Subject:      AZTLAN: what happened then (was: how AZTLAN list violated its own
 guidelines
From:         yuku@mail.trends.ca (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/04/22
Message-ID:   <5jin8v$c2d$1@trends.ca>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology,sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.anthropology

Dear John,

You wrote this letter quite a while ago, and I don't really feel like
returning again to the situations of conflict and strife that prevailed at
that time.

I'm back now after a long break, and things may look a little different
after one had some time to think about them and to consider them in
perspective.

But I thought I need to clarify some of these things you referred to, just
to provide my side of the story.

On 1997/02/26, John W. Hoopes" <[22]hoopes@ukans.edu> wrote:
> Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

> Yuri,
>
> Given your extensive, unflattering comments about AZTLAN, I felt
> compelled to post my own interpretation of what happened.  (It can be
> found under another one of the AZTLAN threads here.)  What it did not
> address is the issue of your forwarding an email message from AZTLAN to
> someone who was not a subscriber on the list.
>
> While it is not clear whether or not this was illegal, it certainly was
> in poor form.

John, I share your concern about things needing to be done in such a way
as to appear to be done "in good form". I care very much that people see
me as reliable and trustworthy in personal communications. That is why I
feel it is in fact something that "good form" demands that we stand by our
friends when negative comments are made about them.

Contrary to what you thought, I was in communication with Mike Xu _before_
I saw Billie's posting to Aztlan. So do you think it would have been "in
good form" for me to see her rather unflattering comments and to say
nothing about it to Mike whom I consider as my friend?

I pretty well felt obliged to behave in the way I did. From my point of
view it would have been in bad form not to have done what I did.

> Messages posted to email listservers are intended to be
> read by the subscribers alone, unless otherwise indicated.

John, but what about the interests of scholarship? Aren't we who dedicate
our lives to scholarship also supposed to be educators? Why would we need
or desire to keep our scholarship under seven locks and not be prepared to
make it available to broad public, to people pursuing other walks of life
who try to find information in their spare time in their attempts to
educate themselves about ancient history? What secrets do we need to hide?

> It is my own
> understanding that it is considered to be bad "netiquette" to cross-post
> from one discussion group to another,

In some circumstances, yes.

> or to forward a message from a
> listserver to a non-subscriber without permission.

And here I beg to disagree. I've never heard about such a Netiquette
requirement. To the contrary, many listservs make their archives public,
sometimes even on WWW, so that public can learn something new and useful
from scholarly discussions. This is called openness and transparency.

> Listservers are not
> Usenet.  You can get bumped from a listserver for poor behavior, which
> is exactly what happened.
>
> What you did was to forward a message that gave Xu's book an unfavorable
> review directly to Xu without the permission of Billie Follensbee, the
> messsage's author.  Follensbee made it clear that she had never intended
> for the message to be sent to Xu (who was not at that time a subscriber
> to AZTLAN).  She also made it clear that she would have worded it
> differently had she known that it would be seen by him.

I'm sure that in part a misunderstanding is to blame for that whole rather
unfortunate situation. Obviously Billie didn't quite understand that
listservs are a public medium. They are not private mail -- this is a
crucial distinction.

> Not only did
> you forward Follensbee's message to Xu without her permission, but you
> also posted a message containing Xu's comments on Follensnbee's post to
> AZTLAN.

But he _asked me_ to do so! I believe it would have been in poor form for
me not to do so.

> You then invited him to subscribe so that the debate could be
> introduced to the list (where discussion of the Olmec/Shang issue had
> evaporated weeks earlier).

But he wanted to subscribe. Why did I need to invite him?

> I don't see how these actions could be seen as anything other than
> intentionally provocative.

I'm really sorry you got this impression, but please believe me that
provocation was not what I intended.

In any case, I will not reply to your message point by point. Let
copyright law go in peace, and let the lawyers deal with the law -- it's
not like there's not enough of them around looking for work!

I'm not even sure I want to be a part of Aztlan again. Just think about
the climate that has been created by all these misunderstandings and
overreactions. Every word I will say on the list if I'm allowed to
resubscribe will now be scrutinized and peered at. What kind of a
scholarly atmosphere is this? This is not a relaxed and free-wheeling
atmosphere that is truly conducive to the study of ancient past where
certainties are few and where debate is essential.

But I reply to these points you raised only to show that my actions are
not necessarily qualifiable as done or intended to be done in bad form.

Permit me here to quote from Joe Bernstein, a highly respected member of
these history-oriented Usenet groups. Here are his comments about how he
sees this whole incident (much of his post, some parts of which were also
critical of yours truly, omitted to save space):

[begin quote]

Subject:      Re: how AZTLAN list violated its own guidelines
From:         [23]joe@sfbooks.com (Joe Bernstein)
Date:         1997/02/22
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology

        ...

I'm a bit at a loss here.  From the posts you posted, I'd be inclined to
say you were indeed disruptive by the usual standards of an academic list,
but not to such an extent as would (in my opinion, having run a mailing
list but not an academic one) justify unsubscribing you right away and
without warning.

        ...

Given that you didn't get that warning, and given that your posts were all
quite courteous under the circumstances, *and* given that I have no reason
to think you wouldn't have slowed down upon being warned, I'd say - judging
strictly by your side of the story, since I haven't heard the other - you
were wronged somewhat.

[end quote]

This is how Joe views this. I'm sure he is not the only one to see the
manner in which I was expelled from Aztlan, and the haste with which it
was done as rather unusual.

I wish you well, and hope that at some more propituous time we can perhaps
discuss things pertaining more to ancient past and less to these rather
tangential issues.

Yours,

Yuri.

Yuri Kuchinsky   | "Where there is the Tree of Knowledge, there
     -=-         | is always Paradise: so say the most ancient
 in Toronto      | and the most modern serpents."  F. Nietzsche
 ----- my webpage is still at: [24]http://www.io.org/~yuku -----
   _________________________________________________________________


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