[Homeroast] The gift giving system on this list.

miKe mcKoffee mcKona at comcast.net
Fri Dec 17 19:22:52 CST 2010

Indeed, we were Pecan Jim's witless lab rats for many years!


> -----Original Message-----
> From: homeroast-bounces at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com 
> [mailto:homeroast-bounces at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com] On 
> Behalf Of Jim Gundlach
> Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 3:22 PM
> To: A list to discuss home coffee roasting. There are rules 
> for this list,available at 
> http://www.sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html
> Subject: [Homeroast] The gift giving system on this list.
> A few, or some would say many, years ago I started an ongoing 
> gift giving system on this coffee list.  The gift I offered 
> was a new set of burs for a relatively small coffee grinder 
> that I had bought from SweetMaria's back when they were in 
> one of those states that was to the north and possibly a 
> little to the east of me down here in east central Alabama.  
> I decided not to install the new burrs because I had bought a 
> great grinder from a used restaurant supply store in Atlanta 
> and was never going back to that little thing.  Now typically 
> I would have put the burrs for the smaller grinder up and 
> kept them forever thinking I might find a use for them in the 
> future.  But, I am a social scientist and decided to do 
> something that is generally considered immoral these days, 
> conduct an experiment on the members of this group.  From my 
> anthropological studies I knew that every one of the so 
> called simple societies had gift giving rituals that required 
> people to give gifts to people they tend to be in conflict 
> with, for example their spouse's mother.  Now the theory was 
> that this gift giving system was created to reduce personal 
> conflict and help maintain stability in the simple societies. 
>  At that time, this list, like every other email list I had 
> participated in had a relatively high rate of hostile, 
> hateful, mean, vulgar, and even disrespectful email messages 
> posted.  So, to create an ongoing gift giving system among 
> members of this list, I set the requirement that the winner 
> of these burrs would have to offer a gift to the list and 
> that the winner of that gift would have to do the same thing 
> and that the winner of every gift offered in succession would 
> be expected to repeat the offer of something coffee related.  
> The winner of the burrs remains a member of this list and 
> lived up to the obligation to offer another gift and the 
> ongoing offering of gifts has continued rather irregularly on 
> this list.  
> After the gift exchanging  system was in place, it seemed to 
> me that the hostile email postings had substantially 
> declined.  To collect data to evaluate the hypothesis that a 
> gift giving system reduces conflict, I assigned the students 
> in a social research methods course that I taught a couple of 
> years later to randomly select a hundred postings to this 
> list from the time before the gift exchange system went into 
> place and another hundred from a time at least six months 
> after the gift exchange system started.  These forty-two 
> students read a fairly large number of postings on this list 
> and, while I don't remember the exact numbers, I recall that 
> the frequency of the hateful emails after gift exchanging was 
> started was less than a third of the frequency counted in the 
> earlier emails.  
> I never published these findings because I considered it 
> inappropriate, but I do believe list members should know that 
> keeping the gift giving system going is a small price to pay 
> for having this list as pleasant and useful as it is.
>        pecan jim 
> PS:  I wrote this rather quickly and I still don't have all 
> my writing skills I lost in my encephalitis brain infection a 
> little over a year ago, so please excuse rough writing.
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