Friday, April 28, 2006

One email per day - a moderation scheme

I am a participant to a few online mailing lists and I am worrying about the flame-wars that from time to time burst on them. I am pretty much against moderation as it always brings some political issues so I thought that perhaps setting a limit of one email per day for each participant would break the pattern.

Here is some analysis supporting my point.

The mechanism of flame wars:
1. People interpret textual communication to be more emotional than it
was really written, so one more emotional letter can lead to a vicious
circle of more and more emotional answers (see DampenEmotions, Flames: Emotional Amplification of Text)
2. Emotions crowd out deliberation so anything that is below the
emotional level of the flame war is not even noticed by anyone

The negative effects:
1. Avalanche of automatic, not thoughtful responses that clutter mailboxes
2. Reasonable opinions are not noticed
3. Those that can post more than others can use this as a political power - this benefits those who work less on their posts at expense of the readers, it also undermines the democrating notion of everyone having equal votes

I would expect that the one day wait time would
cool down the emotions and also give people more time to think about
what they want to say. The participants would value the chance to be
heard publicly more and put more work into crafting their message,
that work would be not lost in the noise of the mass posters. It
would also give everyone more equal standing.

The delay of one day is of course something that can be adjusted to
the circumstances – but what I propose is that it was something
substantial not like the seconds used in Slashdot.

Update: It's all about me: Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood


bozena said...

Ok, everything seems right, but I think this idea is impossible to carry out:

An important issue will always result in more frequent emails.

People like to show their feelings and hate when something prevents them from it.

zby said...

Hmm - I guess it is all about how annoying is receiving hundreds of not really thought over email versus not being able to answer something important immediately. For real emergencies there should always be a way around. How exactly this could be done can be adjusted to the organisation - for example one could contact the list moderators directly by email (or by phone) and ask them to post the announcement.

Alternatively we could make it also only a etiquette rule - and not a code it in software, but I feel this would not work.

bozena said...

ok, a kind of restriction, which can be changed by users, depending on how people want to communicate would be fine