Re: Nature of Telusa

Savithri Machiraju (savithri@netcom.com)
Tue, 22 Apr 1997 00:23:01 -0700 (PDT)


Since Sreenivas garu referred to the "black hole" to which posts on 
Friday and Saturday disappeared, I conclude that that's where my reply on 
Friday also went, where I responded to Palana garu and Bapa Rao garu.  
Unfortunately I did not save that reply (now I know better!) so will try 
again.

First, I want to thank Palana garu and Bapa Rao garu for responding.  I 
am sorry that you were upset, and I am also glad that you expressed your 
displeasure immediately, rather than trying to suppress your feelings.  
Feelings that are suppressed (even from "good intentions" such as not 
wanting to cause a fuss) tend to fester and become more and more intense 
the longer they go unexpressed.  This, as I said in my disappeared 
posting, is my failing.  I do not in general like to speak (literally or 
metaphorically, through posting) when I am irritated about something, as 
I prefer to wait and see whether the feeling of irritation is transient 
or of a more lasting nature.  This is what I was doing with this issue 
also.  Now while this practice has the advantage of preventing hasty and 
unnecessary exchanges, it has the disadvantage that, if the original 
cause of the annoyance goes unaddressed or even increases over time, the 
final expression may be stronger than an initial response.  This issue  
(about the nature of Telusa) has been on my mind for many months now, 
without any abatement of my reaction.  Hence I decided to speak out.

The main points I got out of the previous two responses were, from Palana 
garu, "What's wrong with cross-posting to SCIT?" and from Bapa Rao garu, 
that "Not everyone has Usenet access (to get SCIT)".  So the gist of both 
these responses is that Telusa is essentially SCIT for those without 
Usenet access.  That's fine.  That's what I wanted clarified.

Two questions out of curiosity, though.  Until very recently (as recently
as the moderation discussion on SCIT) there was an electonic digest
version of SCIT for those without Usenet access (this was the one where,
to help you remember, they decided to ban anonymous posts).  What happened
to this?  Did this now go defunct?  And has Telusa officially become the
replacement?  (Never having been a subscriber to this, I don't know the
answers).  And if Telusa has now become its replacement, isn't this a
different purpose than the avowed one when Telusa was started?  This is
the reason for my confusion. 

To get to some particulars of Bapa Rao garu's reply, I am not accusing 
anyone on this list of any untoward or unethical behavior. The words 
"collusion and conspiracy" referred to allegations by others, and  
probably should have been in quotes to prevent any confusion.  I am 
*definitely* not saying any vote-rigging or anything of a similar nature 
went on; if it came across as though as I did, I apologize.

The point is, there is a difference between someone saying:  "H'mm, the 
people I need to talk to are all conveniently assembled here, so let me 
take the opportunity to discuss some other issues, even though they have 
nothing to do with the purpose for which we have assembled"; and: "OK, 
now that we're all here out of observation, let's get down to our real 
business, which is the improvement of SCIT".  I have been assuming (or 
giving the benefit of doubt) all along, that it was the former situation 
that we had here; and that being so, these digressions (as I viewed them) 
on SCIT matters would stop once that business was taken care of, and we 
would revert back to "the regularly scheduled programming."  Only we 
never have reverted, and what to me were digressions became the bulk of 
the posts.  By digressions I do not just mean discussion on the structure 
of SCIT, but posts that are germane to SCIT but not to a literature list.

Now, if a group of people, however large or small, decided that SCIT has 
changed in a way that they don't like, and they decide to form a mailing 
list to discuss essentially the same things, but limited to an approved 
membership list, there is nothing wrong with that.  If they start a list 
for some other specific purpose, and then decide to expand the  charter 
of that list to other topics, there is nothing wrong with that, either.  
But if they start a list with a specific stated purpose, and the 
discussions then veer toward a whole host of topics which are not within 
that stated purpose, then I don't see why they should be surprised when 
someone raises the question of what the nature of that list is now.

There is, for example, a writing newsgroup on Usenet. Over the past two 
or three years, a lot of new people started posting there, completely 
changing the nature of the group.  Many of the old-timers felt that the 
group was no longer focussed on writing, but was spending too much time 
on extraneous issues.  The new members replied that the majority of the 
group *as it was now constituted* had no objection to the present topics, 
so there was no reason to "get back on focus."  Some of the old members 
then started a mailing list which was more specifically focussed on 
writing.  Clearly there is much overlap between the list and the 
newsgroup.  But the the list has never felt the need to post its contents 
in its entirety to the newsgroup.  From time to time someone posts either 
bemoaning the lack of writing focus of the newsgroup or asking for a more 
writing-oriented resource.  The poster is then directed to the mailing 
list.  In fact, the subscription information is part of the FAQ of the 
group.  This seems to me to be very similar to what happened here.  

