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Mailing List Logs for ShadowRN

Message no. 1
From: Nexx Many-Scars <nexx@********.NET>
Subject: Life Cycle of Mailing lists
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 12:20:48 -0600
Something I came across on my Ars Magica Mailing List. Having seen these
lists in various stages, I thought it might be interesting to some of


The Natural Life Cycle Of Mailing Lists

Kat Nagel (KatNagel@*****.net) sent this terrific piece to the EARLY-M
mailing list in December 1994. It is the best description of the social
development of a mailing list I've read.

Every list seems to go through the same cycle:

1.Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves, and gush a lot about
wonderful it is to find kindred souls).

2.Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting to the list, and
brainstorm recruitment strategies).

3.Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthy threads
occasional off-topic threads pop up).

4.Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots of
information and advice is exchanged; experts help other experts as well as
less experienced colleagues; friendships develop; people tease each other;
newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience; everyone -- newbie
expert alike -- feels comfortable asking questions, suggesting answers,
sharing opinions).

5.Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages increases
not every thread is fascinating to every reader; people start complaining
about the signal-to-noise ratio; person 1 threatens to quit if *other*
people don't limit discussion to person 1's pet topic; person 2 agrees
person 1; person 3 tells 1 & 2 to lighten up; more bandwidth is wasted
complaining about off-topic threads than is used for the threads
themselves; everyone gets annoyed).


1.Smug complacency and stagnation

(the purists flame everyone who asks an 'old' question or responds with
humor to a serious post; newbies are rebuffed; traffic drops to a
doze-producing level of a few minor issues; all interesting discussions
happen by private email and are limited to a few participants; the purists
spend lots of time self-righteously congratulating each other on keeping
off-topic threads off the list).



(a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the participants stay near stage
4, with stage 5 popping up briefly every few weeks; many people wear out
their second or third 'delete' key, but the list lives contentedly ever

Nexx Many-Scars
aka Mark Hall
I used to say I was in a dry spell, but that's before I realized I didn't
have a clue as to what rain was.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading about Life Cycle of Mailing lists, you may also be interested in:


These messages were posted a long time ago on a mailing list far, far away. The copyright to their contents probably lies with the original authors of the individual messages, but since they were published in an electronic forum that anyone could subscribe to, and the logs were available to subscribers and most likely non-subscribers as well, it's felt that re-publishing them here is a kind of public service.