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list participation was Re: [off-topic] Re: A suggestion



Hi, 

I have been absent of late.  Life has been unusually cramed full the
last few years and much has been unplesant of late, this is not going
to change in the next 4 to 6 months but I am hopfull for next year.

So my participation will continue to be low.  But, there is nothing
from my end which would prevent this list from continuing.  In fact
the opposite is true, my position with Vassar is stronger than ever so
there is nothing stoping cs.vassar.edu from being the home for this
list and or any list that it may spawn, indefinitely. 

First let me again state the removal policy I have followed:

I remove poeple when their mail bounces 3 or more times.  This has
nothing to do with the content of a post and if this happens you
are always welcome to joing once the bounce problem is solved.

I have only rarely removed people from the list for other reasons.  In
those cases it usually has been because of them trying to sell things
here, never because they asked emacspeak questions.  

The list mechanism occationaly removes someone when a message they
send out causes an inordinate amount of bounces, but I try and catch
that before it happens. 

Next, Emacspeak is not a developers list.  It never has been.  I am on
several developers lists, and this just isn't one.  If people want an
emacspeak developers list I would be a happy to create one.  Just say
the word.

Why do I say this is not a developers list?

A developers list is a place for people trying to change or improve a
program, while this list has had some of that, the vast majority of
posts are from users about using emacspeak.  Developers do announce
new things here, but rarly has there ever been discussion of the lisp
code or TCL code that comprises emacspeak on this list.  The level of
discussion is non technical.  We are a users list.

However, we have been in general a users list that assumes a higher
level of self initiated exploration before posting than would be
expected on a "newbi" list.  That is what we need to examine.

I will not regale you here with stories of how us "old timers" had to
"fend for ourselfs" but I do see a trend that is not by any means
limited to this mailing list.  It seems to me that people are quicker
to ask in the hope that someone else will answer their question rather
than try and solve it for themselfs.  On some level I guess they just
don't beleive they have it in them to figure it out.  It all seems too
complex or too foreign, they get frustrated, and so they ask.  I am
not pointing any fingers ( I have hardly read the list lately) I am
speaking to a general trend.  I am not denying the frustration of the
newcomer, but try and understand as well that somehow many of us did
do it without the level of help or hand holding that seems necessary
now.  It is frustrating to me because I had always hoped these silly
machine would help people be more self capable and better problem
solvers and I don't think that is what is happening.  I think the
comercial aspects of the computer industry and "e-economy" have
fostered feelings of helplessness against a tide of ever faster
change.  Better to just buy the new machine, or new program than to
try and figure out the old one, it will solve all your problems FOR
you.  Yea, right.

As the "less selfconfident user" is not a situation that is in any way
limited to the user base of emacspeak, I do not think we can "solve"
it.  We just need to deal with it and help people get up to speed as
quickly as posible.  To that end I do not think splitting up the list
is a way to help.  Who would be ansering the questions on the new
list?  If there are people lurking on this list thinking that they
would field a new users question if only it were on another list, then
why not answer the question here?  If a more people would jump in and
answer questions I think we would have less list problems and we would
"grow" more self assured users.
 
Also, for a while (many years ago) we were sharing things we
"discoverd" about emacspeak.  If you just ran across a neet feature,
tell the list (again, perhaps this is happening - I have not been
reading the list much of late).  If someone wants to post a "new
user tip of the week" go for it!  Post it to the list.

I would like to see a larger base of people answering the questions on
the list and I think this would go a long way toward setting a better
tone.  It would also take the stress off those few that answer most of
the questions - allowing them to just plain ignore messages that upset
them. 

We don't need to have a proliferation of other lists, we just need the
paricipation of more folks on this one.  

OK, thanks for listening to my rant, I just realy don't want this list
to go away and so let me close with these thoughts:

The delete key works both ways and vm can filter your mail for you!
You do not have to read anyones posts that you don't want to read.

If you have a question, ask it.  It may not get answered, but then
again, it just might.

Thanks, 

Greg

--
 Greg Priest-Dorman
 priestdo@cs.vassar.edu


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