[mailhist-discuss] scope of mailing list discussion: controversial histories?

Dave Crocker dhc at dcrocker.net
Sat Jun 2 10:27:18 PDT 2012

On 6/2/2012 3:37 PM, Thomas Haigh wrote:
> FYI, the Boston Magazine article on Ayyadurai is published.
> http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/2012/05/shiva-ayyaduri-email-us-postal-service/
> I think a reasonable person who reads the entire article attentively
> would come to a reasonable conclusion. She gives Ayyadurai enough rope
> to hang himself in some of those quotes.

This note is not about the substance of Tom's posting.  I'm mulling over 
a separate note for that.  This note is about having this mailhist list 
discuss such topics.

I can imagine a reasonable scope for a history list like this that 
/excludes/ discussion of public controversy and the actors in those 
controversies.  We could, for example, insist that we only talk about 
this group's consensus view of actual history rather than someone else's 
view of it.  That is, focus on the affirmative, consensus goal and 
ignore anything outside of that scope.

However we could also reasonably agree that the scope is for all 
discussions having to do with email history, including public debates 
about it.  Better, we could note that discussion of "outside" 
controversy could serve as fodder for our history criteria mill.  The 
outside controversy might provide exemplars, good and bad, for what we 
want to do.

The one constraint that I'll assert as an invariable for this list is 
its rather strict rules about style of postings.  As such, no one gets 
to make ad hominem comments -- no statements about personality, 
intention, ethics, or the like.

X said Y is not personal.  X did Z is not personal (as long as Z is an 
objective action.)  X thought Q /is/ personal, since the writer can't 
know what Q thought.  X is an asshole also is personal, in case anyone 
had doubts.

For reference, I think Tom's review of the Boston College article falls 
nicely to the proper side of professional discourse within this list's 
guidelines.  (One could quibble about the hanging reference, I suppose. 
  But at some point we need to avoid insisting on entirely sterile 


  Dave Crocker
  Brandenburg InternetWorking

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