[Coral-List] Regarding a Coral-List Metamorphosis

David Tapley dtapley at salemstate.edu
Tue Mar 21 11:52:58 EST 2006

Dear Coral-Listers:

I maintain several discussion boards AND email lists. For example, I  
maintain a discussion board for my departmental faculty AND our  
department's email lists. In general, in-depth discussions seem to  
fare better in the discussion-board format, whereas rapid  
communications do better in the email format.

An advantage of discussion-board formats is that you have greater  
control over formatting and quoting. You can post images easily, and  
all the popular browsers handle them well. (The same cannot be said  
for formatting and images attached to emails.) Discussion boards keep  
all postings in a threaded format (an advantage for "serious"  
discussions; considered a disadvantage by many for more light-hearted  
chit-chat), so that you can access the entire discussion at any time  
without finding and then searching through an archive. Remember, the  
subject line of the email discussion that began all this has morphed  
several times now... making following it in the archives problematic.  
THis problem does not occur in discussion  boards.

I took ten minutes I don't really have today to set up the skeletal  
architecture of a possible "Coral Reef Research" discussion board  
based largely on the suggestions by Eric Borneman, hosted at  


This skeleton could be fleshed out nicely in a very short time. I put  
only one or two topics in each subject area, but there could be many  
more. All anyone has to do is ask, and a new topic will be created.  
Within topics you can start as many thread/discussions as you like. I  
will look into configuring things so that new  subject areas could be  
started by any member. (I believe only moderators/administrators have  
the power to do this.)

The InVisionFree format is not perfect, but it does better than most.  
One drawback is the ads, but if enough people want to pony up the  
cashj, we can "buy out"  of the ads for what is supposed to be a  
nominal fee. Another option is to move the board to a separate  
server, still using the InVisionFree skin, which I could do if enough  
people wish.

Another advantage is that posters would not be constrained by the  
restrictions imposed by running Coral-List through a gummint server.  
Not that the gummint wouldn't still monitor every word you type, mind  

Thanks to Jim from this mostly lurker for years of fascinating  
reading. If people wish to try to board format, that doesn't mean the  
email list should end -- far from it. I will continue to read and  
learn from it, as I assume most or all of the others will as well.


David W. Tapley                vox: 978-542-6381
Associate Professor            fax: 978-542-6863
Introductory Biology Coordinator
Department of Biology
Salem State College
352 Lafayette St.
Salem, MA 01970           dtapley at salemstate.edu

On Mar 21, 2006, at 7:36 AM, Jim Hendee wrote:

> Hey, Team!
> Thank you all for your suggestions concerning re-tooling Coral-List.
> Let me just point out some considerations we should take into account:
>     * Our personnel resources right now are of necessity focused on
>       tasks that we have been specifically funded for (Coral-List and
>       our other lists have not been specifically funded for years),  
> and
>       we can't really afford the time (right now) to totally  
> reconfigure
>       Coral-List (however, see closing statement).
>     * There already are several other very good coral-related
>       multiple-forum Web resources out there.
>     * This is a U.S. Government resource, so we would have to moderate
>       the content; as you know, there are certain things we can't  
> allow,
>       which might creep into a Web-based free comment forum:
>       commercialism, lobbying Congress, profanity, flaming, anti- 
> racist
>       or sexist remarks, etc.  This actually helps to maintain decorum
>       in an age where email seems to have encouraged a new kind of
>       discourse, namely, the occasional tendency to be nasty to  
> someone
>       you wouldn't be nasty to in their presence.
>     * What some people consider clogging, others consider important
>       information:  an important piece of information might be  
> announced
>       that you would have been interested in, but you missed it  
> because
>       it was set up in a forum area where you rarely (if ever) visit.
>       For instance, what if your personal radar never would have  
> picked
>       up Guana Cay before, but  now since it was sort of shoved down
>       your throat in Coral-List, NOW  you're interested and you in  
> fact
>       contributed some of your hard-earned moolah to the cause, or  
> even
>       felt compelled to fly over there and join in the battle!
>     * Breaking up this community of ~3,500 members into different  
> groups
>       sort of kills the whole idea (and advantages) of a  
> community!  The
>       current format is sort of like one big ongoing International  
> Coral
>       Reef Symposium, where anybody can have the floor to say what  
> they
>       want (within civil limits, of course).   You, the student, for
>       instance, has equal voice with some of the Big Legends of coral
>       science.  Take for instance a real ICRS  (or other) symposium
>       where everybody is fighting to be heard:  if you're like me and
>       not inclined to try to out-shout the lout next to you, who  
> always
>       seems to get heard because of his shouting voice, even when you
>       consider it crud [can you say that on Coral-List?], on Coral- 
> List
>       you can still have volume equal to the ignorant loud-mouth  
> next to
>       you.
> However, it is good to keep the comments coming, and I'm not saying we
> won't re-tool in the future.  In fact, we're looking into a way for
> subscribers to post photographs, after all.  We want to continue to
> evolve with technology, and considering the excellent group of  
> computer
> specialists we have here, I'm confident we can do right by you.
> However, we are jammed with some important tasks, and we may not  
> always
> be on the cutting edge of list or forum technology, so for now I think
> we're going to stick with the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix
> it."  At least for now.
> Remember, if you don't like the subject that is clogging your email
> inbox, you can just delete it, or you can apply a filter to remove or
> re-categorize it.
> Now, where was I...
>     Cheers,
>     Jim
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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