Goals of the Philmont Mailing List

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 03:25:26 -0500
From: Rich Wenneker <Rich@WennekerUSA.com>
Subject: [Philmont]: List Administration - moderating
As moderator of the USSSP Philmont Email Discussion List, I ask you to pause and reflect on the purpose, and the desired culture, of this list.

Let me provide some history to newer subscribers and a reminder to those who participated in this list's predecessor. Many of us were subscribers to the Philmont mailing list provided by Doug Gentry and his Bowline/Dynapolis service. Doug provided and lead some great lists. On August 5, 2001, Doug announced he would be shutting down his Scouting services on September 1, 2001. During the remainder of August we discussed what would become of the list. There were several options: a Yahoo-Philmont list, a Yahoo-High Adventure list, Philmont.com message board, the USSSP, and some other options from subscribers. There was a good chance that many of us would be members of multiple lists and have to learn to live with cross-posting. I was hoping the Bowline Philmont list would transition to a new owner and retain the same purpose and culture. I posted this message to Bowline-Philmont:

"I believe the reason for the success of the mailing lists provided by Doug Gentry is 1) they have a specific subject so that subscribers find most threads/messages have value, 2) they are moderated which keeps the "signal-to-noise" ratio high, 3) they have attracted subject matter experts which in turn attracts more subscribers, 4) they are not associated with a "free-as-of-today" provider who finds ways to send advertisements to the subscribers, 5) they have full function mailing list software with features such as digest mode, and 6) in the case of Philmont, people like Mark Anderson (and Linda), and Shelly from ToTT have been known to monitor and contribute."

This USSSP list developed and has kept a similar number of subscribers. So I have made a comparison of my thoughts then of the Bowline lists with those about this USSSP list. Number one is the same. The sole subject of this list is Philmont, not a more expansive high-adventure theme. Numbers three, four, and six are the same. For number five, the software used by our very gracious provider, Midwest Electronic Bulletin Board Service (MEBBS) doesn't have as many features as some other products. The main feature that I wish was available is the ability to force posts, from all or just particular posters, to a review before they are released for publication. This leaves number two, which is not the same now as before. This list cannot be moderated by preventing posts, and therefore it is difficult to guarantee a high "signal-to-noise" ratio. An example of "noise" is a discussion about "freeze dried water" in the time of year when the list is busiest and has the most requests for personal experiences.

So what is list moderation when the technical tools are somewhat limited? It means private emails to individuals, a few public posts, and unsubscribing people. My public posts to stop threads have mainly dealt with criticism of individuals or the service provided by the host company. I have tried to avoid stopping threads that have dragged on too long, because I haven't wanted to unsubscribe someone just because they wanted the last word. However, it's obvious now that threads that go on too long lead to something inappropriate being said. I plan to be more active in the future.

So what do you think about our purpose and culture?

Last November I described the purpose of this list: to discuss our Philmont experiences, raise issues, share reflections, and to provide assistance to people going to Philmont for any of the programs. I ask you to evaluate your posts for a Philmont connection, before you send.

The desired culture of this list is more difficult to define. I believe people want as much information about Philmont and The Philmont Experience as they can get, but do not want to "listen" to "talk" more suited for a chat room. You like "subject matter experts", but do not want any one person to be an expert-on-every-subject. We like each other to post frequently enough so that we can build a profile - depicting knowledge, demeanor, character, education - and yet don't want the list to be anyone's personal weblog/blog (see http://www.blogger.com/about.pyra).

Let me close with something I say in private messages and some posts. "As moderator of the USSSP Philmont Email Discussion List it is my right and responsibility to make decisions about the membership and the content of this list." I'll try hard to never abuse my position, and I ask all of you to not abuse the privilege of being a member of this list.

As always, please contact me directly, not via the list, at owner-philmont@troop47.com, if you have comments.

Rich Wenneker
Moderator, USSSP Philmont Email Discussion List
Expeditions 1971, 1972, 2000, 2002
PTC (Advanced Camping Skills) 2000
Woodbadge @Zastro 1999

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