At what point does a mailing list become counter-productive?

27 Mar 2008 - 10:15am
6 years ago
10 replies
577 reads
zack Frazier
2007

Here goes ...

First, I admit that I am not an IA but rather a developer who believes
in creating a synergy with IAs and designers to help solve our common
problems.

That being said, this list has become unmanageable.

There are great discussions happening here but it is becoming
increasingly hard to find them amongst the job postings, event
announcements, feel-good off-topic questions, and especially the
numerous snarky replies. I mean there were 15 replies to the Nannybot
etiquette post ... we get that you're all clever and witty.

I understand this is a balancing act. Some people want to lurk and
some want this to be their second home. Ultimately, what should a non-
IA like me get from this list?

Has the possibility of breaking into multiple lists been discussed? I
fear that a monolithic list could further silo this community even
while members are saying traditional walls in the industry need to go
away.

Have any list personas been created?

Zack Frazier
--
Senior Developer
VSA Partners, Inc.
1347 South State Street
Chicago, Illinois 60605
http://www.vsapartners.com

Comments

27 Mar 2008 - 9:58pm
DanP
2006

For what it's worth, I enjoy seeing the job postings, announcements
and even the occasional feel-good off-topic question. The list has
garnered a huge gathering of talent and momentum - a threaded mailing
list view might be your answer, but I vote to keep it as is (and
growing).

I've learned so much here, and it seems to be a never ending trove of
great people and information in one big, wonderful soup-of-the day.
Static is always the price to pay for popularity.

Regarding recruiters: this career is exploding - when the recruiters
stop knocking and looking for people, worry! We're in a recession and
the jobs still abound - smile, it's a good time for us! I'm enjoying
the growth and opportunities of this creative and interesting career
path.

Apologies if this offends - just wanted to voice a positive opinion
of thanks and great respect to the people here.

-Dan

On Mar 27, 2008, at 8:15 AM, Zack Frazier wrote:

> Here goes ...
>
> First, I admit that I am not an IA but rather a developer who believes
> in creating a synergy with IAs and designers to help solve our common
> problems.
>
> That being said, this list has become unmanageable.
>
> There are great discussions happening here but it is becoming
> increasingly hard to find them amongst the job postings, event
> announcements, feel-good off-topic questions, and especially the
> numerous snarky replies. I mean there were 15 replies to the Nannybot
> etiquette post ... we get that you're all clever and witty.
>
> I understand this is a balancing act. Some people want to lurk and
> some want this to be their second home. Ultimately, what should a non-
> IA like me get from this list?
>
> Has the possibility of breaking into multiple lists been discussed? I
> fear that a monolithic list could further silo this community even
> while members are saying traditional walls in the industry need to go
> away.
>
> Have any list personas been created?
>
> Zack Frazier
> --
> Senior Developer
> VSA Partners, Inc.
> 1347 South State Street
> Chicago, Illinois 60605
> http://www.vsapartners.com
>
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

28 Mar 2008 - 4:01am
Anonymous

> That being said, this list has become unmanageable.

Zack,

In the process of getting involved in the list, I've subscribed twice.
The first one was at work. Here, I completely agree with you. I cannot
manage the list on my work account at all. It is simply too much - too
many emails flying in, no easy way of organising them: no easy way in
Outlook, that is.

On gmail however, the list is a joy. The way it deals with threading
is a godsend and it is so much easier to ignore what I'm not
interested in, as it is only listed once. If something you've ignored
is popular, it is easy to dip in and see if the thread has taken an
unexpected turn that I want to read.

The only reason I keep my work account subscribed is to guage the
volume of posts during the day.

Give gmail a go!

> I mean there were 15 replies to the Nannybot
> etiquette post ... we get that you're all clever and witty.

Alright, I apologise. The cake-over-IP post was indefensibly peurile!

Alex.

28 Mar 2008 - 11:20am
Chris Bernard
2007

One way to manage this list in Outlook is to create a simple rule that catches all the IxDA mail and throws it in a folder. This keeps it separate from everything else and it's fairly easy to search against once you've indexed it. I keep a local archive about the last 5000 posts on my machine and it's a handy resource when I'm disconnected or want to catch up on activity on the list.

