LAW-LIB: hybrid listserv proposal

LAW-LIB is a listserv where law librarians ask and answer legal questions and help each other find legal resources and trouble shoot unique legal reference questions. Currently the list administrator has raised the issue of whether a specific person should be banned from the list and great debate has ensued. What is problematic is that when a debate on a listserv happens it happens in your inbox. A typically amount of emails from LAW-LIB might be 6-12 in a day. The current debate has thrown this number into the range of 50-75 emails.

I wanted to raise a listserv idea that could be debated on a forum that is more conducive to discussion. The power of listservs is that they have a very strong connection with people because the email goes directly to them. The listserv participants are dealing with a "push" information system. My idea is to have a listserv that operates something like the game show Jeopardy in that things would have to be in the form of a question. The listserv would only be for questions. All answers to questions and discussion would be on a corresponding website. Each question sent to the mailing list would automatically be posted to the website. If you wanted to see the answer to a question or provide an answer you would go to the the website.

One of the most powerful thing about LAW-LIB is that many of the participants are law firm librarians that have unique access to information. These librarians are sensitive, and I think rightly so, to cluttered inboxes. LAW-LIB provides a direct connection with these valuable librarians and I think the proposal of a hybrid listserv/website would keep the advantages of a listserv while providing a forum for discussion that would be beneficial to all listserv users. I would be interested to have a discussion of this idea on LISNEWS.




drupal, the same web cms that lisnews runs on, can gateway a mailing list between a forum and a listserv. it can also provide an rss feed of same.

The law libbers are wimps!

The Deltas vote no. Nobody gets kicked off the Faber College campus.

[email protected]

Nice discourse on all of this. None of this is truly harmful: all the emails only proves people have opinions.
When it's something I don't care to engage in I hit "DELETE" it works.
I have a view pane and I can simply pick, yes or no to read.
Nice to see some items, not interested in others.
Say good night Gracie!

I concur

How hard is not reading an email. Geez set up a filter. Tell me your mail client and I will tell you how to do it or write an agent for you.

If you insist on being a putz don't do it anonymously, have a pair of stones and pick a name.

Whoever owns the listerv server controls the list, it is their sandbox you have no right to not be kicked off.

I do disagree with something in the original post: "unique access to information."

What unique access to information do law librarians have that the rest of us don't or can't get. I am not a law librarian, and I have lexisnexis, a pacer account, CCH, and hundreds of other sources. Unique access, no not really except for internally generated content but they should not be sharing that. The ability to use those sources, sure. All of the providers will give you a manual (Dialog blue pages anyone?) Learn it if you don't know it.

If you want advice from a librarian ask a librarian. If you want legal advice on which you can rely pay a lawyer.

Vile Anonymous Trolls On Discussion Lists

I happen to be the person that is under consideration for banning on Law-Lib.
I would really like to know the opinions of folks here on the wisdom or otherwise of a List-Owner permitting a vile troll to post on a Discussion List under total, avowed and unashamed anonymity. It is a vile anonymous troll that has caused all the current trouble on the Law-Lib List


I Like It

I get tired of all the e-mails from the listserv that are in response to an original e-mail that I deemed boring & deleted.

I was so bored with the listservs I was on, that I unsubscribed from all of them!

I now have a less cluttered inbox!

Email from list administrator

Here is the initial email from the list administrator about the incident:

Dear Law-Libbers: I am exhausted and frankly disgusted dealing with unprofessional postings on the law-lib list. It consumes my time to respond to numerous emails from subscribers who want Mr. Huttner removed: subscribers are saying it has gone on long enough, that his postings are disruptive, offensive and beneath the dignity of this list, etc etc, etc. I agree. If anyone has a professional reason why Mr. Huttner should not be removed from the list, please let the list subscribers know now. And do not send your email to me send them to the list so that others can judge if they are valid reasons. I have tried to be fair and patient, and maybe I’m just short on patience today, but help me out here colleagues, because if I do as you ask and remove Mr. Huttner, I do not want to hear about it later. Thanks, Judy

Final word

After numerous people weighed in on whether to boot or not boot Mr. Huttner the list administrator emailed this message:

Thank you to everyone who has offered input to the list administration issues and suffered through this extensive dialogue. I did not keep a tally of the responses, nor do I intend to make a decision based on votes. In part, the importance of the exercise is to note the interruption these postings cause to the general purpose of the list and to some 3500 subscribers. I am not deleting anyone for now, but in the future I will simply delete ALL the parties involved without asking. If everyone can just pause before hitting the send button, and not use the list to openly denigrate and disavow others, we have no problem. These incidents have been emotionally and personally charged, whether you believe they are provoked or not, they are unprofessional and unproductive to the general subscriber list. If you have a problem with someone's opinion and cannot discuss it professionally, then please take it OFFLIST. We will not use the list as a platform for name-calling.

