Moderating Panel? PLEASE READ

Chris Burford cburford at
Mon Nov 6 17:07:08 MST 1995

I was a bit concerned when Jon resigned as a moderator some time back
although in some ways he has been more active since doing so.

Howie it seemed is having to be quiet at present, and a lot of the burden
seemed to be falling on Lisa.

For these reasons I volunteered to become a non/moderator.
I was a bit surprised that there was a scarcity of other offers. So
after kicking the idea around mainly with Lisa but with a few comments
from Howie and Jon, it seemed a good idea to float some related proposals
on the list itself.

I agree with Lisa that this list is very largely a self-organising,
self-moderated one. On the other hand personal circumstances could
change for both Jon and Lisa, and we might find ourselves with no
moderator, "non" or otherwise, at all. I do feel there is a role for what
is called in group dynamics, facilitation. In many ways this is about
helping people to do what they want to do themselves.

If one or two other non-moderators feel they could join in the aims of
this Spoons list and have a fair chance of support in this from
other subscribers, we would welcome this.

One other kite I wanted to fly was by analogy with the wider editorial
board of a journal. Really this is consultative but it provides a
sounding board to shape direction. In reality it seems to me there are
already a score of contributors from very different backgrounds who
are acting this way. It may be thought to be unecessary to
formalise this. On the other hand membership of the board could be
renewable on a three monthly basis, and provide some support on policy
issues and development to the (non) moderators themselves. One or two more
people out of this might also be willing to volunteer as non-moderators,
or try it out in assisting when the moderators are on holiday.

The aim is to have some subtle gradation between the "non/moderators" and
all subscribers, to help the dynamic process develop.

Technically Spoons could probably be approached to provide a linked

Who could go on this panel? I have sketched out about a score of names,
which I won't supply, because no one would agree with all of them. In
fact some people would be quite shocked. My suggested list would
be on two principles.

1. Long standing contributors who are culture carriers, and can
be relied on even if they pop up only once a week or fortnight, to nudge
the list forward.

2. Stake holders representing different interest groups

a) the easy interests to agree on: to ensure representation from outside
the USA, and of women, perhaps with some positive discrimination.

b) different political viewpoints, including non-marxist. I would go so far
as to say if you cannot stand a certain political viewpoint that person
should be considered as a candidate to share the responsibility with
other stakeholders on this consultative panel.

These idea are based on a stakeholder theory of creative conflict

How could the decision about membership be taken?
Don't know.

Possible pitfalls: The panel might be tempted to start taking votes, and
think it had power. If it wanted to expel someone, that would cause great
difficulty with Spoons, and I think both Lisa and I would feel it would
lose hard won gains of Spoons policy. Rather the panel might be able to
come up with more creative ideas than either expulsion or do nothing. If
the spread of stakeholding was really wide enough, it ought to be
able to find one person who could get on the problematic intruder's

In essence this list already runs with an invisible panel. An option is
just to leave things as they are. But could people give feedback, preferably
in public, but if necessary in private, on this idea?

Chris B, London.

cburford at

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