Results of vote to moderate the Taxacom List

Sun Feb 12 20:25:22 CST 1995

The plebescite we had last month on Taxacom regarding possible moderation
of the list generated a large number of responses with opinions ranging
from one end of the spectrum to the other. A selected sample of replies
is at the end of this message.  The results were: 40 for moderation, 18
against, 9 indifferent.

A number of Taxacom readers took time to detail their experiences
with list moderation and made useful suggestions about how to keep the list
unmoderated AND reduce the amount of junk mail.  Although the majority were
for moderation, I would like to try some other suggested measures first,
keep the list itself unmoderated (but edit the WWW and Gopher versions),
and re-assess later in the year.

Here is the plan for the Taxacom Listserv mailing list:

        1. For now, no moderation

        2. Change the list configuration so that non-subscribers cannot send
           'subscribe me,' 'help me' messages to the mailing list.
           This will have no impact on current subscribers, except to
           eliminate nuisance 'subscribe' messages which will be returned
           to sender with subscription information.

        3. Change the list configuration so that only messages with
           "Subject: ..." headers go immediately to the list.  Messages with
            no subject line, will be returned to the sender with a
            reminder to use one.  Several people mentioned that this would
            make it easier to scan Taxacom mail. (I need to confirm that the
            software we use has this as an option.)

        4. Once a month, we will mail an informative, 1-page 'reference card'
           about how to change your subscription status and about the
           various ways to view Taxacom, e.g. via e-mail, monthly archive
           files, via Gopher and in the Hypermail archives on the Biological
           Collections and Biodiversity WWW server (

        5. Pursue the establishment of a Taxacom Netnews group which would
           receive e-mail from the list for those who prefer
           news reader software to participate in discussion groups.

Thanks again for your responses and suggestions.   Any comments directly
to beach at

Sample Replies

For moderation:

No (Taxacom) "talk radio" without a filter
There is quite a lot of junk mail
Splendid idea, YES!
By all means filter out subscribe requests
Do it, godspeed!
A big job, who is the sucker going to be?
Use a fine filter - so much junk I am considering unsubscribing
Cull the chaff, go for it
The amount of junk mail on Taxacom is ridiculous

Against moderation (for excess):

Your junk might be my treasure
Surprisingly little nuisance stuff
Moderation is for monks
Haven't noticed any junk mail
My delete key works just fine
Screening sounds like the first step toward censorship
Note who the idiots are who can't subscribe properly, then
  tease them at national meetings
No filter, no delays, it was fantastic to be the first one in the
  department to know about the "living fossil" Araucarioid from Australia


James H. Beach                                beach at
Museum Informatics Project                    Tel: (510) 642-0246
University of California                      Fax: (510) 643-8856
378 Doe Library
Berkeley, CA 94720-6200

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