Review of Hans's moderation principles and re list changes

Ang uls at
Mon Aug 26 19:14:43 MDT 1996

Hans says:

But the main purpose of this message is to answer two tactical
objections to an unmoderated list, which are often heard, but which
never seemed convincing to me. (1) If a newcomer stumbles into the list by
mistake, he or she will be turned off and get a bad image of marxism.
My answer: the solution of that problem is not to gear the discussion
of the group to the eventuality of someone inadvertently opening the
wrong door, but to minimize the danger of newcomers stumbling into the
list.  One important aspect here is the list name.  We have to choose
a list name which seems unattractive to the beginner but has a meaning
for the more sophisticated marxists.

I don't know if you are kidding or not.  Do you really mean to suggest that
the names of these new mailing list be disguised so that you won't attract the
"unsophisticated" marxists?  Do you actually want to "minimize the danger of
newcomers stumbling into the list"?  If you are serious, the irony is just too
much to bear.  My God, doesn't basically everyone on this list at least parrot
the line that the major or only obstacle to achieving a victory against
capitalism is the lack of consciousness of the workers?  In addition to
knowledgeable marxists already increasing their knowledge don't you hope that
this list will have at least an unintended benefit of maybe turning someone on
to Marxism?  You hold classes to teach others, right?  I just don't get this
clear contradiction.

The same thing goes for Louis and Doug.  On the one hand, Louis constantly
indicates that his desire for changing the way the lists operate is so that
newcomers will not be turned off.   However, his confrontational style, his
self-appointed bouncer status, arrogance in the belief that he can judge what
posts are worthy and which ones are not (along with his admittedly witty
monthly acknowledgment or apology for same) and his and Doug's critique of
posters' grammar and spelling, going so far as to calling posters illiterate
even when they can clearly understand the meaning of the posts, all have the
(what I would call obvious) effect of intimidating newcomers'  contributions.
Louis, I don't believe that the people you had hoped would join the list were
honest with you about their reasons for not doing so.  It's easy to use a
delete key.  It would have been easy for you to have pointed out to them
threads or posters you thought they would have been interested in.  Instead,
so much of the posts on the list are personal attacks, which you more than
most participate in.  I bet they just didn't want to have to bother taking
sides, etc., in your ongoing disputes.  Also, Louis, it appears that your
tactic doesn't always work for you as your enemies have sworn to follow you
wherever you go.  Maybe what you'd really prefer is a "by invitation only"
marxist "intranet".  This open internet medium (even though it's your
profession) doesn't really seem to be your cup of tea.

Although it's already a done deal, I never saw the need for any radical
changes to the list.  All of Louis' pet peeves regarding the lists (along with
those of only a few others) could have been solved in less drastic ways, i.e.,
limit the number of posts per person per day.  It's not like we were getting
thousands of posts per day.   I think Zeynep's listing of possible lists is
great but if the dividing and renaming of the lists doesn't in and of itself
bring more participants in, then there's a problem.  Take for example Zeynep's
suggestion that one of the lists deal with:
	4. National/ethnic question and the class struggle
	[the surge in ethnic politics and struggles, class politics & the national
	question, nationalism in the third-world in the first-world, etc.]
How many posts have there been to either M1 or M2 on these topics in the last
3 months - clearly not enough to maintain such a topic as a separate list.
Won't these lists wither and die?  People will join and see few and/or very
old posts and leave.  It didn't seem to me that the two lists were so
overwhelmed with posts that it just made sense to divide them, especially when
presumably Marxists would be interested in all the topics Zeynep proposed.
Why make the task of seeking out relevant lists more onerous than it has to

Finally, I'm against moderated lists.  All of our other information is
filtered down to us and now this has to be too?  Carrol thinks moderation
could lead to dull lists, I think moderation could lead to me missing out on
something that I would have wanted to read.  I really don't want others
deciding for me what is relevant to the topic, or having to waste time voting
or debating what are the relevant posts or posters, whether moderators should
be recalled, etc.  It's just too easy to use the delete key.  Also, I hear
that some of you have software which enables you to automatically filter out
posts from posters you find objectionable and that this ability will clearly
become more widespread.  Basically, to me, you're solving problems that just
don't yet exist.  Carrol said it in a humorous way "Then we divided into
subcommittees for each major course grouping, with further subcommittees for
particular classes. And he concluded:  You have no idea how difficult this was
for a committee of three."
P.S. to Carrol - if you don't find Rolf's posts interesting, just delete them
or support the suggestion of limiting the number of posts per person.  Now
that  Rolf feels attacked, of course he will respond (& I see he has) and
we'll have yet more posts that have nothing to do with marxism.  Let's try to
learn from our mistakes.

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