Managing and moderating a mailing list had worn out one list owner’s patience, and the loss of friendships she’d incurred bothered her even more. Instead if simply transferring the hereditaments of list ownership to some other soul or closing down the list, she opted to take another approach. She appointed a committee of three volunteers to manage the list, charging one with the administrative chores, another with the back-breaking task of moderating the list, and the third to simply fill out the ranks of the committee, acting as a tie-breaker. That wasn’t a bad idea, but the disgruntled list owner didn’t stop there. Lest any of the triumvirate risk censure, ridicule or ill will among the rest the list, she went on to cloak each in anonymity, setting up special user names for each, informing the entire list that the committee’s identity would be kept secret. The entire scheme bore the scent of Klansmen cloaked in white hoods. Or a mailing list operating under the auspices of Homeland Security.
The committee’s anonymity, the list owner insisted, would permit them to carry out the administrative and moderating functions of running the list without impairing their relationships with other subscribers, leaving the secret committee free to participate in the list under their real names.
“What kind of nonsense is this?” the list subscribers uniformly cried out. It was clear that they really didn’t relish the concept of having a mailing list, which had been moving along just fine, suddenly being patrolled by the unknown of their own. They even likened the action to the Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Germany, and the Red Scare. The move was extreme and over the top. Anyone moderating a list, or even taking on the background role of housekeeping, should be identifiable and part of the list – even if it does spell exercising some restraint and good behavior as a participant in the list. Sometimes lawyers and listowners take governance to the extreme.