For several days after signing on to some of the listservs directly applicable to speech-language pathology, I "lurked" - i.e. watched the messages without joining in the discussion.. Noticing that many of the individuals who were asking and answering questions were professionals whose research and work I respected, I was a little afraid to jump in. My first brave attempt at connecting with others on the Internet was posting a query about a puzzling client. This individual had been in articulation therapy in grade school and continued to exhibit a mild phoneme distortion that bothered him so much, he avoided all words in his conversational speech that contained the phoneme and refused to read orally or give oral reports in school. Although I was familiar with avoidance behaviors in stuttering, I had never witnessed or read about such phoneme avoidance in an adolescent client with an articulation disorder.
I did a quick search of the literature and found phoneme avoidance in non-stutterers mentioned only in connection with young children learning language. So I posted my query to the three listservs on stuttering:
Within hours, three individuals , including a professor whose texts were part of my professional library, had written back with suggestions. I was amazed - not only at the speed of response, but also at the supportive community I discovered on the "net.."
(For those new to listservs, you typically need to sign on by writing to a computer program usually called listserv, sometimes called listproc, mailserv, or majordomo. Try listserv first, it is the most common. For example, to subscribe to stutt-x, a list coordinated by Donald Mowrer, you address your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. You do not need to include a subject and the message needs to be very specific. The first time I tried, I asked Please subscribe stutt-x Judy Kuster Computers do not understand "please" I was told. The message that worked was - subscribe stutt-x Judy Kuster. If you are subscribing to a majordomo, you do not need to put your name in the body of the message. After you are subscribed, you may send a message to everyone else subscribed to the list by using the list name, for example, email@example.com. If you want, you can also see who else is subscribed by sending a review command to the computer, for example, address your post to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave the subject line blank and type the message - review stutt-x.
To subscribe to the other two lists about stuttering:
For stut-hlp, coordinated by Robert Quesal, send the following e-mail message to email@example.com subscribe stut-hlp yourfirstname yourlastname
For stutt-l, coordinated by Woody Starkweather, send the following e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org subscribe stutt-l yourfirstname yourlastname
At times when I have a specific query, I find a list on which it would be appropriate , sign on for a few days to learn about the level of discussion, post my question, receive good responses, and sign off again. For example, last fall I attended a workshop on diversity issues where the speaker had indicated that the idiom "more bang for the buck" was offensive to women. But I had never heard it used in any context other than referring to building bigger and better bombs. I signed on to the American Dialect Society listserv email@example.com and started a thread (topic of discussion) on "offending idioms" that lasted about three weeks. (To join this list, e-mail the following message to firstname.lastname@example.org subscribe ads-l yourfirstname your lastname). I learned a lot, including other examples that I had never thought about, like, "What a gyp" and "Welsh on a bet." I also discovered the etymology of the idiom "more bang for the buck", which has evolved from referring to the national defense budget and the destructive power it produces to referring to illegal drugs, and, more recently, to sex for money. I decided to avoid the idiom. (There is another newer discussion forum based in Australia that would have been an appropriate place for my question on idioms, too. It deals with usage of words and phrases in the English language, including the origins of English idioms.
To subscribe to this listserv, email to email@example.com with the following message, subscribe wordplay-l yourfirstname yourlastname.
Subscribing to a discussion forum in Australia - the "au" part of the address tells you it is there - is just as easy as subscribing to one in the United States.).
An important and effective method of linking with other professionals on the Internet is to get involved with various discussion groups, finding individuals on them with similar interests to yours. At times however, you wish there were some way to contact other professionals in your area of professional interest or connect with a specific person. One frustration with the Internet - there is no central email address or information directory to help you find someone specific. You need to know the address. People who have some experience with the Internet, may guess the user id, then try finger firstname.lastname@example.org or use whois techniques that sometimes work. If you know a discussion list where that individual subscribes, you can sometimes find the email address by sending a review message to the list, which returns a list of all subscribers' addresses. Many universities have email directories on-line that you can search. But not all universities have them, and a minority of all communication disorders personnel are on university accounts.
For better direct Internet links, Richard Dean, from Ohio University, has developed an Email Directory of Communication Disorders Personnel. Currently the list numbers 365, includes international colleagues, and is growing. Dean invites readers to have their names and email addresses included. He asks that you send him: your name, email address, agency or school affiliation, state and area of certification [speech-language pathology, audiology, or other]. He mails out revisions via email approximately three times a year and places a current copy in appropriate archives. When the list reaches 500 he plans to petition ASHA to incorporate such addresses into its Membership Directory. His email address: email@example.com.