From the moderator: A message about clutter


This is my first message as moderator addressing a subject in depth.  One of my concerns as moderator is reducing clutter.  The following message comments on the current discussion occurring on list and makes more general points on my approach to the subject. 
I believe that reducing clutter will make the list more appealing to many members and prospective members and won't detract from the quality of the list.  Will those who wish to comment please do so at the owner's address I provide at the end of this message so as not to have an ongoing lengthy discussion of administrative matters on the list itself.
I believe that such matters should be seen in a broader context which I lay out in the following discussion.
To start with, I am not stating these things as a matter of list policy.  I am stating them from my perspective of having been on various lists for about seventeen years and my thoughts and impressions from that long experience.
My view is that a list should not be too rigid nor too unfocused.  The degree of strictness varies from list to list, depending on its purpose, the number of members, and the kinds of members.
Also, at times, a certain amount of off topic traffic is useful in promoting a sense of community and of people getting to know and feeling a personal connection to other members.  I take all such considerations into account.  But on a large list like this, if too much clutter occurs, people may leave the list who might benefit by being here and that is not a desirable occurrence. 
The current discussion is a good example.  while some people might believe that feel good messages are desirable, on a list of hundreds of members many may not share that opinion.  This list has members at all skill levels of computer operation and of use of NVDA.  For some members, skipping messages in threads they don't want to read is very fast and easy.  For others, who don't know as much about e-mail use and management, seeing between twenty and forty messages in a thread that do not present any useful information may represent a significant expenditure of their time.  Inexperienced members who don't know how to group messages by conversation, who may not use fast reading speeds and who may be busy with various activities such as school, work, etc. may find it a significant expenditure of time getting through such threads.  Experienced members, on the other hand, may find it very fast and easy to simply skip what they are not interested in.  Please try to take a larger view when considering such things and deciding whether a thread to start or to participate in is useful or productive.  We want the list to be useful to a wide variety of members with a wide variety of skill levels.  We don't want to lose members who become disillusioned with clutter.  Many people won't even join busy lists because they say they have too much mail already. 
I am not stating any of this as list policy.  There are no punishments or rules in what I am saying.  I'm simply saying that, as someone who has been asked to be a moderator, I consider it part of what I can do to be useful to try to expand how people view what makes the list attractive to the most number of people who may benefit from it.  also, and the two are closely related, what may discourage people from staying on the list. 
My purpose is to attempt to reduce clutter not by pouncing on members or castigating them, but rather through discussion of ways to reduce it.
If people have comments on this message, please do not discuss the matter on list.  Please send comments to the below address.  I shall read all comments and I intend to respond to all who comment.

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