[OT] Mailing Lists: Good for argument, bad for discussion

Shane Hathaway shane at hathawaymix.org
Sun Jun 29 12:14:30 MDT 2008

Dave Smith wrote:
> I think this phenomenon happens because it's easy in an email to trim 
> away things you don't want to respond to, and focus only on the part of 
> the email that you disagree with. It's easy to believe that someone 
> disagrees with you 100% because they chose to respond to the 1% of what 
> you said that they disagreed with, even if that 1% was totally 
> tangential to your main point (which the responder may *did* agree with, 
> but you'd never know). I'm not sure if I like or dislike this because 
> frankly, it'd be a boring list if everyone just responded with "me too". 
> However, I do think it encourages argument and nit picking rather than 
> good old-fashioned discussion.
> What are your thoughts?

This is a key difference between blogs and mailing lists.  When blogs 
first started appearing on the net, I thought they were hardly different 
from email.  Only when I started my own blog did I see the difference: 
people stayed on topic in comment threads.  I think this is because 
there is always has editorial control.  There is also a limit to the 
editorial control because too much exercise of power drives readers away.

OTOH, sometimes I just need friends, help, an opportunity to help, or a 
distraction, so I go to mailing lists. :-)


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