In a forum where people communicate silently, using typed words, it is both easy to misinterpret someone's words and hard to convey your own. Netiquette is the way the Internet community describes politeness when using newsgroups and other forms of communicating, like e-mail.

*Typing in CAPITAL LETTERS, for example, is understood in the Internet community as shouting. So don't use all caps unless you want to 'shout' your words (which you should avoid in any case). When replying to e-mail or newsgroup articles include as much of the original message to set the context of your reply. Get to know how to use 'smilies' to augment your words. When first joining (or subscribing) to a newsgroup, check the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for that newsgroup before asking questions that are old news to the existing participants.

* When you join a list, monitor the messages for a few days to get a feel for what common questions are asked, and what topics are deemed off-limits. This is commonly referred to as lurking. When you feel comfortable with the group, then start posting.

* Follow any and all guidelines that the listowner has posted; the listowner establishes the local "netiquette" standards for her/his list.

* Don't join a list just to post inflammatory messages - this upsets most system administrators and you could lose access to the net ("mail bombing").

* Keep your questions and comments relevant to the focus of the discussion group.

* If another person posts a comment or question that is off the subject, do NOT reply to the list and keep the off- subject conversation going publicly.

* When someone posts an off-subject note, and someone else criticizes that posting, you should NOT submit a gratuitous note saying "well, I liked it and lots of people probably did as well and you guys ought to lighten up and not tell us to stick to the subject".

* When going away for more than a week, unsubscribe or suspend mail from any mailing lists or LISTSERV services.

* If you can respond to someone else's question, do so through email. Twenty people answering the same question on a large list can fill your mailbox (and those of everyone else on the list) quickly.

* When quoting another person, edit out whatever isn't directly applicable to your reply. Don't let your mailing or Usenet software automatically quote the entire body of messages you are replying to when it's not necessary. Take the time to edit any quotations down to the minimum necessary to provide context for your reply. Nobody likes reading a long message in quotes for the third or fourth time, only to be followed by a one line response: "Yeah, me too."

* Use discretion when forwarding a long mail message to group addresses or distribution lists. It's preferable to reference the source of a document and provide instructions on how to obtain a copy. If you must post a long message, warn the readers with a statement at the top of the mail message. Example: WARNING: LONG MESSAGE

* Resist the temptation to "flame" others on the list. Remember that these discussions are "public" and meant for constructive exchanges. Treat the others on the list as you would want them to treat you.

* When posting a question to the discussion group, request that responses be directed to you personally. Post a summary or answer to your question to the group.

* When replying to a message posted to a discussion group, check the address to be certain it's going to the intended location (person or group). It can be very embarrassing if they reply incorrectly and post a personal message to the entire discussion group that was intended for an individual.

* When signing up for a group it is important to save your subscription confirmation letter for reference. That way if you go on vacation you will have the subscription address for suspending mail.

* Use your own personal Email account, don't subscribe using a shared office account.

* Occasionally subscribers to the list who are not familiar with proper netiquette will submit requests to SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE directly to the list itself. Be tolerant of this activity, and possibly provide some useful advice as opposed to being critical.

* Other people on the list are not interested in your desire to be added or deleted. Any requests regarding administrative tasks such as being added or removed from a list should be made to the appropriate area, not the list itself. Mail for these types of requests should be sent to the following respectively: MAILING LISTS - listname-REQUEST@host


To subscribe/unsubscribe, use the command address and enter subscribe or unsubscribe in your subject line. Leave body of message blank.


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Source: User Guidelines and Netiquette - by Arlene Rinaldi