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Re: [Emacs] request: better subject lines

From: Bob Proulx
Subject: Re: [Emacs] request: better subject lines
Date: Tue, 2 May 2017 12:38:03 -0600
User-agent: NeoMutt/20170306 (1.8.0)

Oh boy!  Another subject line tag debate.  Again.  What is even better
is that it can never be off topic for any mailing list because every
mailing list has a subject line.  Therefore this debate is doomed to
happen again and again on every mailing list.  Just like quoting
styles.  Sigh.

ken wrote:
> I've heard all these arguments/instructions before.  They are neither
> comforting nor persuasive.

I have as well.  On both sides.  In the end I have decided there is no
way to appease everyone.  Because people like what they like and each
person likes different things.  People work using work flows that are
different and will not change those work flows to the other people's
work flows.  Therefore what we end up with are camps of people who
tolerate the diversity of the other camp.

> Also, I've been managing five mailing lists for about ten years, all
> of which have [mailing-list-name] descriptors (and many more other
> mailing lists earlier for fewer numbers of years), and absolutely
> *no one* /ever/ complained, or even mentioned anything, about those
> descriptors.

I find that exceedingly difficult to believe.  In fact the possibility
is vanishingly small.  Because for example let me complain about those
tags right here and now!  Which means you cannot make that claim in
the future moving forward from this point.  Because I have now
complained about them.  You will never be able to make that claim in
the future or someone will be able to point to this message and show
my complaint. :-)

I have been administering mailing lists for decades and I have been
reading complaints about both the presence and absence of subject line
tags since well before then.  The one universal constant is that
people will complain.  About everything possible.  What color do we
paint the bike shed?

> There are still people today who are new to mailing lists.  There always
> will be.  Those are the people I am relating to, people who have a problem
> or question, are told to join this or that mailing list, somehow manage to
> find one, wade through the steps to subscribe, aren't sure they're
> subscribed, not even sure what "subscribed" means, then eventually
> (hopefully) find "it's working" for them (sort of)...

That proposal is a race to the bottom.  If anyone needs to learn
something then no one can.  I reject the idea that we all must move to
the lowest common denominator.

Instead I think we should embrace the diversity of it.  For example
there have been proponents for an emacs topic web Q&A site such as
stack exchange, stack overflow, and so forth.  (I forget the details
now.)  For newcomers that is even more accessible than mailing lists
because one need only know how to browse the web to access it.  And so
forth.  Maybe a GNU Social or Disaspora group?

> then someone on that list gives them further instructions on
> properly managing their mail.  Yes, it's probably no big deal for
> many here to set up and manage mail filters, and they're quite proud
> they can, and so expect everyone to do the same.  The fact is, not
> everyone can... not everyone wants to bother.

I think there is a huge value in the community coming together to help
educate, train, help out, lift up people who are coming to the
community.  It takes a whole village to raise a child.  I think that
is one of the best parts of our communities.  We join together help
each other out.  We build schools.  We educate.  We train.  An
educated person is more help and benefit to the community.  I do not
believe that avoiding the need for education, to enable existence
without education, is a good direction for any community.

> Third, let's put the responsibility shoe on the other foot.  Why don't we
> put the descriptors into all list mail and those who don't want them can set
> up filters on their systems to take them out?

That symmetrical argument is reversible.  Let's remove all tags from
all mailing lists and the people who want them can add them.  Same
thing in reverse.  Equally valid.


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