What was that? I thought it was a TESL-L list. TESL-L was the first tesol mailing list I ever joined online. And it provided a great resource of learned posters and information way back in 1995-6. It was amazing. Fast forward to 2006, though, and one begins to see why it WAS a great mailing list, and, more importantly, is no longer anything but a shadow of itself.

You see, here’s what killed TESL-L
* annoying rules not just about what to post, but about HOW to post
* thousands of new teachers, all regaled by their professors about how wonderful it is, joining and asking the same redundant questions again, and again, and again, in fact EVERY year in the first few months of the semester
* postings being rejected for ‘trivial’ reasons that led to my colleagues and I giving up posting because we were fed up being rejected despite writing good posts, while thousands of “newbies” were posting away daily (see #2);
* long digest posts that included every known weird code you could imagine;
* it’s size, thousands and thousands of lurkers, who wants to post in front of SO many people;
* and lastly, an inane website where there isn’t even a ‘login’ button on the front page. In fact, you have to click through several pages to find the login pages.

Now don’t get me started by saying it’s version 14.5 so it must be good. The L-soft software is from the dinosaur age; why not go with mailman? or with another kind of ‘freeware’? or convert to Yahoo! Groups or any of a dozen user-friendly moves that you could make… but no! pay a wacky license fee to L-soft and make it hard for everyone else.

It’s time now for TESL-L to get with the program and …:
1. adopt a user friendly interface on the web (not the current offering, which is a joke – ugliness isn’t the worst of its crimes, either)
2. tidy up the endless crap that seems to be included in digest postings
including repeated information on how to post
numerous re’s that make it difficult to read what the writer is saying
odd/weird characters that obscure many postings (no, it’s not html or xml code, either)
3. make it easier for people to submit postings that succeed
4. move to a more ‘uptodate’ format that closes the gap between browsing, email, and RSS;

otherwise, TESL-L risks becoming a kind of remote outpost in ESL world, as the people joining the profession seek out easier and more rewarding ways to interact on the Internet. Oh, and saying “Well, that’s TESL-L! That’s who we are! We like what we’re about! We’ve always done it that way!” just brings back memories of the 78, 45 and 33 rpm LP, cassette tape, and the 8-track. I think I’ll continue to use them. IN THE MUSEUM.