DEVON-L Archives

Archiver > DEVON > 2001-07 > 0995818564

From: Brian Randell <>
Subject: OFF-TOPIC MESSAGES (Was: The past in ourselves, etc., etc.)
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2001 17:16:04 +0100
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <>


>All the emails on The Past and accoutrements has made for very interesting
>reading. However, how about letting us Yanks, such as myself, in on what
>things like Virol, Thermogen, Liberty bodices, and whatever else, might
>be/have been (I think I mangled this sentence). I have absolutely no clue
>except that generally it all sounds nasty. I must say I did enjoy this
>morning's online marriage proposal.

I too enjoyed the *first few* of these messages, but I'm afraid that

Therefore, I'm afraid that I must step in and request (indeed insist)
that the discussion that was started under the above subject line,
and now has - as I feared - already blossomed and started to use
various other subject lines, and to concern events and practices in
places other than in Devon, be brought to a close.

I've just had a first complaint about the current high level of
traffic on this list due to off-topic messages, and to messages that
are essentially just direct replies to individuals (containing very
specific information that is most unlikely to be of interest to
anyone else). I have no doubt that if I do not step in now I'll get a
lot more such complaints, and what is worse, so will the mailing list
(even though such complaints are themselves off-topic!).

The success of DEVON-L is due in large part to adherence to the rules
of the mailing list. Let me remind everyone that the rules state:

>Ideas for messages to the list can include:
>- The Devon surnames you are researching
>- Queries regarding Devon individuals or families
>- Questions or information regarding Devon localities
>- Questions or information about Devon genealogical research
>- Requests for or offers of help on Devon genealogical research
>- Tips & tricks regarding Devon genealogical research that you'd
>like to share with everyone
>Please refrain from postings which are not of relevance to Devon
>genealogy. In particular, do not post messages about computer
>viruses to the list. (Anyone ignoring this rule will be
>automatically unsubscribed.) If you have a query or information
>about a possible computer virus, send it directly to the list owner,
>who will if appropriate communicate its contents to the list.
>The reason for this rule is simple - fear of viruses is such that
>any message on the mailing list about a virus is such that, even if
>the message is itself timely and factually correct (something which
>is far from always the case), it will lead to a whole host of follow
>up messages, often of dubious accuracy, which themselves constitute
>a sort of virus, and annoy many subscribers.

The above quotation is from the FAQ Frequently Asked Questions) File,
which can be found at: DEV/DevonFAQ.html

I've included the whole section, with its specific mention of virus
messages, since there is always a danger of people forgetting this
part of the rule.

I am sure than many people have found the recent messages about
childhood memories of interest - just as some time ago, (some) others
were enjoying a sudden flurry of messages about recipes. But there
were lots of subscribers who weren't, and as I've often had to
explain, all too many genealogy mailing lists have been ruined, and
in particular have been abandoned by all their knowledgeable
subscribers, when the lists have become polluted by lots of off-topic

There are mailing lists for every topic under the sun, and a very
large number devoted to all sorts of topics related directly or
distantly to genealogy. If your message is not related to *Devon
genealogy*, please either send it directly to the intended
recipient(s), or to a more appropriate mailing list - for a huge list
of possibilities see:

If anyone wishes to complain at or comment on this ruling, please do
so directly to me and NOT TO THE MAILING LIST, copying your message
to Vicki Lindsay <>, who kindly helps me out by
acting as list-manager, if you so wish.

Please, please, confine your messages to the sorts of topics listed
above. And if you are answering a query, please take a moment to
decide whether the information you are providing is so specific that
only the original questioner is likely to be at all interested in it,
and in this case reply directly rather than via the mailing list.

I do hate having to appear to be a spoil-sport - it really isn't in
my nature - but I assure you all, especially those of you who are new
to mailing lists and genealogy, that someone has to take the time to
step in and call a halt if this list is to survive.


Brian Randell
Dept. of Computing Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne,
EMAIL = PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232 URL =

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