From the Co-chairs
kelowery at cs.com
Sat Feb 17 10:53:51 EST 2001
On behalf of the co-chairs, allow me to comment on the diversity/worldview
issues that have cropped up in several threads this past week:
First, we thank everyone for their restraint and good manners during
heated exchanges on sensitive and controversial subjects. As we all know,
this has not always been the case on B-Hebrew, and we appreciate your
efforts to deal with controversy politely.
B-Hebrew is an OPEN list: anyone from anywhere in the world may subscribe
and join in. Before the advent of world-wide network connectivity, people
from diverse world-views and faith commitments rarely interacted directly,
Now, many people are in dialogue with others of radically different
perspectives for the very first time. They have never had to communicate
with others who did not share a common vocabulary and mode of thinking.
Some are unaware that modes of expression that are customary to them might
be offensive to others. They have to learn this by experience. That
necessarily means someone is going to be offended -- unintentionally! And
the bad news is that this is going to happen over and over again as new
folk subscribe to B-Hebrew.
In order for communication to be successful between two parties, those
parties must both be committed to making sure they understand and are
understood correctly. The alternative is confusion, frustration and angry
exchanges that only hurt and do not help. How can we on B-Hebrew achieve
communication? Here are some suggestions:
1. This is an OPEN list. Apart from a general outer boundary for content
limits and rules of "netiquette", the co-chairs do not attempt to control
the content or rhetoric of forum members. Expect the discussion to be
"rough and tumble" sometimes. If you express an idea/opinion/position, be
prepared for strongly (but politely!) expressed disagreement.
2. Distinguish between intentional and unintentional offence. Instead of
rebuking someone publicly, do it privately, making it clear in your
message that it is private. Our practice as co-chairs has been to
communicate with members who violate our charter off-list. Experience
shows that members appreciate this consideration of their feelings and
that public humiliation rarely secures co-operation.
3. There are, unfortunately, a few who enjoy "baiting" others:
deliberately making statements which they hope will provoke others. Don't
take the "bait." Ignore them. Use your "delete" key. Don't respond. Or
respond only to that part of their message which is substantive. Sidestep
the "hotspots" unless you have something new to contribute to an old,
often rehearsed argument.
Finally, sometimes it is said that our forum is "dominated" by one person
or view point or other. It can appear that way. We have approximately 520
active subscribers to B-Hebrew. Less than 25% of that number actually
post, and there is a core group of about 25 active and regular posters.
Those who are willing to post frequently and regularly respond to the
posts of others are going to tend to set the "tone" of the forum. By their
very willingness to contribute, their interests and point of view will be
But no one has the ability to *hinder* the introduction of other topics or
points of view, except for the co-chairs. In that sense, our forum cannot
be dominated by anyone.
And now, the co-chairs suggest that we return to the text of the Hebrew
Kirk E. Lowery, Ph.D. <Kirk at leningradensis.org>
Associate Director, Westminster Hebrew Institute
General Editor, Project "eL", The XML Leningrad Codex
Chair, Computer Assisted Research Group, Society of Biblical Literature
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