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Missing Brigade (2)
In my musing last evening on how a discussion list might go at
attracting the most knowledgeable people in its field--in antimonopoly
policy, the very senior economic scholars who've written the textbooks for
the past 4 or 5 decades, conducted the leading empirical studies of
real-world monopolies, and so on--I was about to start my 3rd suggestion,
got distracted, and then later inadvertently hit 'send' while posting a
dozen or so other messages. Here is the completed version of my suggestions
for making a list attractive to these distinguished people:
1. No name-calling, ad hominem attacks, or discourteous, uncivil,
disrespectful or offensive posts.
2. The list owner will himself, or through a designate, provide an
E-mail address for the lodging of complaints under (1), above, either by
the person offended or by any other member of the list.
3. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the offender will be invited
to submit to the group, and to the person offended, an on-line apology
which has been accepted by the latter. Should the offender decline to do
so, he will be forthwith removed from the list of members.
This morning I joined another antitrust discussion list, one
administered by the American Bar Association (ABA). Its policy guidelines
include the following:
'This list is a privilege and personal attacks and profanity will
not be tolerated. If you feel that this privilege is being abused by
a subscriber, it is your right and your RESPONSIBILITY to email
to email@example.com and report this.'
This covers my points (1) and (2). And it would hardly be
surprising if, in their application, this group of lawyers doesn't also
employ my principle (3), namely, requiring an apology (made publicly,
on-list) that is sufficient to satisfy the person who has been offended.
The latter point, in my view, is vital--the list is going to lose that
offended senior scholar if HE is left with a sense of justice not fully and
fairly done. It is his perception of the matter that is vital to keeping
him, which of course means that there must not just be an apology by the
offender but that it must be of a kind and character that fully satisifes
the victim, that is generous enough to persuade him to say, 'apology
Attracting the most knowledgeable people to Net discussion groups is
obviously the linchpin in their ability to contribute to the solution of the
world's harder policy problems. So far, none of the lists I've been on have
spelled out such a consistent, coherent policy--or have attracted the full
roster of the best in their respective fields. 'List policy' is, I believe,
a key factor in making a real-world difference. I hope we'll hear from
other members who have some thoughts here.
Charles Mueller, Editor
ANTITRUST LAW & ECONOMICS REVIEW