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RE: Message to those Lurking in the shadows:>)

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I will reply publicly because I have, as you say, been lurking for far too long now.  As I told you in a private email a few weeks ago, I work as the Project Manager for (BRIX) - the Builders Resource and Information Exchange.  BRIX is presented by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) which is the largest building trade association in the UK with more than 15,000 member building firms.  The aim of the project is to provide our members and the wider building community with practical, easy to use information to serve their real world business needs. 

I subscribed to this list several months ago because I have been considering starting a similar list (but for building firms) for some time now.  There seemed to be clear parallels in the interests and working practices of the two professions and this list seemed to be a good one to watch. 

I have justified my lurking to myself because wanted to be able to sit back quietly and understand how a professional would work in this context.  I imagined that the list would have its own culture, social norms, and knowledge sharing that is at the heart of any real world trade association or similar group.  Think of me over the last few months as an untrained anthropologist if you will.

But as someone who has been involved in administering on-line systems for a number of years, I know better than to lurk.  I believe that lurkers have a social responsibility to contribute at least once in a while in order to ensure the vitality, usefulness indeed even the progress of the list.  Surely a list with the same small handful of contributors engaged in intellectual intercourse is as bad as a very small number of participants in a gene pool.  The inevitable results are the same for both communities.

Please don't take the above the wrong way - I'm not suggesting that this has even begun to happen here, but just think how much more lively and interesting this list would be if its 600? or  6,000? subscribers did participate.   

I have watched through many interesting and useful professional threads.  It is clear that these discussion have assisted many engineers in their work on countless occasions over the last several months. 

I have also watched through the "Clinton"  and "abacus" discussions amongst others - anyone who is familiar with the list will know what I mean.  It was this type of thread which had given me doubts about the ability of a list to be "useful" in a professional context. 
Reading through 50 posts a day on the President's alleged sex life is probably fairly difficult to justify for anyone who claims to be strapped for time.   

While at first both the "Clinton" and "abacus" threads seemed to derail the list and send it off into irrelevancy, the list has always managed to regain its equilibrium and quickly return to its task of assisting structural engineers by providing practical help.  

I suppose the point is that while everyone here has an interest in structural engineering, construction, etc. what really bonds us is our humanity.  And in this vein a small joke - or Kathleen's very funny contributions such as "What you can learn from a dog" do not go amiss  - on the contrary they seem to enliven and inform the rest of our work.

So to bring this to a conclusion - I will be starting a construction list server as part of our site's services.  This list has convinced me of the usefulness of the activity- but I will also do something that I hadn't expected to do.  I will continue with this list as well.  

After the last few months I feel like all of its regular contributors are all dear old friends - I would miss the extra 50 daily posts about engineering technicalities and Chicago pizzas equally.

So apologies for my lurking and I promise to be a better list citizen in future.

Warm regards and well done on a vital and fulfilling list community.

Brent Ludwick
BRIX Project Manager
Federation of Master Builders
14-15 Great James Street
London, UK, WC1N 3DP
Tel: 0171 242 7583  
Fax:0171 404 0296
Email: brent(--nospam--at)
For more information about BRIX see
BRIX banner is at

-----Original Message-----
From:	Dennis S. Wish [SMTP:wish(--nospam--at)]
Sent:	Tuesday, March 10, 1998 3:01 AM
To:	Seaoc@Seaoc. Org
Subject:	Message to those Lurking in the shadows:>)

In a recent private discussion, I learned that there are some 6,000 subscribers to this list. I don't believe it!
This would mean that 6,000 people are receiving our twenty some daily posts. Surely something in those posts must prompt a response. If those in the shadows are not interested in the list, then are you simply dumping our posts into the floating trashcan?????

Since I don't believe that there are 6,000 subscribers - I don't even believe there are 600. I'm being generous at that - Are there really more than 50 or 60??????? 

Let's do this. I challenge each of you who have not posted on this list in the last two weeks to send me a private email to let me know that you are alive and well and haven't fallen down waiting for help.

Send your SHORT note to me at wish(--nospam--at)  No solicitation for money, please!  I spend too much time on this list to earn a decent living.

Again, I would like to receive one post from each subscriber and I promise to keep it anonomous - I'll even trash it after I receive it. I just want to know how many of you are really out there. I'd love to know why the majority of you don't participate since attending physical meetings is no longer the excuse. However, I'll accept the fact that you exist to be enough. Please include your name and location so I can find out who we are reaching. If you want to compliment me please do. If you want to flame me, send your post to my trashcan(--nospam--at)

P.S. Please don't expect a reply unless you include a hugh compliment - then I only send form letters.

Dennis S. Wish PE