Paleonet: sorry!

David Kopaska-Merkel dkm at
Mon Jan 11 14:14:11 GMT 2010

I agree that thanks are due to Norm for running PaleoNet all these years.  
The inadvertent messages, always embarrassing to the sender and frequently  
entertaining to the rest of us, are uncommon and in the grand scheme of  
things not very important. I am one of those who prefer PaleoNet to stay  
simple and workable.


On Sat, 09 Jan 2010 01:05:05 -0600, Norman MacLeod <N.MacLeod at>  

> Like most mailing-lists, PaleoNet list is run using public domain  
> listserver
> management software (currently Mailman) licensed to and maintained by The
> Natural History Museum, London, not a custom designed system programmed  
> by
> myself. That's a requirement of all lists managed under the NHM domain.  
> The
> user options available are those available in the Mailman software (see
> summary in the PaleoNet User's Guide, available in as part of the  
> PaleoNet
> web site (
> All listserver software works passively in the sense that no one needs to
> connect to the software itself in order to post a message. The software
> accepts incoming e-mails from wherever, compares the return addresses to  
> the
> addresses present on a master subscriber list, and if a match is found
> resents the messages (subject to certain limits) to the addresses on the
> master list. That's all a listserver does.
> Under Mailman users can set a fairly wide range of options (compared to
> other listserver software systems) to control the form of, type of, and  
> how
> often messages are sent to their addresses. But currently there is no  
> option
> for the list to accept an incoming message, bounce back and e-mail  
> message
> to the original poster asking them whether they really, really, really  
> want
> to post that message, instruct the original poster as to how to respond  
> to
> the software in an e-mail message indicating their preference in a form  
> the
> listserver could understand, interpret the return response, and then take
> appropriate action. As I hope you can see, adding this capability is not
> 'simple enough to do' (people who don't program often think computer
> programming is simple) and would result in a very inelegant, intrusive,  
> and
> error-prone system that I doubt many PaleoNet subscribers would want to  
> use.
> The other option would be for me to run PaleoNet as a moderated list  
> which
> would require me to read and approve all messages that come in prior to
> their distribution. This, of course, places a substantial burden on the  
> list
> owner/moderator, virtually guarantees substantial delay in the posting of
> messages, and can lead to disagreements between the moderator and
> subscribers as to what constitutes an 'acceptable' posting.
> The problem Peter, Dave, and a few others (including myself) have run  
> into
> over the years with respect to inadvertently posting messages intended  
> for
> individuals to the entire list exists, obviously. However, relative to  
> other
> lists this problem really doesn't crop up on PaleoNet very often. Yes it  
> is
> embarrassing for those caught out. But life goes on. The bottom line is,
> adding this capability to PaleoNet is actually quite a major undertaking
> that would result in making the listserver far more intrusive and  
> probably
> wouldn't work anyway insofar as most subscribers would opt to turn the
> distribution confirmation option off as they would find it needless and
> annoying after a short time, all to solve a problem that, contrary to
> Peter's assertion, occurs in less that one percent of the messages
> distributed by PaleoNet. Because these messages attract disproportionate
> interest it might seem as though they are common. But given the amount of
> routine traffic handled by the list they are actually quite rare.
> It seems to me the best solution is for subscribers to simply think a bit
> harder and double-check before pressing that 'Send' button on messages
> intended for PaleoNet. Actually, thinking a bit harder before you press  
> that
> 'Send' button on any e-mail message is probably good advice.
> Regards.
> Norm MacLeod
> On 8/1/10 23:50, "argo at" <argo at> wrote:
>> All too often paleonet is publishing messages not meant for general
>> consumption.  As John seems to think that I am the king of gaffes,  
>> perhaps he
>> and I can impress on Norm to build in an automatic response asking if  
>> you
>> really want to tell the world how much you despise so and so. It should  
>> be
>> simple enough to do - too often people are hitting respond unthinkingly.
>> Professor Peter D Ward
>> Dept of Biology
>> The University of Washington
>> Seattle, 98195
>> 206-543-2962  ( Office )
>> _______________________________________________
>> Paleonet mailing list
>> Paleonet at
> ___________________________________________________________________
> Prof. Norman MacLeod
> Keeper of Palaeontology
> The Natural History Museum
> Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD
> (0)207 942-5204 (Office)
> (0)207 942-5546 (Fax)
> (Web Page)
> ___________________________________________________________________
> _______________________________________________
> Paleonet mailing list
> Paleonet at

David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Geological Survey of Alabama
Box 869999
Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-6999
fax 205-349-2861

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