I run a mailing list for pagans who use needlecrafts as part of their spiritual practice,
MagickStitches. As with all of the lists I manage, when someone asks to join the list, they get an email from Yahoo!Groups explaining the list guidelines, and asking them to send me an introduction that will be sent to the list as their first message.
The reason for requiring the introduction is that it foils the spambots which otherwise join groups, and sometimes even set up an auto-reply to make it seem as if they’re real people.
In any case, one of the list guidelines says:
Off-Topic Posts — Keep off-topic posts to the barest minimum. Chain letters of any kind are absolutely prohibited. Political alerts are not appropriate here. Please limit prayer/energy requests to those for list members and their immediate families/SOs.
I received an email this week from someone who decided not to join the list because of that one rule. In fact, she said, “I wouldn’t want to be in San Quentin.”
While I’m happy she actually READ the list guidelines (I know that many people don’t), I couldn’t help but laugh at her complaint.
The list has more than 400 members. We have topped 600 messages a month a fair number of times in the past, and that’s WITHOUT off-topic posts or advertising. I figure that with such a high-volume list, every little bit helps.
I’ve also noted that, in most discussion/Usenet groups or mailing lists, it’s the off-topic messages that start flame wars. Anybody who has ever read rec.crafts.textiles.needlework has seen many a flame war, and they don’t involve what kind of fabric or fibers to use!
Any mailing list that doesn’t have and enforce guidelines about topical posts ends up with an unacceptable noise/signal ratio, in my experience. They seem to be full of people posting the same damned chain letters, political alerts, virus warnings, and “inspirational” crap over and over again, and people getting pissy when others don’t appreciate what they’ve posted. I’m not on many pagan lists at all for exactly that reason.
Based on her complaint, I figure that the person who complained is probably one of those who feels a need to cross-post everything they read to everybody in the world. I’m quite happy NOT to have her on my list.