[OPE-L] Suggested rules of the game(1): intro

Alan Freeman (a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk)
Sun, 08 Feb 1998 22:37:17 +0000

Thanks to Michael for spending his personal resources on these questions. A
few comments, really only one.

> I resent being forced into second order conversations that, imo, are
> not the most pressing use of my personal resources.

Mike, who forced you? I don't recall twisting your arm.

> It is great if people want to confront censorship procedurally <snip>
> I could just say 'please respect my personal choice on this matter'

But that *is* a procedural proposal, and what's more it's your own
proposal, made of your own free will. You are asking someone not to do
something. That's a procedure.

Of course rules don't substitute for substantive content. That doesn't mean
one can do without them. The reason we need rules is that people (like me,
like you, like Juriaan, like Andrew) have conflicting requirements and
therefore, at different times, want to do different things. In that
situation, one has to decide what to do in a civilised manner.

That's where rules come in, to facilitate a civilised discussion of
substantive content by reaching mutual consent on how to conduct it. Rules
don't substitute for content, but they do substitute for the law of the

If one does not discuss and arrange a mutually-acceptable and, above all,
objective basis for resolving such conflicts, then they will either from
time to time explode, or someone will be overriden by force majeure: in my
experience of free-form discussion arrangements, frequently both. That's
why we need rules.

I simply suggest we try something out, and it isn't clear to me why this
causes a problem. I've made a set of proposals which were drawn up,
admittedly in a different context, to ensure that everyone's needs are
respected and prevent such conflicts exploding. If there is something in
them that any list member finds objectionable (or something that is not
catered for), then let's, at our leisure, consider these objections and
consider these additions. For that matter if there's something there that
anyone likes, I wouldn't mind hearing that too.

I don't see, especially given the level of heat that has arisen, how such
an exchange can do anything but good. Certainly, if you wish to continue
discussing procedure - and I repeat, no-one is forcing you to, unless you
regard a failure to comply with special requests as a form of force -
then I do think that a more objective exchange would be the best way to
do it for all concerned.

Indeed, I don't really see what the problem is, since so far no-one has
said they find anything exceptionable in my proposals. The only objections
I have heard, are objections to having rules, period.