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Re: [GTh] Are e-lists dying?

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  • Andrew
    Thank you all for (what I hope will be just) initial feedback. Very helpful, indeed. Special thanks to: 1. Mike Grondin: For allowing this conversation to
    Message 1 of 22 , Jun 23, 2008
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      Thank you all for (what I hope will be just) initial feedback. Very
      helpful, indeed.

      Special thanks to:

      1. Mike Grondin: For allowing this conversation to proceed; it might
      have been obstructed on other lists as "off-topic" or worse. I really
      value the e-lists and have since the mid-90s (!) as a source of
      information and am fearful that their value may be diminishing. I
      think honest and open discussion will be vital to prevent this from
      happening.

      2. Judy Redman: For sharing her wisdom first (even if she got a
      headstart timewise because she's in Australia! :-). I think you may
      be very correct, Judy, that people (like me) are still reading e-
      lists but just not writing as much. I'm definitely going to subscribe
      to the biblical-studies and christian_origins lists you mention and
      see if I can pick up some additional info there. I share your opinion
      of biblioblogs. The three blogs I'm particularly fond of are: April
      Deconick's (forbiddengospels.blogspot.com/); Mark Goodacre's
      (www.ntgateway.com/weblog/); and Stephen Carlson's
      (www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/). The names of any additional
      noteworthy blogs would be greatly appreciated (I might be in the
      process of revising my website or something).

      3. Jack Kilmon: For his insights. You unquestionably have a point
      that the standard topics probably have been covered ad nauseum (and
      people get annoyed when the same old topics are covered repeatedly).
      Perhaps we should talk further about a "recruiting program," or
      something like it. I've got some thoughts of my own about improving
      the quality and quantity of posts to e-lists but am trying to collect
      some feedback first.

      4. Mark Goodacre: For sharing my perspective about the e-lists: they
      don't seem to be nearly as robust as they once were! I'll include
      some hard numbers below to support that perception. But before I do,
      I'll also note that I agree with you that the blogs have had a major
      impact, and scholars (such as yourself) are probably devoting more of
      their internet time to those instead of focusing on the e-lists.

      The following is a little data about some of the e-lists I mentioned
      in my previous post.

      ***CROSSTALK2***
      Trend: 1702 posts (in the first six months of 2002) -> 1334 (2003) ->
      1628 (2004) -> 1374 (2005) -> 964 (2006) -> 653 (2007) -> 141 (2008)

      ANALYSIS:
      --Steep decline (with one aberation in 2004).
      --Current activity is 10% of what it was in 2005 and only 8% of what
      it was in 2002.

      ***TEXTUALCRITICISM***
      Trend: 754 (2005) -> 735 (2006) -> 468 (2007) -> 326 (2008)

      ANALYSIS:
      -- Steady decline (with no aberations).
      -- Currently activity is 43% of what it was in 2005.

      ***GTHOMAS***
      Trend: 627 (2002) -> 271 (2003) -> 253 (2004) -> 294 (2005) -> 180
      (2006) -> 480 (2007) -> 132 (2008)

      ANALYSIS:
      -- Decline (with one major aberation in 2007).
      -- Current activity is 44% of what it was in 2005 and 21% of what it
      was in 2002.

      SUMMARY:
      The early Christianity email discussion lists I am subscribed to are
      in serious decline (Andrew adopts the tone of a lab report, which
      seems to be what he's writing). The Crosstalk2 list appears to be in
      an utter free fall, as Mark Goodacre noted previously. The
      textualcriticism list has been steadily declining year after year.
      The Gthomas list (despite a very good year in 2007) also seems to be
      declining as well. All three lists are siginificantly (more than 50%)
      below where they were in 2005.

      ANYBODY GOT ANY ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ABOUT WHY THE GROUPS ARE
      DECLINING, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOW THEY CAN BE REVITALIZED?

      Best,
      Andrew
    • Michael Grondin
      Hi Andrew, I ve always believed that such meta-issues as you bring up are in order, and I think the other moderators agree, so don t worry about that. In fact,
      Message 2 of 22 , Jun 24, 2008
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        Hi Andrew,

        I've always believed that such meta-issues as you bring up are in
        order, and I think the other moderators agree, so don't worry about
        that. In fact, I had been thinking about posting a "State of the List"
        message to discuss the relatively low number of contributors lately,
        despite my efforts to get inactive members (i.e., those who don't
        receive email messages) more interested/active, by sending offlist
        messages to let them know what we had been discussing. That didn't
        work, but I haven't yet given up on the goal of increasing list activity
        without sacrificing quality.

