Project Wombat

Project Wombat is a discussion list for difficult reference questions, continuing in the tradition of the now-defunct Stumpers list. Anyone may join, or submit a question.

There are three versions of Project Wombat:

Project Wombat “Classic”
The Classic list is semi-moderated, with posting guidelines and so forth, but as long as everyone is civil, there is no attempt to worry about the volume of mail involved. Most people opt for the Classic list.
Project Wombat Open
The Open list has no posting guidelines, so potentially the Open list can sustain more controversial discussions. This version of the list was created because of the occasional accusation on the old Stumpers list that any moderation at all was too restrictive.
Project Wombat FM
The “FM” stands for “Fully Moderated”. The FM list is the opposite of the Open list: anything not directly related to the purpose of the list is not distributed, and an attempt is made to eliminate redundant posts, or tentative answers. This version was created in response to the many people who unsubscribed from the old Stumpers list saying that they wished to continue contributing, but found the volume of mail to be exhausting.

To subscribe, click on the name of the version to which you wish to subscribe above to go to the list management page for that version. (That’s also where you can find the list archives — currently extremely truncated — and the subscription configuration options.)

Warning: if you send a message to Project Wombat, you are implicitly agreeing to our terms of service. In particular, you are allowing your message — including any contact information which it may contain — to be permanently made public. Please be careful when you submit messages to the list; we will not edit our archives to remove your name and address.

After an exhausting weekend, the list has been completely reset and cleaned up, with new text on the website, new configuration files, and several hundred invitations sent out to the subscribers of the old version of the list. We are now running completely on Dreamhost (as opposed to being split between Dreamhost and Project Gutenberg, as we were before).

These web pages will eventually be tidied up to be a bit less stark — for one thing, there wasn’t time to build in site navigation, so you’ll need to use the back button on your web browser for now — but the content is largely in place. It’s probably a good idea for old subscribers to look over the site, just to see if anything has changed.

Here’s the list of pages currently available:

The Posting Guidelines
What’s allowed on the Classic list, and what isn’t, and how the moderation works
Frequently Asked Questions
Revised and updated for the new edition. Includes a special sub-page to deal with the eternal “what does it mean when a message is rejected because of a ‘filter rule match’?”
Donatations Page
Believe it or not, when we set up Project Wombat back in late 2005/early 2006, there were people who were actually disappointed that we refused to accept donations. (At the time, it would have meant a lot of extra work, and possibly tax implications.) Dreamhost has a nice option which allows us to accept donations via PayPal, so anyone who still wants to help out can now do so. Go to this page to read all about it.
Terms of Service Page
Aaaand, of course, there are our terms of service. They haven’t changed significantly, except that we have removed the hanging reference to the Stumpers archives (which were never available anyway) and changed the procedure for dealing with reproduction rights violations, which had never been used. The actual terms haven’t changed.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in Project Wombat so far!