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TLDRability

Like many advisors, I send out a lot of e-mail to my research group. Some are specifically for the benefit of individuals and just "FYI" to everyone else, so I say so "X: This is from our discussion this morning. Everyone else: FYI." Other times, it's an important message for everyone, or a reference. (I actually put "IMPORTANT" or "REFERENCE" in the title in such cases.)

How do you convey the idea that some of your communications are not subject to TL;DR (too long; didn't read)?

--
Banazir

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
dariuswolfe
Nov. 22nd, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
You convey it already with "IMPORTANT" and "REFERENCE".

Unfortunately, you don't get to make the final call on "TL;DR"

Also, hi! We've theoretically been reading each other's journals for a while, so I guess a hello is overdue. Pag told me you were an instructor at KSU, and since I happened to be stationed at Ft. Riley, this seemed like a low-key way to see what you were all about. As you've added me to your friends list, I'm guessing you didn't mind.

Many interesting things in your journal lately.
banazir
Nov. 23rd, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
Accountability
Unfortunately, you don't get to make the final call on "TL;DR"


Well, of course. What I mean by "not subject to" is that certain mails I sent aren't intended as optional. It's always about consequences rather than whether I can force someone to read a message.

What irritates me sometimes is when people tell me "you've sent me a ton of mail this {week | month | semester}" as if it justifies ignoring something marked "IMPORTANT". Moreover, many of my people do read everything marked "IMPORTANT" but then file it away (or delete it!) once they realize it's "not for them", meaning it doesn't have their names on the addressee line or the first line of the message body, and it isn't something they need just now

Really, what it comes down to is how much I hold them accountable if and when they come to ask me something later that I told them weeks ago. A strict disciplinarian would say "too bad; ask your classmates or Google it". I usually tell them WHO I told and that the message is still sitting in the web archive for the Yahoo Group ksu-kdd or the local LISTSERV KDD-L@listserv.ksu.edu.

Also, hi! We've theoretically been reading each other's journals for a while, so I guess a hello is overdue. Pag told me you were an instructor at KSU, and since I happened to be stationed at Ft. Riley, this seemed like a low-key way to see what you were all about. As you've added me to your friends list, I'm guessing you didn't mind.

Nice you meet you! I've seen you on my friends list. Could you remind me again who you are in relation to Pag?

Many interesting things in your journal lately.

Thanks! I've been away a while and am back "with a vengeance" (see icon).

--
Banazir
dariuswolfe
Nov. 23rd, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
Re: Accountability
I'm just an online friend of his. Acquaintance might even be a better term. Mostly we used to hang out occasionally in #indierpgs on IRC, but I've not been there in a while.

Probably the last time Nate and I spoke was when he told me you were at KSU.

I get you about the intent. What I meant to convey was that people who are going to not read something based on the excuse that you send too much e-mail are probably not going to heed any means you use to try to implement. Basically, it's a personality thing. I personally figure if the Prof. sends something, it may be important.
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banazir
Nov. 23rd, 2008 12:09 am (UTC)
Message boards and mailing lists
I suggest you cut the FYI ones; upload them instead to a message board or someplace that the students can access at leasure.

It's one and the same for me (see above). The people who are required to subscribe with "Individual E-mails" instead of "Daily Digest" or "Web Only" to KDD-L and ksu-kdd are just the undergrads I pay as hourly programmers, and the grads who work as research assistants. The other advisees and honors students are invited to check the board every now and again or at need.

This is also why I don't hold it against them for asking for stuff I sent other people and copied them on. The question is: is it too much to ask that they search the archive first, before asking, on the principle that I probably did send it already to some classmate, and created the electronic group/mailing list expressly to archive stuff for them? "When did you send it?" is a Let Me Google That For You question.

--
Banazir
sui_degeneris
Nov. 23rd, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
"important" and "reference" are nice, but may lose power
The subject lines need to be useful - and non-static. (At MPOW, an amazing amount of people got caught unaware when the passwords all changed overnight. An announcement had been sent out saying clearly what was happening, but the subject line made it look like Just Another Routine Network Maintenance Notice.)

In addition to that... I think it's largely a matter of letting people know up front that when you put "IMPORTANT" or "REFERENCE" in an e-mail topic, it's because you expect them to read those messages.

As for expecting people to look things up first... A lot of that depends on how much of a pain your kdd-l and ksu-kdd lists are to use. Can you retrieve all posts by a certain person easily? Can you look for words within that set? Can you sort the results chronologically?

Also, how good is the data? If someone's posts have words misspelled (whether intentionally or not), it's a lot more difficult to retrieve that message.

No easy answers, from what I can see.
yahvah
Nov. 23rd, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
Anything work or school-related, you shouldn't have to make the conveyance.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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