Real-time discussions

cmhallin at cmhallin at
Wed Apr 12 14:01:18 CEST 2006

I, too, have a few reflections on this subject, which might be summed 
up by the old saying "don't look a gift horse in the mouth!"...

By that I mean that as member of a mailing list (or other forum run on 
a similar basis), one doesn't have very much in the way of rights one 
way or another, and, in my opinion, particularly not the right to 
demand that the forum is run in any particular way. What we enjoy here 
is, in fact, something pretty close to that famous (and reputedly non-
existant) free lunch. We subscribe to the list *as it is* and of our 
own free will; similarly we may at any time and of that same free will 
leave the list. In my view the only rights one has regarding a mailing 
list are a) not to be subscribed against one's will, and b) to be 
unsubscribed when one so wishes.

For the rest, a mailing list belongs entirely to the list owner, who 
is free to stop anyone from subscribing, who may at any time throw 
whomever off the list, and in particular is free to run the list 
according to his or her own preferences. A mailing list is not a 
democracy, it is the private property of whomever owns it.

Of course, the list owner is also free to listen to the wishes and 
suggestions of list members, to poll them on their views and opinions, 
to be corteous and explain why certain decisions were made, etc. etc. 
It might even be a good idea for the listowner to do so, as he/she 
would otherwise risk ending up with a list but no members, but to what 
extent is in my view entirely at the list owners discretion.

Anyway, if one is not happy about the way a list is run (or functions, 
or whatever), and the list owner does not want to change it 
accordingly, one does, in my opinion, have but three main options: to 
take it on the chin and accept the situation as-is, to set up one's own 
list/forum/resource/whatever, and/or to leave the list. In addition, if 
the only problem that the list owner has with any proposed changes is 
the time and resources needed to carry them out, one might also 
volunteer to do the necessary work/spend the money needed/whatever 

I should perhaps add that my intention in writing the above is not to 
tell anyone what they might or might not discuss on the list -- once 
again that'd be a decision for the list owner, which I'm not. As far as 
I'm concerned, we can discuss the list format until the cows not only 
come home but are fed up with us and have gone out again. What I'm 
trying to say is that in my opinion those who'd rather have the list in 
a different format should feel perfectly free to suggest this to the 
list owner, but should equally understand and accept that he/she/they 
have the final say on what happens to the list.

A final comment: the question was asked how Per Starbäck can know that 
most current list members prefers receiving the daily digest... That, I 
think, is simple enough: as list administrator he can easily find out 
how many of us has made that choice when setting our preferences.

All the best,


*** Mattias Hallin ** Brussels ** Belgium ** <cmhallin at> ***
*                                                                    *
*             "Oh bury me thar! With my battered git-tar!            *
*************      A-screamin' my heart out fer yew!"    *************

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