Why are Leica discussion
Everything that's fit to post
Once you subscribe to some discussion lists (especially photo.net or the LUG), you'll quickly notice that little of the traffic has anything to do with to Leica cameras or even photography. What is going on?
Unfortunately, like any other public meeting which doesn't have a chairman to keep things on track, discussions will inevitably be derailed by a clique of bores, axe-grinders & wind-bags. Twenty years ago they may have been content with haranguing the world from stepladders in public parks — now they do it from home using an anonymous e-mail address.
A little moderation perhaps?
So why not filter out the noise? After all many other lists are moderated — for example the no-nonsense, 3000-member Editorial Photographers list — why not Leica lists? Is it a freedom-of-speech thing, or something else?…
1. The Too-Hard basket
Having tried (for a week) to run a moderated Leica list myself (the now defunct Leica-Pro mailing list), I can say from experience that it takes up far too much your time. Easily ninety minutes a day, every day, 7 / 365. Sadly a lot of this time is spent doing simple admin. tasks like subscribing new users, answering queries from non-members, or scanning through, approving and rejecting individual posts.
This is when everything runs smoothly, which isn't often. Typically the mailing list software will crash, meaning you have to chase the system admin. to fix / restart their scripts. Then you find the batch of posts you so carefully vetted was erased by some errant CGI, meaning you have to redo everything from scratch. Sometimes you also find yourself in e-mail wars with Freedom Of Speech Zealots, who get offended at your having edited or rejected their 2000 word off-topic rants…
So it has little to do with revulsion against censorship. Leica and most other mailing lists remain unmoderated because to oversee them takes far too much time — time which could be spent more profitably taking photographs, or running a business, or even having a life! Sad fact, but there it is. :?(
2. List-Mom as willing accomplice
A lot of mailing lists degenerate into formless OT Vectors simply because the list owners ("List-Moms") actually like the off-topic chatter.
It sounds incredible, but at least two Leica discussion forums have owners who think limiting the discussion to only Leica cameras & photography is far too restrictive, dictatorial and even "boring".
So the lists pile up with blather about politics or Artschool Orthodoxy or whatever, leaving the rest of us scratching our heads. Send the admin. a polite message about this, and it will inevitably trigger a flaky response stuffed with phrases like "jackboot", "armband" or "censorship sux".
Sheesh. When things deteriorate to the stage where a captain is no longer prepared to give orders, let alone steer the ship, then it's not surprising things end up smashed on the rocks.
Scenes of madness
(1) Here — at random — is a typically way-off-topic LUG post:
(2) Here is an edited lampoon by Duane Birkey of the mindlessly inane, off-topic trivia you can find on a usual Leica mailing list:
[…] I thinking about buying a Mont Blanc pen.... is it really the finest writing instrument??? Leni Riefenstahl was (or not) a Nazi loving stooge. I've heard good things about Tilley hats... are they worth the money???? I read that with the progress made recently in digital imaging that film will be dead soon.... But is digital photography really art????? I just love the Noctilux and it must be the perfect lens at all apertures... Please look at my PAW and baby/ wedding/ cat pix... What dilution of XTOL do you recommend?... Scala, Delta, Tri-X — which one of these will make my shots look more like Salgado's?... a photographer I know told me to avoid buying anything Leica made in Portugal or Canada.... I've heard Voigtländer is making lenses for Leicas now????? […]
This would be hilarious if it wasn't so very true. (Sigh…)