The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0569 Saturday, 26 March 2005
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Saturday, March 26, 2005
Subject: Some Thoughts from SHAKSPER's Editor (Revised Copy)
[Editor's Note: I should have taken more time before mailing this
message to proof it more carefully than I did. Here is a corrected copy.]
Still being confined to a chair with my leg elevated for most of the
day, I thought that I would take the opportunity to reflect briefly on
the current state of SHAKSPER from my perspective of being its editor
for fifteen years, on my ideas about self-moderation and
self-government, on my requests for members to pre-format their
submissions, and on my suggestions for dealing with messages you object to.
On the whole, I think the conference is active and healthy. There are
currently more than 1,300 members from Andorra, Argentina, Australia,
Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica,
Croatia/Hrvatska, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, England, Fiji Islands,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel,
Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta,
Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Pakistan,
Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation,
Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland,
Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab
Emirates, the United States, Ukraine, Wales, and Yugoslavia. Our current
membership includes Shakespearean textual scholars and bibliographers,
editors and critics are members, but so are university, college, and
community-college professors, high-school teachers, undergraduate and
graduate students, actors, theatre professionals, authors, poets,
playwrights, librarians, computer scientists, lawyers, doctors,
retirees, and other interested persons. The great variety of
backgrounds, interests, and levels of sophistication of the SHAKSPER
community is an integral part of what makes the discussions so
SHAKSPER, like Shakespeare studies as a whole, is a strange beast
(neither fish nor foul). Some members are prominent scholars; others are
individuals with a deep interest in the works. Those of us who are
members of the profession (or industry if you prefer) are not generally
known for our gentility. Further, Shakespeare studies both inside and
outside the academy appears often to be a magnet for persons with
strongly held beliefs, beliefs that many others consider as existing on
the margins of the credible. These two circumstances are often sources
of contention on the list.
Over the years, I have sent out many messages about my ideas and pleas
for self-moderation on the part of list members. I would like to review
some of what I have said and add another idea that I gleaned from
SHAKSPER Advisory Board member Phyllis Gorfain in response to a query I
recently made to the Board regarding some complaints I have received
about one member's postings -- the idea of self-government.
For some time now, I have out of necessity taken a more active role as
moderator and refused to post many more messages than I have in the
past. On the other hand, I have on advice from the SHAKSPER Advisory
Board decided not to impose guidelines. But I want to make it clear that
I have absolutely no desire to mini-manage ever single submission that I
receive. Additionally, SHAKSPER is not a newsgroup nor was meant to be
one. Practices that are acceptable on less formal electronic media are
not appropriate to this list. So I ask members to exercise self-moderation.
One suggestion I have made is to request that members "count to ten"
before hitting the reply key. For a compilation of some of these
requests see http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2001/0061.html.
I also ask that members display a degree of civility toward each other.
Further, when a thread becomes individual members talking with each
other rather than posting messages that are responding to substantive
issues raised in the threads, then the discussion should be taken
off-line and conducted privately between the persons involved.
Similarly, some exchanges are more appropriate offline than online. I
made a list of suggestions that can be found at
I also request the members consider exercising a degree of self-government.
Please try to select only one or two threads to respond to in any one
day and try to keep responses as brief and to the point as possible.
Occasional long posts are perfectly acceptable, but the ideal is to
limit submissions to a screen or two of text.
Also, I ask that members pre-format their submissions to make my job of
preparing the daily digest easier.
If your name does not appear in the FROM line or does not appear
correctly (i.e., account is in the name of a spouse, partner, companion,
alias, etc.), sign your name at the bottom so that I can cut and paste
it next to your e-mail address. You may include your title, academic
affiliation, geographical location, or similar information, but
signatures should be kept to a minimum of three lines.
Do not copy and re-send the message to which you are replying or
automatically include the entire original post or digest. Quote,
paraphrase, copy and paste, or cite your correspondent by name; give as
much of the context as you can to clarify the nature of your reply. If
you "cut and paste" information from another Internet or electronic
source, which often results in irregularly spaced lines of text, then
pre-format that text to be sure that the information is word wrapped and
does not require me to extra spend time re-formatting the text for
Along these lines, I have asked
(http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2002/2399.html) that members avoid the
temptation of simply cutting and pasting entire online articles and
reviews and forwarding them directly to the list. Posters should
judiciously quote and summarize and then provide the URL.
One more issue and then I will be finished. I have three suggestions to
the matter of what does one do when one finds another's contributions to
be foolish, myopic, mistaken, or boring (list courtesy of Terence
Hawkes, another member of the Advisory Board)?
First, don't bother reading submissions from such persons; use the
Second, as I was implying in my "Unproductive Threads" posting of a few
days ago (http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2005/0412.html), ignore them.
Third, address them indignantly; be courteous but be indignant.
Thank you for your consideration,
Hardy M. Cook
Owner-Moderator-Editor of SHAKSPER
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://www.shaksper.net>
DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.