Aside from observing the list rules and guidelines, the following practices will enhance the "list experience" for everyone.
It is the height of silliness to include 50 lines of another person's message in your reply, only to tack on a one-line response. It wastes everyone's time, costs some people money to download, and is considered bad form everywhere. You should delete all but the couple of sentences or paragraphs that you are directly commenting upon.
Conversely, a one line response like "I agree!" with NO quoted text is utterly useless as well! How is anyone to know exactly what you're responding to? Include at least a little bit of context.
Along the same lines, sometimes a member asks for volunteers or offers to send something to people who ask, which triggers a flurry of messages with "ME TOO!" or "I WILL" or "SEND ME ONE, PLEASE" or other basically content free posts.
Then there are the many "Thank you!" messages. I understand the need for politeness, and I certainly understand gratitude, but such messages don't add much to the LIST except to burden everyone who has trouble coping with list volume.
Both of these kinds of replies ought to go directly to the original author and not be relayed to the list.
It's common for people to forward lengthy articles or essays they've found on the net or received in mail. This causes every member of the list to have to download and/or store a lot of text.
It's also common to see a link to some web page and absolutely no description or explanation of why we might want to read it. Given the time it takes to load a browser and open the page, many people will not blindly follow every link somebody throws at them.
The best compromise is to post a link to the original article on the Web along with a brief description or excerpt to help people decide if they're interested enough to read it.
If you can POSSIBLY configure your e-mail program to send only plain text please do so. HTML, the encoding that lets you use fancy formatting and fonts, is horribly inefficient, and due to a lack of standards, continues to confuse many e-mail programs, rendering your messages difficult or impossible to read for some people.
It's generally a "feature" to include the message in text form AND in HTML encoded form in the same message, taking more than double the bandwidth to send the message!
Turn off HTML, please!
For your own protection and that of everyone on the list, it is important that you have some sort of antivirus protection program running on your machine and kept current with the latest virus pattern updates. The list software has filters to catch some known types of viruses and other malicious code but they are not perfect! Every once in a while something new comes through that we have to figure out how to block.
Keeping your own machine virus free and secure from attack is our only hope of keeping the list secure and virus free.
It's polite when a brief off topic thread appears to label it with the letters "OT" in the Subject line. This helps folks who want to ignore it to be able to delete it unread. (Of course LONG off topic threads won't happen, right??)
In the same way, tagging highly technical discussions with "TD" or "Tech" in the Subject line will help beginners and non-technical users avoid material they may find confusing or uninteresting.
As the subject of a thread morphs into something new, it's up to somebody to post a reply under a new and more accurate Subject line. This helps people to know which threads they're interested in following and aids in searching the archives as well.
All efforts at policing etiquette must themselves be handled with courtesy and respect, and almost always in private. If you feel you have to correct someone else's behavior, do not do it publicly. In general it's better to leave such things to me -- don't play list cop!
I will occasionally post a reminder or two on rules or etiquette items just to get the general list membership thinking about them again. If you think such a reminder is in order or have a specific complaint, send me your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
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