[thingist] list etiquette

Wolfgang Staehle w at thing.net
Sun Apr 5 03:44:47 UTC 2009

many of the list members have been on this list (and/or other lists) before and 
know most of this stuff, but there are also some for whom this is new.
just as a reminder, here are some points to consider before you start posting.
disclaimer:  i didn't write this, it's just a quick copy and paste job from
various sources with some minor modifications.

1. Remember you are interacting with people.

Because you only see letters stringing across a screen, it is easy to
forget or ignore that a person sits on the other side of the network.
This can tempt people to excess verbal boldness or emotional explosions,
leaving readers angry and hurt. Over the Internet, you should consider
yourself as having a face-to-face conversation with someone in a crowded
room. Cursing and raw abuse are not appropriate. Keep debate civil, and
keep it a debate, not a slanderous brawl. Always remember behind every
e-mail address is another person.

2. Differentiate between public and private messages.

        a. The mailing list is public space. Personal messages, such as
        criticism of a person's writing style or new scarf should be
        sent to that person only. To broadcast such messages on the
        mailing list can embarrass and anger. Messages for everyone on
        the list go to thingist at mailman.thing.net.  Questions about how
        the list works (e.g., "How do I use Digest mode?" and "How do I
        find out who else is subscribed to this list?") can generally be
        answered by logging into your Members' Option section.  General
        questions regarding the thingist lists should be directed to
        support at thing.net.
        b. From time-to-time, you may find that a posting is
        particularly well written or offers a perspective that others
        you know who are not subscribed to the list might enjoy.  Many
        who post to the list expect that their message will distributed
        to list subscribers only. If you would like to share a list
        posting with someone not subscribed to the list, it is common
        courtesy and best practice to first contact the author privately
        to ask permission to distribute the message beyond the list

3. Make subject lines descriptive.

People should have a flavor of the message from glancing at the subject
line. "Hello," is not as good as, "my gripe with the altermodern

4. Edit the original message in your replies.

When replying to a message, re-send a few summarizing lines of the
original message so the reader will know immediately what matter you are
addressing.  The user who receives dozens of messages a day can easily
forget what he wrote a couple days before. However, do not re-send the
entire original message, especially if long, as it might be unwanted by
the receiver, and an unnecessary burden for servers.

5. Sign your postings.

It is good practice to include a few lines at the end of your message
indicating your name and e-mail address as some mail programs do not
automatically display such information.  And it is best to keep such
electronic signatures reasonably short.

6. Write clearly and logically.

Simplicity of expression usually is best.  Sudden poetic bursts intended
to "impress" usually do not impress, and may bother the reader.

7. Be prudent with speculation.

On the Internet, rumor can grow extravagant and spread like fire.
Remarks beginning with, "I have a feeling that . . ." or, "I think
that . . ." are usually suspect.

8. Be cautious with humor and sarcasm.

Typed language is naturally colder than spoken language, because it is
stripped of voice inflections and body language.  Quite easily, humor
can be taken as insult, especially if subtle.  Some users prefer to use
symbols that hint at tone, such as the smiley face.

9. NEVER send attachments to lists (they will often appear as pages
of code and may introduce viruses).  Instead, place the attachment on
a web page and give subscribers the URL.

10. NEVER send messages in HTML or "enriched text."  Some subscribers
may receive your message interspersed with HTML tags so that it is
difficult to read.  Check your mail-system's settings to be
sure you are NOT sending mail to discussion lists only in HTML.

11. Give URL's as "<http://www......>" (note the angle brackets) so that
they will survive line breaks and are hot-linked [note that
<www.....> is NOT hot-linked].  Double check all URLs in your message to be
sure they work and do not have a misspelling or typographical error.

12. Carefully proofread posts prior to posting - check spelling 
(especially NAMES) and grammar.

13. E-mail lists are as good, and only as good, as the subscribers make them.  

Lists work best when intelligent people bring fresh knowledge and ideas
to the table.  New ideas can stimulate discussion.  Trivial or inane
comments often kill discussion.  Write meaty, thoughtful things and
everyone will benefit from the list.


of course rules can be broken, but it's better to know them before you
break them.



More information about the thingist mailing list