Yes, we! can all press the delete button, but why should we have to. We should all expect more from this list and its subscribers. We can debate, discuss, differ, and offer opinions without charging them with provocation and name-calling. We risk losing a substantial number of valuable contributing subscribers in exchange for tolerating this behavior. Thanks very much. Judy

Mr. Huttner's response

After lengthy and anxious consideration, and after over 15 years on it, I have now decided to leave this List VOLUNTARILY.

I regard Judy Janes' "decision" as a total and unsatisfactory "cop-out" (albeit typical) and am NOT prepared to stay for one minute longer on any List that is willing to continue to tolerate with equanimity an anonymous vile troll such as "Leslie Germaine" .

To all you decent, fair, thinking, just and intelligent people who have defended and supported me so vigorously, I offer my deep and heartfelt thanks. I know who you are and shall never forget you. To those other people who have condemned and attacked me I simply say, do your own legal research in future. I won't.

You ALL know exactly who I am and my e-mail address. I am not a craven coward who abuses under anonymity. Those of you who believe that I can continue to offer useful assistance are encouraged to write to me privately. I shall reserve to myself a total freedom of choice as to whether I wish to lift a finger for you.

But, I shall NOT, under any circumstances respond to anyone who does not identify himself/herself accurately in a verifiable fashion. It is sad that I have to do this, But I have now concluded that I was simply wasting my time here on Law-Lib for so many years.

Ron Huttner LL.B (Hons)

(Retired) Barrister, Solicitor, Law Lecturer and Legal Researcher




Phone:(61) 3 9509 3831 (Res)

Phone: (61) 0402 459 103

I do NOT go in for anonymity.



If we were all in sixth grade I think the translation of the above comment is that Mr. Huttner is taking his ball and going home.

Mr Huttner's Response

Just to mention that the "Vote" on Law-Lib was HEAVILY weighted my way (probably 2 - 1). Namely that I should NOT be booted off the List. I left VOLUNTARILY notwithstanding. I was NOT booted off.

Ron Huttner

Huttner - stfu

Hey, Huttner -

I wonder what the vote break-down would be if you hadn't already terrorized the list for over a decade.

Remember the results of my survey back in October 2007? 80% of respondents found you annoying. 20% were afraid to reply to your posts, publicly or privately.

Let's think about that for a moment: 20% of 3500 members = 700 professional law librarians who are leery of communicating directly with you. Even the few who were brave enough to speak out against you during the recent debate were publicly attacked by you. And what about that librarian you threatened? No answer to her accusation, no protestations of innocence?

I wonder how many talented law librarians have signed off law-lib because they're tired of your rantings? Even one would be too many, yet I can think of dozens. How wrong is that?

Are you anonymous? Technically, no. But would anyone in America recognize you in the street? No. If you think you're so beloved, I challenge you to attend a AALL conference, and wear a name tag. I would be *delighted* to tell you to your face what a cowardly slimeball you are.

Your old pal,
Mickey Mouse

Who Is The Cowardly Slimeball Here ? It's "Mickey Mouse"

Let's see who is a "cowardly slimeball", Mr Anonymous "Mickey Mouse". Will YOU reveal YOUR identity for all to see ? Right now ? In this very forum ? Will you also post the actual percentage of the total Law-Lib membership that even RESPONDED to your ridiculous "survey" ? It was miniscule. The overwhelming majority of members ignored it totally. And the number of members that thought that the anonymous troll ("Leslie Germaine") ever posted anything useful to the List was close enough to zero. The number that thought she should be turfed off the List was VERY high. Your representation of the results of the "survey" is distorted and quite misleading. It was, indeed, a truly MIckey Mouse survey, at which any self-respecting statistician would lsimply augh his/her head off.

