After six (seven?) years of being almost continuously subscribed, I have decided to finally remove myself from most Debian mailing lists. While I don't intend to actually unsubscribe, I even doubt I will continue reading -private. No, strike that. I especially doubt I will continue reading debian-private.
This is not a decision that I wanted to make or took lightly, but two ongoing problems, combined with my own lack of free time, have convinced me that it is the best route:
(a) Virtually all the traffic on the lists is useless. I don't think this was the case when I subscribed, but it certainly is now. The few interesting technical or procedural tidbits that I can find are buried under (and within) piles of messages that are useless flames, off-topic discussions, kooky threads, or mails that combine two or more of the above.
(b) The tone and content of the lists is increasingly hostile, personal, and aggressive. Based on what I see on the lists, Debian is not a friendly project these days. I'm sad to say it, but being able to block the rest of the Project (except bug reports, of course ) out will not only increase the time I have for Debian, it will increase my motivation to work on it. A lot.
The straw that broke the camel's back here was that after finally getting my Internet access back a couple weeks ago, I decided to catch up on Debian list mail this weekend. After spending a significant fraction of my free time just wading through the sludge and reading the most useful and interesting-looking of the mail that people had spewed onto the lists, I realized that I would have been far better off doing something more useful, enjoyable, and productive with my time ... like, say, picking lint out of my carpet by hand, or committing Postal Service regulations to memory.
I'm still of two minds about the whole issue: while I blamed the lists above, there are plenty of major contributors to Debian who have full-time jobs and still manage to not just read all the garbage on the lists, but actually reply to a lot of it. So I can't help feeling this is partly due to my own inadequacy or advancing decrepitude (I turn 26 in just a few months; isn't that about when your brain atrophies? ) -- but regardless, I think that I personally can't justify the "expense" of staying on the lists in terms of the benefits I get from doing so.