[Ilugc] Mailing list Guidelines

Anto Paul antopaul at gmail.com
Thu Jun 2 16:42:04 IST 2005

On 6/2/05, Suresh Ramasubramanian <linux at frodo.hserus.net> wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Anto Paul wrote:
> |
> | It will be fine if it contains the explanations of each point. When I
> | started posting to this list somebody told me here not to top post. I
> | didint understood this and continued doing the same. The subscription
> | rules of Bangalore LUG is very useful.
> | http://linux-bangalore.org/blug/discussions/rules.php
> |
> There are other and better managed lists to choose from if you need
> rules like this.
> See Brian Edmonds' "Mailing List Etiquette FAQ" -
> http://www.gweep.ca/~edmonds/usenet/ml-etiquette.html
> Much better written than the stuff Shakti posted
> | Mailing List Etiquette FAQ
> |
> | Copyright 1996-2004 Brian Edmonds
> |
> | $Revision: 1.14 $ $Date: 2004/08/12 13:50:50 $
> |
> | This document may be freely retransmitted in Usenet or email;
> permission to reproduce in any other media should be requested from the
> author, Brian Edmonds <brian at gweep.ca>. The latest edition of this FAQ
> can be found on the web at:
> |
> |     * http://www.gweep.ca/~edmonds/usenet/ml-etiquette.html
> |     * http://www.gweep.ca/~edmonds/usenet/ml-etiquette.txt
> |
> | There have been a number of documents written about netiquette, most
> of them quite good, and this FAQ will probably seem to some to be little
> more than a retelling of an old story. Those that I know of are listed
> below, and I gratefully acknowledge both their instruction and their
> inspiration in writing this FAQ. Primarily this is aimed towards
> subscribers to the mailing lists which I run personally, but I would
> like to think that it should apply equally to most any other list. If
> you run a mailing list, and would like to send new members copies, or
> include links to this in your list web page, please do.
> |
> |     * RFC1855: Netiquette Guidelines
> |     * Emily Postnews Answers Your Questions on Netiquette
> |     * A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community
> |     * Rules for posting to Usenet
> |     * How to Write Like A Wanker
> |     * How to Ask Questions the Smart Way
> |
> |
> |
> | Contents
> |
> |     * Contents
> |     * How do I post to the list?
> |     * Is there anything I should not post to the list?
> |     * Are there any important formatting considerations?
> |     * Is properly grammer and speeling imprtnt, d00dz?
> |     * How long can I make my .sig?
> |     * Should I ``crosspost'' to multiple lists?
> |     * Can I post binaries, or other large files to the list?
> |     * When replying, should I quote the previous message?
> |     * Should I mail a copy to the person I'm replying to?
> |     * I've been insulted! How should I respond?
> |     * My posting hasn't shown up on the list! What do I do?
> |     * I've been subscribed to the bounces list! What does this mean?
> |     * I'm not getting any mail from the list! What's wrong!
> |     * I've got a problem not answered here! What do I do?
> |
> |
> | How do I post to the list?
> |
> | When you subscribed, you probably received an information file about
> the list. Included in this information is usually the mail address to
> which posts should be mailed. Typically, if you contacted the address
> wilma-request at mail.server.site to subscribe to the group, then the
> posting address will be wilma at mail.server.site. Or, if you contacted a
> LISTSERV or Majordomo server at mail.server.site to subscribe to the
> list betty, then the list address will likewise be betty at mail.server.site.
> |
> | When replying to messages you receive from the list, you should
> acquaint yourself with the reply options of your mail reader. Most mail
> programs will have at least two reply modes: private and group. A
> private reply will go only to the person who sent the original message.
> A group reply by default should go to the original author, the list, and
> to any people who received private copies of the original message. You
> should be able to edit this list of addresses to reduce it to just the
> list address, plus any other people you think should receive private copies.
> |
> | Please make sure that your postings have a meaningful subject line, as
> many people use this to help determine which posts to read and which to
> ignore when they're operating under time constraints. If you're replying
> to a message and the topic of your reply is drifting from the original
> subject, then edit it. A common convention is to change a subject of
> ``Wilma's hair'' to ``Betty's hair (was Wilma's hair)'' when you do this
> to provide continuity between the threads. Try to snip off any obsolete
> ``was'' bits though, or subject lines can get unmanageably long.
> |
> | Finally, do not use deceptive subject lines that you think may help
> attract attention. It may work once or twice, but like the boy who cried
> wolf, if you keep wasting people's time in this way, they'll soon start
> ignoring your posts entirely. Honesty, clarity and conciseness are the
> best policy when composing your subject line.
> |
> |
> | Is there anything I should not post to the list?
