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Mailing Lists Are Parties. Or They Should Be.

Mar 20, 2010, 12:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Luis Villa)

"I can’t go to bed because Mairin is right on the internet and so I want to (1) say she’s awesome and (2) add two cents on mailing lists and using the power of a web interface to make them better. Bear with me; maybe this is completely off-base (probably I should just stick to law), but it has been bouncing around in my head for years and maybe me writing it down will help the lightbulb go off for someone who can actually implement it :)

"Here is the thing: I think mailing lists are almost like parties in a lot of ways, and so we can steal ideas from parties to help write better mailing list software. I know this sounds silly, but bear with me.

"First, the similarities. At most parties, like most mailing lists, most people want to have interesting conversations, and they understand the shared social standards and interests of the other people at the party. And at most parties and most mailing lists there are a handful of people are boors who probably don’t want to spoil the party, but who violate those shared norms- some in very mild ways (boring, talking too loud, posting too much), or maybe some less mild (the guy who doesn’t think he’s a racist, but really is.)1 If you’ve got similar mixes of people, why then do parties usually handle boors well, while mailing lists often fail and flame out?"

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