Groucho, Rosa, Hans

Hinrich Kuhls kls at
Fri Aug 23 10:02:00 MDT 1996

Without comment. Just wondering whether one step forward  - or twenty years

H. K.


 At 11:44 22.08.96 -0400, Spoon Collective wrote:

>We are very excited by the new possibilities that lie ahead for the
>discussion of marxism in cyberspace.  You will see the first of the new
>marxism discussion lists shortly, and we welcome ideas and proposals for
>others immediately.
>The spoon collective



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From: Hans Ehrbar <ehrbar at>
To: spoon-administration at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Subject: Marxism-Intro as a Pseudonym mailing list
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Status: O

A logical candidate for one of the lists in spoon's new marxism space
would be a list, perhaps called marxism-intro, that gives newcomers a
chance to discuss their views and doubts about Marxism with patient
Marxists.  Since such a list is not aimed at already notorious
activists, it might be a good idea to set this list up in such a way
that the list members do not have to reveal their real names and
email addresses to each other, but that they can speak under a pseudonym.

Here is my thinking about the technical side of this:

(1) everyone can subscribe to the list in the normal way and follow
the discussion.  As long as they do not make any postings,
there is no difference to other lists.

(2) but before they can post anything to the list they must select a
pseudonym for themselves.  This process can probably never be done
fully automatic, but requires manual cooperation by the technial
administrator of the list.

(3) I do not want to specify the modalities of step (2) right now
but I would like to specify how majordomo must work for this
assignment of pseudonyms to be possible.

It seems to me that we must distinguish between two subscription lists.
One is the list of addresses Majordomo sends its messages to,
and one is the list of addresses Majordomo accepts submissions from.
In the case of a pseudonym list, this second list must have the
pseudonyms embedded in it.

The list of addresses majordomo sends its messages to will be built in
the usual way.  If it is not too much trouble, we may want to disable
the "who" command, but this is not an urgent requirement; it would add
another layer of protection to the members of the list.

Then there should be an extra file, I will call it "pseudonym file",
which should have a pseudonym and
an email address in every line, for instance as follows:

Groucho <John_Doe at>
Rosa <rmuller at>
Rosa <rbmul at>
Hans <ehrbar at>
Hans <ehrbar at>
Hans <ehrbar at>

(Here the two rosa's are one and the same person, and so are
of course the three Hans's).
Majordomo should use this file in the following way:
it will only forward messages to the list which come
>from an address on the pseudonym file, and it would *not* put this
address into the From: field, but only the pseudonym.

How difficult would it be to teach Majordomo to do this, assuming
this pseudonym file is given to it?

Here is one of the uses I am envisioning for this mailing list.  The
upcoming academic year, I am scheduled to teach my email class about
Marx's Capital again in every Quarter, i.e., three consecutive times.
I will announce this class more widely inviting outside observers, but
here is a brief description.  In this class, students have pseudonyms
as just described.  Basically, there will be two email lists.  One is
very specific for discussing homework questions about Marx's Capital.
The other is a free discussion list about more general issues.  Last
time I taught this, I ran both lists using emacs at our workstations
here.  Next Quarter, starting September 25, I was considering running
only one list from here, and in addition subscribing all my students
to spoon's marxism-intro, if it can be set up by then.  I.e., I would
be providing the pseudonym file, and would be updating it periodically
by ftp from my workstation here where I would be building it from my
student records.  I realize that I would also have to handle any other
pseudonym selections from participants who are not in my class.
We can think later how this pseudonym selection can be automated.
One obvious way would be to use a form entry on the web.

One big advantage of this separation of lists would be that
those students who are interested can remain on marxism-intro
for an indefinite time; they do not have to leave once the class
is over or even once they graduate from the University of Utah.

Another advantage would be that marxism-intro would have its
own moderators.  Therefore the students would not be dealing
with me and would therefore not be tempted to say what I want
them to say in order to get a good grade.

What do you think about this?

BTW, if you want to witness a bloody battle of all against all,
check out M1.  It's really a spectacle right now.
This list is full of surprises.  You never know what comes next.

Hans E.

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