Wednesday, April 04, 2007

One-Sided Discussions

I posted this on one of EdNA's Network discussion lists (they're basically closed so there's no point linking).

Without wanting to stir up the old blog-vs-discussions debate (both approaches have their merits, etc...) I do want to point to a phenomenon I've noticed happens a lot in discussion lists.

And it is this: the same few people, through sheer volume of posting, tend to dominate every discussion.

And there's no way around it - you can't blot them out, you can't read around them, you can't compete by adding more posts (not only because you don't have time, but because they'll answer to them as well).

It's not that the people who are posting a lot are saying anything that's bad or wrong, it's just that the board eventually becomes a non-stop advertisement for their point of view (or their favorite arguments among each other).

I've notice that this happens on mailing lists, sometimes even if they're moderated, and on web-based discussions, like this one. And, yes, I've noticed it here (you know who you are).

One of the reasons I have come to favour an environment where each person posts in his or her own space is that I can be selective about my reading. If someone posts just way too much stuff (and yes, there are people like that in the blogosphere) I can tune them out without missing the one post by some very infrequent poster.

I haven't found a solution to the problem in mailing lists and discussion areas. And unlike mailing lists and things like Google Groups, which allow me to sign off, I can't even sign off the discussions (I have actually tried several times when the volume of one-note messages got to me too much for me, but like the fabled cat, it keeps coming back).

I value the discussion - I always value discussion - but I am so tired of hearing the same things from the same voices over and over. And - given the inevitability that someone is now taking this personally - don't take this personally - this is something that has happened in every list I have ever joined. It's always someone, and in this case, it just happens to be you.

Anyhow, I just thought I'd post this. Not because any particular thing got my goat. But because it was irritating - and if it's irritating, that's generally a good sign that there's something lurking there that needs to be discussed.

Over to all of you...