[FOM] message from the moderator
martin at eipye.com
Fri Jan 20 16:39:39 EST 2006
The purpose of this message is to clarify what I, as moderator, do for FOM,
and what is expected of subscribers.
The list processing software that runs FOM, as well as the membership list,
and the archive of all previous posts is hosted by the Courant Institute of
Mathematical Sciences at New York University as a courtesy. FOM is not
required to pay anything for this privilege, and I neither seek nor receive
any financial compensation for the work I do. I am assisted by an
outstanding group of editors who likewise perform their sometimes extensive
duties with only the satisfaction of contributing to our field as compensation.
Subscribers are expected to have substantial knowledge of mathematical
logic such as would normally be obtained from completion of a graduate
level course on the subject. As moderator, part of my job is to screen
applicants to ensure that they meet this requirement. In practice, I tend
to be lenient. I also screen messages proposed for posting for content and
format. Content means reaching close to a professional level; of course an
email list permits a casual style not appropriate for journal articles. But
FOM is not a place for casual musings preceded by IMHO such as are found on
many lists. Format means plain text, in particular, no HTML. It also means
avoiding long quotations from previous posts. Relevant snippets are fine.
Readers can always find the full text in the archives. All posts should
show the subscribers' full name, either as part of the "from" email address
or as a "signature" at the end of the post. Some of the editors urge that
the subscribers' professional affiliation and interests also be shown, and
this is a good idea, but I do not enforce that.
I try to check for posts at least once a day, even when I'm on a trip. The
"mailman" software that runs FOM presents me with a list of proposed posts,
and for each one a window showing me all or part of the message. Typically,
more than half the messages will simply be spam which I can discard on a
first pass without looking at their content. For the remaining messages,
mailman tells me whether it regards the sender as a legitimate subscriber.
This works as long as subscribers use a "from" address identical to the
address under which they subscribed. But a subscriber listed as joe at foo.edu
will not be recognized if s/he turns up as joe at boole.foo.edu. Often I
simply recognize the writer as a subscriber when this happens. Otherwise I
have to do a time-consuming search of the membership list to attempt
identification. Usually, that works.
For messages that are too long for the window provided, I forward them to
my personal email account so I can see the whole thing. This can cause
delay. Messages that contain HTML often have the message in plaintext
preceding the HTML version. For a short message I can see the HTML in the
window provided. For a longer message, again I have to forward it to where
I can see the whole thing.
The editors play a very important role, when I am unsure whether to post a
particular message. Not only do they provide valuable input, but also, in
the case of a rejection, I can make it clear to the writer that it was not
simply my opinion. Finally, when I do reject without consulting the
editors, the writer is free to ask the editors for a second opinion.
Visiting Scholar UC Berkeley
Professor Emeritus, NYU
martin at eipye.com
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