War of the Word attachment

21st September 2001 at 01:00
COCOONED in a old vicarage in the leafy Devon market town of Crediton, the National Governors' Council has long been a soothing voice of reason on the stormy education scene. Then somebody mentioned ".doc" files.

For readers who are not computer whizzes, a ".doc" file is just a document produced using Microsoft Word. Harmless enough, you might think, but in the wacky world of the council's national discussion forum ".doc" has become a matter of principle that has already led to the resignations of at least three members.

It all started when someone in the forum on the website (www.ngc.org.uk) started berating fellow members for sending ".doc" email attachments, saying they were a source of viruses. This sparked outraged responses that quickly swamped all other topics.

Then the resignations started. One member fulminated against "pompous ... emails from people out of touch with the real world of education," before falling on his sword.

The sniping has continued with fury increasingly directed at the official "moderator's" support for the anti-".doc" faction: "Must we have to either endure more of this virus dribble (sic), or leave? Would that make you happy?" Last we heard the "moderator" was threatening excommunication for ".doc" users ("Please use plain text and live together in harmony," he implored) and battle-scarred partisans on both sides were digging in for a long hard winter.

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