Use of email
From: Rod Lambert (
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2014 18:59:11 -0800 (PST)
What Diana says makes some sense. It often seems that useful discussion
gets stifled too quickly because of a blanket understanding that if anyone
says it doesn't belong on email it stops dead in it's tracks. There are
certainly issues that could benefit from pre-meeting edification and

Rod Lambert
EcoVillage at Ithaca, NY

Date: Sat, 8 Feb 2014 13:09:47 -0500
From: Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Use of email
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
        <CAAJBS=-Snq6kjsvjB_a_yjgrxFJ8F8efQ+uvPkK+UcC8cV3DbA [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

Mosaic Commons uses email a LOT.  95% of the email is pretty light stuff --
notices of events, people looking to borrow or give away something, etc.
 But we DO also use it to discuss ISSUES, and yes, sometimes it can get
pretty heated.  Only very occasionally does it spiral into overt flaming or
hostility, but even civil discussions can leave people with hurt or angry
feelings.  But then, that's true of in-person meetings as well.  I've left
plenty of in-person meetings feeling unheard, misunderstood, resentful, etc.

Our list moderators do nothing other than handle administrative functions
(adding and removing people, changing email address, dealing with spam and
so forth.)  There's absolutely no official moderation of content.  We DO
self-moderate as a community.   Often individuals will say "Hey, I think
this is off-topic" or "You guys aren't being civil, please calm down".
 Sometimes when a discussion becomes very volatile, our Community
Support/Conflict Resolution team will step in and ask that a conversation
be stopped until feelings have settled down, folks have had a chance to
discuss in person, etc.

We have some etiquette guidelines to help keep the list useful.  For
example, use accurate, descriptive subjects; if you've made a request and
are now all set, follow up with "All set" in the subject line; mail
containing very important content that everyone in the community must read
should be tagged "IMPORTANT".

We also have "ground rules" for meetings that also unofficially apply to
email.  I can't remember all our ground rules, but they include things like
"Emotions are okay, attacks are not", "Don't speak for others", "Listen for
understanding" and so on.  But there is no one whose official job it is to
enforce the rules.

Other than sheer volume (which is its own issue), our biggest email
difficulty is that some people (like me) prefer writing as a way of
communicating about challenging subjects, and others prefer face to
face...and email of course naturally favors the former.  Periodically the
face-to-face preferers will say "I don't want to discuss this in email,
this is not a good discussion, let's do it in person"...and email preferers
will feel shut down.  We've never really found the best way to work around
the fundamental difference in philosophy.


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