Moderated coral-list

Gert Jan Gast gjgast at
Thu Jan 8 05:47:52 EST 1998

Hi everyone,

A wonderful 1998 to all of you!

> 	Moderating the list is a double-edged sword.  I don't want to
> stifle freedom of speech, but I don't want to burden others with what I
> think most of us consider as subjects unsuitable for this list. Sometimes
> I may goof and post something which might be considered improper or at
> least in the gray area, and I hope you'll bear with me, but let me know if
> you feel it is improper.  If you attempt to post a message, but it doesn't
> come through in a day or two (it may not make it out right away if you try
> to post it on a weekend), and you feel it is definitely something that is
> appropriate, please let me know and I may see the light.

I respect Jim's worries about our burdens and the measures he
has taken to reduce them, but I do have severe reservations against
moderating the list. I agree that spam is irritating, that it is an
increasing problem and that action should be taken. However, I don't
like the idea that one person selects what is appropriate or not.
(Jim, no personal offence meant: I am sure you are doing a
considerate and honest job!) The essence of the internet is that it
is free and fast.  I feel it should stay that way. Selecting messages
and a few days interval don't agree with this principle. (Aside from
the practical objections: this is a lot of work for Jim and what
happens when he gets ill?) The problems can be split in 2 categories.

1. Spam or random advertisements. Basically the same thing as
billboards that appear nowadays along almost every road outside
Antartica. The majordomo program allows the option that only members
of the coral-list can post messages on the list. I agree with Jim's
decision to moderate the membership of the list (previously everyone
could automatically become a member, now Jim personally acknowledges
every request to become a member). He can filter possible spammers
from honest coral researchers. I think that should be sufficient. As
long as spammers can't become a member, they can't post anything on
the list. If anyone slips through, Jim can remove the person and put
the sender's address on a black list, never to be allowed on again.
Moderating membership is a lot less work than moderating every

2. Unnecessary broad messages. For example those constantly appearing
"unsubscribe" messages. I don't experience this too much as a
problem. Unlike billboards it is little effort to click delete and
it's gone. There are more serious messages on this list that
simply don't interest me as they are out of my field of research than
really unfit posts. Sometimes my attention is drawn to
things I hadn't heard/read of. That is the strength of having a list
like this. We are all in this together and we can control ourselves
and each other. I don't believe we need a "policeman" to select what
is useful or not. In a meeting, do we first ask permission from the
president to say what we want to say? Generally there is no need to
for such control, I think. The freedom of speech and speed of the
list are more important to me.

Just my two cents....

Good luck, GJ.
Gert Jan Gast <gjgast at>
Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Department of Marine Ecology
P.O. Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, The Netherlands.
Phone: 31 (0)222 369573. Fax: 31 (0)222 319674.
NIOZ home pages:
addresslist. The address gjgast at will terminate
some time in the future. gjgast at hotmail is a second
back up address, but I don't look there often.

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