How we write

Tom Condit tomcondit at igc.apc.org
Wed Sep 20 05:40:16 MDT 1995


Dear Jim:

I'd send this to you strictly as a private message, but since
Louis has posted some positions on the Marxism list which he
attributes to me, I'll make my own positions more explicit and
public.

First, I have no objection per se to people reposting things from
other lists which they feel may be appropriate for this one.  I
have, as you may recall, done it myself.  I think it should be
done in moderation and with some careful thought about length.
If I weren't already in contact with PKK supporters through other
work, for instance, I think I would have found the PKK post
greatly interesting.

My objections to your posts were twofold.  One was minor--the
incredibly long signature line which you have since dropped.  I
feel the same way about Scott's little CP advertisements.  It's
tedious to have to spend all that time deleting them to save hard
disc space.

The second is substantive.  I find incessant repetition of
previous posts (unless they're really old) to be unnecessary and
annoying.  I don't know why Bryan Alexander, for instance,
repeated the entire text of the Karl Marx piece on cooperatives
after his comments. It had appeared on the list the previous day,
and anyone new to the list could simply ask for it.  For the rest
of us, it was simply wasted "bandwidth" (if that's the current
term among netniks).

You frequently engage in a style of repetition which is more than
just mildly annoying, however.  It consists of repeating one or
two sentences of another post, followed by a sarcastic comment of
your own, followed by one or two additional sentences, another
sarcastic comment, etc.  It's very hard to figure out what
message you're trying to convey, and I frequently wind up
deleting the entire post without trying.  This probably means
that I'm missing important things you're saying, but which are
buried in the mass of quotes and "nyaahs". You give the
*impression* (which may be wrong) that you're doing this
interspersion on-line and off the top of your head.

It was this last habit of yours which I was urging you to abandon
when I suggested that you subscribe to the digest function, and
write considered replies off-line.  If it's not worth writing an
entire paragraph, it's probably not worth writing at all.

Above all, stop being so defensive.  You got off to a bad start
with a number of people on this list, but you don't need to
perpetuate it by assuming that every criticism is an attack, and
responding in kind without careful thought.  If the criticisms
*are* attacks, that's all the more reason to carefully consider
your defenses.

Tom


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