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Old 30-10-2003, 03:12 PM
Jim Lewis
 
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Default [IBC] Admin: THE FUTURE OF THE LIST - Very important (and long!)

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IBC members:

I have decided it is time that I step down as "co-owner" and list
manager of the Internet Bonsai Club mailing list. I've held the
spot since some time in 1997 -- a long time in the world of
computers and the Internet -- and have (mostly) enjoyed every
minute of it.

Jackie and I plan on quite a bit of travel in the next few
years -- not the least of which will be spending as much time as
possible with my kids and grandchildren, but have trips to Hong
Kong, Japan, the Philippines, and other places where I spent so
many years of my misspent youth, planned as well. And, we also
will broaden the horizons and visit places that we've not seen.
We'll be out in Arizona for a couple of weeks in early 2004 with
my mother's ashes. And, I think I have one or two more books to
write. Writing -- except for a few short pieces in magazines,
and the Bush-bashing letters to the editor in my local paper
(someone's gotta do it!) ;-) -- has been impossible these last
few years.

I have discussed this with list co-owner and treasurer, Reiner
Goebel. He has indicated that he cannot take over the
"technical" aspects of list ownership (he, unlike me, is not yet
retired, and is also very active in local and North American
bonsai organizations and with his own trees). He'll stay on as
"Chancellor of the Exchequer" of the IBC, of course.

I plan this exodus in early 2004. If no one steps

forward to take my place, THE LIST WILL DISAPPEAR. That would
NOT be a good thing!

So, we are looking "for a few good . . . people" to volunteer for
the job of list manager. Actually, all we need is one, but a
pool of applicants would be nice. ;-) I will fill in any needed
details to those who volunteer, and will remain available to help
whoever takes over as long as he or she thinks it is necessary,
but here -- in a nutshell -- is what you can look forward to as
list manager. First, some cautions.

1. It is a full-time, part-time, job. If you are still in the
working world, you will have to be willing to spend a good deal
of the evening hours on list business -- even if it's only
deleting all the extra e-mail you'll get. Unless YOU are the
boss, or your boss (or network administrator) is VERY
understanding, I do not recommend trying to manage the list from
your office or work computer. (Besides, it has always seemed to
me that there are a few ethical questions about using a work
computer for extra-curricular fun.) If your job includes a lot
of travel and you are away from a computer for more than a day or
two, it also is inadvisable to take the job.

2. If your ISP or office always appends a message (either a
commercial or a disclaimer, etc.) at the bottom of each e-mail
and you have no way to turn these off, you should not manage the
list. There are a couple of occasional administrative chores
that cannot be done unless those can be eliminated.

3. AOL users may have problems (and possibly MSN/Hotmail users
as well). None of those systems seem to adhere to "normal"
Internet e-mail standards and protocols. People DO administer
lists from them, but LSoft's Ease-Home mailing list (the source
of support for listowners) seems unusually filled with cries for
help from these sources, and LSoft techs say that none of those
ISPs listen very well to requests to fix problems.

4. So now that I have narrowed the field to about two of you . .
..

a. Expect a lot more e-mail. It's hard to quantify "a lot," but
there will be:

1. Two daily messages from Listserv -- the daily error report,
and the daily report of monitoring probes Listserv makes to check
on working e-mail addresses.

2. There also can be various "error reports" from Listserv
regarding messages that could not be delivered to the list for
one reason or another (often because they were spam or viruses
caught by the Listserv filtering system). Expect "a few" of
these a week.

3. Then there will be spam sent to the Bonsai-request and
Listserv address (NOT the list
address) by automatic spam e-mail generators that will come to
you. The Bonsai-Request address is the one used by people who
need info about joining the list (or who mistakenly send list
e-mail to the Listserv address). Look for "several" of these
daily.

4. Then, of course, there are the list members who are having
various problems getting on the list, want some list setting
changed and don't know how to do it themselves, or just want to
natter. You may get one or two a week -- unless lots of people
are angry at you. ;-)

You can just delete MOST of the stuff generated by the Listserv,
though until you get to recognize them, you should at least
glance at them (withOUT opening any attachments!). The mail from
real people (mailed to the "bonsai-request" and Listserv
addresses and sent directly to you, often will require a
response.

