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    Re: An experimental Navigation List
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2006 Apr 11, 22:09 EDT

    This is a "meta" post. I SINCERELY APOLOGIZE for  it, but I think I have to
    reply to this one. By the way, if you're unfamiliar  with the expression
    meta-discussion (or you think it's new to this list), I  highy recommend this
    definition and discussion of  meta-discussion:
    Though this  excellent account does not say so, technical difficulties are
    one case where I  think meta-discussion is inevitable, though it's certainly
    still  annoying.
    George H, you wrote:
    "Is the proposal for a "breakaway" list  the result of a consensus, or a bit
    of one-man opportunism?"
    Let me start  off by saying that there is no opportunism unless there is
    valuable property on  the line. List "ownership" is a very peculiar usage of the
    word ownership since  the owner gets nothing of value. While some list "owners"
    imagine themselves to  be powerful, in reality, a list owner, or list
    manager, has almost no power. A  list owner cannot stop spam. A list owner cannot
    prevent abusive postings. A  list owner cannot ban any person from posting to a
    list (e-mail addresses can be  banned, but in the present Internet e-mail
    addresses are free and easy to create  as often as needed so this address banning
    capability is mostly useless). A list  owner DOES have some basic
    responsibilities that are more nuisance than anything  else: the owner has to reply to
    e-mails from people confused by their e-mail  software, and the owner has to deal
    with technical problems as they arise. The  only circumstance where a list
    owner has any real power is when the list is  converted into a moderated list (on
    a moderated list messages do not distribute  unless and until they are
    approved). This is an enormous amount of work and a  sure way to kill any
    non-mission-critical (a.k.a. "just for fun") discussion  group.
    So where do good Internet communities come from then? Why is most  of the
    discussion on Navigation-L civil and interesting? It's because the list  members
    are good people, and they have a shared interest in the topic. That's  all it
    Having said this, I will admit that there is an  "impression" of authority
    that goes with the title of list owner, and as I said  right away, in the
    initial post about NavList, I would be happy to see  distributed ownership of the
    list (three to five people maybe?). In fact, if  it's not too complicated to
    make it work, I don't give a damn whether I am  included in that group or not. I
    also would have no problem transfering  ownership to one person (Dan Hogan? Is
    this still an "authority" you want?), but  I suggest a group of managers
    simply because people sleep and go on vacation and  on an active list, it's good
    to have somebody watching for problems  24/7.
    You also wrote:
    "If our discussion group needs reconfiguring  (and it may) then the way to do
    it is via round-table discussion"
    I  notice you have referred to it as "our" group rather than Dan's group.
    This is  actually part of what I was getting at when I said above that list
    "ownership"  is a strange usage of the word. Nobody really "owns" the list. As for
    round-table discussions, sheesh, how would you decide anything? Who gets to
    participate in said discussions? Whose opinions matter more? How would you
    vote  on it?
    Some people enjoy long negotiations to decide who's going to pick  up litter
    in their neighborhoods. Some people write letters to the mayor. Some  write
    letters to the local newspaper. Some post rants in their blogs. Me, I'm  the
    sort of person who gets out a bag and picks up the trash. Somebody's gotta  do it.
    You also wrote:
    " Whatever admirable qualities Frank may  possess, they do not include the
    diplomacy, self-restraint, conciliation that  would be called for in whoever
    acts as mediator for a list such as ours. It  would be a bit like putting John
    McEnroe in charge of World  Tennis."
    "It reminds me of the situation that occurs from time to  time in a
    third-world African republic. The President flies to Zurich for  hospital treatment,
    and in his absence, his rival calls on the Palace Guard,  raising his banner and
    crying "follow me". Next thing, the runway is blocked  against his return.
    With Frank in charge, I fear it would be like playing a  game of street
    football, when the other side owns the ball."
    George,  that's the best example I've seen in a long time of how to start an
    Internet  flamewar. Now... for my part, I'm going to demonstrate the best way
    to end an  Internet flamewar. I realize some of you may not want to see this,
    so I'll leave  a few blank lines here and make you scroll down to see  it...
    [keep scrolling]
    [still  scrolling??]
    [almost  there]
    What??? You were expecting gasoline??  
    42.0N 87.7W, or 41.4N  72.1W.

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