censoring, editing, and volume of mail (179)

Wed, 29 Mar 89 20:04:49 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 778. Wednesday, 29 Mar 1989.

(1) Date: Tue, 28 Mar 89 22:19:50 BST (18 lines)
Subject: Whose that knocking?

(2) Date: Wed, 29 Mar 89 14:51:08 PST (19 lines)
Subject: how to handle peripheral topics (101)

(3) Date: Wed, 29 Mar 89 15:08:42 EST (42 lines)
From: "Rosanne G. Potter" <GG.BIB@ISUMVS.BITNET>
Subject: editing and censoring, cont. (74)

(4) Date: 29 Mar 89 17:54:24 EST (Wed) (17 lines)
From: Gunhild Viden <viden@hum.gu.se>
Subject: Re Sebastian's complaints

(5) Date: 29 March 1989 (46 lines)
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: overload

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 89 22:19:50 BST
From: Norman Zacour <NZ101@PHOENIX.CAMBRIDGE.AC.UK>
Subject: Whose that knocking?

Joe Giampapa says:
I do not want the editor to prevent me from
entering the room... I do not want any
authority to inhibit my access to other
On the other hand, there are some Humanists who depend on
someone preventing you from entering their rooms on your
terms alone. You seem to be claiming some kind of right.
You have no such right. The terms under which you enter
my room must be part of our joint agreement on this List,
however expressed by the owner and others and tacitly
accepted by the rest of us, or you may find our doors

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------25----
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 89 14:51:08 PST
Subject: how to handle peripheral topics (101)

[The following has been extracted from a personal note to me. W.M.]

The question of what is peripheral happens to be of immediate concern
to me, so here I am again. Before the MLA conference, a question was
printed concerning a problem someone had in finding accommodation for
that conference. Supposing I were trying to find accommodation in a
place, such as Oxford, of general interest to Humanists, would my attempt
be considered peripheral or sendable? Suppose I knew of accommodation
in such a place that might be of interest to other Humanists about to
go on leave, would my knowledge be appropriately distributed on Humanist?

[It seems to me that Humanist certainly can make room for such
messages, which are unlikely to provoke much of a response; besides,
they are matters for professional concern. Topics that are not and are
likely to provoke a volume of mail are another matter. See below. --W.M.]
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------49----
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 89 15:08:42 EST
From: "Rosanne G. Potter" <GG.BIB@ISUMVS.BITNET>
Subject: editing and censoring, cont. (74)

REPLY TO 03/28/89 23:03 FROM MCCARTY@VM.EPAS.UTORONTO.CA: editing and
censoring, cont. (74)

I think we have all learned that we cannot reply to the original
sender using our normal mail utilities, i.e., that all replies will go
back to Humanist. That problem could also be minimized by pasting a
one-sentence reminder on all postings which ask responders to reply
personally rather than to HUMANIST (somewhat like the one about using

My problem is not censorship, but wasting my precious writing and re-
search time dealing with HUMANIST. There are way too many postings
on Latin texts, hardware comparisons, requests for texts of this or
that. Why can't things like this be put on a bulletin board some
where instead of cluttering up my box?

I am unfortunately getting to the same place I was a year and a half
ago, i.e., ready to withdraw my name from HUMANIST. I know I would
miss a lot, but now I am missing too much of my own time while I
watch what Grace Logan once described as "boys and their toys" mail
scrolls across my screen. Is a bulletin board addition to HUMANIST
possible? Can some of the hardware talk be relegated to a sub-list,
so some people could **not subscribe** to that part of HUMANIST.
What I'd really like is a stop list of topics, acronyms, and senders.
A constantly updatable one, so that I could add subjects
at will to the list of subjects that I did not want to see.

Sorry if this sounds irritable. I wonder whether I represent any
percent of the membership. I invite comments on how the overload
can be controlled, that is if others are also considering dropping
out for their own sanity's sake.

Rosanne G. Potter
Private responses to S1.RGP
English. Iowa State Univ. Ames, Iowa


(4) --------------------------------------------------------------29----
Date: 29 Mar 89 17:54:24 EST (Wed)
From: Gunhild Viden <viden@hum.gu.se>
Subject: Re Sebastian's complaints

Sebastian Rahtz has complained recently about having his mail clogged
by questions about OCP. But, dear Sebastian, your messages are filling
our mailboxes as well! If you took the trouble to think before you
wrote we would not have to read all your explanations of why you wrote
what you did, and what it was / was not supposed to mean (not to
mention your friends and relatives' knowledge of Greek and Martian,
which to me at least seems rather irrelevant to HUMANIST discussion).
If you cannot be bothered to read anything that is not of immediate
interest to you and your next of kin, why not just leave HUMANIST?
That would leave all our mailboxes less burdened.

Gunhild Viden, University of Gothenburg

(5) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 29 March 1989
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: overload

This is directly in response to Rosanne Potter's message concerning the
volume of mail on Humanist, but it is related to the problems of
defining the purpose of Humanist.

As far as I know, there are no technical solutions within the scope of
ListServ to the problem that Potter identifies. ListServ has no
"bulletin-board" function and allows for no selection of topics. What it
provides is somewhat analogous to a seminar; though within a ListServ
group members can carry on several discussions at once with greater
ease, everyone must perforce "hear" everything everyone else says.

You may prefer to think of ListServ as being defective, but I think of
it has having certain characteristics that make for a particular kind of
interaction. ListServ is very good for cross-disciplinary meandering,
thus very well suited to computing in the humanities. I would hate to
see Humanist subdivide for that reason, even if it were technically

As Humanist grows the volume of mail is bound to increase and become
more various. We could simply allow this to happen and thus indirectly
force out those who like Potter cannot cope with a huge volume. Natural
selection of this kind would not, I think, tend always to favour the
kind of electronic colleagues we want to have. Presumably we all have
other things to do, the very pursuit of which makes us valuable to
each other in a forum such as this one. We don't want Humanist to
become a ghetto for e-mail junkies, do we?

The only solution I see is for Humanist to become disciplined to its
area. The increasing volume of mail puts the onus on all of us, which
means also on me, to see that we do not engage ourselves with irrelevant
topics, and especially with topics that are both inflammatory and
irrelevant. We have an important job to do, and in order to do it we
must avoid doing some other things.

Still, I admit to being puzzled why some people cannot seem to find
the delete key. Perhaps expectations are so high for Humanist's mail
that individual pieces which do not meet them lead to frustration. In
any case, there seems not only to be a problem for some but almost
certainly a problem for many in the near future. Draconian measures can
be imposed, but respect for one's fellow members is the only real

Willard McCarty