The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5
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From: (Ron Jarrell)
Subject: Ok, a status report on what's going on
Date: 6 Dec 1995 18:12:28 -0500
Message-ID: <4a580s$>
Many people have been wondering what's going on, is anyone doing
anything, who can we kill, and why is there no discussion of Voyage to
the Bottom of the Sea here anymore, anyway?
Ok, so maybe not that last one, but that's about the ONLY thing I
haven't seen asked in either email or on the group.
First off, I'd like to convey from Joe Cochran thanks for all the
messages that were sent to him offering suggestions, support, etc. He
got FAR FAR too many to individually acknowledge.
I'm sorry this took so long to get up, but we wanted to actually HAVE a
solution, and even hopefully get it *implemented* (which we did) before
geting peoples hopes up.
Now, for the important news. No, Joe Straczynski hasn't completely
left the group. It took a while before we could announce this because
I had to have extensive talks with him, followed by quickly whipping up
and putting into production new software for the Rangers to use to
manage an all new style of feed for him.
Joe's participation in the group will be, however, significantly
different than it was before. He will no longer be reading
everything. Instead, he'll be getting the messages specifically
directed at him, and only if those messages are questions or comments
about the show, and not flames or personal attacks.
Now, that's not to say you can't write a negative message about an
episode; if you think it didn't work, that's fine. But he's not going
to see messages of the "So, Joe, are you still beating your wife?"
He may, as we do this, ask to see other types of messages, he may not.
It'll also be entirely up to him whether he elects to ANSWER. Not that
this is a change; Joe often ignored questions that he couldn't answer
without giving away something he wanted to keep secret.
But if he DOES answer the question, the answer will be posted back here
to the newsgroup, like they used to be. As a major bonus, however,
since there's a much smaller target now, I've been able to do some
"value added" processing. The correct subject will be matched up in
the reply, *and* a References: header will be put in pointing at the
original question. For those who aren't into the technical details,
suffice it to say that your newsreader, if it was capable of keeping
messages grouped together (called "threading") for messages that Joe
didn't post, it'll not be able to also do it for Joe's message. No
more of that "Damn, what question is he answering??" head scratching.
For those that aren't interested in reading this newsgroup just to get
those answers, we'll also be regularly bundling them up into Q&A
digests, and sending them on to the info group moderators.. (We'll see
how many of them there are before we decide what frequency is required,
daily, bi-daily, weekly, semi-monthly, every 125,000 micro-fortnights,
Now, what are the long term possibilities of wider participation in the
newsgroup? Well, pretty much no chance, with the existing setup. You
see, we've gotten to a point where there's just too many flamewars for
it to be worth it, from his point of view, to read the group to extract
the messages that are worth it. On GEnie, Compuserve, AOL, and other
places he hangs out the forums are smaller, and more managed, and
personal attacks and high tempers are handled.
The only equivelant on usenet that's remotely equivalent is a moderated
newsgroup. Whether people WANT a moderated newsgroup is something that
the members have to decide. And if so, whether we want to moderate
THIS group, or create a new moderated group, and leave this one for
people that want a more "anything goes" discussion.
Let me stress that the info group is NOT the appropriate place.
The key thing here is to NOT rush into this; we've already heard from
more than one group that was about to just willy-nilly throw an RFD in
for one or more groups, without bothering to talk to anyone, and with a
snowballs chance on za'ha'dum of succeding. If people want to do this
it has to be done RIGHT the first time; remember, if it gets voted down
(and a badly written one will be shot down in flames) it'll be months
before another can be attempted. If it gets passed, but is so screwed
up in design as to be unusuable, we're, again, stuck with it for
The charter needs to be very carefully worded to explain exactly what
the newsgroup is for, based on the CONTENT you want in the group, not
the personalities.
And really, there's no rush, because there is already the conduit back
in place for getting the questions to JMS, and getting the answers
So where do we go from here?
Well, if you want Joe to see your question, we're really appreciate if
you'd use the old standard of putting "ATTN JMS" in the subject. We'll
see those. If you forget, but ask Joe a question in a message, we
MIGHT catch it, and forward it on, we might not. If you do, then we'll
see it, and if it fits the criteria that Joe agreed to, we'll
cheerfully pass it on; what happens to it after that is in the hands of
the Great Maker, as the saying goes.
Next, people need to decide if they want to persue a moderated group.
And if so, what kind. The Rangers are willing to help coordinate the
disparate efforts currently under way to get everyone playing on the
same station!
Remember, though, that creation of a moderated group doesn't guarantee
that Joe will come back to it, it'd have to be the right KIND of
moderated group!