[extropy-chat] Meta: List quality

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Sun Apr 10 14:06:56 UTC 2005

On Apr 10, 2005 5:48 AM, Mike Lorrey wrote:
> I agree entirely. Nobody has an inherent right to not be offended. The
> amount of socialism going on in transhumanist circles these days
> offends me daily but I don't demand that all be tested for libertarian
> purity and purged from the list. If I don't want to be offended, but
> remain on the list, I need to set up filters to either filter out posts
> with offensive keywords, or filter out offensive posters. By doing so,
> I would need to accept the fact that doing this stands as much chance
> of degrading my list experience as improving it, as it will likely lead
> to my only hearing parts of conversations and winding up making
> inappropriate posts that are either out of context or deal with settled
> issues.

The issue of list moderation is not new. It has been discussed for
over ten years, on thousands of lists, ever since the beginning of
Usenet. It is hardly a good use of our time to rehash all the same
issues over again on this list.

This list cannot be a fully moderated list. That requires full-time
staff to read and approve every message before posting it to the list.
It is only suitable for companies or organisations like universities
who can afford a full-time moderator and backups for when he/she is
off duty.

The casual, after-the-fact moderation, using volunteers, that is
presently used on extropy-chat is cheaper, but can result in low
signal/noise on the list. It also has the problem that the 'bad' posts
remain in the archives for search engines to find.

First point is that it is much easier to moderate a list which has a
narrow subject. If your list concerns 'Maintenance of old Triumph
motorcycles' then it is easy to kill all the threads about the Bush
election or the Pope's funeral.
So, extropy-chat should have a clear statement of *some* suitable
subjects, including a few examples.
e.g. We welcome innovative discussions pertaining to scientific,
technological, philosophical, artistic, economic, and social
perspectives on the future.

Similarly, extropy-chat should have a clear statement of *some* banned
subjects, including a few examples.
e.g. Personal attacks, racism, white supremacy, paedophilia, etc.

Both these statements can be amended if necessary, as circumstances arise.

Mike's idea of each user setting up their own filtering system is good
for him, but many users who may be experts in their own fields, might
not have sufficient computer expertise to do this. There is automatic
mail filtering software available which could possibly be used at the
list server to 'top-slice' a few of the 'worst' posts and have them
forwarded for personal moderation. The list administrator would have
to set this up with appropriate rules to make sure only a few of the
very suspect posts were sent for personal moderation.
Mailman already has options which can be used to stop spam or viruses
being sent to the list. Mailman content filtering also has a few
options that might be useful. I don't know enough about Mailman to
make suggestions on customising it by add-on software, but it is worth

As extropy-chat generally has a very wide-ranging subject group it is
not really suitable for a strict moderation policy. The best that can
be hoped for is to stop the 'worst-case' posts or posters and have a
private word with posters who are getting too far away from extropy


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