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Re: [ontolog-forum] Tighter control of ontolog forum?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2010 13:52:42 -0500
Message-id: <4B5DE87A.1090701@xxxxxxxx>
Peter Yim wrote:    (01)

> 1.  I have, of late, received some complaints again, that the ontolog
> forum has been overloaded with too many off-topic notes that
> contribute very little to the subject of ontology and its
> applications. ...    (02)

The word "ontology" confuses, along with several others we commonly 
use.  The purpose of this forum is to facilitate interchanges among 
knowledge engineers about knowledge engineering.  As we know, that 
touches on mathematical logic, on philosophical issues, on the nature of 
"truth" in science, and on a number of areas in linguistics and 
semantics.  It is a broad topic, and the discussions of presumably 
relevant issues in those areas are clearly appropriate.     (03)

On the other hand, as Peter himself has said, this is an informal 
discussion group -- a "water cooler conversation" -- and topics of 
interest to several people educated in some of these related fields, 
although mostly or totally irrelevant to knowledge engineering, do come 
up.  I don't really find that troubling, as long as it doesn't become a 
dominant characteristic of the forum  for two weeks and 100 emails.    (04)

> 7.  Anyone who can't agree to "self-regulate" or who doesn't think the
> examples I cited were inappropriate, please email me offline (I could
> well be mistaken ... but let's not burden the rest of the community.)
>       (05)

I am taking the risk of annoying Peter and others by responding to this 
online.  I composed a defense of most of the emails Peter finds fault 
with, but I won't burden you all with it.  The upshot is that people 
have to judge the relevance of their contribution, and they can be 
misled by the irrelevance of others.  People can only write as well as 
they can in the time they have, and they may write too clumsily or too 
technically for many readers (or some strident ones).  And finally, 
people tend to mix messages, which produces a confusion of focus or intent.    (06)

That said, there are some authors whose emails I routinely delete 
without reading -- whatever their expertise, its relevance has never 
been visible _to me_ in their written contributions -- and when their 
emails and the replies to them dominate a thread, I delete the thread.  
But that is my choice and my opinion, and I may be missing something.  
This Forum is a jungle and some apparently noxious plants still have 
medicinal value.     (07)

This is the guidance I take from Peter's message:    (08)

Think before you write.  Focus on the issue when you reply.  And 
remember that 700 people are going to get this message, and their common 
interest is knowledge engineering, which means that 70% of them have 
neither knowledge nor interest in the esoteric aspects of your 
particular domain of expertise or any other sidebar.  They only care 
about the aspects that are relevant to knowledge engineering.    (09)

And oh yeah, mea culpa.  I have certainly violated this guidance myself 
on multiple occasions, and I apologize to those who have found that 
annoying.    (010)

-Ed    (011)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (012)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (013)

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