> |
> | The basic rule is that as long as your post has some content related
> to the primary subject of the list, and does not contain much off-topic
> material, then it is fine for the list. Specifically, for almost every
> list, this will immediately rule out many or all commercial ads,
> postings on how to make money (such as MAKE MONEY FAST), sociology
> surveys, help with homework, hot international news, and requests for
> people to send birthday greetings to your friend.
> |
> | Also, you should not post inflammatory (aka flame) mail to the list.
> It is perfectly fine to disagree with people publicly, but be careful
> how you do it. For example, if you think someone is lying on a subject,
> it may be fine to say ``Betty's claims about Wilma's hair stylist are a
> lie,'' but it is over the line to say ``Betty is a liar''.
> |
> | On the flip side, if someone posts something with which you are in
> particular agreement, that's great. You should not, however, follow up
> to the list with a post containing no more than ``Me too!'' or ``Right
> on, brother!'' If you have something of substance to add to the
> discussion, then by all means do so, but if you simply wish to express a
> simple agreement, then do it in private mail.
> |
> | You should not post subscribe or unsubscribe requests to the list.
> They won't do any good there, and will do little more than annoy other
> subscribers (unless they're filtered out by the list server, in which
> case they will only annoy the list owner: not exactly a winning move
> either). When you subscribe to the list, you should receive a file
> explaining among other things, how to unsubscribe: keep this! If worst
> come to worst, and you really cannot figure out how to leave the list,
> contact the list owner and ask (politely) for help.
> |
> | You should also not repost private email to the list unless you have
> obtained prior consent from the author. Such reposting is at best
> considered extremely rude, and in some legal jurisdictions may be a
> violation of copyright, or other rights of the original author.
> |
> | See also the related section on binaries and other large files.
> |
> |
> | Are there any important formatting considerations?
> |
> | Visual formatting is very important in a textual medium like email. If
> your postings are poorly formatted, they will be hard to read, and
> people will tire of them quickly. As a result, fewer people will read
> what you write to the end, and many will begin to skip your posts entirely.
> |
> | Most importantly, learn to use the enter (or return) key on your
> keyboard. The video display width of many network users is limited to 80
> columns, and text which wraps beyond that length is quite a bit more
> difficult to read. Since your text may be indented when quoted by others
> you should keep your lines to a maximum length somewhere below that
> point -- around 70 characters is a good target. There are of course
> exceptions, such as wide tables, and long URLs, but the rule is to keep
> it well under 80.
> |
> | Be careful if you use a program which wraps your posts when you send
> them. If you wrap at a wider column than it does, you may end up with
> alternating long and short lines where it wraps one or two words from
> each long line, but fails to join them to the next. If you know that
> your software operates this way, you may be best off to simply write
> each paragraph as one long line, and let it do all the wrapping. Be very
> sure that this is the case though, as postings that come through with
> really long, single line paragraphs are also annoying to read.
> |
> | Wrapping at a considerably narrower margin, such as 40 characters is
> also more difficult to read, as one must page down much more often.
> However, don't be afraid to use blank lines to separate your paragraphs,
> and do break your text into paragraphs. In fact, keeping paragraphs
> fairly short is also easier to read; around ten lines is a good upper limit.
> |
> | Be careful when using tabs for indenting, as they will display
> differently on other platforms. Also, avoid control characters and other
> fancy visual effects which are likely platform specific. When composing
> (and reading) mail, you're best to stick with a mono-spaced font (as
> opposed to proportionally spaced), and avoid anything other than the
> most basic text you can use to get your message across.
> |
> |
> | Is properly grammer and speeling imprtnt, d00dz?
> |
> | Like formatting, grammar and spelling are also very important in a
> textual medium. One author, whose name I have forgotten, has compared
> posting material containing glaring grammar and spelling mistakes with
> being dirty and unkempt in personal contacts. In any case, your postings
> reflect on you, so you should be proud of them.
> |
> | Also keep in mind, that with the proliferation of network indexing
> services, it is becoming easier all the time to quickly compile a
> personality profile of a network user based on what he or she posts,
> both to Usenet, and (currently to a lesser extent) on mailing lists. Be
> aware that your friends, family, romantic interests, and employers
> (current and future) will all have access to this information. Again,
> others will judge you based on both what you say, and how you say it, so
> give each posting careful thought.
> |
> | On the flip side, it is generally not worthwhile to publicly correct
> the spelling or grammar in something written by someone else. For many
> users on the net, English is not their first language, and even for some
> for whom it is, they may have disabilities which prevent them from using
> it as easily as others. Some people will appreciate correction, and take
> it as a learning experience, but it should always be done via private
> mail (never publicly), and you should tread carefully.
