The Lurkers Support Me in Email

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See also: lurker, flamewar, sockpuppet
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The Lurkers Support Me in Email is an argument sometimes made in online debates or flamewars, in which one person claims that lurkers in the community support his or her position and have expressed that support in private email.

As it is socially unacceptable in most fan communities to repost private emails without permission, this claim is unverifiable, and therefore generally irrelevant, and liable to subject the one who advances it to ridicule.

Jo Walton immortalized this argument in a filksong, "The Lurkers Support Me in E-mail."[1]

The statement/argument is not new to email, however; letters sent and received via the postal service were also quoted as proof of support, and it was just as unacceptable to re-send or quote them in "public" spaces as well. A fan in 1987 told others in a letterzine: "Oh, and by the way, thank you for writing to THE and saying that you agreed with what I said re: Felicity's comments. Lots of people wrote to me privately to tell me that, too, but nobody else saw fit to say it in public. It's appreciated, believe me!" [2]

Ah, Temptation

Two fans in 1998 had this exchange:

>I've been there. Gotta love those invisible supporters, but ask yourself why they don't have the cojones to post publicly? Hmmmm? As I have drily remarked, it's nice to know I'm not alone, but I left > fictalk more than a year ago because all my invisible supporters wanted to remain invisible while I was out in public getting my catwhiskers singed.

LET THE CHOIR SING "AMEN", SISTAH!!!!!!!!!

... the temptation to post the letters from silent supporters was overwhelming, but I didn't, because it would be dishonorable and futile. And while I appreciated the many supportive comments from people, I often wondered rather bitterly why their support didn't extend to even ONE line of public defense. I hope I haven't offended anyone here by saying this; it's a natural human reaction not to like being publicly toasted while a crowd stands behind the curtain whispering "We're with you all the way".  :/ [3]

Case Study: 1998

In April 1998, twenty-two X-Files fans at alt.tv.x-files.creative discussed the online re-posting of private emails without permission at More from Dave Moore; archive link (some topics discussed were privacy, trust, supportive lurkers, the "Wild West" and anarchy of the internet, flames, and more), March 30, 1998

References

  1. How To Participate In An Internet Flame War; archive link, August 1999, accessed 17 October 2008.
  2. from The Hatstand Express #15
  3. comments by bliss and Sarah Stegall at More from Dave Moore; archive link, April 3, 1998