[FOM] message from the moderator

Martin Davis martin at eipye.com
Fri Jan 20 16:39:39 EST 2006

Dear subscribers,

The purpose of this message is to clarify what I, as moderator, do for FOM, 
and what is expected of subscribers.

The list processing software that runs FOM, as well as the membership list, 
and the archive of all previous posts is hosted by the Courant Institute of 
Mathematical Sciences at New York University as a courtesy. FOM is not 
required to pay anything for this privilege, and I neither seek nor receive 
any financial compensation for the work I do. I am assisted by an 
outstanding group of editors who likewise perform their sometimes extensive 
duties with only the satisfaction of contributing to our field as compensation.

Subscribers are expected to have substantial knowledge of mathematical 
logic such as would normally be obtained from completion of a graduate 
level course on the subject. As moderator, part of my job is to screen 
applicants to ensure that they meet this requirement. In practice, I tend 
to be lenient. I also screen messages proposed for posting for content and 
format. Content means reaching close to a professional level; of course an 
email list permits a casual style not appropriate for journal articles. But 
FOM is not a place for casual musings preceded by IMHO such as are found on 
many lists. Format means plain text, in particular, no HTML. It also means 
avoiding long quotations from previous posts. Relevant snippets are fine. 
Readers can always find the full text in the archives. All posts should 
show the subscribers' full name, either as part of the "from" email address 
or as a "signature" at the end of the post. Some of the editors urge that 
the subscribers' professional affiliation and interests also be shown, and 
this is a good idea, but I do not enforce that.

I try to check for posts at least once a day, even when I'm on a trip. The 
"mailman" software that runs FOM presents me with a list of proposed posts, 
and for each one a window showing me all or part of the message. Typically, 
more than half the messages will simply be spam which I can discard on a 
first pass without looking at their content. For the remaining messages, 
mailman tells me whether it regards the sender as a legitimate subscriber. 
This works as long as subscribers use a "from" address identical to the 
address under which they subscribed. But a subscriber listed as joe at foo.edu 
will not be recognized if s/he turns up as joe at boole.foo.edu. Often I 
simply recognize the writer as a subscriber when this happens. Otherwise I 
have to do a time-consuming search of the membership list to attempt 
identification. Usually, that works.

For messages that are too long for the window provided, I forward them to 
my personal email account so I can see the whole thing. This can cause 
delay. Messages that contain HTML often have the message in plaintext 
preceding the HTML version. For a short message I can see the HTML in the 
window provided. For a longer message, again I have to forward it to where 
I can see the whole thing.

The editors play a very important role, when I am unsure whether to post a 
particular message. Not only do they provide valuable input, but also, in 
the case of a rejection, I can make it clear to the writer that it was not 
simply my opinion. Finally, when I do reject without consulting the 
editors, the writer is free to ask the editors for a second opinion.

                           Martin Davis
                    Visiting Scholar UC Berkeley
                      Professor Emeritus, NYU
                          martin at eipye.com
                          (Add 1 and get 0)

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