nettime's_mod_squad on Tue, 12 Aug 2003 19:43:06 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> a proposal: nettime-ann

Dear Nettime --

Over the last several years, nettime has evolved from a handful of
committed weirdos into an empire whose subscribers span the earth.
Naturally, its astounding success has piqued the interest of lots of
institutions, big and small, which recognized its potential to advance
their ambitions. As a result, they send in announcements -- lots of them,
often in duplicate, triplicate, or even quadruplicate.

As it stands, there are two ways announcements arrive in nettime's inbox,
more or less: (1) someone actually, personally sends something, or (2)
someone who used to work at some organization years ago got in his or her
noggin to add nettime to the org's PR list, and ever since then their PR
machine has run like clockwork. Over time, (1) has dwindled to a trickle
while (2) has reached epidemic proportions. As a result, the vast majority
of announcements that pass through nettime's "announcer" function were
never sent to nettime in any human sense: they just happened. It's hard to
say what nettime is "about" (Bruce Sterling put it nicely when he called
it "the world's most world list"), but it's fair to say that many of these
announcements don't really get it.

While it's good to have a "push" channel for diverse announcements, the
current moderation team is growing more and more skeptical about the
cost/benefit balance of providing this function in the way that we have
thus far. There are lots of ways to think about it, ranging from the
overall balance of traffic on the list to the amount of work the announcer
requires (though most of it is done with Perl scripts). Even if the labor
required were a non-issue, moderating non-choices made by systems rather
than choices made by people is very problematic. So we're considering
changing the way we provide this service. But rather than simply announce
this as a fait accompli, we'd like to hear what you think.

Here's our proposal according to our current thinking:

(1) We'll continue to distribute only those announcements on nettime-l
which show evidence of actually, personally having been sent by someone
specifically to nettime.

(2) We'll set up another list, nettime-ann, to which we'll bounce all
announcements that do not directly, intimately relate to nettime --
as measured, mainly, by the fact that some nettimer took the time to
send them specifically to nettime-l.

Nettime-ann would be a digest-only list. The schedule of the digest could
be either by size (say, 1000 lines) or date (say, once a day). We're using
majordomo, which limits the options (but, still, we like it better than
mailman); however, nettime-ann could be run by other means.

Basically, in this model, if you want to see all announcements sent to
nettime, you'd subscribe to nettime-ann; if you don't want them, then
you wouldn't. Simple.

There are a lot of contingent ("deeply intertwingled") details to be
settled. For reason of rough relevance and spam (and there is a surprising
amount of art-related -- as in van gogh -- spam) we believe that moderation 
will be necessary, at some level, if nettime-ann is to succeed -- which it 
should. If there is a separate moderation team (any volunteers?) the list 
could be run relatively independent of nettime-l. If it's the same old 
moderation crew that does both, we'll channel all mail through

We already have an excellent working model for such a cooperative
arrangement in the "unstable" digests, which are compiled autonomously --
and recently had their first birthday. But this is nettime, so everything
is always different; unlike "unstable," nettime-ann would be a separate

But before we do anything, we want to hear what you think. 

The Mod Squad

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