Ron Huttner
[email protected]
Phone: (61) 3 9509 381
NOT an anonymous cowardly slimeball at all

You really are a BLOODY LIAR

You really are a BLOODY LIAR with figures, Mr Anonymous Mickey Mouse. You even go so far in your posting above as to take percentages based on a figure of 3500, knowing FULL WELL that nothing REMOTELY like 3500 Law-Lib members (i.e.the full membership of Law-Lib) responded to your ridiculous survey. If my memory serves me correctly, the percentage of the total membership that bothered to respond to your "survey" was a miniscule 7%. But you are far too cowardly a slimeball to tell the truth about "minor" details such as that, aren't you ? Pathetic. Truly pathetic.

Ron Huttner
[email protected]
Phone: (61) 3 9509 381
NOT an anonymous cowardly slimeball at all


Now I know why they think you are a putz.

In the book

Not an anonymous cowardly slimeball, and amazingly apparently less of a putz than you.

hey Blake

Remember when you asked us about threads that should be nuked?


Uh-oh bad sign perhaps

I agree with you Chuck.

Why did they dump their trash in our front yard?

The Actual Figures In Relation To The "Mickey Mouse" Survey

I have just found the actual "survey" results as posted by "Mickey Mouse" on the Law-Lib List on 11 October 2007.
Out of a total List membership of 3500, a mere 301 bothered to respond. That is 8.6%. End of story. 91.4% of the List membership simply could not be bothered with it at all.


Isn't the point of a survey that you don't have to ask everyone?


Of course one doesn't have to ask everyone. But any statistician will assure you that when you DO choose to ask everyone and get a "non-response" rate of over 90%, NO valid conclusions can be drawn from the tiny percentage of responses actually received. Do some Googling or other research on the concept of a "statistically valid sample".

Ron Huttner
[email protected]
Phone: (61) 3 9509 381
NOT an anonymous cowardly slimeball at all

Sample size calculator

For a 95% confidence rate for a population of 3500 you need 346 people in your survey. There were 301 in the survey so they were very close. I would say the survey is fairly accurate.

Sample Size Calculator

There were in fact 3500 "in" the survey. Not 301. The entire membership of 3500 was invited to respond. Only 301 of those invited chose to respond. Please tell me where you get your conclusion of a "95% confidence rate" from - i.e. the sample size calculator that you used and its methodology.


It's called math. If you want to know with a 95% certainty what 3500 people think about something you need to ask 346 people what they think. 301 people responded so you have somewhere close to a 95% confidence that the survey of 301 people tells the feelings of the 3500 member group.


It is statistics

I am not going to walk you through the formula. The numbers I gave you are correct. Go figure it out on your own.

But mathematically I can tell you that if you have a pool of 3500 people and you poll 346 of them there is statistically a 95% confidence rate.

If I was polled I would also say your are annoying.

I have to call you on that one

I think you simply used an online calculator.

You fail to mention your confidence level and confidence interval.

What z value are you using?

What c?

There is nothing wrong with using those tools but you could have just shown the equation

To calculate sample size for a poll the following equation would be used.

ss = Z^2 (p) (p-1)/ c^2

since the population is finite you should correct by

corrected ss = ss/1+(ss-1/pop)

where z is from a z table (I did look that up)
p is the percentage picking a choice
c is the confidence interval
pop is the population

so doing it by hand on the back of an envelope with a population of 3500 with a 95% CL and plus or minus 3 pts the sample size is 818
of course the wider the confidence interval the fewer participants are needed. I got a number similar to yours (359) when I used a confidence interval of 5.

I am more more comfortable with a CL of 95 at a CI of 3 than 95 at 5.

It is math, but the math part is easy knowing what type of sample size calculation you need to do depending on the data type -variable or discrete, and the required level of confidence in the result and if the population is finite or not is very important.

There is a really good book about this called something like How Many People do I need by A. Fink (I remember the author [ a fink!] but not the title. If I do recall the title I will post it. I did a quick worldcat search but could not find it.

It Is Statistics

If I were polled I would say you are extremely annoying too. Not to mention rather silly. Can you not even give me a web link to the relevant formula ?


The gall of some people.

You posed this: NO valid conclusions can be drawn from the tiny percentage of responses actually received. Do some Googling or other research on the concept of a "statistically valid sample".

I go out and do the work and find a calculator and run the numbers and then you want me to go out and hold your hand to help you find things. Like you said, do some Googling or other research.


Thanks. You are a real charmer.