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Bruce, Caroline

The Joy of Not Running Mailing Lists

Over the span of the last fourteen years, I've hade the questionable privilege of moderating many mailing lists on everything from TV shows to Paul HArvey News to blindness-related issues to partners of survivors of sexual abuse. All too often i tend to come back for more, and I really don't know why.

Being a list moderator has got to be the most thankless job on the planet. For any one person who privately tells you you're doing a not-too-unsatisfacotry job, there are at least a dozen more who make sure the world publicly knows that you suck. They seem to think list moderators get paid to take the abuse, when it is rare that they do.

At the present time, we are dealing in the so-called blindness community with an adaptive technology company suing another adaptive technology company over patent violation. I don't pretend to be at all a legal expert here, so i will not say anything about the trial itself, other than to acknowledge that it exists.

When something like this happens, people on the blindness lists immediately want to get into a hot political debate. Invariably, and i mean invariably, when such debate is allowed, it results in name-calling, very bitter feelings, anger, and a lot of good people feeling needlessly hurt and having their opinions belittled. A case in point was last year, when there was another lawsuit on the books. The debate was allowed on several lists, and the fallout was very palpable.

So now many list owners are asking that the discussion of this particular suit not be done on their list. The aggression has been channeled, as a result, to the list owner. Name-calling abounds, as does sarcasm, and the list owners are expected to just sit back and take it. These people have no clue, absolutely no clue, what it's like to sit there and read message after message of insults, profanity, name-calling, and false accusations, their reward for trying to minimize the discord among list members. It's shameful, childish, immature, and utterly unacceptable behavior, but no one is willing to stand up for the list moderators who stick their neck out just to have it axed. I've been there, I know, and I have no sympathy at all for people who treat list moderators like "the help" and have no regard for the fact that these people are human beings.


oh boy, do I ever hear you. For a while, I moderated a list for a blindness organization. It was like babysitting someone else's kid. If people didn't like the choices I made as a mod they went to the president of the org who was worried about bad PR so invariably tried to soften my words and or actions and basically took away any authority I had. I left that list about 3 years or so ago and it was probably the best move I've ever made. I moderate a small list now with about 60 members and if people are rude then I just ban them because the other mod and I have the same kind of management style and the best thing to do with troublemakers is to get rid of them, quickly. I will never moderate another list that isn't mine again, or a list with more than 100 members.

BTW can you send me a good article on this suit; I don't know much about it and would like a factual accounting not some over-dramatized reinactment. Blind people, by and large seem to have blind loyalty (pardon the pun) to their AT company of choice whether that be FS, GW micro, HW or apple.
It's so weird, kind of cult-like; people actually pay these companies thousands of dollars and some of them are so blindly loyal that they won't look to see if the competition has anything better. Because of this I have not asked anyone for an accounting of what is going down because I don't want to get sucked down into some sort of drama.