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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@u...>
  • To: XMLDev list <xml-dev@i...>
  • Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 18:43:07 +0000

community moderation
At 12:27 PM 1/21/00 -0500, David Megginson wrote:
>Really, guys and girls -- it was fun, but let's stop now.  You're all
>right, everyone wins, and shut up or I'll ask the US DOJ to ban
>all browsers except Lynx.

I take this as an opportunity to raise the question of moderation, now that
the list will shortly transfer physically to OASIS. In the best traditions
of the list I look forward to constructive ideas for the future.

When Henry and I started XML-DEV (essentially 3 years ago) it had the
primary purpose:
	- to help XML succeed as a global approach to interoperability.
In the first year or so I was active as a "moderator" (by consent rather
than by technology!) in keeping the postings fairly centered on the core
basis of XML:
	- helping the drafters of the specs get a wide feedback
	- acting as an incubator and disseminator of technology
	- creating a virtual community
It was by no means clear in those days that XML was going to succeed. It
was "SGML on the web" and relegated to a lowly position on the W3C pages.
We felt that a clear focus was critical and so I would tend to moderate
discussion that was discursive rather than centered on the objectives. The
current "browser" discussion would have been gently damped down.

For the last year I have deliberately not "moderated" until recently.
[Interestingly no-one mailed me and asked me to change this. Occasionally
people asked if I was still alive.] I have been impressed by the discipline
of the postings (very little in the way of flames and those have been
communally damped). The spread of subjects has been broader and in general
seems to have been valuable. We have now entered the semantic and
ontological marketplace and it is not surprising that we are seeing many
strongly held views surface and resurface. Some may feel that these simply
revisit old ground, but for others they may be fresh and for me they are
often a fresh view the second time round.

I think it would be useful to have views on whether XML-DEV should continue
in this freeweheeling fashion - based on an unwritten constitution. My
attempt to summarise this would be that:

	- it is for people who have a serious interest in "XML" (the protocols,
the tools, the philosophy). [It is not generally a place for newbie
questions, though these are treated courteously on- and off-line]
	- there is a self-denying ordinance on advertising (products, jobs, etc.)
	- there is a strong sense of courtesy even when strongly held views differ
	- there is a strong and valuable tradition of a virtual community which
looks to provide common solutions where possible. There is a tolerance of
sub-groups which pursue such solutions even if others "know better". 
	- there is a valued history of such subgroups setting up their own offline
maillists and reporting back
	- there are several papers/protocols which have been written communally
and which have found favour in the XML community
	- several members of the list without previous XML/SGML connections have
shown commitment and competence and have been welcomed into more formal XML
	Is this a useful manifesto for the future? Does it offer the community
sufficient guidance to work without formal moderation?


PS. I think a little more discipline in Subjects/threads, and also in
avoiding unnecessary quoting, would be valuable.

[NB. Henry and I are thinking hard about archiving and "editing" - in the
scholarly sense - the 3 XML-DEV years. One thing that would be very useful
would be any tools which can reliable parse the variety of mail messages we
have had. This mainly relates to detecting quoting, start of signature,
etc. In that way we can come up with an XML version. where quotes can be
replaced by hyperlinks, etc. and so increase the readability.]

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