years about this and determine that your solution doesn't fall into the same problems that similar solutions have come up with, then by all means bring it up.

There is, or ought to be, a difference between healthy skepticism and a closed mind; or between good-humored, informed rebuttal and snide, reflexive swatting away.

In the same light, there is a difference between a fresh discussion and a rehash of old discussions that went nowhere.

A forum like this one brings together some of the better minds on the Net, and it actually is possible that useful ideas could be germinated here.

Of course. It is also possible that it would just be a waste of time.

I wish that John would encourage such a possibility instead of trying to shout it down.

He wasn't shouting; and some of us wish that people who have big ideas do even a tad of research on them before assuming that everyone wants to talk about them again.

Really and truly, this has been worked on seriously by hundreds of people (some with serious funding) during the history of the Internet. You probably can't name one of them because they didn't get anywhere.

--Paul Hoffman, Director
--Internet Mail Consortium

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