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Making decisions

    Date: Sun, 27 Jul 1986  16:49 EDT
    From: "Scott E. Fahlman" <Fahlman@C.CS.CMU.EDU>

    I've received Moon's mail pointing out how far behind he had fallen in
    mail-reading and suggesting that we take 5 - 10 weeks to make decisions.
    I have received no suggestions from anyone after my reply to Moon in
    which I pointed out that we have a lot of issues to cover and asking
    what kind of pace for the decision process might get the job done, while
    not disrupting people's schedules.  I can't tell if you people are
    waiting to see how the current process evolves, if you've given up on
    the whole thing, or if you're all so far behind in your mail reading
    that none of this has reached you.

I think you missed my point.  If I was as busy all the time as I have
been for the last three weeks, I obviously would have to withdraw from
the technical committee.  The month of July was an exceptionally busy
time for me.  Other months are busy for other people.  The point is that
the amount of their time people are able to devote to Common Lisp
varies.  Not everyone is working on it full-time the way you are.  My
suggestion was to allow enough time to elapse after bringing up an issue
and before making a decision on it to smooth out the unevenness in
available time and make sure that everyone has a chance to develop an
intelligent opinion before a decision is made.  This does -not- mean
that you have to bring up one issue, shut up for ten weeks, and then
bring up the next issue.  My suggestion need not affect the rate at
which decisions are reached at all, it just means that each issue should
remain on the table for a longer time and therefore there will be more
issues on the table at any one time.  It's called buffering.

Having thought about it more, I think five weeks is too little time to
decide a substantive issue.  Ten weeks is pushing it, but will probably
work if we do a later review of the document to catch any mistakes that
fell through the cracks.

    I've received word via KMP that Moon and Rees disagree with the pace I'm
    setting on the public mailing list.  This is not my favorite way to get
    feedback.  If you're unhappy, please tell me directly.

I think the problem is not so much a matter of pace, as of your
(perceived) dictatorial attitude that no one else's opinion matters.  I
know you well enough to be reasonably confident that this is not your
real attitude, and I doubt that you even realize that your messages
radiate this tone, but this is typical of the way that electronic mail
amplifies misunderstandings.  Have you seen the paper by Shapiro and
Anderson on the subject, which proposes some psychological reasons why
this happens and offers some countermeasures?  If you haven't, I can
send you a copy.