While what you say is true (and no, I am not so rigid as to say topics 
should *never* go off topic, or that they should *immediately* be put 
under a new thread the moment they do--that I think would be counter 
productive to the purpose of the List and do more harm than good), I 
have found, in the past with the List, looking back myself, that the 
experience has been, for the most part, difficult and unfavourable, to 
say the least. Never once have I put a question to the List where it was 
not picked apart by the vast majority or (even worse) completely ignored.

I am not a linguist by training or schooling. I merely took up 
conlanging as a means to and ends at some point as I began developing my 
fantasy world some ten or more years ago now and after reading Tolkien 
and seeing how much could be added to a world through a functioning 
language. In fact, after reading Tolkien, I became somewhat of a snob on 
this point, and had trouble believing a fantasy world that did not 
include a solid linguistic structure and created names seemingly out of 
the blue. Language indeed seemed quintessential. In the past, I had 
moved through the process somewhat blindly, at one point even taking a 
long hiatus from developing my world, in part, because I was developing 
headaches from trying to work out how to develop a language properly and 
having to revisit my rules constantly, every time I learned something 
new that contradicted what I was doing or added new light to it.

Two years ago (or more now) I returned again to the work, again being 
reminded of how important it was that I develop these languages once and 
for all and to make some definitive choices to move on with things. That 
is when I read Mark Rosenfelder's book and learned about the Conlang 
List. Even now I still don't quite have the confidence in what I am 
doing as a conlanger, as I never know if I am doing it "right." Again, 
I've had no formal training, and though I had studied Italian for four 
years (which does put me ahead of people who have never studied a 
language--and I might add, sentence structure and conjugations was were 
I excelled in Italian, even if I couldn't always remember the proper 
words) and know a decent amount about Tolkien's Sindarin and Quenya (to 
be a geek about it), my lack of knowledge makes the task burdensome and 
stressful at times.

Getting back to my original point, however, though I may have mislabeled 
the "hypmotize" discussion, my questions (as an amateur conlanger) have 
been met with such criticism it has gotten to the point where I just 
won't put a question to the List anymore (the last straw was when I was 
told by someone, I don't recall who anymore, that I wasn't asking the 
right question or not asking it properly--now even the way I'm putting 
my question is going to be analysed?!). And, in the most desperate of 
occasions, if I find I absolutely must ask a question, I type my 
question, hit the send button and literally cringe, knowing that the 
question will be panned, criticised, analysed, picked apart, and all 
other like responses, by a great many people, in order for me to get the 
one or two responses that might actually be helpful to me.

Though I will append, I do think the last question I asked was actually 
met with a greater amount of helpful information than criticism and had 
me think of the List a little more favourably. But, in general, I have 
to say my experience with the List has not been good. I *would* think, 
in general the List would want to help those less knowledgeable 
conlangers, if for no other reason than to better promote the act of 
conlanging and to enrich the conlangs of those who are on the List.

That said, again, there are many who my gripes do not apply to, and 
perhaps even more of you who I have never had any dealings with 
whatsoever. Still, to be perfectly honest, if someone were to ask me if 
I would recommend joining the List as a means of helping them learn more 
about conlanging, I might advise them to go elsewhere to learn what they 
could, and only use the List as a last resort, if at all.

If I seem temperamental in this, or a bit foggy in getting to the point, 
please excuse me. I'm running a 100.2 fever today. Perhaps it's not the 
best time to start a discussion such as this. Still, despite my 
criticisms, I do hope my opinion of the List will change in time. I 
think it's a wonderful thing, in theory, having an active group such as 
this, for people to discuss and share information with each other, and 
its for that reason, if for no other, that I am still on the List.

I wish you all the best and a very Happy New Year.

J. M. DeSantis
Writer - Illustrator

Official Website: <>
On 12/30/2012 12:13 PM, Larry Sulky wrote:
> J.M., I started a new thread for your meta-discussion. (At least, I hope
> so. I've changed the subject of this post on the assumption that that will
> do the trick.)
> As I look back through the original thread, I see there was some (as it
> turned out) side discussion between Patrick and me for a couple of rounds,
> then Patrick reiterated the main point of his question, after which there
> were four trailing posts on the side topic before Patrick laid down the
> law. There were no more off-topic posts from that point on, perhaps because
> someone kindly created a side thread when it was clear that that was
> Patrick's preference. So trailing on for four short posts after a
> reiteration of the main point, and zero trailers after a firm
> clarification, doesn't really seem so bad. It seems to me that that's about
> the way these things should work. And it doesn't seem at all strange to me
> that threads might go off topic as people analyse (not criticise) the
> premise of a question.
> -- larry
> On Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 10:39 AM, J. M. DeSantis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Patrick,
>> As Adam and a few others have stated, I do feel bad this question got off
>> topic. If I had any knowledge on the subject, I would certainly pass it
>> along your way, without any trouble. And, at risk of adding one more
>> unrelated message to a topic that has not stayed on topic this whole time,
>> I find this is too often the case with the List; people criticising and
>> analysing your question rather than answering it. Strange for a list that
>> was, in part, set up to assist people in their linguistic pursuits. This
>> "hypmotize" thing is one of the worst examples I've seen.
>> People might not like what I've said, and truly it's not everyone on this
>> list who is guilty (indeed there are some very helpful people on the list),
>> but, well, there it is.
>> Sincerely,
>> J. M. DeSantis
>> Writer - Illustrator
>> Official Website: <>