[OS X TeX] Keeping this list healthy

Alain Schremmer Schremmer.Alain at gmail.com
Fri Dec 1 11:27:16 EST 2006

Fernando Pereira wrote:

> I've been on various lists since the early days of usenet (back to 
> 1979). I've seen many flame wars and been involved in a few myself 
> that I'd rather disavow :( This medium attracts many articulate, 
> technically very knowledgeable people. People of that kind -- and this 
> is not a criticism -- can get impatient or snippy when they feel that 
> their points or contributions are being misunderstood. When people 
> know each other well, expression of those feelings can be helpful and 
> eventually worked through. But most of us here or in any other such 
> forum do not really know each other. We may *think* we do because we 
> have ben reading each other's posts for years. We may especially feel 
> that we know well the main contributors of this group (you know who 
> they are). But we don't have the kind of knowledge that comes from 
> face-to-face social interaction, that tells us how to interact 
> successfully with someone much better than we can put in words.
> So, it's way too easy to annoy or offend someone online, because we 
> don't have access to most of the relevant emotional signals. Knowing 
> that, there are some useful responses:
> - Think before pressing send: how would this *public* communication be 
> interpreted by people beyond the sender's immediate circle
> - Think before replying: Is a reply venting feelings that are never 
> well expressed on this medium? Does the reply go beyond factual issues 
> relevant to the group?
> - Suppress ego: to paraphrase a famous New Yorker cartoon "On the 
> Internet, no one knows that you are a feeling person". Issues of self- 
> worth and the like are best kept to one's full social interactions; 
> this medium can be good for building shared knowledge, but it is 
> terrible for establishing and maintaining emotionally healthy 
> relationships.
> I enjoy the contributions and thoughtful questions of many here, even 
> when I disagree with with them. That's a value that all of us share, 
> otherwise we wouldn't bother to subscribe. The occasional snippy 
> interaction here is a natural leakage of human reaction to 
> difficulties in communication. If we start interpreting those glitches 
> as more significant than they really are, we'll destroy this forum. 
> I've seen that happen in other groups. We would all lose a lot if it 
> happened here.
> Best
> -- F
> PS. I also subscribe to the red wine theory, looking forward to a nice 
> bottle this weekend :)

I agree with all of the above—for what my agreement is worth but I would 
just like to add one item:

People tend to be "reactive" rather than "creative"—the latter in a very 
restricted sense of the word and people generally hate to be misunderstood.

Say A makes a point. Generally, A's post being the first one on this 
point is not "reactive" and tends to be relaxed—even if not clear and 
precise. But what is particularly annoying to A is when after A tried to 
explain something c;early—at least in his/her own eyes, B, for whatever 
reason and in whatever manner, miss or ignore the point entirely.

So, while B has that glass of wine before responding to A, and possibly 
nailing her/him down, I would suggest s/he reread A's post a couple of 
time, really trying to see it from A's viewpoint. This of course does 
not imply that B should try to agree with A. B should try to see exactly 
what A was trying—and possibly failing to say—and this even if only 
better to nail A down.

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