        Your statistics show that our list isn't the only one suffering a decline
        in activity (and hence, presumably in interest), which is good news for
        us, I suppose. Still, if it turns out that nothing can be done to maintain
        a "critical mass" of dialogue on these lists, those of us who care will
        have to consider locking the doors and going to more fruitful methods
        of sharing and discussing information and opinions in our areas of
        interest. Before going down that route, however, I think we should
        explore some creative ways to bring more life to the scholarly e-lists.
        In that effort, it might be useful to do some kind of a survey to find
        out how e-literate scholars interact with groups and blogs, and what
        perceptions cause them to act in certain ways (hence what might
        cause them to act differently).

        Regards,
        Mike
      • Jack Kilmon
        I am of the same opinion, Mike. I don t think it is as much blog competitions as it is cyclic activity and availability of the scholarly community. A new
        Message 3 of 22 , Jun 24, 2008
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          I am of the same opinion, Mike. I don't think it is as much blog
          competitions as it is cyclic activity and availability of the scholarly
          community. A new generation of academics and students move in and are
          unaware of the lists. I think an e-forum discussion list circular outlining
          the scholarly lists and their purposes to the religion/Bible Study
          departments of the universities wellactive in these fields would be helpful.
          The Yahoo Groups directory has been so clogged with nut stuff and porn stuff
          that scholars and students stay clear unless they are specifically looking
          for a group. In short, we need a recruitment program in the academic
          communities and members who are active in those communities can be called
          upon to help. I'm going to crosspost this to our other two lists also..

          Jack


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>
          To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 2:34 AM
          Subject: Re: [GTh] Are e-lists dying?


          > Hi Andrew,
          >
          > I've always believed that such meta-issues as you bring up are in
          > order, and I think the other moderators agree, so don't worry about
          > that. In fact, I had been thinking about posting a "State of the List"
          > message to discuss the relatively low number of contributors lately,
          > despite my efforts to get inactive members (i.e., those who don't
          > receive email messages) more interested/active, by sending offlist
          > messages to let them know what we had been discussing. That didn't
          > work, but I haven't yet given up on the goal of increasing list activity
          > without sacrificing quality.
          >
          > Your statistics show that our list isn't the only one suffering a decline
          > in activity (and hence, presumably in interest), which is good news for
          > us, I suppose. Still, if it turns out that nothing can be done to maintain
          > a "critical mass" of dialogue on these lists, those of us who care will
          > have to consider locking the doors and going to more fruitful methods
          > of sharing and discussing information and opinions in our areas of
          > interest. Before going down that route, however, I think we should
          > explore some creative ways to bring more life to the scholarly e-lists.
          > In that effort, it might be useful to do some kind of a survey to find
          > out how e-literate scholars interact with groups and blogs, and what
          > perceptions cause them to act in certain ways (hence what might
          > cause them to act differently).
          >
          > Regards,
          > Mike
          >
          >
          > ------------------------------------
          >
          > Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
          > Interlinear translation: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • CJED5@aol.com
          I m rather in the woodwork at the moment reading posts but leaving no evidence of doing so. I have a full-time job and doing a doctorate part-time, which
          Message 4 of 22 , Jun 24, 2008
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            I'm rather in the woodwork at the moment reading posts but leaving no
            evidence of doing so. I have a full-time job and doing a doctorate part-time,
            which is busy, but right now is conference season, which at least has left me
            refreshingly single-minded preparing for them. Is it partly just a seasonal
            phenomenon, though? Holidays, good weather (ish), and conferences in full
            summer glut.

            Jed Chandler






            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Judy Redman
            I know from personal experience that blogging decreases my ability to participate on lists. I only have so much time avaible for this kind of activity,
            Message 5 of 22 , Jun 24, 2008
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              I know from personal experience that blogging decreases my ability to
              participate on lists. I only have so much time avaible for this kind of
              activity, because like Jed I have a full time job and am studying part time,
              so if I spend time blogging, it means I don't spend that time contributing
              to lists. Blogging lets me operate differently to list membership and I
              think both are valuable. On this list, I talk exclusively about Thomas,
              whereas on my blog, I can talk about other things that interesect with my
              research.

              I have a link to this list on my blogroll, and have just moved it up above
              the archives, so that it might be easier to find. People definitely visit
              my blog looking for info about Gospel of Thomas.

              Judy

              --
              Rev Judy Redman
              Uniting Church Chaplain
              University of New England
              Armidale 2351 Australia
              ph: +61 2 6773 3739
              fax: +61 2 6773 3749
              web: http://www.une.edu.au/chaplaincy/uniting/ and
              http://blog.une.edu.au/unitingchaplaincy/
              email: jredman@...


