On Feb 26, 2016, at 8:42 AM, Julie Swierczek <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
We also agreed that listservs – both here and elsewhere – seem to have shrinking participation over time, and there does seem to be a drive to pull more conversations out of the public eye. There is no question that some matters are best discussed in private channels, such as feedback about individual candidates for duty officers, or matters pertaining to physical and mental well-being. But when it comes to discussing technology or other professional matters, there seems to be a larger trend of more responses going off listservs. (I, for one, generally do not reply to questions on listservs and instead reply to the OP privately because I’ve been burned to many times publicly. The main listserv for archivists in the US has such a bad reputation for flaming that it has its own hashtag: #thatdarnlist.)
Maybe we can brainstorm about common reasons for people not using the list: impostor syndrome (I don’t belong here and/or I certainly don’t have the right ‘authority’ to respond to this); fear of being judged - we see others being judged on a list (about the technological finesse of their response, for instance) so we don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we will be judged; fear of talking in general because we have seen other people harmed for bringing their ideas to public forums (cf. doxing and swatting); fear of looking stupid in general.
Thank you for bringing this up, Julie. I have been curious about this myself. I think you are correct in that there is some “impostor syndrome involved, but my hypothesis is that there has been a lot of splintering of the channels/lists over the past several years that has dried up some of the conversation. For one, there’s StackOverflow. StackOverflow is more effective than a listserv on general tech questions because it requires you to ask questions in a way that is clear (with simple examples) and keeps answers on topic. There has also been a move towards specific project lists so that more general lists like Code4Lib are not bombarded with discussions about project-related minutia that are only relevant to a certain sub-community.
I don’t see this as a bad thing, as it allows Code4Lib to be a gathering hub among many different sub-groups. But it can make it difficult to know what is appropriate to post and ask here. Code4Lib has always been about inspiration and curiosity to me. This is a place to be a free thinker, to question, to dissent, to wonder. We have a long tradition of “asking anything” and we shouldn’t discourage that, but I think Code4Lib is a particularly good space to discuss bigger-picture tech-in-library issues/challenges as well as general best practices at a “techy” level. It’s certainly the appropriate space to inspire others with amazing examples of library tech that delights users. :)
I have to admit that I was disappointed that the recent question about full-text searching basics (behind OregonDigital’s in-page highlighting of keywords in the IA Bookreader) went basically unanswered. This was a well-articulated legitimate question, and at least a few people on this list should be able to answer it. It’s actually on my list to try to do it so that I can report back, but maybe someone could save me the trouble and quench our curiosity?