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/* Written 28 Nov 11:00am 1997 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* ----------------" Subscribing BurmaNet "---------------- */
BurmaNet was founded in 1994 by Strider ( One activist named
Douglas Steele from Georgetown University) to accelerate
communication between Burma activists around the world. At that
time, there had already been a Burma specific bulletin board
(soc.culture.burma) and other Internet bulletin boards that were
carrying Burma related messages. The users were apparently
frustrated by the junk mails that commonly flooding those
bulletin boards and therefore an alternative means of
communicating and getting information was sought: hence the
BurmaNet mailing list was created.
ANONYMITY OF SUBSCRIPTION
There were few brave Burmese that had spoken-out on the
internet against SLORC around 1994. The majority of Burmese
expatriates, however, seems preferred receiving the
news/information anonymously. In later years, the subscription
list also was automated, thus enable the users to subscribe
anonymously. The rule is that a user can remain anonymous as
long as he/she do not post messages to the list. Since its
creation, There has been increase in number of contributors
to the BurmaNet, especially of the Burmese origin. The BurmaNet
mailing list become the most comprehensive source of news and
activities regarding Burma.
Nowadays, the BurmaNet mailing list was fully automated and
maintained by IGC (Institute for Global Communication) technical
staffs. The original list-owner of BurmaNet (strider@xxxxxxxxxxx)
also changed hand over the years. Hence, the BurmaNet mailing
list become a fully automated and un-moderated forum for
discussions.(The subscription process to BurmaNet, as I have
tested recently, is quite pleasant and flexible to new
subscribers: Thanks to the IGC technical staffs.)
IT'S LIKE A DAILY NEWSPAPER
Subscribing a totally un-moderated mailing list, such as
BurmaNet, is similar to subscribing a daily newspaper. One
particular difference of the internet mailing list and a daily
newspaper is that the internet mailing list allows you to
"post" the messages. The internet mailing list, therefore, is
like the newspaper that give you a regular column for your
FLEXIBILITY AND SECURITY
Although the use of e-mails(internet mailing list) being
flexible, it also come-up with the cost of insecurity. For
example, an e-mail message can be interrupted or being altered
or partly be deleted. Or a third person may send e-mail without
your knowledge if your account is un-secured. There is, in
principle, no such thing as complete privacy on internet: any
competent hacker, in theory, can find out about what you "post"
and to whom you "post", etc. In fact, personal e-mail messages
may never be considered as totally reliable. One exception to
that is when you post the message to a mailing list. In this case,
the message sent is arriving to multiple recipients, by which
the authenticity of a message may become much more credible.
WEB-PAGES, BULLETIN BOARDs AND MAILING LISTS
The messages carried by personal Web-pages, in contrast to
e-mails, are much more secured and credible. This is partly
because the original messages (HTML files) always remain in
your own directory and therefore less chance of being altered by
a third party. Web-messages are not intrusive to the users:
a user can visit a Web-site at his/her own choice. The access to
a Web-pages can, however, be blocked in theory.
The Internet bulletin boards, such as soc.culture.burma,
soc.culture.thai and soc.rights.human etc., on the one hand are
more powerful means of disseminating information. Then again,
these bulletin boards are much more chaotic: any person may
check the bulletin board at his/her own will, and can respond
anyway he/she likes. Nevertheless, on the part of communicator,
it is more satisfactory means than the use of Web-pages. The
access to bulletin boards can also be restricted, possibly by a
service provider, to the users.
Communicating via an internet mailing list (for example,
BurmaNet) can be much more satisfactory than above two-methods.
This is because a mailing list, in fact, is representing group
and the subscribers do have a strong sense of community. The
message a user send will go directly to each mail-box of all
users. On the other hand, a message on the mailing list, in a
sense, is much more intrusive. Unlike Web-pages and bulletin
boards, the mailing lists (e-mails) can be much more difficult
to block at all times.
STATUS D.O.A. MAILS
It is such a privilege, of course, to become a "Being" in this
"information age". One can easily express views on internet to
make one's stand-point known to the colleagues (or mailing list
users). It will, however, be naive to assume that every message
appear on the mailing list is getting an equal attention.
I, for example, do read BurmaNet everyday. However, different
attention is given to different senders (Though, I still collect
most postings on BurmaNet in my own archive.). Some messages are
to be read seriously. The others are left just to check heading
or skimmed through the contents. One or two exceptional senders
will receive D.O.A. treatment, i.e messages DELETED ON ARRIVAL!
LIMITATIONS OF MAILING LISTS
The un-moderated internet mailing lists, such as BurmaNet, are
the best forum to collect/disseminate information. For advocacy
purpose, the activists may send-out/respond-to the activities.
The usefulness of mailing list as a discussion/debate forum,
however, can be contentious. Not all the users on the list are
likely to be interested in every conversation made by a few
persons on the list. (Here, a professionally conducted debate or
discussion on the list, of course, is not in question.)
Therefore, a general discussion may probably be better made at a
smaller/direct lists that goes to each participant.
SOME HELPFUL HINTS
Although BurmaNet is not "owned" by anybody and all subscribers
have the "right" to send messages, some voluntary
self-regulation may be required for the benefit of all users.
Followings are some points for our friends' considerations:
1. AVOID SENDING MULTIPLE MESSAGES: This is most common by the
standard news senders. The users do appreciate to be able to
read the news readily available from the mailing list.
However, sending one combined message (with an easy find
index please) instead of sending 4-5 messages will be more
The same news item being posted simultaneously by different
users may not necessarily be a bad thing. Because the same
news being received from different places (sources), the
credibility of news read is assured. Mind you, most internet
users seems to have access to standard news database of one
kind or another, therefore can check if there is discrepancy
in postings of the same news item.
2. AVOID "GARBAGE IN - GARBAGE OUT" STYLE POSTINGS: Users
appreciate the appearance of message being neat and tidy. For
example, a message directly downloaded from a Web page may
need some tidying-up: Columns and TABS may need re-adjusting,
headers may need to be stripped-off etc. Furthermore, an
average user may expect a contributor to be more responsible
in its postings to a list: at some point, the contributor
should be more selective on topic or interest. Someone
constantly downloading and sending relevant or irrelevant
pieces of information to a list can easily put the users off.
Therefore, please do read the whole messages before you send
to the mailing list.
3. AVOID PRIVATE CHATTING/GREETING: This is more accidental in
most cases. For example, a netter in Australia may greet its
folks in Netherlands: in that case, it is better not to use
the return-path on BurmaNet mailing list - the reply message
may accidentally arrives to all users. The messages which
considered to be private should send via a separate e-mail.
4. AVOID USING OBSCURED MAILS: BurmaNet mailing list operates in
a highly politically-charged environment. Therefore, no one
on the side of democracy should contemplate using obscured
mails (such as hotmail.com etc to hide the identity). In
fact, it is difficult even for most experienced persons to
distinguish between a "Creep" and an "Activist" if obscured
mails are used. If secrecy in distributing information is
required, Strider is the most experienced and appropriate
person to be contacted (it is completely safe.).
5. CAREFULLY SELECT YOUR REPLY METHOD/MESSAGE: When you are in
agreement or disagreement with someone on the net and
chosen to reply a message, it is advised you carefully
prepared your reply message. In most cases, private reply is
more appropriate. If you choose to reply publicly, be polite
in both TONE and CONTENT so as not to cause distress to other
With best regards, U Ne Oo.
/* Endreport */