I'm sorry if this bothers any of the other people monitoring this
news group but I need to make an observation. ....
You've brought up a good point but I'd like to offer a slightly
different take on the subject.
In a previous job part of my duties included the moderation and
management of a fairly active message board. I did it from the early
days of the board and in the 4 years of my involvement we enrolled
almost 6000 members who made about 150,000 posts. I mention this
because I think an active, well moderated message board is not unlike
our Orchid mailing list.
In my experience Orchid is exceptional in it's quality of posts and
contributions. Yes, it's true, the odd topic wanders off course now
and again but that's just the nature of the beast IMHO. If you want
people to contribute you need to let them speak their mind, within
reason of course, and that sometimes means they stray from the
original topic. Sometimes that's just a diversion but more often
than not --especially on Orchid-- it becomes another subject of
From what I've seen I feel compelled to point out that
over-moderation, or overly restricted discussions, can severely
damage the forward momentum of what is, after all, a community of
volunteers. Despite the best intentions the end result can be a
severe loss of participation and in that light the potential gains
may seem pretty pale in comparison. And yes, I am speaking from
personal experience here.
So what's my point you may be asking yourself. Just this: certainly
it would be good for us to keep your suggestion in mind when we post
to Orchid but part of the reason Orchid thrives is that we don't feel
hampered or restricted in process of making those posts. As
"volunteers" here that's a pretty important thing. A little wandering
here and there is par for the course and a small inconvenience when
you look at the unique community and treasure of that
Orchid has become. If it ain't broke don't fix it.