Since last Wednesday, more than 10% of the subscribers to this list have unsubscribed. (More would have if they could figure out how - more on that later.) That's 51 out of about 480. I have gotten notes from several of those people, explaining their reasons for unsubscribing. They have been distressed about the drop in quality of the postings and the general tone, which is not quite what it was a month ago or more.
We have never agreed on strict guidelines for this groups. I originally had this brilliant and inspired idea that a group for discussion about the NCTM Standards should do just that, but I think we've agreed by default that any general discussion about the teaching of mathematics is okay. It has been said that "if you don't want to read it, don't read it". Easy enough if you have a good way to read mail, but many don't. I have a great way to read mail, but I get so much mail that I can't even keep up with reading all of nctm-l (now y'all will think I'm Bob Dole, complaining about things I haven't seen/read!). It means that every few days I spend an entire morning or afternoon reading everything, answering to the administrative problems and questions people have, and trying to keep up. While I'm lucky enough to be able to consider this part of my job, it's not the only part of my job, and other things do suffer.
Let me lay out a few "guidelines" that I think we can agree on. Please stop me if I'm out of line.
1) SAVE THE WELCOME MESSAGE! Do not send your unsubscribe messages to this or any other list. You must learn to be a reponsible member of an online community. This starts with learning the ropes. So save all your welcome/subscribe messages in a folder somewhere. They don't take up much room on a hard drive, and hundreds of people will thank you. If you still can't figure it out, or already threw that out, you can almost always, with a mailing list, send to <list>-firstname.lastname@example.org - in this case, it would be email@example.com. This will go to an actual person (me, in this case), who is happy to answer your question (though who will encourage you to treat the exchange as a learning experience). And take some time out to learn about mailing lists in general. I am happy to mail you something, but there is tons of stuff available on the net as well. Or if you have one of those thick Internet books, read up a bit. We all learned the rules of the road before we were allowed to drive. Made life a lot easier for a lot of people. Please treat the Internet the same way - you have certain responsibilities if you're going to be a member of this community.
2) Don't use this list as a resource to find people or contact people whose email bounces. Again, the odds are that you're sending a message to hundreds of people who can't help you. If you are having a problem with mail bouncing to a person, learn to read the bounced mail carefully. Sometimes it will say "host unknown" or "user unknown". Many times that's due to a typo on your part. Sometimes the message will say "Host unreachable". Sometimes machines crash or are taken down for maintenance. If you can't resolve things by studying the bounced mail, contact your local system administrator or postmaster (you can usually mail to postmaster@address). They will help you figure it out. As a last resort, contact the owner of the list. They can check and see if the address you're trying to reach is really on the list and if that's the address the list uses.
3) When replying to a message, please edit out parts of the original message that you aren't directly replying to. Long messages are harder to read, especially if there's a lot of quoted stuff and it's hard to find the new text. If you're posting something in reply to a topic, but aren't actually responding directly to the comments in another post, delete all the old text.
Enough for now. If indeed you are disillusioned with the quality of the discussion on this list, you can unsubscribe by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org (majordomo is the software we use that administers all of our mailing lists). The message should read
If you have problems that, mail me, or majordomo-owner, or nctm-l-owner, all @forum.swarthmore.edu. (Yes, all those addresses go to me presently, but it's good practice for you.)
We can talk content another time.
Annie Fetter | The Geometry Forum | Voice: 610 328-8225 Project Coordinator | Swarthmore College | 800 756-7823 email@example.com | Swarthmore PA 19081 | Fax: 610 328-7824 http://forum.swarthmore.edu/