LINGUIST List 16.940

Mon Mar 28 2005

Disc: Re: 16.894, Disc: Abolishing Fund Drive

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        1.    Karen Ward, Re: 16.894, Disc: Abolishing Fund Drive
        2.    Kenza Cherkaoui Messin, Abolishing Fund Drive

Message 1: Re: 16.894, Disc: Abolishing Fund Drive

Date: 28-Mar-2005
From: Karen Ward <>
Subject: Re: 16.894, Disc: Abolishing Fund Drive

I disagree with the proposals to charge for Linguist services.

I've been reading the Linguist list since its first year, I believe, when it was
just a labor of love carried out by a couple of profs in their "spare" time.
I've contributed to the fund drives since my graduate student days, and I'm
happy to do so. As a broke graduate student, however, it is unlikely that I
would have subscribed to a for-pay mailing list. In fact, it is unlikely even
now that I would pay a fee for a service that had not already proved its value
and quality to me. Keeping the list and site free allows us to attract
subscribers and users who might eventually decide that it is worth paying for.

I agree that a for-fee service might be fairer on the surface, in the sense
that everyone using the list and web site would be contributing monetarily to
its upkeep. For some of the folks that use this list and the associated web
site, however, even a modest fee would represent an insurmountable difficulty -
and, of course, these will be precisely the people who would have the fewest
alternatives should the list become inaccessible to them. Some of us just plain
can afford more. A voluntary contribution allows those who can to subsidize
those who cannot.

Also, I am concerned that charging for access would impoverish the resource in
other ways. Much of its value to the profession (and to the corporate entities
that help subsidize the list operation) lies in its large subscriber base.
Would the discussions and request for information be as valuable with a quarter
or a tenth the number of subscribers? Would the corporate contributers be as
willing to pay for the smaller number of eyes? I submit that even the
free-loaders and the passive readers contribute with their mere presence
(although their money would be nice as well!).

That said, I do not deny that the current system appears to be creaking, at
least. I think it might be worth asking whether the scope of the effort can be
scaled back somewhat. Don't get me wrong - I am in awe of how much is done and
how many students are supported with the relatively modest amount of money
budgeted. But if the money simply isn't there, can we do less and still have a
valuable service? Is it all or nothing?

Karen Ward (ward)
Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science
University of Portland (

Message 2: Abolishing Fund Drive

Date: 27-Mar-2005
From: Kenza Cherkaoui Messin <>
Subject: Abolishing Fund Drive


Linguistlist is a great tool for the community, not only for the great
amount of information it brings to us but also because it offers the
opportunity for linguists who live in countries where the information is
not easily available to be connected to their peers.

I definitely can see the point where funds are needed, but charging
students, people from poorly connected and/or funded universities, etc.
could hurt the purpose of the list. Depending on the country, not all
universities (or labs) will have a credit card to be charged. And I don't
mean only developing countries. I'm a Ph.D student in France and I can see
the point where it can become a problem.

Kenza Cherkaoui Messin

For previous messages in the discussion, see:

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