I wasn't surprised by Silliman's recent post about the ever-declining number of posts on the Poetics Listserv, probably partly due to a shift in single-voiced blogs--upwards of 700 listed on his site now--but I think it must also reflect an ongoing problem with the levels of discussion found in such forums. Personally, I find the kind of attacks that go on in the listservs, and now in Silliman's comment boxes, particularly unwelcoming. Who wants to be called a "dweeb" or a "pathetic loser"? Even if it has a smiley face after it. How alienating is that?
Finally, like I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again, I also think it's an effective tool for cutting out many of the female voices. I'm not sure many women have time to piss into the wind, and it seems like few are ever heard in the kind of shouting matches that occur in these forums.
Having said that, I miss the kinds of dialogues that were happening a few years ago when I first joined, and when poets were analyzing, or elucidating certain moments or aspects of poetics, I was impressed by the knowledge, and care taken with posts. I marvel that folks can sustain that kind of attention for so long--as with Silliman--day after day of intelligent, thoughtful responses. In fact overall I've found it inspiring. I just wish it were a little more welcoming.