Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 1999)

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Subject: Re:Moderating and off-topic posts
From: Rick Jaggers <rjaggers @ randomc . com>
Date: Sun, 02 May 1999 10:34:23 -0400
To: List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <199905020800 . BAA08300 @ honor . greatcircle . com>

>Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 07:49:57 +0200
>From: David Sharp <david .
 sharp @
 afp .
>Subject: Moderating and off-topic posts
>I'd be interested in the opinions of list members - plus any hard data, if
>it exists - on the effects that off-topic posts can have on the overall
>functioning of a list.
        (portions deleted for brevity)
>Any ideas, advice and/or data on this issue?
>_______________________[ End ]_______________________ 

        I had exactly the same problem, and I'd know by my dropout
rate when too much drivel was being posted.  However, a neat solution 
fell into my lap, and it has been surprisingly successful.

(1)     I created a companion mailing list.  It is called the [HotTub] but 
other names may be equally effective "BackPorch",  "Patio",  "Veranda".

(2)     Participation in the [HotTub] is optional.  
*  Subscription to the original list, [RixPlace], is a requirement. 
*  The [HotTub] is announced and publicized only in [RixPlace].
*  [RixPlace] has a Digest edition.  The [HotTub] does not.

(3)     Any non-[RixPlace] topic is allowed in the [HotTub].  And they
have run through an interesting set of topics, from rock-and-roll to
gun control to just mindless chit-chat.

(4)     I drafted my most frequent off-topic offender as the [HotTub] host, 
solely responsible for subscriptions and content.  The only hatchet I held 
was the ability to just turn it off.  I do not meddle at all,  and I beat up
draftee host on a regular basis when I see messages which require his 
attention.  After a couple of months, my draftee host had a much greater 
appreciation for the work that I do <G>.  We now get along pretty well,
and he even seeks my advice from time to time for errant Hottubbers.

(5)     Once a month or so a thread briefly appears in the [HotTub] 
that rightly belonged in [RixPlace].  If it gets very interesting, I suggest to
the [HotTub] host that he nudge the thread back to [RixPlace].  The
"argument" is that the author deserves a wider audience for his words.
After the 3rd month I stopped worrying about it.

(6)     Hard data:  40% of [RixPlace] has joined the [HotTub].  It has 
stayed pretty consistent for the last 14 months. Less than 2% of 
[HotTub] subscribers have quit in disgust at the content.  The volume
of traffic in both lists is about the same.

        How does this work?  Very well!  I allow the first off-topic reply to 
remain in [RixPlace].  It depends on the daily traffic.  If a thread digresses 
too far, then it is referred (banished?!) to the [HotTub].  Usually the
[RixPlace] subscribers will speak up before I do.

        The [HotTub] keeps me out of a "censorship" role, and I have 
not had that issue raised in [RixPlace] in a year.

Rick Jaggers (mailto:Rick @
 RixPlace .
 com)     *****

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