[Foundation-l] Moderation and this list

Robert Rohde rarohde at gmail.com
Sat Dec 22 15:01:43 UTC 2007

On Dec 21, 2007 4:03 PM, Jimmy Wales <jwales at wikia.com> wrote:

> Matthew Britton wrote:
> > Limiting the number of messages an individual is permitted to post will
> > only prevent active, honest individuals being insightful or helpful once
> > they have used up their quota. If someone really wants to make
> > themselves heard, they will simply subscribe multiple addresses to the
> > list and continue posting. Only those who play by the rules will lose
> out.
> If it is a social norm, like normal Wikipedia social norms, it can be
> roughly flexible enough to prevent either of those problems.
> I think a policy of 1 or 2 posts a day, adhered to as a social norm,
> will make it possible for active, honest, insightful, thoughtful good
> people to be *more* heard.  What we have right now is a small number of
> people (and only by chance I was not among them this month, I am surely
> an offender myself in the category of latching onto a thread and
> discussing it far beyond the point of positive returns!)... a small
> number of people making a disproportionate number of posts.
>  <snip>

It's hard to miss the irony that your 4th post in 24 hours is being used to
encourage people to limit postings to 1 or 2 per day.

Similarly, I don't think anyone here is really worried that 7 of Anthere's
last 9 messages were off-topic or otherwise unjustified.

Whether by technical restrictions or "social norms", at best these proposals
will cut down on the volume, and do relatively little to improve the signal
to noise ratio.

Personally, I'm more inclined to agree with Brianna that the problem is one
of format more than one of over-participation per se.  Foundation-l mixes
announcements about board resolutions, changes in staffing, meta level
discussions on copyright, the occasional general complaint (e.g. "Racism on
Commons" / "Checkuser abuse" threads), and discussions of who is honoring or
vilifying us now.

As Brianna suggests, a forum or blog may well be a better way to structure
some of these topics.  Personally, I know if announcements had a blog
structure, I'd use RSS to keep track of the new topics and only worry about
following the feedback comments for topics that I was directly interested in
rather than having to recieve copies of every comment.

At some level Foundation-l is a victim of Wikimedia's success.  Long-term
growth in the brand must inevitably filter into growth in the conversation
about Wikimedia.  Maybe one can stem that tide for a while by asking for
restraint, but sooner or later the only real recourse is to restructure the
conversation.  Whether that restructuring is best accomplished by new
mailing lists or new technologies, is a difficult question to answer, but
I'm inclined to believe that mailing lists can't be the answer to

-Robert A. Rohde

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