[OPE-L:1068] Archives

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 07:45:20 -0800

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Comments on Allin's [1066] and Riccardo's [1064]

I. Allin's question:

> A technical question: Might it be possible to put the OPE archives into a
> threaded form readable using a WWW browser? I'd quite like to consult
> 1036, but am a bit daunted by the prospect of searching for it using the
> present system. I wouldn't mind helping with that task.

(1) The archives are set up to be accessed by day with a "GET" message
and do not include OPE-L#s in the subject line. This is the way it was
set up by Philip Chao, the server manager at CSU, who is on vacation this

(2) An interim possibility for the kind of situation that Allin addresses
above is for me to forward individual posts to list members upon request
(as I just did by forwarding Duncan's 1036 to Allin). I keep copies of
all OPE-L posts on my account at Pratt and can forward messages rather
easily *if* I am told the OPE-L # *or* the author and date.

(3) An additional possibility that I have been considering lately that is
more in line with Allin's suggestion is to possibly have a WWW Homepage
with the OPE-L posts (this could be structured so that it would either
only be accessible to list members or to outsiders as well). This could
be done, but it would involve some investment both in terms of time and

II. Riccardo's questions

A. Open access to archives?

1) I don't have any strong feelings about this matter other than the

a) Since individuals wrote posts with the understanding that the
archives were closed, I believe that we need to have a unanimous
agreement to open up the *current* archives.

b) If individuals don't want some individual posts to be publicly
available, that can *not* be done (I think) with the current archive
structure since all posts are included in the archives.

c) If we wanted to set up an additional and alternative archive
structure as discussed above, it would be possible to not include certain
posts if members so wished. Let me note, for instance, that some of our
procedural discussions early on discussed who should be invited and who
should, at present, not be. I think that releasing that information
publicly might lead to some resentment on the part of those not invited.

B. Open vs. Closed List

Riccardo says that he is "slightly" in favor of maintaining a closed
list. I am _strongly_ in favor of maintaining a closed list. We are still
in the early stages of the Net. Given the origins of the Net, closed
lists appear to be undemocratic and elitist. I believe, though, that they
are the wave of the future and we are on the cutting edge of Net mailing
lists. As more people go on-line, the possibilities of "invasion" by
hostile forces is magnified immensely. I have seen this happen on the
marxism and PKT lists. We, and this is exceptional for Net mailing lists,
have not had to deal with all of the nonsense like flaming and ad hominem
attacks. We also haven't had to deal with hopeless sectarians and vulgar
Marxists or anti-Marxists like libertarians and other defenders of
capitalists. If we were to have an open list, that would all change.
Another advantage, which is a consequence of both our having a closed
list and being a relatively small list, is that it allows us to really
engage each other in sustained discussions of complex topics. By
comparison, being a member of other Net lists is easy. Reading OPE-L
posts is more demanding because of the seriousness of our discussions.
And that is the whole point -- by having a closed list we can really
engage each other seriously in a way that would not be possible
otherwise. Of course, there is a down side to this process, i.e.
sometimes I feel we are *too* serious and the kind of good-natured humor
that is found on some other Net mailing lists is missing on OPE-L. I only
remember, in fact, two attempts at comedy: 1) our discussion of having
too many Pauls on the list; and 2) Riccardo's cartoon about Marx in
a cloud which had a very serious point behind it. So ... I would agree
with Steve K. when, last month, he suggested that since OPE-L isn't
broken, we shouldn't try and fix it. Our discussions have been
excellent. However, I continue to ask members to make suggestions for
future topics that you believe should be discussed.

... which gets me to my last point. Unlike other Net lists, OPE-L was
designed to be a collaborative project where we identify goals and
attempt to discuss issues systematically. For OPE-L to work best, we need
to have the fullest possible input on what should be done. I may be the
"co-ordinator" (or "moderator" or whatever) but it is up to *us* to
decide what to do and how.

In OPE-L Solidarity,