              > -----Original Message-----
              > From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
              > [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of CJED5@...
              > Sent: Wednesday, 25 June 2008 4:57 AM
              > To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: Re: [GTh] Are e-lists dying?
              >
              > I'm rather in the woodwork at the moment reading posts but
              > leaving no
              > evidence of doing so. I have a full-time job and doing a
              > doctorate part-time,
              > which is busy, but right now is conference season, which at
              > least has left me
              > refreshingly single-minded preparing for them. Is it
              > partly just a seasonal
              > phenomenon, though? Holidays, good weather (ish), and
              > conferences in full summer glut.
              >
              > Jed Chandler
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              > ------------------------------------
              >
              > Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
              > Interlinear translation:
              > http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
            • David Hindley
              Hello Andrew, Yes, by my observation the decline of academic e-lists started around 2003, although there were signs of trouble before that. IMHO, the trouble
              Message 6 of 22 , Jun 24, 2008
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                Hello Andrew,

                Yes, by my observation the decline of academic e-lists started around 2003, although there were signs of trouble before that. IMHO,
                the trouble seems to center on the issue of whether such lists should be for the accredited academic only, or serve a larger
                constituency including informed amateurs. Even on Crosstalk2 (XTalk), where membership represented a good cross-section of academics
                coming from all angles, and a considerable number of especially well informed amateurs, some professional academics found it
                annoying to deal with some of the amateurs. Some also did not want to discuss the philosophy of history as this got in the way of
                the fun stuff. This was exacerbated by a few especially large egos, most notable among the amateurs but not excluding a professional
                or two. "Wag-ism", a situation where supposedly witty posts are directed to "in-groups", and perhaps intended to freeze out those
                outside the intended group, became more common.

                The Christian Origins e-list started by William Arnal and Zeba Crook was, IMO, an extreme reaction by professionals who found some
                of the amateurs, end even a few of the professionals, intensely annoying. Not liking the way the game was being played on
                Crosstalk2, they took their ball and went home, forming their own list, and setting academic qualifications for full participation
                in discussion that few amateurs could meet (exceptions were made for a few). Interested amateurs received a 2nd tier membership, and
                must be content to watch real scholars discuss deep meaningful issues without muddying the waters with questions that betray their
                ignorance and lack of sophistication. Wasn't that what the Westar discussion group is/was all about? Last I heard, they were in a
                tizzy over the fact that conservative evangelicals have become more vocal at SBL meetings, both as presenters and listeners. I guess
                the sky really is falling ... I lost respect for several of the professionals who quickly jumped to this list and stopped posting on
                Crosstalk2 on account of this.

                Now it seems that everyone wants to blog. Because blogs are basically running commentaries, wags love them. I'm not saying every
                blogger is on an ego trip, but a lot of them (even the few really interesting ones) are pretty eccentric. Cleverness and witticisms
                become as important as the subject covered, it seems. I like to periodically check into a few, even when I don't always agree with
                the opinions expressed, especially if the blogger seems to be receptive to opinions other than his or her own. Personally, I do not
                like blogs as much as e-lists and consequently have refrained from large scale participation in them.

                Perhaps the lull in e-list interest is just a reflection of the times, with sociological roots in changes occurring in North
                American and Western cultures in general, and may change for the better in the future. I sure hope so. Many of the discussions were
                fun and informative, and prompted me (at least) to read the literature, investigate methodological questions, and gawd help me, bone
                up on the philosophy of history.

                Respectfully,

                Dave Hindley
                Newton Falls, Ohio USA


                -----Original Message-----
                From: sentto-1127921-7992-1214200759-dhindley=compuserve.com@...
                [mailto:sentto-1127921-7992-1214200759-dhindley=compuserve.com@...] On Behalf Of Andrew
                Sent: Monday, June 23, 2008 1:59 AM
                To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [GTh] Are e-lists dying?


                (Apologies for cross posting)

                Hello all-

                Two summers ago, I announced the publication of the hardback edition of my book, Other Early Christian Gospels: A Critical Edition
                of the Surviving Greek Manuscripts, via email discussion lists. It seemed at the time that the lists offered a great way to reach
                potential readers interested in the subject, and I planned to make a similar announcement for the paperback edition this summer (for
                those interested, see my website: gospels.net) However, I can't help but notice that the times seem to have changed significantly.

                With the exception of B-greek, all the early Christianity e-lists I'm subscribed to (crosstalk2, gthomas, textualcriticism,
                TC-Alternate- List, etc.) seem to have fallen largely into disuse. I used to learn about important new publications and follow
                substantive, ongoing debates involving many participants. Now, I can only glean precious little information from the ever more
                infrequent messages that get posted (many of which are just references to blogs). I even checked Mark Goodacre's ntgateway.com (the
                "website-of-record" for New Testament studies, in my opinion) to see if I was missing something and discovered that it now only
                mentions four lists (Synoptic-L, Kata Markon, John Lit Internet Discussion, and Acts-L) and two of these (Synoptic-L & John Lit)
                appear to have disappeared (apologies, Mark, for dragging you into this). What gives?!

