Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(August 2003)

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Subject: Re: list policies about vacation programs
From: J C Lawrence <claw @ kanga . nu>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2003 10:02:28 -0400
To: Berg Oswell <berg @ eskimo . com>
Cc: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
Delivery-date: Fri, 15 Aug 2003 07:02:29 -0700
In-reply-to: Message from Berg Oswell <berg @ eskimo . com> of "Thu, 14 Aug 2003 10:02:37 PDT." <200308141702 . KAA29595 @ eskimo . com>
References: <200308141702 . KAA29595 @ eskimo . com>

On Thu, 14 Aug 2003 10:02:37 -0700 (PDT) 
Berg Oswell <berg @
 eskimo .
 com> wrote:

> Is it any of your business, as list owner, what people send off-list?
> Even if it's in response to list traffic?  Who appointed you the
> censor of all that someone else sends?

It can be.  A lot of this comes down to the character of the list and
the shared expectations between the list owner and the list member.  In
some cases the list moderator has explicit and driving interest, in
others he has little to none.

  I run my lists as extensions of my living room.  List members are
  essentially social guests at a dinner party in my house and are
  expected to behave as such.  How guests treat each other at my house
  is of interest to me, as well as how they treat each other outside of
  my house because of things that happened inside.  No matter where you
  misbehave, by whatever criteria I set, I'm quite willing and even
  eager to kick you out and not invite you back, or to actively recruit
  you and ask you to attend.  My house, my party, my people, my choices.

Other lists have different characters, different charters, different
relationships with their list members, and even points of legal
liability and contractual responsibility.  These can colour the waters
significantly.  Sometimes they chum the waters, but that's another
matter for another thread.

> If someone misconfigures a vacation autoresponder to spam your
> list, then by all means, ban the loser.  But what gives you the idea
> that you have any right to ban someone from a list for something that
> was not sent to the list?  How would you feel if someone banned YOU
> because they dislike your spam filter?

Quite fine in fact -- its already happened to me, twice, and there were
no were no surprises or hurt feelings involved. In fact I was recently
kicked off a list for admitting that I used a procmail filter to
auto-strip the embedded adverts from list posts so I didn't have to see

All quite acceptable.

> Oh, I'm not saying you can't, but if you act arbitrarily and unfairly,
> you'll kill your list...who wants to be on a list with an
> unpredictable, arrogant list-owner?

All list owners are unpredictable and arrogant for some definitions of
"list member".  All of them.

  I recently rejected four posts over a 6 week period from a member with
  a rejection message that summated to:

    Please support your assertions and use constructive criticism.

  His posts were ridiculing a recent commercial service launch and were
  particularly fact-free.  Each time he didn't reply except for the last
  time when he replied with an expletive filled message accusing me of
  anatomical impossibilities and rank favouritism to said service in my
  moderation decisions, at which point he unsubscribed himself.

  During the same period of time I rejected another member's posting
  with a message ala:

    Please cite your sources and state an actual contention.

  After a considerable delay he submitted a new, far meatier and well
  researched post, obviously based off the first, and accompanied it
  with an inline comment of thanks to me for the earlier rejection,
  stating that he hadn't realised how little he knew about the area and
  how very appreciative he was that I hadn't let him embarrass himself
  with his prior post.

Obviously I'm a capricious, arrogant and carpingly critical petty
dictator.  Isn't it wonderful?

> From what the original poster has said, the guy running the
> autoresponder hasn't done anything wrong.  If anything, he's being
> polite, and letting people who send him mail know that he's on
> vacation and can't answer right away.  Given the number of rude jerks
> on the internet, do you really want to punish someone for being polite
> and thoughtful?

Good manners are always contextual and "wrong" is always in the eye of
the beholder.  Always.  If you don't define the context you can't define
"good manners" -- and robots and author automated systems are not
particularly known for their insight or thoughtful characteristics.

J C Lawrence                
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas. 
claw @
 kanga .
 nu               He lived as a devil, eh?  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.

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From: J C Lawrence <claw @ kanga . nu>
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From: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
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From: Paul Russell <prussell @ nd . edu>
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