As I mentioned in my first post the amount of effort I’m prepared to invest in posting to a small group of people is limited. I don’t think that I am the only person with this opinion.
I also believe that the number of people who refuse to post to open lists is quite small, and that on many lists they aren’t the people who contribute much. I believe that they are outweighed in both number and contributions by the people who want open lists and who are unwilling to spend a large effort on posting to a closed list.
When posting to an open list you have to be concerned about your online reputation. Some lists are closed because of having NSFW content that people don’t want known by their colleagues and managers, I guess that this makes sense for some lists.
IMHO the only good reason for closed lists is for discussion of truly sensitive information. This ranges from security problems in software that have not yet been fixed to medical and psychiatric problems. There are many lists which should not be publicly archived, but for general discussion of computers there is no such motivation.
For a list with a primarily technical focus on answering basic questions secrecy does no good, it merely protects people who want to post off-topic messages and create pointless arguments about issues that they don’t understand.
My solution to some of these problems is to use this blog to comment on such things. I expect that my solution will also be adopted by other people on some of the closed lists that I use.
Also it has occurred to me that blogging about issues may improve the quality of list discussion. If instead of responding to a message in point-form you write an article about the general issue then it may reduce the level of personal dispute. I think it would be difficult to have a flame-war by blog.
Finally while on the topic I have to mention that I don’t believe in anonymous posting to technical forums. Any content that is worth having should come with someone’s name attached. IRC nicks etc are OK, but the person writing the content should be identifiable.