Sunday, April 03, 2005

Asian American Poetics Listserv - Revisited

Over on his blog, Tim Yu ( defends the Listserv format over the group blog and discussion board format. He asks the question: "I've been on several Yahoo groups, and I see Google groups as well; can anyone tell me if these seem like better ways to manage a list, or if there are other options that I should consider?"

Well, Tim, my friend, you've asked the right person. About three and a half years ago, in August 2001, I started a Yahoo! group on Asian American poetry called "Famous Asian American Poets - Homage to Today's Asian American Poets." It never really took off. I think that there were 14 members at one point. But no one talked to each other about anything. The timing was probably not quite right. Also, that was slightly before the proliferation of blogs and relatively easy access to e-mails, and I had no way to make anyone who might be interested aware of it.

I don't think that it was necessarily the format that led to the Yahoo! group's not taking off. However, I will say that a Yahoo! group has the disadvantage of only showing 5 messages at time and nowadays proliferates with advertisements that make you click on an extra link before allowing you to proceed with viewing the message. Also, Tim is concerned about anonymity and sniping with the discussion board format, and the Yahoo! group format will not address these concerns. In fact, the Yahoo! group format is essentially a discussion board format but with the owner/moderator having less control over style and the proliferation of advertisements.

Tim raises an important concern in suggesting that there may be a lack of individuals interested in Asian-American poetry. Like Tim, I would like to believe that there is a community out there to justify the maintenance of a listserv, discussion board, group blog, etc., but it's questionable. If the objective is to have a greater number of people on the listserv, my suggestion would be to reach out to two groups that may or may not interested in Asian-American poetry: (1) non-Asian-American poets and writers and (2) Asian-Americans not necessarily interested in poetry.

I'm not as wild about the idea of having several formats on Asian-American poetry going at once, at least at the beginning. I think that would merely fragment an already small community of potential participants and readers.


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