A plea from the list custodian
aebrownstein at UCDAVIS.EDU
Wed Feb 9 09:45:38 PST 2000
I appreciate Eugene's comment on list etiquette and think his point is well
taken. I try hard to be polite and substantive in my contributions to this
list. While I am sure that I am not always successful in this regard, the
trash bin in my computer is full of angry retorts I elected not to send
after counting far higher than ten in order to cool down.
Our list custodian is clearly right in my judgement. The value of this list
is the serious dialogue it promotes between people who strongly disagree on
important issues. Meaningful dialogue isn't furthered by taunts or comments
intended to antagonize rather than question or persuade. There are plenty
of other opportunities for us all to score points by playing to our
respective galleries in rallying the people who already agree with us. But
there aren't many forums committed to respectful, substantive engagement.
At 04:55 PM 02/08/2000 -0800, you wrote:
> Folks: It seems to me that the list works much better if
> we try to calmly focus as much as possible on substantive legal
> questions, rather than engaging in hyperbole, snideness, slogans, or
> inferences about what other list members -- or even, in most cases, what
> other non-list-members -- believe and how outrageous that is.
> I know that many people on this list take these questions
> very seriously and very personally, and I know that venting one's deeply
> held feelings is often pleasant (and is sometimes hard to resist). But
> (1) it very rarely persuades people, and (2) it doesn't foster a useful,
> thoughtful discussion.
> Please, please, for the sake of the quality of what I
> like to think is an unusually useful online community, try to remain calm
> and focused on substantive questions. If you come up with a brilliant
> one-liner, count to ten and don't post it. Assume the best about others'
> intentions and motivations, at least for the purposes of your written
> work, even if you're pretty confident that their intentions and
> motivations are not the best. Favor dull prose over cutting
> satire. Even if you think the other person has stepped over the line,
> don't respond in kind.
> I know this sounds pollyannish, but I'm quite confident
> that it's the key both to keeping this list useful, and to being as
> effective an advocate for one's views as possible. Maybe soundbites,
> slogans, attacks, and quips work well in other media, but I don't think
> they work well here.
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