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Re: Preserving this message list.

Dear All,

Whilst I'm reluctant to prolong what I feel is an unnecessary and itself
not very relevant thread of discussion, there are a few points I think
which need to be made.

Firstly, can I say that although the list manager very occassionally
applies some kind of control to the list, this is not done lightly and is
done in as responsible and reasonable a manner as possible. The stated
purpose of the list is to provide a forum for polite, informed
communication about Iraq, and CASI considers itself responsible for
ensuring that the list provides that forum. Therefore if a list member
posts personal insults, or repeatedly posts material "not relevant" (more
on that later), I think it is CASI's duty to lightly moderate (not
prohibit!) their future input to the list. This has only been done in two
cases so far in the list's existance. We would never block someone's
messages which were to do with Iraq unless we felt them to be personally
offensive or to waste other list members' time by being a repeat of
previous postings. In Nels' case this was clearly a one-off incident and
I'm sure he'll be back on the list-proper very soon if he isn't already.

Some of you may feel that you don't mind getting many more messages a day
about Iraq and doing your own 'filtering'. I would suggest this is only
true up to a point. There are many email lists which degenerate into
nothing but slanging matches - interspersed with occassional informative
messages - with hundreds of messages a day flying backwards and forwards.
As an extreme example, the soc.culture.iraq newsgroup carries about 100
messages a day, the majority with subject lines like "Sharon is a MADMAN",
"Iraq sucks", "The Koran is toilet paper" (a selection from yesterday's
collection. Somewhere in the middle of yesterday's postings, I see there's
one message about the mortality rates caused by sanctions. (I'm not, of
course, suggesting anything as inapproprate as these messages has ever
been posted to the discussion list, although people who are not on the
list (who therefore don't have the automatic right to post messages to it)
do sometimes try to post such rude, racist and offensive messages to our
discussion list. We don't let them).

I don't believe the majority of list members on our list have the time to
spend hours each day picking out messages with useful content. If it cost
nothing for anyone in the world to produce and send to you paper letters,
we would all get sackfulls of mail every day and have to spend the whole
day sorting it out! Because email is (in some sense) free, there is a
danger of degenerating to this level. Clearly the CASI list is a million
miles from that, but I think it's important to prevent it sliding in that
direction. If you want discussion entirely free of constraint, sign up to
other Iraq email lists and newsgroups as well! This isn't a flippant
comment: I think the CASI discussion list occupies an important 'niche' in
the 'infoscape', but it isn't the only resource, and it won't entirely
satisfy everyone's needs on its own.

It's worth pointing out that whenever there is a significant rise in the
number of emails to the list, it is followed by a wave of 'unsubscribe'
requests - i.e. there is a large sector of the list members who are
interested to read one or two focused emails about Iraq a day, but for
whom Iraq isn't the main focus of their life, and so simply don't have
time to look at a larger number of emails on that subject. Further more, I
think they are in important sector to keep informed -- dedicated Iraq
activists aren't the only people who need to be informed.

As for the question of relevance - I don't want the definition to be too
narrow. Clearly the issue is linked to the wider context of the Middle
East, and I personally don't object to messages which make explicit
connections to Palestine etc.  But there are more appropriate forums for
messages *just* about Palestine, which don't even mention Iraq. As Mil
said, this list has a specific purpose - there are others to complement it
if you want to get lots of emails about other issues. Because of our
desire to limit the number of messages flying around on the list, we have
to use a fairly narrow subject criteria.

Finally, I'd like to say that a lot of effort goes into to maintaining
this list, and the list manager/moderator has an often tedious and
timeconsuming job. I for one am very grateful to her for saving me time by
keeping the discussion focused. I also have complete faith that her
decisions are open-minded, fair and 100% reasonable and in the best
interests of the anti-sanctions community in this country.

Ultimately, some people would no doubt prefer a list where anyone can say
anything at all. I don't feel too guilty about CASI not satisfying these
people's needs, because it is simple and free for people to set up
alternative lists if they really want to (and there are such lists already
existing -- for example as far as I know the iac-discussion list on
egroups is unmoderated). Staying in the particular niche of a
narrowly-focussed, polite, forum is a valid strategy for the CASI list.
Using Mil's analogy, a meeting of 250 people (the number of people on this
list) without some kind of chairperson or ground rules would not be a
productive one.

very best wishes to you all,


Seb Wills
p: Clare College, Cambridge CB2 1TL, UK
  Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq:

On Wed, 18 Oct 2000 wrote:

> I have been thinking about this problem for two days as I also do not agree 
> the arguments put forward about preserving the list.  I agree totally with 
> the sentiments expressed by Hadi, John Smith and Dave Rolstone - I delete 
> loads of stuff that doesn't interest me-so where do we go from here?
> Jean R
> -- 
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
> For removal from list, email
> Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

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