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Moderator Wanted: Apply to Hash-L

This rant is about Hash-L, our e-mail list at hash-l_at_usc.edu. As we all know, it’s an “unmoderated” list, meaning that although there are supposedly rules about what can and can’t be posted, the rules are not enforced in any meaningful way. Anyone can post anything – and everyone does. Hell, you don’t even have to be a subscriber to post to Hash-L.

I’ve been a Hash-L subscriber for several years. I also subscribe to many non-hashing e-mail lists, all of which are “moderated.” The difference between moderated lists and Hash-L is striking. No spam, no off-topic posts, no AOL queep with pages & pages of headers, no unwanted file attachments, no Internet hoaxes, no missing child letters . . . and yet the discussions on these moderated lists are free, outspoken, and uncensored.

I, for one, would be delighted to join and participate in a moderated hash e-mail list, if only to keep nonmembers from posting – this would cut out the spam entirely. Now let me say this clearly: I am not an advocate of censorship in any form.

    Gee, Flying Booger, how many replies will you get accusing you of advocating censorship of Hash-L? Oh, at least thirty.

So how can you have a moderated list and not have censorship? Easy – you don’t censor ideas or content, you just eliminate the spooge that has nothing to do with hashing.

    If you don’t like Hash-L, why don’t you just subscribe to Mr. McDowell’s list instead? Because Mr. McDowell’s list is a censored list. If a member of his list says something Mr. McDowell disagrees with, even if it’s directly related to hashing, he doesn’t post it. Big difference. As a matter of fact, I’ve been banned for life from Mr. McDowell’s list – my very name is taboo there.

Nobody likes to use the words “hashing” and “rules” in the same sentence, but we all know that there are rules, even in the hash. I think it’s interesting that most e-mail lists – even outlaw motorcycle gang lists – have rules. I subscribed to another e-mail digest a few weeks ago – the selfsame outlaw motorcycle list – and here’s a list of Be-Nos the moderator sent:

  • Messages that are NOT to be sent:
    • copyrighted material from other sources
    • messages of a “personal attack” nature
    • messages that are intolerant of the diversity in the human race
    • messages that are essentially directed at an individual – no need to waste the time of hundreds of people over something best sent by direct personal e-mail
    • commercial advertisements, even about ________ related products
    • solicitations of mercy/charity for dying children with a wish
    • chain letters
    • messages warning us about the latest computer virus or disaster or expensive cookie recipes
    • messages about government threats to the freedom of electronic networks – just because this publication uses the Internet, does NOT make it the correct place to post copies of dire warnings and calls-to-action that everyone else is going to see a bunch of other on-line places
    • jokes and humor not directly related to the digest topic
  • Also remember, this is a world-wide list – most politics tend to be very USA-specific. There are many legitimate forums for political discourse and education on the Internet.
  • I don’t care how noble your intentions are, if it isn’t directly about ________ don’t submit it. It is strongly advised you read the digest for several issues before making your own posting, this will allow you to get an idea what is and is not appropriate.

Sounds like our very own Hash-L FAQ, doesn’t it? Except that the outlaw m/c list is actively moderated and the rules are enforced – presumably by big bearded guys with tattoos and pool cues. Once again, I feel compelled to say that I am not an advocate of censorship.

    Gee, Flying Booger, how many replies will you get accusing you of advocating censorship of Hash-L, even though you’ve pointed out twice now that you are not advocating any such thing? Oh, at least fifty.

What really caught my attention about the outlaw m/c list is that the moderator will not allow people with AOL addresses to subscribe. How about that? AOL’ers need not apply! Now you and I know that a lot of intelligent people use AOL. But so very many stupid people (and I am not talking about ignorance here – I’m talking about genuine anus-scratching morons) use AOL that at least this one list won’t even allow AOL members to join. Just look back at some of the AOL queep that’s been posted to our list! But still, to actually ban AOL members as a whole? Man! Isn’t that like against the law? Wouldn’t that be great?

    Gee, Flying Booger, how many people will tell you to quit posting this political crap to the net? How many people will tell you to shut the fuck up and subscribe to Mr. McDowell’s list even though you already told them why you can’t? How many AOL members will tell you you’re a twisted sick weirdo who can only salivate at the smorgasbord of life if there’s a dying puppy on the carving board? Two. Twenty-six. Thirty-three.

God and G know I cherish the freedom to say whatever I want on Hash-L, but I exercise my freedom with restraint lest I lose it or cause you to lose yours. The tolerant folks at USC – and especially Fast Lady – have given us a good thing. I know that none of them have the time to moderate Hash-L, and I certainly don’t either. With that in mind, and with the utmost humility, I’d like to express the wish that Hash-L members would ask themselves whether what they’re about to post is actually hash-related before they hit SEND. Alas, we – members of Hash-L – have demonstrated over and over that we are not capable of conforming to any code of etiquette, no matter how basic. We used to have a great subscribership, with members all over the world. Many of the overseas members have left the list, explicitly because of the idiocy of those Hash-L members who refuse to abide by the rules. Hash-L is a poorer place as a result.

Just as an unruly and out-of-control circle needs a good GM or RA to keep down-downs on track, our poor abused Hash-L needs a moderator. I say it’s high time we find one. What say the rest of you?

- Flying Booger

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