More timely announcements? - Test of an idea
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006 08:37:33 -0800 (PST)
The mailing list MN-prog-events2 (NOTE the DIGIT "2" at the end.) is to
test an idea for a variation of the MN-prog-events mailing list.  
(MN-prog-events2 has no subscribers and just test messages.  I'm sorry
that the test may be a bit confusing, I tried to explain it below.  Fred)

The current (Jan 2006) MN-prog-events mailing list distributes David
Shove's Progressive Calendar calendar and a few other announcements to
about 100 subscribers. It allows subscribers to control their subscription
and has searchable web archives. Note that many other people get the Shove
calendar direct from him.

The Shove calendar typically announces events that happen the same day or
the next day after the calendar announcing them is distributed. Many
people need/would like more notice than that.  I think 2 weeks notice is
ideal, 1 week is ok.  A reminder 2-3 days before event is helpful.

The idea for a more "timely" announcement mailing list would simply have
contributors to the Shove calendar send announcements to the new list when
they send them to Shove (ideally 2 weeks before event). This would result
in the new list distributing  a mix of individual announcements of events 
about 2 weeks off (hopefully) and Shove's calendar for the next few
days.  Subscribers to the new list would all be in "digest mode" (note
that there would be a "calendar in a digest").  

The MN-prog-events2 test list is to see what a listserv digest of such a
mix of messages would look like.

For test, I took Shove calendars that announced events about 2 weeks after
7/24/05 and reformatted some of them as individual messages to this test
list (and changed the real name on my address to that of the original
contributor's). On 8/24 I sent about half of these to the test list and
got the digest that results.  On 8/25 I sent the others along with the
calendar Shove sent on 7/25 and got the digest that results.

The resulting listserv digest closely resembles what a subscriber to the
new list would get. It's a mix of individual announcements of further off
events and Shove's 1-2 day out calendar.  

NOTE: The dates in the test messages are confusing.  Dates messages were
sent are exactly a month after the date they should have been sent if they
were really announcing the events announced. Pretend all dates are in the
range 7/24 - 8/9. 

Here are the two faked listserv digests (second one includes Shove 
calendar covering 2 days after digest (tho dates are off)):

A bit of discussion of possible problems.

Shove edits subject lines into a consistant format; getting contributors
to have reasonable subject lines may be a challenge.  Getting them to send
messages to the new list at all is uncertain. Preventing inappropriate
announcments or even "Spam" could be a problem.

Jan 2006 update.  So far this is still just an idea.  I have only 
contacted a few contributors to Shove's list - enough to suggest the idea 
might work.  Note that the Mn-prog-events Mailing List is an independent 
effort from the Shove Calendar tho we build on his efforts.

The "early" version of announcements will be much less organized -
distributed when the contributor happened to send them (hopefully further
in advance).  And their format will be more variable since many people are
composing them. Guidelines for posting can help.  Web forms for submitting
announcements or strict format requirements could help more but would be
harder to develop and impose and get used.  My test digests are most
likely more consistant in format and timing that a real implementation
would achieve.

Fred Olson  Communications for justice 

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