                Is my perception wrong? If not, where have all the scholars (and
                others) who used to contribute to the e-lists gone? Has everyone given up on studying early Christianity? I highly doubt that
                (though perhaps interest in the "historical Jesus" has waned). Have they given up on using the internet in their research? I highly
                doubt that as well. My suspicion is that they are simply using the internet in new ways to gather and disseminate information
                (blogs, RSS feeds, etc.), but I'm not fully aware of how they are going about it.
                So, if others are willing to share their secrets, my question is simply this: HOW ARE OTHERS _NOW_ USING THE INTERNET IN THEIR STUDY
                OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY? How are are people using the internet to get information about significant new publications (books and
                articles)?
                How are people navigating the blogosphere (and what are the most widely read blogs)? What else am I missing? (I'm guessing a an
                awful lot).

                Thanks in advance for any guidance!

                Andrew


                ------------------------------------

                Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
                Interlinear translation: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
                Yahoo! Groups Links
              • Stephen C. Carlson
                My theory is that successful e-lists need to have good conversation starters. The decline in e-lists would be due to those people no longer starting threads.
                Message 7 of 22 , Jun 24, 2008
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                  My theory is that successful e-lists need to have good
                  conversation starters. The decline in e-lists would be
                  due to those people no longer starting threads. Some of
                  them have moved on to other e-lists or "forums," and
                  many of them now blog instead. For Synoptic-L, our most
                  productive conversation starter passed away from cancer.

                  The problem is that many of the qualities that go into a
                  good conversation starter can come off as somewhat
                  crankish. For example, there is a fine line between
                  having a healthy, albeit single-minded, devotion to
                  one's passions and being a crank about it, hijacking
                  every thread in favor of some idiosyncratic thesis.

                  It's like a Gresham's Law of e-lists: the bad cranks
                  drive out the good conversation starters.

                  Stephen

                  --
                  Stephen C. Carlson
                  Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
                  Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Baylor, 2005)
                • Michael Grondin
                  Hi Dave- I suspect your note is going to cause some controversy, especially your characterization of motivations behind the Christian Origins group, but I
                  Message 8 of 22 , Jun 24, 2008
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                    Hi Dave-

                    I suspect your note is going to cause some controversy, especially
                    your characterization of motivations behind the Christian Origins group,
                    but I won't be here to see the fun, since I'm being dragged off to
                    Minneapolis for five days (Wed-Sun) by my own She Who Must Be
                    Obeyed. I trust the other moderators will take up the slack.

                    As to your remarks about the C-O group, you failed to mention that
                    their main reason-for-being is to focus on a secular/humanist approach
                    to Biblical studies. Thus, your remarks about their wanting to create an
                    (almost) amateur-free zone didn't adequately cover motivation. (If
                    it's any consolation, they have far less activity than we do.)

                    (To compare Dave's remarks to C-O's own self-description, go to:
                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christian_origins/ )

                    Well, controversy is one thing that builds message-volume, so this
                    discussion may, ironically, at least temporarily assuage its own
                    object-problem (if you know what I mean :-). More constructive and
                    long-lasting solutions are needed, however. I like Stephen Carlson's
                    observation that just came in about conversation-starters, because it
                    jibes with an idea I've been mulling over of somehow luring a number
                    of listers into agreeing to contribute a new thread or a couple messages
                    each week or so. Not sure what would get someone to do that, though.
                    (I do it because this is my home list, and I've found that writing and
                    interacting about some subject stimulates the creation of other ideas
                    I mightn't have had otherwise.)

                    In other news, I've jazzed up our group main page a bit by adding
                    a nice picture of one of the pages of Thomas, taken by a Coptic
                    museum attendant by request of April DeConick, when she was
                    there, and which appears on one of the pages of her website.
                    I've also added a little to our group description. See:

                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/

                    Mike Grondin
                    (off-line till next Monday)
                  • mottrogere3
                    ... List ... activity ... Hi Mike, I was one of the individuals on your inactive e-mail broadcast. I was surprised as I faithfully have read every message
                    Message 9 of 22 , Jun 25, 2008
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                      --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>
                      wrote:
                      >
                      > I've always believed that such meta-issues as you bring up are in
                      > order, and I think the other moderators agree, so don't worry about
                      > that. In fact, I had been thinking about posting a "State of the
                      List"
                      > message to discuss the relatively low number of contributors lately,
                      > despite my efforts to get inactive members (i.e., those who don't
                      > receive email messages) more interested/active, by sending offlist
                      > messages to let them know what we had been discussing. That didn't
                      > work, but I haven't yet given up on the goal of increasing list
                      activity
                      > without sacrificing quality.
                      >

                      Hi Mike,

                      I was one of the individuals on your "inactive" e-mail broadcast. I
                      was surprised as I faithfully have read every message off the home
                      page since subscribing to the list over a year ago. I even replied
                      to your "broadcast e-mail to stimulate interest message" to your off
                      line e-mail address with information. I wonder if you have several e-
                      mail addresses flagged as spam or even blocked. Someone else here
                      recently had that experience too so I hope you have checked that out.