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
630.530.4208 Office
312.925.4095 Mobile

Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
Design: www.microsoft.com/design
Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression
Community: http://www.visitmix.com

"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." William Gibson

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Alexander Livingstone
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2008 4:01 AM
To: Zack Frazier
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] At what point does a mailing list become counter-productive?

> That being said, this list has become unmanageable.

Zack,

In the process of getting involved in the list, I've subscribed twice.
The first one was at work. Here, I completely agree with you. I cannot
manage the list on my work account at all. It is simply too much - too
many emails flying in, no easy way of organising them: no easy way in
Outlook, that is.

On gmail however, the list is a joy. The way it deals with threading
is a godsend and it is so much easier to ignore what I'm not
interested in, as it is only listed once. If something you've ignored
is popular, it is easy to dip in and see if the thread has taken an
unexpected turn that I want to read.

The only reason I keep my work account subscribed is to guage the
volume of posts during the day.

Give gmail a go!

> I mean there were 15 replies to the Nannybot
> etiquette post ... we get that you're all clever and witty.

Alright, I apologise. The cake-over-IP post was indefensibly peurile!

Alex.
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

28 Mar 2008 - 12:46pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Alex, the gmail solution is so 2006.
In 2007 the hip people are doing RSS.
Just let it fill your Google Reader, and then click to the web site
to do replies. you only need to go to Gmail to start new threads.

Further advantages:
Keeps list activity separate from other probably higher priority
messaging.
Easy to share (on Google Reader) by starring and sharing.
Taggable
Can ignore much easier.

As an interaction model it seems to work really well for me anyway.

I highly recommend trying it.

oh! you can subscribe to full posts or just to summaries (your
choice). You can also subscribe to people, tags, topics, etc.
(separately).

I also must add that the list is only unmanageable if you actually
attempt to read everything. I think of the list like twitter (but
better content). I can go long stretches without knowing what is
going on. I know it is there when I have time and interest, and I
just skim titles/subject lines for tags like Events & Announcements
to make sure I don't miss the important stuff. But most of the list
is really for community building and entertainment purposes (some
learning, but in an entertaining way), so "management" is not
really an issue the way I see it.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=27697

28 Mar 2008 - 3:20pm
Gene Moy
2008

Reminds me of the saying that the reason time exists is so everything
doesn't happen all at once. As for me there's no discussion here
that is so urgent that I need to respond immediately.

I second proposing several types of lists, ixda-jobs,
ixda-needhelpnow, etc.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=27697

28 Mar 2008 - 6:31pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: David Malouf <dave at ixda.org>
>
>Alex, the gmail solution is so 2006.
>In 2007 the hip people are doing RSS.

It's now 2008. We've all gone retro, back to rnews and plain text e-mail. You've gotta keep up, man!

-- Jim

29 Mar 2008 - 9:12am
Anonymous

I like the single mailing list and second the Gmail approach, it is all in
one fun. You can easily browse the threads and skip entire conversations.
There seem to be about 5-15 active threads a day, which is a number easily
browsed and not in any way overwhelming.

Navid
ps: Keep IXDA separate from your regular inbox. Here is my Gmail filter

Matches: IXDA
Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label "IxDA"

On Fri, Mar 28, 2008 at 5:01 AM, Alexander Livingstone <
adl.ixda at googlemail.com> wrote:

>
> On gmail however, the list is a joy. The way it deals with threading
> is a godsend and it is so much easier to ignore what I'm not
> interested in, as it is only listed once. If something you've ignored
> is popular, it is easy to dip in and see if the thread has taken an
> unexpected turn that I want to read.
>
>

31 Mar 2008 - 9:32am
zack Frazier
2007

Thanks.

While I appreciate everyone's preferred method to experience this
list, the fact remains that it may not be working for all types of
readers. Just because some prefer not to read everything, while others
prefer to monitor by RSS, while others like setting up rules doesn't
change the fact that the list could be more focused.

As I asked before, being a UXD list and with all the talk about
creating experiences for all types of users, has anyone thought about
how a mailing list falls into UXD?

