coral-list moderation

Jim Hendee Jim.Hendee at
Wed Aug 11 09:52:52 EDT 1999

On Wed, 11 Aug 1999, C. W. Wright (1698) wrote:

> A list moderator could easily "clean up" the coral list.  

Long-time coral-list subscribers may remember that at one time I did
moderate all submissions to coral-list. However, with all due respect to
C.W. Wright, I now prefer not to "clean-up" the free speech, wherever
possible.  As you all know, I quite often admonish or encourage people to
try to limit their comments to coral research.  Coral-list subscribers are
for the most part professional colleagues who know one another and
generally do not "misbehave" online, or offline.  Hence, "clean up" is
generally not necessary.  Dr. Bob Ginsburg's message came basically, I
believe, out of frustration at reading the many messages to the list,
rather that reading summarizations by the original submitters who got the
answers.  (This is one reason I have also offered coral-list-digest.) As
you have seen from the thread, some people agree with him, some don't.  
As it is now, it is up to the submitter of a question to say, "Please
respond to me personally, and I will post a summary at a later time."  
Some people have done this, some people wish others did it more often.

> I operate a
> system with several majordomo lists that each have approximately 1000
> subscribers.  Some are moderated sone are not.  The moderator is a
> volunteer member of the list, and all posts to the list simply go to him
> first.  He reviews them, edits "flames", spam, irrelevant material, and
> generally filters what finally gets distributed to list members.  The list
> I'm thinking of (canard-aviators at has abt 900 members and 10 to
> 15 messages per day.  It takes the moderators abt an hour each day to take
> care of the list.  The moderation task can be divided between several
> people and it's easy to setup (at least for majordomo lists).

Some of us would not be happy campers at getting 10 to 15 *extra* messages
a day!

The caveats here are "time" and "volunteer".  I, for one, do other things
besides administer coral-list and the CHAMP Program, which has not been
funded, except via in-house (i.e., "base") funds, since 1993 (by NOAA's
Office of Global Programs, via Dr. Mark Eakin). I have found through my
life experiences that "you get what you pay for", and that when
crunch-time comes, and you absolutely MUST have something done, you can't
order your volunteer help to do what must be done, because he/she has
other personal priorities.  Been there, done that. In this particular
case, "must" equals a professional attitude and diligence to the task(s)
at hand, and I would not dare to sumbit coral-list to anything less.  
This is not to say that your lists would be less professional, it is just
to say that I don't care to let coral-list get that way by someone who is
not being paid a fair dollar to do an excellent job (but see next).

> The coral list value would be enhanced significantly by appointing one or
> more moderators.

If I had the funds to hire a systems administrator who could also
moderate, I'd do it in a heart-beat, believe me.  On the other hand, if I
were located at a university where I had daily or frequent access to a
graduate student whom I could train, monitor, etc., then I might do that.
That is, graduate students are generally motivated to the same level as
someone who is paid (especially if the student is receiving a stiped to do
that work). I have made an enquiry to a colleague at a local university
(which has coral research as a major mandate) about a provisional
agreement in which I could "turn over the reins" through time, but
unfortunately have not received a response yet.

> The problem of repeatedly answering the same questions can be addressed by
> someone reviewing an archive of the list and isolating the repeatd
> questions/answers and creating a web page of FAQs (Frequently Asked
> Questions) and their answers.  A link to that web page would then be added
> to the bottom of every message posted to the list, so people could quickly
> and easily access it. 

Actually, Dr. Judy Lang and I have been working on how to go about making
an FAQ list for a "coral-student" list, offline.  We are awaiting feedback
from our colleagues. As some of you original coral-listers may remember, I
tried back several years ago to get feedback from susbscribers for an FAQ
list, but to no avail (like, only three responses).  (I would remind the
subscribers that even though I have two degrees in marine biology, my
speciality in coral-list is as an information systems person, and only
secondarily as a coral enthusiast).

In summary, I am open to suggestions on how to manage coral-list.  I have
done quite a bit behind the scenes (e.g., never ending attempts to get
CHAMP funded, discussions with colleagues, meetings with NOAA personnel,
etc.) to make things better, but the bottom line right now is: quality
product equals time + money + quality help (the ageless formula).


	Jim Hendee
	coral-list administrator

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