Re: Flames and Replies- A Reminder

Sat, 11 Feb 1995 04:14:23 EST

Just to get the facetiousness out of the way, I can tell you in *two words*
what would happen if Anthro-L became a newsgroup: Gil Hardwick.

(Rimshot, please!)

Seriously, I think it's safe to say that a mailing list (or this mailing
list, anyway) has dynamics very much different from a newsgroup. Having
all these messages dumped right into one's mailbox appeals mostly to
those seriously interested (oh hell, I mean `obsessed') with anthropology.
We don't get strafted by Biblical creationists as often as a newsgroup
can. Subscribing, unsubscribing, and configuring are too much of a
commitment, apparently.

(What really helps there is that cross-posting between mailing lists
doesn't leave them connected the way a Usenet cross-post does. Most of
the true chaos that's engulfed sci.anthropology lately has been cross-
posted fallout from places like sci.astro and .)

sci.anthroplogy (which I do subscribe to) appears to catch a lot of
very casual traffic--people who've never been intensely interested
in the subject, read something in the newspaper, and have `one question'
they need to ask. Easy enough (low commitment) with a newsgroup. Not
so easy here.

On the other hand, I'm willing to bet that *lots* of professional
anthropologists who are perfectly comfortable with e-mail (and mailing
lists) have never touched a netnews reader, or only experimented with
with it briefly (no doubt because they started at the top of an
alphabetical list, landed in alt.abortion.inequity, and decided Usenet
was full of lunatics). There probably aren't that many professionals
reading sci.anthropology . The poor lamented newgroup is trapped in
vicious cylce of amateurism because the professionals can't find it!

I know that it's commonly stated that small-interest subjects
are best handled by mailing lists and large groups by newsgroups, (I
subscribe to alt.config, God help me.) but I think some groups (such
as most entertainment topics) make that transition a lot better than
academic topics. Less easily distracted by "very casual traffic", I

Really, the situation of having similar (but unlinked) newsgroups and
mailing lists is not uncommon. It's kinda like having more than one
major journal in a field. (I can't remember--is that good or bad?)

Oddly enough, though, groups in the bit.* hierarchy don't seem to have
the usual newsgroup problems. It's like Usenet-folk consider them
beneath notice, or something.

(Hmm. Am I rambling?)

Michael Bauser <mbauser@kentvm.bitnet or>
Dept. of Anthropology, Kent State University, Kent OH 44242, USA