public vs. private posting

Mike Lieber (U28550@UICVM.BITNET)
Wed, 18 Jan 1995 21:39:32 CST

There are any number of good reasons to respond privately to a public posting.
Some people are shy and don't want a spotlight turned on them, even when what
they have to say is interesting. Some people see a point of interest in a
posting that does not directly address the main issue that its author was
making, and rather than post a public reply that doesn't address the main
point, just responds privately about the digression. This is another form of
etiquette--musicians refer to it as "not stepping on someone else's break
(solo)". Another reason for replying privately is so as not to embarrass
the one to whom you are replying. Not everything that one disagrees with is
worth a public post, and not every post with a flawed point needs a public
reply. This is a judgement call. I replied to Bjorn's instinct post privately
partly for this reason and partly because I didn't want to step on the rape
thread with a diversion into "instinct." I notice that Bjorn did not complain
about my private reply to him. Hmm.

There are some private replies that are really worth public posts. This is
sometimes frustrating, particularly when the private reply directly addresses
an issue in a far clearer, better worked out formulation than anything that
appears on the net. I have to then reply asking permission to forward that
reply to the net so everyone can read it. I don't think it's adviseable to
promulgate a rigid protocol on these matters. Flexibility and common sense
are usually pretty good guides to deciding public vs private posts.

Mike Lieber