Sunday, December 13, 2009

Speak or stay silent

I belong to several mail list, mostly quilt related. When I first joined I listened, I tried to soak up the feel of the lists. When I felt I had I understood the lists I started posting to join in with the community. Now I write two or three posts per list per day when I have time at my computer. However I send maybe one per month. Why? Well I can't figure out the rules for most of the lists any more. Actually I can figure out a lot of rules. So many that I can't see what you can safely post to some of these lists.

One rule I think I understand is no commercial posts. Many lists are funded by advertising so it makes sense that if you want to advertise you should pay. Should you also remove the link to your website from you signature? What about the link to your blog, or talking about your blog, or providing a link to a piece of your work which is on your business site? Well that depends, on who is reading on what day and how they feel. Should those who make money from their quilting even join these lists? Is it OK if they only read and don't post?

What about going off topic? Personally if the group allows it and it's marked in the subject line, I don't mind but in some places it causes a lot of problems. Should the group set rules to prohibit anything off topic (then how close do we have to stay to the topic to be safe?) or should the members understand that some others don't like them and just stop out of concern for the rest. Then again should the objectors tolerate it for the benefit of those who do want to discuss issues further afield.

What if a quilt (or indeed a customer interaction) could be seen as racial, political or religious by another group member does this then become taboo on an otherwise quilt focused list?

Maybe you can start to see why I don't post much. This has been a very bad couple of weeks for 'rules' appearing. I say it like that as none of the lists seem to have these 'rules' and yet they should be obeyed. Tricky if you don't know what they are. Your best guess from yesterday may be utterly out of date by tomorrow when your message is read, so it's a lot easier to keep quiet. Saying nothing offends no one. Of course it helps no one either. I wonder how many have given up, losing one voice on a list doesn't matter. Losing 2 or 3 isn't really a big deal either, but I'm pretty good at speaking my mind, and I've shut up. that suggests to me a heck of a lot of quieter and more timid people have too. People who probably have a lot to share. In my experience quiet people listen and learn, so are a font of information, if only others will give them a safe place to share. Of course that then puts me in the same place all the other list subscribers who make new 'rules'. Just like them I want the list to deliver what I want and like them I think it will be for the good of many if not all.

This brings me to the point of the post. Just because I am a member of a group doesn't mean I get any say in how it behaves, I have no more rights than the next person, and if it doesn't fit me it's time to move and find something that is a better fit. I don't know if groups just bicker more this time of year, but it seems to be one of my close of the year traditions, a cull of mail lists and groups. This year it looks like there are plenty that I can do without, although I will miss some of them and wish for a more live and let live attitude, I think I will be happier without the stresses. On the other hand this year I have discovered a couple of really good groups too. Mostly by members visiting this blog and leading me to them. To the friendly and accepting groups, thank you, and I hope you keep your wonderful atmosphere.


Anonymous said...

I gave up a few years ago. I don't think they mind missing out on all the useful info contained within those who leave (they're too busy enjoying their own silliness).

Trudi said...

I've been a lurker learning much in the process. Occassionally I voice my own opinons, and have felt the tongue lashing too, but I continue to learn and grow, and ignore the bits that don't interest me. It's a very personal choice, if you are not getting what you want from the list, the loss is to those who cannot learn from your wisdom when you chose to leave. At the end of the day, you have to be true to yourself :)

Anonymous said...

..but one does have to be careful not to regard the people who agree with one as 'wise' and the ones who do not as 'silly'.

Having said that, in reaction to the two comments already posted here, my own experience is that quilters tend to be hugely polite and positive to each other compared with some other interest groups.
Joyce F

Ferret said...

I'm not sure I could be charitable enough to use the word silly. Some of the behaviour comes into the same camp as the people who jump traffic queues, often causing worse jams and potential accidents. I am always wondering why. Why do they feel more important than everyone else in the queue? Traffic would move slower if I was in charge, because I am sure there are some people in queues who have really good reasons why they need to be somewhere else as fast as possible, and I would like to see them get there first. I also suspect they aren't the ones pushing to the front of the queue. A lot of the less friendly comments on lists hit the same button. I'm sure there are people who have ideas that would improve the lists, but I suspect they are silent.

wisdom is where you find it. I like knowledge, of all sorts of things even things that don't directly interest me right now. I prefer to browse the shelves of a bookshop than shop online, you never know what might catch your eye when you were looking for something else. So all posts have potential, yup even the ones that also frustrate and annoy me.

I'm not sure that quilters are more polite and positive actually, they used to be certainly, but it seems to be waning. Or maybe others have got better?

Ferret said...

Trudi, you hit the nail on the head, and boy does it feel good to have reduced the amount of snarkiness in my inbox.

Helen from Hobart said...

I think a lot of people type and post immediately, without thinking - and then regret it, but feel they have to defend themselves or appear silly.

I read my lists on digest - so the quick responders are all done by the time I get there ! - so I can just laugh at the pettiness and go on my way.

Yes I have been hauled over the coals from time to time - but so what. It's only one person's opinion - and each time it has happened I have more people privately supporting me.

Don't worry so much about it Ferret, sleep on your thoughts and then post them. I haven't read anything you have posted that wasn't worth reading. Just go for it and let jealousy slide off your shoulders.

Helen from Hobart

Sandy said...

I do think the time of year has something to do with it. Just to make my own disclaimer...LOL
This is all said with tongue in cheek but with quite a lot of truth as I have observed.

The americans (having been one, I can say it) seem to get really ratty in November in the run up to's all the cooking they feel they have to do when they would rather do their quilting or art. (rather nulifies the Thanks part if you ask me).

Then there is a lull and another big problem in Dec when they all realise how close they are to Christmas and feel bowled over by all the ideas they felt obliged to have about making presents, so it comes out on the lists. (Brits don't actually realise the historical weight of pressure on Americans to make something or gift something to everyone you ever have had contact with! Why not? Because Brits give all those people cards! LOL)

So, generally in Nov and Dec I just delete, shake my head, and thank God for being in Britain!

Choosing to make smiles if I can.
PS I am totally loving the new feathers!