A short post on the Google Group Archives in The News —posted under the title “Professionals without professionalism, Part 1 Archives & Archivists” by username Pakurilecz on November 17th, 2017 —grabbed my attention. It made me ask “why is Archives and Archivists Listserv from the Society of American Archivists so controversial?” and more importantly, how did it earn this listserv earned the twitter nickname “#thatdarnlist”?
An SAA report from 2017 provided a bit more detail, suggesting that individuals on the listserv had engaged in unprofessional behavior stating, “The Terms of Participation clearly prohibit personal attacks and inflammatory remarks of a personal nature” and “It seems that, at times, certain list participants (including nonmembers) have used the list to “tweak” SAA and taunt other individuals. We encourage them to seek out a new hobby.” Perhaps most damning of all, the report states, “The reputation of the list has been declining for years, and this reflects poorly on SAA and its brand. One striking example is the emergence of the Twitter hashtag “#thatdarnlist” to mark conversations about the list. Many SAA members have publicly encouraged archivists to avoid the list entirely.” The report closes by suggesting that the Listserv be decommissioned by December 31, 2017, that listserv archives be maintained for public use and that a new online forum for profession-wide discussion.
A search of the twitter hashtag #thatdarnlist brings up a long list of tweets including:
“Unsubscribed from #thatdarnlist. Sick of the endless bickering and immature snark. Not even remotely worth it.” – @ElavatrSpeech, Sept 2, 2014
“#thatdarnlist should have a specific purpose & audience. It’s called the Archives&Archivists listserv not SocialOutlet listserv.” – @Gonzoarchivist, Sep 3, 2014
“As a former victim of harassment on #thatdarnlist, I was happy to help kill it. And, as we note in the release, there will be opportunities for member feedback on what may come next. Please give that feedback.”- @barkivist, November 8, 2017
While I cannot comment directly on any content on this listserv, it is apparent that the SAA has an infamous record in terms of policing the professionalism of its membership and forums of communication. I am left wondering how a new forum will prevent the issues that seemed ever present in the soon-to-be decommissioned listserv. Is this listserv a microcosm of structural problems within the SAA? And how are issues of professionalism handled by other Archival associations and forums?
 pakurilecz, . “Professionals Without Professionalism, Part 1 Archives & Archivist.” Accessed November 19, 2017. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/archives-in-the-news/tbimwt7gzMw.
 Beaumont, Nancy, and Matt Black. “Society of American Archivists Council Meeting November 5–7, 2017 Chicago, Illinois The Archives and Archivists Listserv.” Society of American Archivists . https://www2.archivists.org/sites/all/files/1117-V-A-A&AList.pdf, 2.
 Ibid, 3.