                      Have fun in Minneapolis.

                      Roger Mott
                      Waterloo, Iowa
                    • Andrew
                      Apologies again for crossposting. I m really glad I asked the question I did (see subject). The feedback has been tremendous. I think I m starting to get a
                      Message 10 of 22 , Jun 26, 2008
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                        Apologies again for crossposting.

                        I'm really glad I asked the question I did (see subject).

                        The feedback has been tremendous. I think I'm starting to get a sense
                        of what the core issues are, and (hopefully) what can be done.

                        I've read every email on the three lists I was allowed to post on
                        (thanks again to the moderators for the leeway). Currently, I'm sorting
                        through it all.

                        Any more thoughts, ideas, etc, please share.

                        I'll be posting again on the topic towards the end of the weekend.

                        Best,
                        Andrew Bernhard
                      • Rick Hubbard
                        I may as well offer my two cents about this topic. Speaking personally, the reasons why my own participation in e-list discussions have radically diminished
                        Message 11 of 22 , Jun 27, 2008
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                          I may as well offer my two cents about this topic.

                          Speaking personally, the reasons why my own participation in e-list
                          discussions have radically diminished can be distilled into two words:
                          fatigue and boredom.

                          My fatigue proceeds from trying to keep up with discussions on not only
                          multiple e-lists but also an ever-growing number of blogs. These forums are
                          too dispersed and it is simply too time intensive to follow them all.

                          Boredom. It sometimes seems there is "nothing new under the sun". The topics
                          of discussion on many lists and blogs frequently seem to be endlessly
                          repetitive. Worse still, I have the impression (and I emphasis that it is
                          only an impression) that many of the list participants pursue what can only
                          be called an "apologetic" agenda. The redundancy itself is boring but
                          persistent efforts to commandeer empirical scholarship to score theological
                          points are nothing less than mind-numbing.

                          Perhaps this discussion raises a legitimate question: What will it take to
                          reinvigorate e-list participation? Again, speaking strictly from my own
                          perspective, I'd be more interested in discussions about BIG issues rather
                          than minutia. For example, I'd find it much more interesting to discuss WHY
                          the Gospel of Thomas is an important artifact for the study of the
                          development of "early Christianity" and HOW it either confirms or alters our
                          collective historical consciousness instead of debating topics like the date
                          of composition or the document's literary integrity.

                          Okay, so maybe this is more than two cents worth, but in any case-there you
                          have it.

                          Rick Hubbard

                          Humble Maine Woodsman
                        • Michael Grondin
                          Hi Roger, Yahoogroups allows four levels of contact between a group and a subscriber: individual emails , daily digest , special notices , or no email .
                          Message 12 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
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                            Hi Roger,

                            Yahoogroups allows four levels of contact between a group and a
                            subscriber: "individual emails", "daily digest", "special notices", or
                            "no email". The former two I would count as relatively interested
                            members, the latter two as relatively uninterested - though there are
                            exceptions like yourself. Judging from my own experience, most folks
                            are probably subscribed to a lot of groups, get email from a few of them,
                            check a few others from time to time, but (if they're like me) still belong
                            to
                            many groups that they no longer pay much attention to. (BTW, I don't know
                            what "special notices" are, or to whom they go.)

                            When I began contacting "relatively uninterested" subscribers, they
                            were 48% of our membership. Because they don't normally receive
                            any email beyond the original group welcome, most of the addresses
                            had been unverified for a long time, and it turned out that about twenty
                            of them (as I recall off the top of my head) were dead addresses.
                            These were deleted (I don't think any other group has ever done this),
                            with the result that these types of subscribers dropped to around 40%.
                            I received only two responses - your own and one other person. Another
                            couple of folks unsubscribed - as I suggested they do if they were no
                            longer interested in the list. Overall though, the response was markedly
                            underwhelming, given a hundred or so messages sent out.

                            As to this thread, I'm pleased to note that the number of responses on
                            our list are about the same as appeared on Crosstalk - both substantially
                            higher than those on John-Lit.

