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Theos-World regarding publishing subscriber lists

Dec 29, 1999 08:10 AM
by Eldon B. Tucker

Here's a message regarding theos-talk which I just posted to
the theos-l list.

-- Eldon



> Theos-L and the associated lists are not only unmoderated, and the
> subscriber lists are public. On the other hand theos-talk subscriber list
> It is very interesting to get a listing of subscribers to theos-l and a
> perceptive person can get a sense of which segment of "theosophists" are
> subscribers which are not.
> To get a list of subscribers to theos-l all one needs is to send a e-mail
> to:
> with a single line in the body of the msg
> review theos-l

For many years, theos-l was based on listserv software. It had a
feature that allowed individual subscribers to choose if they'd
like their email id to appear in a list of subscribers or not.
Only a handful of subscribers enabled the feature; nearly everyone
kept the default where their email id was given out.

I would say that making the list of id's available to everyone
is not a good idea. It does not really show who's reading emails
from the list. We can never tell who may be behind various email
id's like "" etc.  On the other hand, spamming
and unwelcome recruiting for various cults is becoming more of
a problem all the time. People will join lists in order to
harvest email id's to be resused for their own purposes. 

When I subscribe to a list, I'd prefer that my privacy be
protected. Theos-talk uses the majordomo software, and doesn't
provide an option for individual subscribers to publish or
withhold their personal id and information. Anyone can 
go from lurking to full visibility whenever they choose to
post to the list. Better mailing list software is better
at mangling email id's or doing something to protect the
privacy of both people posting to the list as well as non-posting
subscribers. But time and money constraints keep me from looking
into it for now.

The idea that it was important for anyone to read a full list
of subscribers/lurkers, regardless of their desire to publish
their names/id's or not, was first raised when the ACT list
was being started. JRC commented on theos-l that he had looked
at a list of theos-l subscribers and found a few were concealed,
and wondered if there was something sinister going on. He
asserted that it was important than no one be able to subscribe
to the list unless everyone could know who they were. John
Mead became convinced and changed the list setup so that
there was no privacy for subscribers anymore. From that point
onward, if you wanted to subscribe to theos-l, anyone could
get your full email id.

At that time, John helped JRC create the ACT-l list, with
he, John Mead, and JRC as co-listowners. I've always
thought that it was inconsistent that the ACT-l list has
*concealed* its list of subscribers, so only JRC and John
Mead know who's on the list, while it was JRC's initial
assertion that keeping list subscribers unconcealed was
the right thing to do.

Personally, I respect the privacy of individuals, and
consider it wrong for a mailing list to make available
it's complete list of subscribers. The only subscribers
whose information should be given out should, I think,
be those who explicitly indicate an interest in having
their information made public. My inclination is in
favor of individual right to privacy over individual
curiosity rights. That's why the "who" command is
disabled in theos-talk.

Each list needs to be managed by its listowner in cooperation
with its participants. If you feel, MKR, that all lists 
should make their subscription lists publically avaliable,
you might suggest, for consistency sake, that ACT-l open
up its list, and then post the list of its subscribers
on theos-l. I don't agree with this, though, and would not
give out the id's of any theos-talk subscribers without
their knowledge and advance permission. 

-- Eldon

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