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by Guest Columnist Gavin Atkin

Are you moderate enough?

Situations Vacant: A moderator for the boatdesign egroup.  https://www.egroups.com/group/boatdesign

A forum for discussing topics of interest to designers and builders of small, low-cost boats up to 20ft, usually for cruising and other non-competitive purposes.’

The highly successful boatdesign egroup needs a new moderator. This post would suit someone who has an overwhelming interest in the both the principles of designing small boats down the minutiae of building and using boats, and the time to indulge their obsession. For such a person, the job satisfaction and learning opportunities may be unsurpassed.

Candidates should be free of any urge to direct discussion in a narrow way, but they should be determined to keep the list close to its original principles. This is no job for a control freak or a know-all, as the job requires a fine balance between stifling authority and allowing a bar-room free for all.

Applications please to Gavin Atkin:    gmatkin@clara.net

I launched boatdesign just less than two years ago because it seemed to me that while boat nuts are everywhere, amateur boat design nuts were a rare breed who were unlikely to meet in normal circumstances, and deserved an opportunity to debate issues of mutual interest.

It turned out that I was right. The list has produced some full and frank debates, usually with right on both sides, and it has no doubt led many people to rethink their views on all sorts of topics – I know I have. Ask a relevant question, and you’ll typically get a raft of responses, all of them worth serious consideration. I’d call that a success – and I should add that the list now attracts around 600 posts a month. I also think that in a strange way it has contributed to international understanding, at least in respect of vocabulary.

As you can see, moderating boatdesign has been a great pleasure, and in many ways I’m reluctant to hand it on to anyone else. So why am I giving up now, just when the list is really cooking?

The reason is that I have come to the conclusion that I need to devote more time to boat noodling and building, to composing, and, not least, to my nearest and dearest, and that running boatdesign on top of a hefty work schedule averaging 12hours a day including commuting is just too much.

I don’t plan to leave the list – just to play a smaller part in it, while doing a little more creative work and a little less compulsive email-watching. And, of course, I have no intention of neglecting Free Boat Design Resources at https://smallboatdesign.co.uk .

I have some advice for the new moderator, by the way. People, need space to talk, but they need to be disciplined if they are discourteous (email has a way of making even a slightly abrupt tone seem very rude indeed). Firm words also need to be spoken if they try to prevent others discussing topics that are within the group’s brief, or they try to use the list to blatantly market their own products.* Usually only a mild public warning is required, but if matters get worse a sharp off-line email works wonders, particularly if the recipient realises that the moderator has the power to block their posts.

If you’re interested, I look forward to hearing from you. Naturally, I will do my utmost to hand on the reins to whomever I feel fits the bill most closely.

Gavin Atkin

*Designer John Welsford’s input at openboat is an excellent model in this respect. He has consistently been interesting and helpful, with the result that his stock in the openboat cruising fraternity is now very high – and yet his name was unknown to many six months ago. That’s the power of the Internet!


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