1993-11-29 - Let’s Talk About Solutions

Header Data

From: Mike Godwin <mnemonic@eff.org>
To: kovar@nda.com (David Kovar)
Message Hash: b76e8986756a8c2d8c10695a452aaaca9554c6b2d895d42d87c8207ff315ac89
Message ID: <199311291601.LAA15061@eff.org>
Reply To: <199311291357.IAA09915@nda.nda.com>
UTC Datetime: 1993-11-29 16:07:07 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 29 Nov 93 08:07:07 PST

Raw message

From: Mike Godwin <mnemonic@eff.org>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 93 08:07:07 PST
To: kovar@nda.com (David Kovar)
Subject: Let's Talk About Solutions
In-Reply-To: <199311291357.IAA09915@nda.nda.com>
Message-ID: <199311291601.LAA15061@eff.org>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

David Kovar writes:

>   This list is allowing itself to be disrupted. More effort is being
> expended by its members complaining and commenting about LD than he
> is expending. Ignore the guy and get on with life.

It's worth noting that the perceived problem with Lance Detweiler is a
problem that sooner or later surfaces in all forums, whether they're
mailing lists or newsgroups--namely, the problem of a certain person or
subject matter driving people away from the forum.

Fleeing the problem doesn't fix it. It recurs wherever you go.

Solving the problem in a top-down way (e.g., by banning a person from a
forum) doesn't fix it, and that kind of centralized-censorship solution
runs counter to the dynamic of the Net, which is not structured to support
centralized censorship. (Theoretically, mailing lists are structured that
way, but in practice anything but the most light-handed moderation tends
to kill the spontaneity of discussions.)

The best solutions are bottom-up solutions: solutions in which individuals
can make choices about what they wish to see, but can't impose those
choices on others. 

These solutions take many forms. The least sophisticated, and the least
effective, is to unsubscribe from a "noisy" list--as I noted before, the
problem recurs on all forums. A better solution is to ignore the noisy
postings--this is the Detweiler Pledge Solution. Still better is the
artful use of mail filters. (A nonartful use of filters may prevent some
people from reading this message, since it includes the string

It strikes me as relatively on-topic for cypherpunks to discuss technical
solutions, such as mail filters, for solving the "noisy forum problem."
For some, adequate solutions may already be in place. But I note that for
"mere users" (as distinct from sophisticated users and programmers),
current filtering tools are difficult to use. What can make this better?


Mike Godwin, (202) 347-5400 |"And walk among long dappled grass,
mnemonic@eff.org            | And pluck till time and times are done 
Electronic Frontier         | The silver apples of the moon,
Foundation                  | The golden apples of the sun."