I do see that there are multiple ways to read and search content which
is great, but I still believe that multiple lists could open the IxDA
experience to an even wider audience and could shield against
ghettoization. I mean, isn't IxDA building a brand here as well?
Aren't more eyes a good thing?

Zack

31 Mar 2008 - 10:12am
Dan Saffer
2003

At the November IxDA Board Retreat, we discussed extensively the pros
and cons of splitting up the mailing list into multiple lists.
Ultimately, we decided not to, although obviously the topic is open to
revisiting.

Why did we decide to retain the one list (despite the increased level
of traffic, which we are all painfully aware of)?

1. As has been been pointed out, there are multiple ways to follow the
mailing list, and now, thanks to Jeff Howard, even one more way.

2. Community would be lost if we started breaking up the list into sub-
groups (web, consumer electronics, etc.). We felt that the various
mediums had a lot in common and could share between them.

3. We did not want to turn the main mailing list into a dumping ground
of crap topics.

4. We wanted to retain some measure of serendipity to the list.
Splitting the list might mean you never see an interesting post on
another list you might care about (but didn't know you would care
about).

5. Threads evolve. What can start as something interesting to only a
small group of people can organically widen and be useful to lots of
people.

We did toy with the idea of a paid-membership-only mailing list, but
we also felt that our inclusiveness and low-barrier to entry was a
better model for the organization.

Anyway, still open for debate, but that was our reasoning (as I recall
it).

Dan

31 Mar 2008 - 10:24am
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Zack,

I have heard the call for separate lists for the last 4 years. This is not a
new request. I will put forward that the success of this global community is
for the exact reason of NOT doing that.

But let's put that a side for a moment.
Here has been my long time beef with separated discussions ...

*Fragmentation* & *Redundancy*
Is the needs of Mobile that much different than the needs of web? from an
IxD perspective? If we are indeed about Interaction Design, doesn't it
generalize across mediums more significantly than it specializes?

How do we connect among different threads in such a way that doesn't
re-burden the site, and how does that just not lead to a single list again?

It all sounds nice to say separate lists, but when you start modeling it
across different user types, it really begins to fail for more people than
the current model does with specific caveats.

The current web site + RSS model is not fully baked yet. There is a bigger
vision that is being explored and will need time, resources (human &
machine) & money to make happen.

If people want to ONLY follow mobile, then heck, do that. Content can be
tagged "mobile" and anyone who only wants to follow mobile can create an RSS
feed that follows only that tag. For the person who wants everything, it is
completely unaffected.

The issue is how does the tagging occur. I would put out there that our
primary tags are fairly predictable and there is auto-tagging technology out
there that could easily with pretty good success tag our content on the list
pretty well.

Personally, I find the multi/single list aspect of our problems to be the
least significant. To me, how do we have a system that encodes knowledge as
separate from the conversation? How do we get to the nuggets without the "me
toos" and the "flame bait" that gets in the way. If we did this, search and
auto-tagging would be that much more valuable. I'm all for the conversation.
it is an important if not vital part of the community, but only in real
time. It is valueless after that moment of being spoken and heard. It's
value is one of bridging and relating, but not part of the need of knowledge
explicitly.

When it comes to separate lists, the other major need is multi-lingual and
multi-local. How do we learn from each other (1 of the most valuable parts
of this list/community) if we are holding separate conversations, and these
conversations are in different languages? Is there a need for us to have a
code of moderation where people on different local/lingual lists are
responsible for feeding back to global and taking from global? How does
global feed the other direction more actively?

I would say that there are some easy separations:
Announcements (we have that already)
Jobs (we probably should do this, but I have to say that a large number of
people find value in these job postings, and said they wouldn't subscribe to
a separate list for them though.)

Things that are more content/practice/discipline related I have a harder
time with personally.

For the time being though, I suggest that anyone who feels that things
should change and they have a strong vision of what they want to happen
should create 5-10 wireframes that communicate their vision (modeling is
key) and 5 slide deck explaining why their idea is better than what we got
and won't create more problems and has a plan for how to achieve that
vision.

Feedback is great ... initiative gets things done.

-- dave

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

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