5. You also can receive notices from the Listserv that the list
is being "held" for one or another reason and telling you to fix
whatever the problem is and issue a "Free bonsai" command. These
are rare (or nonexistent if you stay ahead of the game). More on
this later.

6. Finally, you need to subscribe to the Ease-Home Mailing List,
which is your source of technical support from LSoft. That will
generate a dozen e-mails a week, often less; sometimes more.

b. Administration (the technical part)

1. I have the list set to run pretty much on its own, now. I
used to have to handle all of the deleting of e-mail addresses
that created errors (folks who left the list but didn't
unsubscribe, etc.) but that's now automatic and you get the
"daily error monitoring report" which tells you what addresses
are being monitored and which have been deleted. You will want
to glance at this to see that any regulars won't be bumped by
warning them that the Listserv is receiving errors and that they
may want to check with their ISP or be deleted (if that happens,
they can immediately resubscribe and that usually fixes the
problem). Most of the addresses on the error report (currently
180, plus or minus) are spammers who try to send mail to the
list. You ignore these; they'll go away, and new ones will be
added.

2. You will have to periodically check the status of the
archives. We pay for about 100MB of space to store old posts (25
cents per MB per month, I think). If the archive fills up, the
list will be "held" (stop working) until we either buy more space
or delete some old files and issue a "free bonsai" command when
that is done. This is a fairly simple process, but it is very
important and is THE step that cannot be done if your ISP appends
some kind of a notice at the bottom of every e-mail and there's
no way to turn it off. I check the archives with a "show quota"
command to
monthly. About every two
months now, I have to delete the oldest files in the archives in
order to keep the archive at about 75% capacity. If we seem to
talk a lot over the course of a month, I will check the quota
more often, but list volume has dropped in the last year or so.
I'll provide details of this process to the lucky new owner.

3. In the unlikely event that something major happens to the
list, you will have an extensive Listserv Manual, which you
should download to your computer, or at least bookmark. READ IT.
You can find the "Listowners Quick Start Guide" he

http://www.lsoft.com/manuals/1.8e/ow...ners_intro.pdf

It's in PDF format. Nearby are the full manuals, which you
should download for reference as needed. You also have the
Ease-Home mailing list to fall back on. And me, of course.

4. There is an LSoft web site at which you can perform most of
the administrative chores -- EXCEPT the deleting of archives!
The web site is where you change the banner at the bottom of the
list (highlighting a major donor to the IBC, etc.), change
subscription options for members who ask (or sometimes when they
don't -- see below), modify the welcome message that no one has
ever read, ;-), etc. It is very powerful. You can do most of
these with e-mail commands, too, if you -- like I -- prefer to
use the web only when necessary.

c. Administration (the management part)

1. This is pretty much up to you. I guess I've been a fairly
"activist" list manager. I've tried to keep as much nastiness as
possible off the list. As a result, I've gotten some folks mad
at me -- including 2 death and bodily harm threats after 9-11
;-) -- but have had others thank me for cutting off debate when
it starts getting too personal. Since the list consists mostly
of good-hearted people, we have few real arguments, so this phase
of administration is easy.

Anyway, how activist you are is up to you, though expect pleas to
halt debate when it gets "too" hot in some folks' minds. You
will run into rampant political correctness here, as in
everything else in today's society. As list manager you have
some tools. For folks on the mailing list, you can put
"evildoers" on "review," which means all of their messages come
to you first for approval. I think there are two people on more
or less permanent "review" now, and I've let all of their recent
messages through. (Putting folks on review makes for more e-mail
and more work for you, since you have to personally approve every
message they send if it is to go onto the list; if you ignore
their message, it does NOT get passed on to the list.) You can
also ban anyone from even sending messages to the list. This has
happened only once.

2. Then there is the news group (rec.arts..bonsai). You cannot
control what is said there. Any flame wars will continue until
they fizzle out. You CAN keep most of the ugliness from leaking
over to the list by going to the Lsoft web site and adding the
names and addresses of the offenders to a "filter" list. You can
also use this list to eliminate any spam that comes over the
newsgroup. The filter list also come to you for approval if they
post, so it behooves you to keep the list short.

