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From "Jean T. Anderson" <...@bristowhill.com>
Subject Re: Naming individuals in the subject line of posts
Date Sat, 11 Feb 2006 00:59:38 GMT
Rick Hillegas wrote:
> Hi Jean,
> I think that sometimes there's is no substitute for a response from a
> particular individual, perhaps because of their expertise or keenness
> for some issue. Somehow you have to cut through the blizzard of Derby
> mail which buries all of our mailboxes. I don't see the point in being
> coy about whose feedback you're seeking. To my way of thinking, naming
> someone in the subject line is preferable to back-channel communication
> and also to losing your query through the cracks. I have seen this
> technique work on other large mailing lists. Sometimes you get a
> response from a colleague telling you that the person you're trying to
> reach is on vacation or otherwise unreachable. That's useful to know.

Hi, Rick,

By focusing on a single individual are you likely to miss other
potential contributors who might be lurking?

I don't think the subject line needs to be coy -- if it's carefully
worded to convey what the post is about people with that interest will
naturally be drawn to it -- and you might find some contributors emerge
that you didn't expect. Currently there are 238 subscribers to derby-dev
(see http://people.apache.org/~coar/mlists.html#db.apache.org).
Carefully worded subject lines also make searching topics in archives

And if somebody isn't available, that's all the reason more for the
subject line to not be exclusionary.

> I understand your concern about people feeling cornered, but I think
> that's part of the price you pay for being an expert. Personally, I
> don't feel put off by these direct pages and I don't feel excluded from
> responding if I have something to say. Also, I am not a big fan of
> addressing people in the third person or through other indirection.

We directly address each other a lot in the body of our posts -- and I
think that's fine. It's the direct address in the subject line that I
find jarring.


> Both approaches (direct paging and indirect fishing) can be off-putting
> in their own ways. I don't know how to fine-tune this, particularly
> given all the warmth and emotional cues we lose by communicating through
> email.
> Regards,
> -Rick

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