A funny thing happened on the way to modernity

Silly me.

I subscribe to four reasonably active library-related lists (one that I should probably drop), and probably a few others that are so inactive I’ve forgotten I’m subscribed.

Two of those lists–Web4Lib and PUBLIB–are on a little Gmail group to which I send email copies of announcements for new issues of Cites & Insights. (I prepare the announcement in this blog, copy the HTML to the C&I Alert blog and to my “blog” in LISNews, then copy-and-paste the “visible version” to the email. The group currently has three members–these two lists and one individual.)

In recent days, there’s been some kerfuffle on Web4Lib about excessive announcements on that list, primarily those from one punctuation-happy multiblogger who mails to several lists–but I’ve had the sense of some unease about announcements-as-spam in general.

I’m also aware that “deathspotters” wrote off lists as dead years ago–and are now busily writing off email as dead. (OK, so some of them have written off blogs and RSS as dead as well, but at least those two are still recent fatalities. If you don’t have a clear sense of how I feel about the whole “death of…” thing, read the December 2009 EContent or pages 12-16 of the February 2010 Cites & Insights. Better yet, read the whole issue–it’s a good one.)

So, just to be helpful and “lively”…

So I sent a quick note to Web4Lib and PUBLIB saying I’d be helpful–I’d remove Web4Lib from the Gmail announcement group and probably remove PUBLIB as well. After all, there were three other ways people could be informed–and this blog alone has more than 800 subscriptions. (LISNews reaches everybody. Doesn’t it?)

Honestly, I was just trying to be helpful–to eliminate one minor source of “spam” at the possible cost of a few readers.

Not so fast…

I got feedback–some directly on the two lists, some via email. The feedback was consistent: Actually, so far, 100% unanimous: “Don’t.”

That is, don’t stop announcing issues on the lists. Lots of people don’t use RSS but do use lists, and may want to read C&I.

Admittedly, this is a biased sample. Those who are relieved to be rid of that one post a month (more or less) probably wouldn’t bother to say so, and those who aren’t aware of C&I or regard it as worthless trash probably wouldn’t take the time to respond.

I haven’t counted the number of responses. It’s definitely two digits, and that suggests that there may well be three digits worth of readers who benefit from the list announcements.

So I’ll keep them. That decision was made the same day–as I said, the response was quick.

(Will I keep doing C&I indefinitely? Who knows? A new sponsor sure wouldn’t hurt…nor would others joining the triad who’ve already given PayPal contributions for C&I. But that’s a different barrel of monkeys.)

2 Responses to “A funny thing happened on the way to modernity”

  1. jessamyn says:

    I’ve been following the web4lib thing with interest. I’m surprised at how many people don’t really distinguish between people participating and interacting and, in short, knowing the feel of the list, and the cross-posted announcement-y things that seem a little tone deaf. Yours not included.

    To me it’s clear why your posts belong and the others are objectionable. Obviously it’s up to the list managers to decide what to do about the spammish posts, but I’d hope they make some sort of decision either “this is okay” or “hey guy maybe you should tailor your posts for this list better”

    Librarians seem to sometimes think that by restricting any speech for any reason at any time they become censors. I believe more in the time/place approach. No one’s telling the guy not to post his spammy-feeling links at all, just that web4lib may not be the best place for them.

  2. Blake says:

    (LISNews reaches everybody. Doesn’t it?)
    I wish!