> |
> | Finally, do use punctuation, and put spaces in the right places around
> it. Also, use capitalization properly (NO SHOUTING, please), and avoid
> using short forms such as dropping vowels, or substituting 4/for, u/you,
> r/are and so on. Such practices might make things easier for you, but it
> makes deciphering your writing that much harder for everyone else who
> you're expecting to read it. You can make an exception for smilies and
> common acronyms, such as OTOH, YMMV, BTW, and such, but don't overdo it,
> and be careful not to confuse your audience.
> |
> | In short, to borrow from the informal guideline given in many network
> protocols: be conservative in what you produce and liberal in what you
> accept.
> |
> |
> | How long can I make my .sig?
> |
> | Ideally it should be as short as possible while still getting across
> whatever you feel is important that it contain. The very best .sig of
> all is probably just a single line with your name and email address.
> Remember that while an ASCII graphic or witty saying may be cool the
> first time, it's going to be boring by the time someone sees it five
> times, and if it's large enough to attract the eye, will get annoying
> very quickly.
> |
> | Unlike news, where space is relatively cheap, so larger sigs are more
> forgivable, and four lines or more is typically the norm, mailing lists
> feed into a person's private mailbox. Thus, each subscriber is paying
> for every byte you send them, so if too much of that is a .sig which
> contains no useful information, but is just repeated over and over, many
> people will quickly start to feel less favourably inclined towards your
> contributions to the list.
> |
> |
> | Should I ``crosspost'' to multiple lists?
> |
> | Almost always, the answer to this is no. Most mailing lists are
> topically disjoint, and there is very little that is equally appropriate
> for posting to a number of them. It can also be annoying, as usually
> subscribers will get a copy of your message for each list they're on
> that you post to -- more than two or three of those and you can have a
> lot of annoyed people knocking on your mailbox.
> |
> | That said, there may be some occasional instances where it would be
> appropriate to post to a number of lists at once. If you think this is
> the case, then you should probably contact the owner of each list and
> make sure that they agree before proceeding.
> |
> |
> | Can I post binaries, or other large files to the list?
> |
> | Almost always, the answer to this is no. Mail sent to mailing lists is
> going into subscribers' private mailboxes, some of which are not set up
> to handle really large pieces of mail. Typically, you should put large
> files up on an ftp or web site, and then post an announcement to the
> list with instructions on how to access the files. If you do not have
> access to ftp or web facilities, contact the owner of the list, and she
> or he may be able to help you out.
> |
> | There may be a few cases where posting such material would be
> appropriate, but you should definitely contact the list owner first and
> make sure you have his or her approval before doing so.
> |
> |
> | When replying, should I quote the previous message?
> |
> | Most certainly. You should always provide some context to your replies
> so that people who may not have been following the thread closely, or
> who have other things on their minds will easily be able to determine
> what you're talking about.
> |
> | However, when quoting, be very careful to edit the quoted sections
> down to the bare minimum of text needed to maintain the context for your
> reply. There is very little on a mailing list that is more annoying than
> paging through a few pages of quoted text only to read a few lines at
> the end. Also be careful that you clearly indicate what text you're
> quoting (as opposed to what you're writing), and if possible, cite the
> author of the original text.
> |
> | If your mail program wants to attach the whole message you're replying
> to on the end of your replies, please do not let it do this if you can
> possibly avoid it. It is a good thing to include excerpts from previous
> messages with your replies to maintain a logical flow of discussion, but
> it is almost always a bad thing to include the entire text of a message
> being replied to, be it at the start or end of your reply.
> |
> |
> | Should I mail a copy to the person I'm replying to?
> |
> | That depends, but usually the answer is no. Unlike news, where
> followups may take days to reach the original author, and may sometimes
> never make it at all, mail service is typically faster and more
> reliable. Also unlike news, private copies of postings to mailing lists
> will result in multiple copies arriving in the recipient's mailbox,
> rather than just one. Unless you have good reason to believe that the
> person needs your answer as soon as possible, then they'll probably
> thank you if you stick with just sending it to the list.
> |
> |
> | I've been insulted! How should I respond?
> |
> | Ah, congratulations. You've never been properly welcomed to the net
> until you've been flamed. Your response can take a number of forms. The
> first and most important thing you should do is to take a break and cool
> off. Replies written in the heat of anger are seldom any better than the
> postings which inspire them. Revenge is a dish best served cold, as they
> say.
> |
> | Now that you've cooled off, go back and consider the offending
> material again. If it's nothing but baseless lies and fabrications that
> no rational person would believe, then the best response is to
> completely ignore it. If it contains material that you would consider to
> be of a slanderous or threatening nature, then you may wish to forward a
> copy to the user's postmaster and request that they have a word with the
> individual about the proper use of the net.
