Re: flames/what i've learned

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Thu, 5 Jan 1995 20:36:40 +1000

James Carucci writes:
> this is a sort of summary
> this is a summary of what i've learned from the rohrlich/fry/gendered
> language flame war.

> 1] [ missing a message from the flame-war ]

If you have Web access, point your browser at

If you don't, mail me and I'll find the article for you.

> [ proposal to use the text of the recent flame-war as a teaching tool ]

As Micki has pointed out, you should really get permission from the
authors before doing this. You have my permission to quote anything
I wrote, with the usual provisos (like not out of context).

> 2] [ unreliablility of email ]

Email is pretty reliable for most people. I'd think most missed items
are probably due to oversight or user error; I certainly wouldn't
expect mail to go missing (without a bounce message!) as much as once
in a thousand messages. (I had one confirmed instance last year,
and I receive about 100 items of mail a day and usually send 30+.)

> 3] [ time-lagged and out of order messages ]

Except for those of us behind gateways to BITNET, Fidonet or other
obscure networks (like X-400 :-), delivery should be pretty fast,
and close to ordered. I occasionally get minor inversions, but
have never noticed anything too bad. (Incidentally, does everyone
else get bounce messages every time they send something to the list.
>From an X-400 gateway that's so badly configured it doesn't know to
send them to the anthro-l owner. Said messages not containing enough
information to work out who the original recpient was.)

> 4] [ people use different mail programs ]

This doesn't really depend on the mail-user-agent; it's almost
always human error. (Though such errors may be easier with
some mail-user-agents than others.) I would in fact claim that
the human-computer interface has very little effect on groups like
anthro-l (contrary to claims by some HCI people). Using Eudora on
a Mac is rather drastically different to using mace under plan 9,
but both provide similar functionality. Perhaps a mailer which
supported threading would be different, but I'm still doubtful.

> 5] [ netiquette ]

Netiquette has nothing to do with flame-wars or free speech.
Netiquette is sending messages to the right destination, setting
Follow-up lines correctly, attributing quotes, not quoting excessively,
and so on. Netiquette is a matter of form, not content. (So it is
perfectly possible to violate netiquette in alt.flame, a newsgroup
devoted specifically to flaming.)

> 6] [ anthro-l not representative ]

It's not representative of any of the things you suggested, but what
would be? Would a completely random selection of 100 AAA members be
representative of the AAA?

> 8] finally, another time-related factor. as people 'straggle in'
> both from vacation and to the 'thread' [god, i hate that term-- why
> can't we just say TOPIC????]

Because thread has a technical meaning, and is different to
topic/subject. If I reuse a subject line that was used a year ago,
I'm using the same subject but starting a new thread. A thread is
a tree of messages produced by "in-reply-to" relations.

Danny Yee.