[orca-list] Thread Hijacking

Hi All:

We have a "teachable moment" on our hands, and luckily it's not related to recent events in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Instead, it has to do with thread hijacking.

We're experiencing the confusion that happens when someone decides to hijack a thread to discuss a new issue. The result is that is becomes very hard to track the discussion. For example, we currently have a thread where no fewer than three issues are being discussed:

1) José Vilmar Estácio de Souza's original problem: "more than one blank space are not recognized in thunderbird"

2) A new addition (the first "hijack"):
"Do you hear the punctuation mark spoken twice?"

3) Another addition (the second "hijack"): "Orca is throwing in full stops all over the place"

The impact?  José's original problem has been swallowed.

By the time I see a hijack occur, it's too late. It's been hijacked and I cannot undo the harm it has caused. What I do, however, is change the subject so that someone looking at the message list summary in the list archives will be able to see make some sense of what was being discussed. That is, the message still appears in the original thread, but at least the subject has been changed to indicate it is not related to the original content.

So...the teachable thing is this: instead of doing a reply and hijacking a thread to discuss a new issue, the preferred way would be to compose a new message using the "New Message" feature of your e-mail client.


PS - For those not familiar with message threading, take a look at http://mail.gnome.org/archives/orca-list/2009-August/thread.html#00209. You will see a summary of the Orca list discussion for August 2009. The messages are shown by a set of nested lists where the nesting indicates a message was written as a reply to the outer list item.

Thread "openers" are the outer most list items and are the ones where someone wrote a message directly "To:" the Orca list by using the "New message" feature of their e-mail client.

The rest of the messages are where someone used the "Reply" button. Note that the e-mail system is clever enough to know that you pressed the reply button. That is, even if you change the subject to something completely different, you won't fool the system into thinking you didn't press the "Reply" button. So, if you're really not replying and staying on the topic of a specific thread, don't press the "Reply" button. Instead, write a new message using the "New Message" feature.

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