                            Mike Grondin

                            > Hi Mike,
                            >
                            > I was one of the individuals on your "inactive" e-mail broadcast. I
                            > was surprised as I faithfully have read every message off the home
                            > page since subscribing to the list over a year ago. I even replied
                            > to your "broadcast e-mail to stimulate interest message" to your off
                            > line e-mail address with information. I wonder if you have several e-
                            > mail addresses flagged as spam or even blocked. Someone else here
                            > recently had that experience too so I hope you have checked that out.
                            >
                            > Have fun in Minneapolis.
                            >
                            > Roger Mott
                            > Waterloo, Iowa
                          • Michael Grondin
                            Hi Andrew, I notice that one of the variables mentioned on Crosstalk was specialization, i.e., that groups with a narrow focus tended to fade away more readily
                            Message 13 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
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                              Hi Andrew,

                              I notice that one of the variables mentioned on Crosstalk was
                              specialization, i.e., that groups with a narrow focus tended to
                              fade away more readily than those with a broader focus. Well, of
                              course our group has a rather narrow explicit focus, but I think
                              that we've been open to many areas of interest which can reasonably
                              be construed as relatively directly connected with the Gospel of Thomas
                              and its manuscripts - from early Christian history in various geographic
                              areas, to other Thomasine literature (The Book of Thomas the Contender,
                              The Acts of Thomas - including notably the Hymn of the Pearl) to other
                              tractates of Codex II, other sayings gospels (e.g., Q), even to the
                              specifics of codex-production and the use of sacra nomina, and to issues
                              of the preservation of ancient texts. In short, just about anything that can
                              be directly connected to GThomas and its manuscripts is fair game, as
                              far as I'm concerned. (As well as meta-issues, of course.)

                              Regards,
                              Mike
                            • Chris Weimer
                              Mike, You walk a dangerous line doing that, however. I have my subscription status as No Email , but I still get every message that goes through gthomas
                              Message 14 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
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                                Mike,

                                You walk a dangerous line doing that, however. I have my subscription
                                status as "No Email", but I still get every message that goes through
                                gthomas because of bloglines RSS reader. Imagine if you came across my
                                "No Email" status and deleted my subscription, and upon seeing this or
                                another message went to post and found out that I couldn't!

                                Chris Weimer
                                University of Memphis

                                --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > Hi Roger,
                                >
                                > Yahoogroups allows four levels of contact between a group and a
                                > subscriber: "individual emails", "daily digest", "special notices", or
                                > "no email". The former two I would count as relatively interested
                                > members, the latter two as relatively uninterested - though there are
                                > exceptions like yourself. Judging from my own experience, most folks
                                > are probably subscribed to a lot of groups, get email from a few of
                                them,
                                > check a few others from time to time, but (if they're like me) still
                                belong
                                > to
                                > many groups that they no longer pay much attention to. (BTW, I don't
                                know
                                > what "special notices" are, or to whom they go.)
                                >
                                > When I began contacting "relatively uninterested" subscribers, they
                                > were 48% of our membership. Because they don't normally receive
                                > any email beyond the original group welcome, most of the addresses
                                > had been unverified for a long time, and it turned out that about twenty
                                > of them (as I recall off the top of my head) were dead addresses.
                                > These were deleted (I don't think any other group has ever done this),
                                > with the result that these types of subscribers dropped to around 40%.
                                > I received only two responses - your own and one other person. Another
                                > couple of folks unsubscribed - as I suggested they do if they were no
                                > longer interested in the list. Overall though, the response was markedly
                                > underwhelming, given a hundred or so messages sent out.
                                >
                                > As to this thread, I'm pleased to note that the number of responses on
                                > our list are about the same as appeared on Crosstalk - both
                                substantially
                                > higher than those on John-Lit.
                                >
                                > Mike Grondin
                                >
                                > > Hi Mike,
                                > >
                                > > I was one of the individuals on your "inactive" e-mail broadcast. I
                                > > was surprised as I faithfully have read every message off the home
                                > > page since subscribing to the list over a year ago. I even replied
                                > > to your "broadcast e-mail to stimulate interest message" to your off
                                > > line e-mail address with information. I wonder if you have several e-
                                > > mail addresses flagged as spam or even blocked. Someone else here
                                > > recently had that experience too so I hope you have checked that out.
                                > >
                                > > Have fun in Minneapolis.
                                > >
                                > > Roger Mott
                                > > Waterloo, Iowa
                                >
                              • Michael Grondin
                                Hi Chris, Nice to hear from you. I don t follow your reasoning, however. As I said, I only deleted dead addresses, i.e., addresses where the server in question
                                Message 15 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
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                                  Hi Chris,

                                  Nice to hear from you. I don't follow your reasoning, however.
                                  As I said, I only deleted dead addresses, i.e., addresses where
                                  the server in question indicated that the address was no longer
                                  valid. Of course, if someone subscribes to a group with one
                                  email address, then lets it go dead and gets a Bloglines feed
                                  through another address, the scenario you suggest could happen.
                                  Doesn't sound like that's what you had in mind, though. Anyway,
                                  I didn't know that one could get group messages thru Bloglines.
                                  That's interesting. So there could be more folks listening in than
                                  we're aware of?

