A Tale of Two Networks

Date: 09/1998

Author(s): Prepared by the Evaluation Center@HSRI.

This paper explores the dynamics of two electronic discussion lists: one established to promote the discussion of mental health outcomes research and evaluation and the other established to discuss the application of evaluation to issues related to mental health and the law. After a year and a half, participants in the former continued to discuss issues according to their original goal. The latter discussion list, on the other hand, had changed from being the more active of the lists to being one marked by conflict, withdrawal of participants and hardly any activity. This paper examines how usage of the two lists evolved differently because of their content and membership. And it suggests, for mental health policy makers, consumers, planners, and evaluators, how, through the use of moderators who keep discussions respectful and on topic electronic discussion groups can be harnessed to bring together diverse stakeholders in to a learning environment.

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