When I set up the listserv for this course, I had the option of making it a "closed" list (in this way I could limit participation to students enrolled in the course, and if exceptions were made, people could only join with my permission, thus enabling me to "filter" the participants) or leaving the list "open" (anyone with access to Internet e-mail could find out about the list and join it). I chose to leave the list open, mainly because I wanted my students to have the benefit of being exposed to a variety of responses and points of view.
One of the unexpected benefits, though, has not necessarily been so one-sided. People from a variety of walks of life have joined the list, some as lurkers and some as active participants, and the list has given them an opportunity for intellectual stimulation they might not otherwise have access to. Following is a brief description of some of the non-enrolled participants: