[Sust-mar] sust-mar: message queue and quantity - member's feedback requested

Peter Watson pwatson at chebucto.ns.ca
Wed May 13 15:57:11 EDT 2009

Hello Sust-Martians, a special announcement and request:

For many years now, sust-mar has attempted to serve sustainability 
conscious Maritimers by sending out one message per day (average), 
contributed by sust-mar subscribers, concerning environmental and 
sustainability issues in Atlantic Canada. Many times over the course of 
these years we've had waves of messages coming in at once that have 
created queues, and slowly we moderators have worked through the 
messages, approving them one by one, and eventually in a week or two 
there has been a quieter spell where we 'catch up' and once again there 
is little or no message queue.

The moderated one message a day rule has served us well for the most 
part, and it is there strictly because none of us want uncontrolled 
amounts of messages coming in. But I (Peter) now believe that it is no 
longer adequate to keep up with the higher volume of messages coming in 
with increased membership.

Sust-mar has now grown to over 550 subscribers, more than doubling in 
the past three years! This is great news as more and more Maritimers are 
recognizing the importance of building sustainable communities, and are 
becoming proactive in their creation.

But a problem for sust-mar has emerged. The incoming messages are 
increasing every year, and with increased volume, more messages are 
waiting in queue longer to get out, and in too many cases never do get 
approved in time. This has happened to several important messages this 
month alone, and they are important messages, just the stuff we want to 
publicize. And this is after me combining messages (in one case) and 
approving extra messages to try to get more of them out on time. We're 
right now still sending out messages that arrived a week or more ago, 
and there nine still in queue that have arrived since, all good ones. 
With the present one/day rule they just wont all get out before the 
event occurs or the deadline passes.

This isn't an occasional occurrence anymore; this is now the norm. Those 
quiet spells with few messages that used to happen rarely happen now, 
and we never seem to catch up.

I should note that I have no intention of regularly combining messages 
as I did with today's message. It's way too time consuming for me, and 
feels wrong for the moderator to appear to be 'editing'. I just did it 
out of desperation to try to get more quickly to messages further down 
the queue.

The bottom line: A list like this has to serve members by getting good 
info out a reasonably timely way, and if that's not happening 
consistently there's a problem.

So what to do?

1) LEAVE AS IS: This issue has been brought up with the members a few 
times in the past, and usually the consensus has been to leave it at one 
message per day. Less messages equals less inbox clutter. If members 
still wish to keep it this way, everyone has to understand that there 
will be a fair wait to get any and every message out, you'll rarely get 
more than one message per person approved per month, there will 
virtually be no lower priority messages (replies, opinions, out of 
Maritime issues) getting through, and an increasing amount of high 
priority messages will never see the light of day.

2) INCREASE MESSAGES:  I could easily increase to approving 2 messages 
per day and this would make life so much easier for me, but my sense is 
that this may not be necessary for the list to work. By increasing the 
total by three extra messages a week (that is up to 10 per week), I 
believe we would balance the need for timely delivery of high priority 
messages without excessively cluttering up inboxes. Therefore 10 per 
week is my current recommendation.

One thing we will NOT do is turn it into a free-for-all with no 
moderation, or immediately approving everything that comes in. That was 
the format in the early days, and it nearly drove all the members away 
with the endless circular debates and arguments that ensued. This list 
is not intended as a discussion forum.

As always, folks could really help things by combining messages at 
source if they have more than one announcement to make. All your info 
and everyone else's will get out quicker if more people and 
organizations compacted their messages rather than sending out, say, 3 
separate messages in a week from one source. And as one member recently 
commented, please do include a descriptive message title, not a general 
'please post' title which indicates nothing about the message content.

Thanks for bearing with me and I hope for your feedback and 
recommendations. Should we leave it as is, or increase the message 
number to 10/week or two per day? Other suggestions?

And thank you, as always, for your membership and interest in 
sustainability! When you think about it, this message quantity 'problem' 
is really a very good thing for us to have . . .


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