Sheila B Robinson on EvalTalk: 20+ Years of Rich Discussion and 15,000 Unread Emails!

Hi! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor. I often think about which great resources to share and highlight each time I compose a post and it’s been quite a while now since I’ve shared EvalTalk. What does this have to do with 15,000 unread emails? Sounds pretty scary, right? I’ll tell you a bit later in the post.

Lesson Learned: According to our website (, “Over 2000 evaluators subscribe to AEA’s own vibrant listserv, EVALTALK. All members of the evaluation community, AEA members and nonmembers alike, are invited to join.”

Cool Trick: There are many ways to engage with EvalTalk. You can receive daily emails (as I do, hence a portion of the 15,000), or weekly digests, or even just visit the archives from time to time to browse!

I have a friend who will occasionally glance over at my phone and ask in horror, “Why do you have 15,000 unread emails?” To my friend, it’s important to take action on every email she receives. Whether it’s answered, filed, or deleted, it’s dealt with on the spot. Me? Not so much! I subscribe to several listservs and newsletters and just let them stream in. I don’t read all of them, of course, but enjoy scrolling through the subject lines each day to determine which I want to read, and which I want to just scroll by and save for later. That’s what works for me. The number of unread emails doesn’t bother me a bit!

Lesson Learned: EvalTalk often has interesting, even somewhat heated discussions and debates on all manner of evaluation-related topics. Some topics are perennial as I’ve discovered by checking out the archives. EvalTalk was launched in 1995 and if you look around, you’ll recognize some names and topics that were discussion. The earliest discussion was around values in evaluation, featuring Patricia Rogers and Michael Scriven. This is a topic that also appeared on the list as recently as the last few weeks!

Hot Tip: EvalTalk is a great place to pose a question and ask the group for input, resources, and recommendations.

Rad Resource: For other evaluation and research-related discussion lists, check out this page.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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