Private responses on the network

Fri Sep 27 09:05:53 EST 1991

/If a response is not of general interest, responding personally conserves
/bandwidth, but most importantly it avoid the entire list having to spend
/their valuable time reading a message not of interest to them (IMHO).

I disagree, for three reasons.

1. Public response ensures quality control. An erroneous public response 
such as the quoted one above :-)  can be rebutted, whereas a private one 
won't be. This is more important in matters of fact than of opinion. People 
who respond to questions are trying to be helpful and well-meaning, but 
that doesn't guarantee that they will know the correct answer.

2. Public response actually reduces network bandwidth and the time required
of would-be respondants. If you see that someone has already posted the 
answer that you would have provided yourself, you obviously don't post it, 
thereby saving yourself a lot of time. If the reponses are private you 
can't tell that fifty people have already responded. An example: I recently 
posted a question concerning a particular piece of software in one of the 
archives. I got exactly one response, through this newsgroup, that provided 
all the information I needed, and possibly helped other people who are (or 
may soon be) encountering the same kind of difficulty.

3. Who's to say what's of general interest and what's not?

Stephen Clark

clark at galen.oci.utoronto.ca   (Internet)
clark at utoroci                 (Netnorth/Bitnet)

"For what it is worth, many of the legends accompanying figures in this journal
are not very different, although we take some care to provide each sentence 
with a verb if the author has overlooked the need for one." -J.Maddox, Nature.

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