Digest Tips

courtesy of Peg Duthie (Sylvia Marriott)

I've picked up a few tricks as a digest reader on other groups, which have proved useful for retaining not only posts I want to respond to, but also posts I wish to keep on file without wading through 24 other messages to retain (and also in order to save them with more useful subject lines than "Digest xxx" - after a couple of years, it becomes impossible to remember which -month- that interesting discussion about religion took place that one wants to retrieve, never mind which -digest-!):

(1) If you are using Eudora, Outlook Express, or a similar mailreader that allows you to keep open more than one window at a time, you can open a "compose new message" window, paste the sections you want to keep to that window, and save it either as a draft or send it to yourself as a message. It is faster than saving to your word processor since you do not have to open an extra application to do so.

(2) If you are on Hotmail, Excite, or some other mailreader that is less flexible, it may be worth your while to hit "reply" (but not "send"!)to the digest and -then- to read it - deleting the sections you do not wish to keep as you progress through the digest. I find that this method saves me the tedium of scrolling through the digest twice (the first time to read it, the second time to save the section I want). To avoid accidents, I always blank out the group address so that I don't inadvertantly resend the entire digest back to the list.

(3) Since the egroup archives now preserve our posts as individual messages, it is now possible simply to note the subject line, poster's name, and date as one reads the digest, and to retrieve that particular message by itself with just a few clicks. You can forward the message to yourself or reply to it right on that page. I think I'm going to end up preferring this method to the two above, since there's less room for error and eliminates the tedium of cut and paste.

(3a) However, if you're on UNIX or something DOS-based, I concede that I can't help you - you -are- stuck with digests in their glorious/exasperating entirety. <grim smile>

Let me stress that I don't believe digest readers need to go to such lengths for -all- threads - it's a matter of keeping perspective. As I see it, most discussions on LordPeter encourage multiple responses (e.g. "which book is best for a course" - there's no one absolute answer to that, as we've seen) and anecdotal replies ("how were you introduced to the Wimsey novels") - these threads encourage everyone to contribute their thoughts and experiences, so it doesn't really matter that one hasn't seen the very latest posts to such threads.

However - someone occasionally posts a question where there -is- one right answer ("What is Harriet and Peter's wedding date?" and/or only one response is necessary ("Will someone please send me the address for the Sayers society?"). In these cases, I strongly feel the digest reader should stop and consider whether the question/request has already been addressed, and if necessary, do a quick check on egroups. Chances are high that it already has - and digest readers are the ones who suffer most from unnecessary duplicate responses, since, as Keith pointed out, they don't really have the option of skipping messages. (Skimming and scrolling are often employed, of course, but it's just plain TEDIOUS to go through ten segments of chaff to find the next kernel of truth.)

Likewise, for particularly volatile subjects - especially when someone is likely to be threatened by one's response, whether deservedly so or not - I think *everyone* is obligated to make sure that they are up to date on the thread, and if it means the extra step of checking egroups, so be it. My experience has been that it is simply wise to take as much time as possible before sending a message to over 400 highly intelligent, sensitive people (and even MORE time for groups less mannerly than this one - and believe me, I've been singed on plenty of those even as just a spectator!) - enough time to consider whether the message is better sent in private, if at all. If what you have to say is important enough to be read by a half-thousand pairs of eyes, it will still be valuable even if you wait ten minutes or a day to make your point.

I'm sorry that this post is so long, and I hope this does not read as though I am "laying down the law with exquisite insolence" - these are rules I try to follow myself, and I feel they have both saved me time and saved you listsibs from some of the stupider and/or more savage impulses that have roared through my keyboard. <g>

Hope this helps,
Sylvia Marriott
"A marriage of two independent and equally irritable intelligences seems to me reckless to the point of insanity. You can hurt each other so dreadfully." - DLS in GAUD. We note that Peter and Harriet marry each other anyway. :-)