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Confrontation is good. People should air their grievances on a regular basis. But drama on public email lists should be discouraged for a number of reasons:

  • It is used to avoid confronting people directly.
  • Real time communication would be much less prone to misunderstanding and more expedient.
  • Any given issue only concerns a small fraction of the list subscribers.
  • Emails of interest are lost in the noise.
  • List drama does not present our best face to the public.
  • Most issues will need to be discussed at a meeting anyway.


The [drama] Tag

The [drama] tag can be added to the subject line of an email to mark threads which have become dramatic. Anyone can add the tag by replying and adding [drama] to the end of the original subject. The body of that email should explain that the tag has been added but should not comment on the content of the thread. Future posters are asked to keep the tag when they reply to the thread, and failing to do so may be seen as inconsiderate.

Reasons to use [drama]

  • It allows people to create message filters based on the tag (I turn them purple)
  • It's optional and decentralized
  • It doesn't censor a thread, just tags it.
  • It is a gentle reminder to people that they are being dramatic on the internet
  • It's a meme, and memes should be spread

How to recognize a dramatic email thread

  • Someone is unhappy about something other people have done
  • Claims are made that others agree with the author, sometimes listing those people (building alliances)
  • The issue that sparked the dramatic email does not initially concern most of recipients, or even most the people who reply.
  • Emails are much longer than needed, make a case instead of stating facts.
  • Stilted use of language
  • Some poor fool has intentionally invoked Godwin's law.
  • Someone is explaining to someone else how the world really works.
  • An apology is demanded.
  • Someone is saying they don't see what all the fuss is about.

A history of Noisebridge-discuss epic threads

There is a blog dedicated to Noisebridge drama.

The one about putting stuff in the 'DJ Booth/server room'

Somebody wanted to put some of their stuff in the DJ booth. Some other people complained. Yet other people called those people over controlling. The door to the room was covered over with drywall, and now you need a ladder to climb in through the window.

That one about someone accidentally offending a trans person

Someone who was trans complained that they felt disrespected. Another person claimed it was unintentional. Everyone said they like trans people just fine, and some people said it was a dumb thing to be arguing about. At some point someone wrote "nice story bro" without realizing they were addressing a trans woman. It did not go over well.

That one about moving the couch on top of the dark room

November 2009 Somebody put a sofa on top of the dark room as it was still under construction. Someone else took it down. Someone put it back up again, with screws. Someone wrote an email complaining. The sofa is no longer on top of the dark room (at this writing)

That one about getting wifi from monkeybrains

November 2009 Someone paid monkeybrains to install a fast wireless internet connection. Someone else thought that it might hurt the effort to install a fiber connection. Lots of people had opinions about how the world works.

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