> |
> | If, on the other hand, the posting contains inaccuracies which you
> feel need to be addressed, then it is perfectly reasonable to send a
> followup message which does so. However, the ideal approach is to ignore
> any hysteria, and stick with the facts. Be reasonable and rational,
> point out your attacker's errors, and their attack will usually collapse
> around them. In particular, avoid any personal attacks on an
> individual's intelligence, age, character, etc. At the very least, if
> you cultivate a reputation of being level-headed, then most people will
> gladly give you the benefit of the doubt over a knee-jerk flamer.
> |
> | The final option is to flame them in return, but be very careful when
> deciding on this course of action. Well crafted flames are a thing of
> beauty, but are extremely difficult to write. The ultimate goal of a
> flame should be that the recipient know deep in his or her heart that
> s/he has been terribly insulted, but s/he should not consciously be able
> to figure out why s/he feels this way.
> |
> |
> | My posting hasn't shown up on the list! What do I do?
> |
> | Probably, just be patient. Sometimes the list server will be off-line,
> or be too busy with other things to deal with your mail right away.
> Also, some lists are restricted to posts by subscribers only, and if the
> address you post from does not match the one you're subscribed under,
> your posting may be delayed for approval by the list owner. If the list
> owner is away or busy, then it may be some time before your message gets
> approved.
> |
> | If a few days go by with no sign of your post, then the next step
> should be to write the list owner and inquire if there's a problem.
> Include as much information as you can regarding what your original
> posting was about. If still nothing has happened after a week, and if
> your message is still relevant, then it's probably entirely reasonable
> to post it again. Mail is generally more reliable than news, but things
> still get lost occasionally.
> |
> |
> | I've been subscribed to the bounces list! What does this mean?
> |
> | This means that your email account has, for at least a short period,
> been refusing to accept messages from the mailing list. This may happen
> because your mailbox has filled up (i.e. over quota), or it may be due
> to system problems at your site, or even network problems beyond local
> control. Every time a subscriber's mailbox starts bouncing mail, a copy
> of each posting to the list is returned to the list owner. Even if only
> a small percentage of addresses on a list are having problems at any one
> time, for a large and/or busy list this can add up to quite a bit of mail.
> |
> | Some list owners will simply unsubscribe offending accounts from the
> list, while others will have the option of moving bouncing accounts to a
> separate list. Majordomo, in particular, supports a bounces list, to
> which bouncing addresses can be moved, and which will provide a daily
> reminder to addresses on the list that their status has changed.
> Included in these reminders are instructions on how to get off of the
> bounces list, and rejoin whatever list(s) you were originally on.
> |
> |
> | I'm not getting any mail from the list! What's wrong!
> |
> | Well, most likely this simply means that no one is posting anything.
> If you've got something to say, then post it and see if you can start up
> the discussion again. Do not, however, send a ``test message'' to the
> list, as it's unlikely that all the subscribers want to receive such
> junk mail. It's perfectly reasonable for a list to be dormant for long
> periods between bursts of traffic, as not all topics can be interesting
> all the time.
> |
> | On the other hand, it is also possible that you are no longer
> subscribed to the list, whether due to your mailbox bouncing for too
> long, or due to some other system error. The easiest way to determine if
> this is the case is simply to resubscribe to the list. If you're already
> on the list, then the list server should return a message stating as
> much; if not, then you're back on the list and the problem is solved.
> |
> | The final possibility is that the list has died, whether this is due
> to the owner not paying his bills, just getting sick of the whole thing,
> or some other reason, who knows. In this situation, the best course of
> action is to attempt to contact the list owner and verify the problem.
> If it turns out that the list has been shut down on a permanent basis,
> then you may be able to obtain the old list of subscribers and restart
> the list yourself. If a full subscriber list is not available, then
> you'll have to contact everyone you knew from the list and decide where
> to go from there.
> |
> |
> | I've got a problem not answered here! What do I do?
> |
> | Your best resource is the list owner. If you do not actually know who
> that is, for a list named wilma at mail.server.site, typically mail to
> either owner-wilma at mail.server.site or wilma-owner at mail.server.site will
> reach the list owner. If neither of these work, then contact
> postmaster at mail.server.site and inquire how to reach the owner of the list.
> |
> |
> | Brian Edmonds, August 12, 2004
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.1 (GNU/Linux)
> Comment: Key at http://www.hserus.net/pgp.txt
> iD8DBQFCnt94RB4r9e3t77kRAtRmAKDnKBVQ14RiicBGXThn+p+G7X9WTACfcyQv
> GXbJDr6B/Ox6B6d8xEDy6dY=
> =arUd

You read all those that is copied and pasted ?. For me it will take an
hour to read that and will definitely ignore such a mail.
Anto Paul

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