User ManualAnnouncement List User Guide ReferencesThe Natural Life Cycle Of Mailing Lists - by Kat Nagel

The Natural Life Cycle Of Mailing Lists - by Kat Nagel

The Natural Life Cycle Of Mailing Lists

The Natural Life Cycle Of Mailing Lists - by Kat Nagel

Every list seems to go through the same cycle:

1.  Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves, and gush a lot about

    how wonderful it is to find kindred souls).

2.  Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting to the list,

    and brainstorm recruitment strategies).

3.  Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthy threads

    develop, occasional off-topic threads pop up).

4.  Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots of

    information and advice is exchanged; experts help other experts as

    well as less experienced colleagues; friendships develop; people tease

    each other; newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience;

    everyone -- newbie and expert alike -- feels comfortable asking

    questions, suggesting answers, and sharing opinions).

5.  Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages increases

    dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to every reader; people

    start complaining about the signal-to-noise ratio; person 1 threatens

    to quit if *other* people don't limit discussion to person 1's pet

    topic; person 2 agrees with person 1; person 3 tells 1 & 2 to lighten

    up; more bandwidth is wasted complaining about off-topic threads than

    is used for the threads themselves; everyone gets annoyed).

6a. Smug complacency and stagnation (the purists flame everyone who asks

    an 'old' question or responds with humor to a serious post; newbies

    are rebuffed; traffic drops to a doze-producing level of a few minor

    issues; all interesting discussions happen by private email and are

    limited to a few participants; the purists spend lots of time

    self-righteously congratulating each other on keeping off-topic

    threads off the list).


6b. Maturity (a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the participants

    stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up briefly every few weeks;

    many people wear out their second or third 'delete' key, but the list

    lives contentedly ever after).



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