After a hotly contested debate, the Takoma Park City Council voted 4-3 in favor of taxing residents for excessive listserv discussions. “People just prefer to communicate on their neighborhood listservs, and aren’t using our public spaces, small businesses, or restaurants to meet up as much,” stated the Mayor. “We simply needed to find a way to get back some of that lost revenue to help balance our budget.”
The Tax and Regulation of Local Listservs, or TROLL, will aim to regulate listserv usage and charge a fee for excessive posting. Each person will be allowed to post 5 messages per month for free. After that, a 10 cent fee kicks in for each additional post. Cross-posting on multiple listservs will also be charged at the same rate. Moderators will be responsible for record keeping and submitting monthly totals to members.
Surprisingly, moderators were supportive. “I find this to be a natural way to end discussions that go on forever, like our annual dog poop debate,” explained Joe Naples. “Since I’m not very confrontational, I can just let it play out without offending anyone. Last time I asked everyone to end a long debate, I was accused of limiting free speech. It really hurt.”
Proponents lauded TROLL, saying that they care less about the tax revenue for the city, and just wanted less emails clogging their inbox. One resident, who refused to identify himself out of fear of retribution on his listserv, exclaimed “How many damn emails do we need to read about the same lost cat that returns home every night?! Part of me thinks Chuckles is purposely trying to escape.”
While most residents didn’t mind TROLL, not everyone was thrilled. “When you charge money for emails, you are literally attacking free speech,” proclaimed Betty Freedman. “Shame on this new law! I can’t wait to leave this place…but I plan to stay on my listserv because I still would like to know what’s going on in my old neighborhood.”
Another resident, and well known cross-poster, John Snyder, was upset about the cost to engage. “When somebody posts updates about the Takoma Junction Development, I just can’t help myself. Now I’ll need to spend at least $30 to make sure I have the last word. It’s just not fair!”
Ward 1 residents were the most vocal in opposing TROLL legislation, which convinced their council member to vote against the tax. “Most of us aren’t on the Facebook or Tweeter. The listserv is how we communicate about everything from opposing buildings to opposing opinions,” explained Ward 1 resident Andrew Teller. “But in the end, money is no problem for us, so TROLL will have no real effect on our behavior.”
The council is also concerned that the new TROLL legislation could persuade residents to take listserv discussions offline or “underground.” They fear residents might get together at local establishments or homes to have face-to-face discussions, thus avoiding the tax.
Listserv discussions reportedly exploded after TROLL, which immediately generated thousands of dollars for the City within hours.