Sreenivas garu mentions the Ghantasala list among others, and so did I, 
to point out that the members of those lists don't apparently feel the 
need to post their contents to SCIT (even though they would be 
appropriate, as being part of Telugu culture), so why do the Telusa 
members.  Sreenivas garu says it was because when Telusa was formed, most 
of the regular posters to SCIT left, and SCIT suffered as a consequence.  
But it is the nature of Usenet groups to evolve over time.  If the Telusa 
members felt sufficiently disenchanted with SCIT to leave, then why are 
they still worrying about it?  Palana garu asks what is wrong with cross-   
posting Telusa to SCIT.  Well, aside from the fact that it violates the 
spirit, if not the letter, of the new moderation policy (no cross-posts 
from other groups; so Telusa gets off the hook by virtue of being a list, 
and not a group), the answer is contained in Bapa Rao garu's reply.  He 
states that Telusa is a mailing list that people can join by invitation 
only.  Exactly!  This means that it is a _private_ list.  (If privacy were 
not an issue, why make it invitation-only?)  Is there not a contradiction 
in saying we are holding a private conversation among members, but doing 
so in a public forum?  If a child brings a pile of party invitations to a 
classroom and proceeds to hand them out to some, but not all, of the 
children present, we can all see the rudeness involved.  Why can we not 
see the analogy to references to "fellow Telusa-ers", etc. on SCIT? Now, 
someone is going to point out that Telusa members are not holding a 
private conversation, because they are quite willing to respond to 
comments on SCIT from non-Telusa members.  Yes, and this is where I get 
completely lost.  If people want to post their articles to SCIT in order 
to elicit a response from SCIT readers who are not Telusa members, then 
what is the purpose of having a Telusa list?  The only viable answer I 
can see is Bapa Rao garu's, that it is for the benefit of those without 
Usenet access.  Fine, but that's not what I was told was the purpose of 
Telusa.  To address Sreenivas garu's comment on this point, if the 
desire is to "improve" SCIT, surely the best way is to stay within it and 
do whatever it takes (posting articles, changing the group's guidelines) 
to make it better?

Both Sreenivas garu and Palana garu raised the question of why I don't 
post.  Again I'll have to give a little history here.  When Telusa was 
first started, for a few months it was dominated by discussions of a 
highly classical nature.  While I enjoy things like samasyA pUraNa very 
much, I am not qualified to participate actively in such things, not 
having the command over the language to do so.  When the list moved on to 
other topics where I felt both willing and able to post, it was more or 
less concurrent with all the digressions I have mentioned.  I honestly 
did not know where it was appropriate to post any more.  I prefer to post 
to a literature list, because I am aware that these matters are not of 
general interest to SCIT.  But I did not know if the list really was just 
for literature discussions any more, or if there was another agenda (For 
example, I don't know why the list operators allowed the formation of 
another Usenet newsgroup on Telugu language and literature to go forward, 
without pointing out that there was no need to form such a group, as 
there was a mailing list devoted to just this purpose).  As for SCIT, it 
was first going through its various throes, and, when those were over, I 
was caught in the dilemma of the duplication of Telusa.  On the one hand, 
I felt that I was duped into joining an action to which I would not have 
agreed had I known about it; on the other hand, I did not want to judge 
anyone hastily, and without giving them a chance to clarify their 
position.  Others may not feel so paralyzed by indecision.  Very well.  
This is again my personal idiosyncracy or shortcoming, whichever you want 
to call it.  Moreover, I had no trouble convincing myself that the 
members of Telusa and SCIT could get along quite well without my pearls 
of wisdom.  (It is kind of you to talk about my "eminence", Sreenivas 
garu, but unless you take a very small pond -- say, bathtub size -- I 
can't be considered a big fish).

Sreenivas garu raises an important point about disappointment. I am not 
personally acquainted with the regular posters here (except for briefly 
meeting Veluri Venkateswara Rao garu many years ago at a TANA 
conference), and have had sporadic email contact with only a couple.  
However, like Sreenivas garu, I have developed a great respect for many of 
you from your postings both on SCIT and Telusa.  So you can imagine the 
disappointment I felt while observing many of these activities.  One can 
only be disappointed in those one respects.  There are several regular 
posters to SCIT, for example, who could not disappoint me, because I do 
not have any expectations of them.

Finally, Bapa Rao garu raises the question of the appropriateness of 
this discussion on the mailing list.  There were three reasons why I 
thought I could raise this issue here:  (1) I thought a discussion on the 
nature and purpose of a mailing list naturally belonged on the list 
itself; (2) I thought this topic was at least as appropriate as other 
topics which were posted to the list; and (3)  I thought this a 
discussion that would be better conducted on Telusa than on SCIT.

However, since, from the three responses so far, I have gathered that 
that Telusa is a de facto replica of SCIT for those without Usenet 
access, I have got the answer I was looking for. If I choose to post 
anything, it will be to SCIT, as that seems the appropriate forum.  Since 
this has been a long response, in which I hope I have addressed the 
issues raised by the three people who replied to my query, I do not want 
to take up the list's time on this topic any longer.  If any one wants to 
pursue the discussion (especially those who feel it is inappropriate to 
the list), I request them to do so via email.

Thank you Palana garu, Bapa Rao garu, and Sreenivas garu for your 
responses.  

Savithri Machiraju