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Q&A

Q1:I heard that some newsgroups and mailing lists are "moderated" and some aren't. What does that mean?
A1: Those lists have a "moderator," a person who reads every message and tries to ensure that messages follow some general rules set forth for the group (usually the rules of netiquette; see Hour 14). If you break the rules in a group, the moderator may send you a warning or two. In a mailing list, if you break rules repeatedly, the moderator may kick you off the list.

Of course, some folks object to moderators, saying that a moderator inevitably imposes his or her values on the whole group, preventing a truly free-flowing dialog from taking place. There are many "unmoderated" newsgroups; for example, many of the "alternative" newsgroups (those whose names begin with "alt") are unmoderated. There are fewer unmoderated mailing lists, but of course, some moderators are so lenient that the list seems unmoderated anyway.

Personally, I don't pay much attention to whether a list or group is moderated or not. But if you're particularly bothered by petty squabbles and off-color remarks, you may find that the moderated lists and groups are more to your liking.


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