                                  Mike

                                  > Mike,
                                  >
                                  > You walk a dangerous line doing that, however. I have my subscription
                                  > status as "No Email", but I still get every message that goes through
                                  > gthomas because of bloglines RSS reader. Imagine if you came across my
                                  > "No Email" status and deleted my subscription, and upon seeing this or
                                  > another message went to post and found out that I couldn't!
                                  >
                                  > Chris Weimer
                                  > University of Memphis
                                • Chris Weimer
                                  Hey Mike, Ah, I see. I was hoping you weren t just deleting emails that didn t respond to you, as we re all busy enough to not respond to emails some point or
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
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                                    Hey Mike,

                                    Ah, I see. I was hoping you weren't just deleting emails that didn't
                                    respond to you, as we're all busy enough to not respond to emails some
                                    point or another (I am all the time).

                                    I honestly don't know enough about the feeds and cookies of Yahoo
                                    groups, but I assume that the RSS feed should work for any group that
                                    allows RSS. I don't want to unsubscribe to see what happens, though.
                                    But certainly readership is probably higher than you expected. I know
                                    I'm not alone in using RSS readers to read email lists.

                                    All the best,

                                    Chris Weimer

                                    --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > Hi Chris,
                                    >
                                    > Nice to hear from you. I don't follow your reasoning, however.
                                    > As I said, I only deleted dead addresses, i.e., addresses where
                                    > the server in question indicated that the address was no longer
                                    > valid. Of course, if someone subscribes to a group with one
                                    > email address, then lets it go dead and gets a Bloglines feed
                                    > through another address, the scenario you suggest could happen.
                                    > Doesn't sound like that's what you had in mind, though. Anyway,
                                    > I didn't know that one could get group messages thru Bloglines.
                                    > That's interesting. So there could be more folks listening in than
                                    > we're aware of?
                                    >
                                    > Mike
                                    >
                                    > > Mike,
                                    > >
                                    > > You walk a dangerous line doing that, however. I have my subscription
                                    > > status as "No Email", but I still get every message that goes through
                                    > > gthomas because of bloglines RSS reader. Imagine if you came across my
                                    > > "No Email" status and deleted my subscription, and upon seeing this or
                                    > > another message went to post and found out that I couldn't!
                                    > >
                                    > > Chris Weimer
                                    > > University of Memphis
                                    >
                                  • Michael Grondin
                                    ... I agree, Rick. I d only add that one of the factors that seems to contribute to repetition is the apparent love of scholars for undecidable questions.
                                    Message 17 of 22 , Jul 2, 2008
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                                      Rick Hubbard wrote:
                                      > It sometimes seems there is "nothing new under the sun". The topics
                                      > of discussion on many lists and blogs frequently seem to be endlessly
                                      > repetitive. Worse still, I have the impression (and I [emphasize] that it
                                      > is only an impression) that many of the list participants pursue what can
                                      > only be called an "apologetic" agenda. The redundancy itself is boring
                                      > but persistent efforts to commandeer empirical scholarship to score
                                      > theological points are nothing less than mind-numbing.

                                      I agree, Rick. I'd only add that one of the factors that seems to contribute
                                      to repetition is the apparent love of scholars for undecidable questions.
                                      (This is apart from questions that _are_ decidable on empirical grounds,
                                      but which some participants insist on regarding as open questions.)

                                      > Perhaps this discussion raises a legitimate question: What will it take to
                                      > reinvigorate e-list participation? Again, speaking strictly from my own
                                      > perspective, I'd be more interested in discussions about BIG issues rather
                                      > than minutia. For example, I'd find it much more interesting to discuss
                                      > WHY the Gospel of Thomas is an important artifact for the study of the
                                      > development of "early Christianity" and HOW it either confirms or alters
                                      > our collective historical consciousness instead of debating topics like
                                      > the date of composition or the document's literary integrity.

                                      "Collective historical consciousness"? You're not going Jungian, are you?
                                      In any case, I wouldn't call the date of composition question 'minutia' so
                                      much as one of those questions endlessly debated precisely because
                                      it's essentially undecidable, so no one's in danger of being shown to be
                                      conclusively wrong (except maybe Nicholas Perrin :-).

                                      Mike
                                    • Rick Hubbard
                                      Hi Mike-- ... Jungian, Eh? Well, I don t think I ve gone around that particular bend, but who knows. When I was growing bald, I didn t really notice that was
                                      Message 18 of 22 , Jul 4, 2008
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                                        Hi Mike--

                                        You Wrote:
                                        ||"Collective historical consciousness"? You're not going Jungian, are
                                        ||you?

                                        Jungian, Eh? Well, I don't think I've gone around that particular bend, but
                                        who knows. When I was growing bald, I didn't really notice that was
                                        happening either!

