Do most OWLs, in their current manifestations, encourage practices that walk-in writing centers have tried to discourage?

For instance, do some e-mail services offer little more than a glorified grammar hotline? Or, do some web sites, with the ease of browsing that they offer, turn OWLs primarily into what Andrea Lunsford ("Collaboration, Control, and the Idea of a Writing Center," The Writing Center Journal, 12,  1991) would call "clearinghouses of information?"

At Purdue, for example, it's forbiddingly difficult, even for relatively experienced users, to attach plain text versions of their papers to e-mail messages, consequently few students attempt to send copies of their work. (Even if students know how to save a text in ASCII format and download it to an account, the effort to do that seems forbidding.) Such difficulties seem to discourage the exchange of entire papers via e-mail and to encourage "shorter" questions.

Even if students could send copies of their work, some current technologies could encourage a "fix-it shop" image for an OWL. In e-mail, for instance, if could be easy for students to send their papers for correction and for tutors to comply. This isn't at all inevitable, but the possibility should be considered.

and . . .

Stuart Blythe
Purdue University