3. Usually, mention of either of these steps (either privately
or on the list) is sufficient to calm things down -- but on-list
"threats" also generate mail from folks who are certain they
could do a better job than you are doing. (NOW'S YOUR CHANCE,
FELLOWS!)

4. Another part of the management aspect is a readiness to help
people with their bonsai questions. As I've seen it, the manager
has the responsibility to ensure that all legitimate questions
get answered. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, no one
responds to a query. The list manager should then provide
something -- if only a private message to the originator of the
query suggesting that he or she try again. The lone expert on
that topic may have been away when it was first posted. Second
tries usually get _some_ response. Then there are the beginners,
who too often get ignored these days. There may be less than
half a dozen of us who regularly try to answer the very basic
beginner questions now. _I_ think that is disgraceful.

5. Yet another aspect is stepping -- as gently as possible, again
on or (usually) off-list -- in when someone gives advice that is
likely to damage the questioner's trees. Most often, this kind
of advice comes from relative newcomers to the bonsai art who are
at the stage where they feel they know it all. Most of us went
through that phase. ;-)

I think I have probably scared all volunteers away by this time.
However, it is NOT complicated. You do NOT need a degree in
computer science. If _I_ can learn (and learn back in the days
when most of this wasn't automated), ANYONE can learn it now.

But, again, I AM stepping down -- though I will still be
participating in the list as I can. AGAIN, IF NO ONE VOLUNTEERS,
THE LIST WILL VANISH. That would be very bad.

I'd like to make whatever transition there is by, or in, the
first of the coming year. I will stay on as a "quiet" owner for
a few months after that, so I can help with (and teach) whatever
needs doing. But the learning curve will not be that tough.

I think we ought to discuss this ON THE LIST, though I'll take
private questions, too. I'm NOT going to ask for a vote, or even
a consensus, as to the new listowner. I think Reiner and I will
simply decide. When members of the list can't even decide on
something as simple as tee shirts, I despair of any attempt to
come to an agreement on this. But if either of us get whiffs of
a groundswell of opposition to someone . . . though I can't
imagine who that would be. Most everyone here is a nice person.
;-)

It would be great if the 475 members of the IBC who have never
posted anything to the list would chip in on this discussion.

Jim Lewis - IBC mailing list manager

************************************************** ******************************
++++Sponsored, in part, by Lisa Kanis++++
************************************************** ******************************
-- The IBC HOME PAGE & FAQ: http://www.internetbonsaiclub.org/ --

+++++ Questions? Help? e-mail +++++

  #2   Report Post  
Old 30-10-2003, 03:42 PM
Nina Shishkoff
 
Posts: n/a
Default [IBC] Admin: THE FUTURE OF THE LIST - Very important (and long!)

Golly, Jim, who knew you did all that? Would it be possible to split the duties among several people, or would that simply breed chaos?

The one that jumps out at me is:

4. Another part of the management aspect is a readiness to help
people with their bonsai questions. As I've seen it, the manager
has the responsibility to ensure that all legitimate questions
get answered.


We used to have an informal committee that did this; several nice people agreed to make sure that newbie questions got answered. And back in the dark ages, Hud Nordin used to handle this offlist. It might be easy to reassemble a committee of compassionat
e Bonsaija to handle this part of list management, and being an "expert" on bonsai is not necessary. The most important thing is to let a newbie know is that we're glad they're here, and that someone will *eventually* answer a question if it is phrased ma
gically. It also helps to know who likes certain topics better than others so that questions on bonsai diseases can be forwarded to me, and questions on whether Bonsai is Art can be forwarded to.... well, they know who they are.

I'll stop now before I start to sniffle and sob at the thought of Jim travelling and having fun.

-Nina

************************************************** ******************************
++++Sponsored, in part, by Lisa Kanis++++
************************************************** ******************************
-- The IBC HOME PAGE & FAQ: http://www.internetbonsaiclub.org/ --

+++++ Questions? Help? e-mail +++++
  #4   Report Post  
Old 30-10-2003, 09:02 PM
Jim Lewis
 
Posts: n/a
Default [IBC] Admin: THE FUTURE OF THE LIST - Very important (and long!)