                                        Maybe I should clarify what I meant by "collective historical
                                        consciousness". In most societies there is a more or less shared
                                        understanding about cultural foundations. Among those foundations, and
                                        especially in the American tradition, is the almost subconscious conviction
                                        that the truths of certain primal stories of origin are unimpeachable. You
                                        know the ones I mean-George Washington slinging a silver dollar across the
                                        Potomac, and such. I'd guess that another set of these "myths of origin"
                                        probably includes communal beliefs that the Bible (66 books of it, no more
                                        and no less) accurately describe the genesis of our broader religious
                                        traditions (Christianity and Judaism). Since the closing decades of the
                                        nineteenth century, when critical historical scholarship became prominent,
                                        there seems to have been an increasing sense of un-ease about the way "that
                                        old time religion" has been called in to question more and more. I'm
                                        becoming increasingly interested about the social and cultural responses to
                                        this dissonance.

                                        The mere presence of the Gospel of Thomas is undeniable evidence that the
                                        legitimacy of conventional understandings of Western society's collective
                                        are suspect. The Gospel of Thomas, as well as the substantial number of
                                        other "non-canonical" texts that are more or less contemporaneous with it,
                                        have become "the elephants in the room" - they are pretty damn hard to miss,
                                        but nobody wants to admit they are there. What I find fascinating is the
                                        contrived responses to this herd of pachyderms.

                                        Lately I've been reading as much as I can find about North American
                                        responses to the rise of evolutionary theory, critical historical (biblical)
                                        scholarship and technological advances during the late nineteenth and early
                                        twentieth century. These three things, among others, contributed to the
                                        growth of a rabid fundamentalist movement in Christianity in the early
                                        twentieth century here in the United States. The fortunes of Christian
                                        fundamentalism have waxed and waned and the shape of the movement has
                                        frequently been re-shaped during the course of the last hundred years.
                                        Oddly, although fundamentalism has never been much more than a marginal
                                        segment of society it seems to have exerted much more influence on our
                                        collective historical consciousness than one would reasonably expect.

                                        In any case, awareness of the Gospel of Thomas MAY be contributing to the
                                        development of yet ANOTHER reactionary trend in the American religious
                                        traditions. I'm very interested in how this plays out, but somewhat less
                                        interested these days in the questions of GTh's compositional history or
                                        precisely when it all happened. It's NOT that these are unimportant topics,
                                        it simply that I find discussion about less compelling than in the past.

                                        Rick Hubbard
                                        Humble Maine Woodsman

                                        ||-----Original Message-----
                                        ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                                        ||Of Michael Grondin
                                        ||Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 3:30 PM
                                        ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                                        ||Subject: Re: [GTh] Re: Are e-lists dying?
                                        ||
                                        ||Rick Hubbard wrote:
                                        ||> It sometimes seems there is "nothing new under the sun". The topics
                                        ||> of discussion on many lists and blogs frequently seem to be endlessly
                                        ||> repetitive. Worse still, I have the impression (and I [emphasize] that
                                        ||it
                                        ||> is only an impression) that many of the list participants pursue what
                                        ||can
                                        ||> only be called an "apologetic" agenda. The redundancy itself is boring
                                        ||> but persistent efforts to commandeer empirical scholarship to score
                                        ||> theological points are nothing less than mind-numbing.
                                        ||
                                        ||I agree, Rick. I'd only add that one of the factors that seems to
                                        ||contribute
                                        ||to repetition is the apparent love of scholars for undecidable
                                        ||questions.
                                        ||(This is apart from questions that _are_ decidable on empirical grounds,
                                        ||but which some participants insist on regarding as open questions.)
                                        ||
                                        ||> Perhaps this discussion raises a legitimate question: What will it
                                        ||take to
                                        ||> reinvigorate e-list participation? Again, speaking strictly from my
                                        ||own
                                        ||> perspective, I'd be more interested in discussions about BIG issues
                                        ||rather
                                        ||> than minutia. For example, I'd find it much more interesting to
                                        ||discuss
                                        ||> WHY the Gospel of Thomas is an important artifact for the study of the
                                        ||> development of "early Christianity" and HOW it either confirms or
                                        ||alters
                                        ||> our collective historical consciousness instead of debating topics
                                        ||like
                                        ||> the date of composition or the document's literary integrity.
                                        ||
                                        ||In any case, I wouldn't call the date of composition question 'minutia'
                                        ||so
                                        ||much as one of those questions endlessly debated precisely because
                                        ||it's essentially undecidable, so no one's in danger of being shown to be
                                        ||conclusively wrong (except maybe Nicholas Perrin :-).
                                        ||
                                        ||Mike
                                        ||
                                        ||
                                        ||
                                        ||------------------------------------
                                        ||
                                        ||Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
                                        ||Interlinear translation: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
                                        ||Yahoo! Groups Links
                                        ||
                                        ||
                                        ||
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