In moderated mailing lists, every post must pass muster with a moderator, acting as a gatekeeper and editor to determine which posts are list-worthy and which ones are not. Unmoderated lists operated in a free-for-all environment, where all messages from subscribers are automatically distributed to the list. And self-moderated simply means that subscribers should govern themselves. Sometimes subscribers in unmoderated lists may find that making inappropriate posts lands them in the penalty box, where the list owner may moderate their messages.
A list’s rules and its culture shape the way subscribers post, but there is a learning curve. Some new subscribers pick up the cues more quickly than others do, and some have no intention of following the rules. Some lists are targets for protestors, snail oil salesmen, troublemakers, and spam artists. If those miscreants and errant souls are going to post something inappropriate for the list, they’re almost guaranteed to do so within hours or days of joining. Hit-and-run subscribers seldom hang around long enough to reap volumes of e-mail from mailing lists.
The shrewd list owner’s solution to this problem is to automatically put new subscribers on double secret probation for a month so, releasing those who readily make meaningful, relevant posts more quickly than those who’re simply lurking and serving their time. The next time you join a mailing list and find yourself on moderated status, don’t take it personally. Just think of yourself as a fraternity (or sorority) pledge, and regard this as relatively painless hazing which will end in due time. Newbie probation status isn’t worth raising ire with the list owner about why your messages aren’t distributed nanoseconds after you send them. It’s only part of the price of maintaining a commercial-free, spam-free, and troll-free mailing list. Catch and release works for fish, and it works for mailing lists.