"Nina Shishkoff" wrote in message
news:[email protected] 0...
Golly, Jim, who knew you did all that? Would it be possible to

split the duties among several people, or would that simply breed
chaos?

The one that jumps out at me is:

4. Another part of the management aspect is a readiness to

help
people with their bonsai questions. As I've seen it, the

manager
has the responsibility to ensure that all legitimate

questions
get answered.


We used to have an informal committee that did this; several

nice people agreed to make sure that newbie questions got
answered. And back in the dark ages, Hud Nordin used to handle
this offlist. It might be easy to reassemble a committee of
compassionate Bonsaija to handle this part of list management,
and being an "expert" on bonsai is not necessary. The most
important thing is to let a newbie know is that we're glad
they're here, and that someone will *eventually* answer a
question if it is phrased magically. It also helps to know who
likes certain topics better than others so that questions on
bonsai diseases can be forwarded to me, and questions on whether
Bonsai is Art can be forwarded to.... well, they know who they
are.

I'll stop now before I start to sniffle and sob at the thought

of Jim travelling and having fun.


Well, I've had fun doing this, too, but . . .

Anyway, I think the list manager needs to be one of that cadre;
t'would be nice if Hud would come back aboard. ;-) (I heard
from him not long ago and suggested it, but got no response.)

I'm not sure what happened to the "informal committee" (though
some of us still try to respond).

Jim Lewis - - Tallahassee, FL - The phrase
'sustainable growth' is an oxymoron. - Stephen Viederman

  #5   Report Post  
Old 30-10-2003, 09:22 PM
Jim Lewis
 
Posts: n/a
Default [IBC] Admin: THE FUTURE OF THE LIST - Very important (and long!)

"Nina Shishkoff" wrote in message
news:[email protected] 0...
Golly, Jim, who knew you did all that? Would it be possible to

split the duties among several people, or would that simply breed
chaos?

The one that jumps out at me is:

4. Another part of the management aspect is a readiness to

help
people with their bonsai questions. As I've seen it, the

manager
has the responsibility to ensure that all legitimate

questions
get answered.


We used to have an informal committee that did this; several

nice people agreed to make sure that newbie questions got
answered. And back in the dark ages, Hud Nordin used to handle
this offlist. It might be easy to reassemble a committee of
compassionate Bonsaija to handle this part of list management,
and being an "expert" on bonsai is not necessary. The most
important thing is to let a newbie know is that we're glad
they're here, and that someone will *eventually* answer a
question if it is phrased magically. It also helps to know who
likes certain topics better than others so that questions on
bonsai diseases can be forwarded to me, and questions on whether
Bonsai is Art can be forwarded to.... well, they know who they
are.

I'll stop now before I start to sniffle and sob at the thought

of Jim travelling and having fun.


Well, I've had fun doing this, too, but . . .

Anyway, I think the list manager needs to be one of that cadre;
t'would be nice if Hud would come back aboard. ;-) (I heard
from him not long ago and suggested it, but got no response.)

I'm not sure what happened to the "informal committee" (though
some of us still try to respond).

Jim Lewis - - Tallahassee, FL - The phrase
'sustainable growth' is an oxymoron. - Stephen Viederman

************************************************** ******************************
++++Sponsored, in part, by Lisa Kanis++++
************************************************** ******************************
-- The IBC HOME PAGE & FAQ:
http://www.internetbonsaiclub.org/ --
+++++ Questions? Help? e-mail +++++


  #6   Report Post  
Old 01-11-2003, 02:32 AM
Shelly Hurd
 
Posts: n/a
Default [IBC] Admin: THE FUTURE OF THE LIST - Very important (and long!)

Jim,

I talked this over with my bride and I could throw my (our) name into the
running here. She has all the tech know-how and of course I'm just a swell
guy. ;-) So it's in the open, I can't or don't answer _all_ queries
because if I don't think I can help, I don't. I can prod folks who can
help, and do. I certainly do not have your library to fall back on, but I do
have enough references for my area. Anyway, we'd do anything not to loose
the list, and that includes subscribing (at long last).

Regards,

Shelly Hurd Central CA - Sunset Zone 8-USDA Zone 9


"I" know hurdfam.com is down it's the ISP. Hopefully they will be up
shortly.




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