I'm unsubscribing from this list. If I shouldn't be a sysop while not
following the list, then make it so.
I'm highly inclined to do this myself--again. I can totally sympathize.
On the occasion of one of my posts, some have suggested, rather
ironically, that all flames be banned from the list--or at least
I fully support such a rule, and if we adopt it, I'll pledge to follow it
and, if necessary and appropriate, enforce it. But how *would* we
*enforce* such a rule?
If there is no enforcement of any sort, the rule would be absolutely
worthless, and I won't support it. There are members of this community
that pride themselves on flouting rules, and they would take only too much
joy in flaming away at people who felt morally obliged, by the rule, not
to reply in kind. Moreover, in the current atmosphere, there is no
serious possibility to shame the offenders into silence, because
unfortunately our worst offenders are literally shameless.
I have a suggestion--and I know this will be a highly unpopular
suggestion, but let me get the idea out there anyway. I'm beginning to
think the list should be moderated.
In my eight years' continuous and active experience on mailing lists and
Usenet, I have discovered that some lists can remain productive and useful
while remaining unmoderated. This is because there is a preponderance of
full-fledged adults on the list who are polite, and who know how to reply
witheringly to the occasional eedjit; in short, there's a huge base of
great contributors and a very large shame culture involved.
Now, the value of many other unmoderated lists--like this one--is
undermined by continuous flame wars by battling, enormous egos, to say
nothing of the worthless newbie posts that come from people who have not
read the FAQ.
One of the very best mailing lists I was on (and I think others involved
with it would agree with this assessment) was one that I, and then Ben
Kovitz, moderated. It was a philosophy mailing list. There was a strict
policy of politeness as well as a minimum requirement of philosophical
cogency. I think the list would have suffered hugely if it had been made
unmoderated, because there were a lot of people who would have otherwise
been given to flame wars involved; it was the fact that it was moderated
that gave it a lot of its value, because there was a guarantee of quality.
I am very familiar with the arguments for and against moderation, and of
course one main argument against list moderation in all cases is that it
quells "free speech." Being a lover of freedom, I can understand very
much. But the fact of the matter is that some lists just wouldn't exist,
or they wouldn't be a fraction as interesting as they actually are, if
they weren't moderated. Moderation is, we might say, a necessary evil in
In the case of Wikipedia, I'm beginning to think it is a necessary evil.
I for one would be overjoyed if Wikipedia-l were to become moderated and
the moderator were empowered to deal appropriately with flaming and with