From: Wade Smith (email@example.com)
Date: Wed 18 Dec 2002 - 13:45:59 GMT
On Tuesday, December 17, 2002, at 09:47 PM, Grant Callaghan wrote:
> After the first few, hardly any of the messages under that name
> discussed that subject.
This is endemic to the listserv/internet. Lots of people, in
lots of places, have mentioned a rather a solid mass of
'shoulds' about this.
Here's a whole list from RFC 1855 at
PS- Don't do as I do, do as I say....
3.1 User Guidelines
3.1.1 General Guidelines for mailing lists and NetNews
• Read both mailing lists and newsgroups for one to two months
before you post anything. This helps you to get an understanding
of the culture of the group.
• Do not blame the system administrator for the behavior of the system users.
• Consider that a large audience will see your posts. That may include your present or your next boss. Take care in what you write. Remember too, that mailing lists and Newsgroups are frequently archived, and that your words may be stored for a very long time in a place to which many people have access.
• Assume that individuals speak for themselves, and what they say does not represent their organization (unless stated explicitly).
• Remember that both mail and news take system resources. Pay attention to any specific rules covering their uses your organization may have.
• Messages and articles should be brief and to the point. Don't wander off-topic, don't ramble and don't send mail or post messages solely to point out other people's errors in typing or spelling. These, more than any other behavior, mark you as an immature beginner.
• Subject lines should follow the conventions of the group.
• Forgeries and spoofing are not approved behavior.
• Advertising is welcomed on some lists and Newsgroups, and abhorred on others! This is another example of knowing your audience before you post. Unsolicited advertising which is completely off-topic will most certainly guarantee that you get a lot of hate mail.
• If you are sending a reply to a message or a posting be sure you summarize the original at the top of the message, or include just enough text of the original to give a context. This will make sure readers understand when they start to read your response. Since NetNews, especially, is proliferated by distributing the postings from one host to another, it is possible to see a response to a message before seeing the original. Giving context helps everyone. But do not include the entire original!
• Again, be sure to have a signature which you attach to your message. This will guarantee that any peculiarities of mailers or newsreaders which strip header information will not delete the only reference in the message of how people may reach you.
• Be careful when you reply to messages or postings. Frequently replies are sent back to the address which originated the post - which in many cases is the address of a list or group! You may accidentally send a personal response to a great many people, embarrassing all involved. It's best to type in the address instead of relying on "reply."
• Delivery receipts, non-delivery notices, and vacation programs are neither totally standardized nor totally reliable across the range of systems connected to Internet mail. They are invasive when sent to mailing lists, and some people consider delivery receipts an invasion of privacy. In short, do not use them.
• If you find a personal message has gone to a list or group, send an apology to the person and to the group.
• If you should find yourself in a disagreement with one person, make your responses to each other via mail rather than continue to send messages to the list or the group. If you are debating a point on which the group might have some interest, you may summarize for them later.
• Don't get involved in flame wars. Neither post nor respond to incendiary material.
• Avoid sending messages or posting articles which are no more than gratuitous replies to replies.
• Be careful with monospacing fonts and diagrams. These will display differently on different systems, and with different mailers on the same system.
• There are Newsgroups and Mailing Lists which discuss topics of wide varieties of interests. These represent a diversity of lifestyles, religions, and cultures. Posting articles or sending messages to a group whose point of view is offensive to you simply to tell them they are offensive is not acceptable. Sexually and racially harassing messages may also have legal implications. There is software available to filter items you might find objectionable.
3.1.2 Mailing List Guidelines
There are several ways to find information about what mailing
lists exist on the Internet and how to join them. Make sure you
understand your organization's policy about joining these lists
and posting to them. In general it is always better to check
local resources first before trying to find information via the
Internet. Nevertheless, there are a set of files posted
periodically to news.answers which list the Internet mailing
lists and how to subscribe to them. This is an invaluable
resource for finding lists on any topic. See also references
[9,13,15] in the Selected Bibliography.
• Send subscribe and unsubscribe messages to the appropriate
address. Although some mailing list software is smart enough to
catch these, not all can ferret these out. It is your
responsibility to learn how the lists work, and to send the
correct mail to the correct place. Although many many mailing
lists adhere to the convention of having a "-request" alias for
sending subscribe and unsubscribe messages, not all do. Be sure
you know the conventions used by the lists to which you
• Save the subscription messages for any lists you join. These usually tell you how to unsubscribe as well.
• In general, it's not possible to retrieve messages once you have sent them. Even your system administrator will not be able to get a message back once you have sent it. This means you must make sure you really want the message to go as you have written it.
• The auto-reply feature of many mailers is useful for in-house communication, but quite annoying when sent to entire mailing lists. Examine "Reply-To" addresses when replying to messages from lists. Most auto-replys will go to all members of the list.
• Don't send large files to mailing lists when Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) or pointers to ftp-able versions will do. If you want to send it as multiple files, be sure to follow the culture of the group. If you don't know what that is, ask.
• Consider unsubscribing or setting a "nomail" option (when it's available) when you cannot check your mail for an extended period.
• When sending a message to more than one mailing list, especially if the lists are closely related, apologize for cross-posting.
• If you ask a question, be sure to post a summary. When doing so, truly summarize rather than send a cumulation of the messages you receive.
• Some mailing lists are private. Do not send mail to these lists uninvited. Do not report mail from these lists to a wider audience.
• If you are caught in an argument, keep the discussion focused on issues rather than the personalities involved.
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