Listserv Etiquette and Tips

Reduce Reply Quotations – When you respond to a message, please edit your reply to quote only enough of the pertinent message to place your comment in perspective. Most e-mail readers have an option for quoting the previous message in a reply. Then all you have to do is cut out the parts that aren’t necessary, and write your reply in the message body. Indicate omissions with ellipsis or the bracketed snip ( … or [snip] )

Also note that it is never necessary to send a reply to both the listserv and the sender, because doing so will result in the original sender getting two copies of your reply, since the original sender is already subscribed to the listserv.

Proofread – Please proofread your message and look for spelling and grammar errors, since it will be read by more than two hundred members. DO NOT USE ALL CAPS! It will look like you are shouting. Also, review the tone of your message. Ask yourself what your reaction would be if you received it. Look for any areas that might be misunderstood and rewrite these sentences to remove any ambiguity. If you are asking a question, be sure to include details about the problem and specifications, such as model and version numbers. Keep your message terse and to the point. Be clear and be polite, but get to the point. Remember, people do not like to read large blocks of text.

New Thread – If you wish to begin a new thread, don’t reply to an old message. Even changing the subject line will continue the old thread and can be very confusing for the reader.

The Subject Field – Always enter a descriptive phrase in the subject field of the e-mail message. This phrase should give an indication of the message’s content. If you have more than one topic, send separate messages for each topic. This allows the recipient to reply separately to each topic and more easily “file” the message under the proper category.

When you use the reply function, but digress from the original subject, modify the “Subject” field accordingly. This keeps the body information in sync with its topic. Example: “Java Security [was Cookie Complaint]”

Reply Address – When replying to a message, pay attention to where the message is going. Remember, the default reply address is the TCS listserv, and not to the person who wrote the message. Sending a message to the wrong address can be very embarrassing.

Long Lines – If the line lengths in your messages are too wide, they become unreadable in many mail readers. Try setting your window to less than 80 characters (72 is a common number), and set the font to a fixed-width font such as Courier. This will insure that your messages can be read by the broadest number of mail readers and computing platforms.

Commercial Messages/Attachments – Commercial messages are not permitted, nor are attachments, except by prior arrangement with the TCS Board of Directors. If you want to send someone an attached file, please do so in a private e-mail message, not by sending it to the listserv. You can also upload the file to a Web site or FTP site and post the URL on the listserv.

Copyrighted and/or Licensed Materials – Do not send copyrighted material unless you own the copyright or have explicit permission from the author to do so. Instead, write a short description about the item and post the URL or Web address of where the copyrighted material can be found. Do not offer to illegally sell or copy software. Software is covered by strict licensing agreements. It is legal to sell new, unused software that can be legally licensed to the new owner.

HTML – Although you may send HTML-formatted messages to the listserv, doing so may reduce the number of responses to your message. Many modern e-mail programs (including Eudora, Netscape, and Microsoft products) can produce e-mail messages formatted with fonts, italics, bold, underlining, justification, colors, and even images. Although HTML-formatted messages are the wave of the future, many readers still use plain text e-mail readers, and they will not be able to read your message if it has formatting codes in it. You should note that some e-mail programs may send formatted messages by default. If your e-mail program is setup that way, you will need to turn off that feature before sending a message to the listserv.

Finally . . .

In order to focus the mutual aid tradition of members helping members, the primary purpose of the listserv shall be to deal with questions and answers regarding computer and technology related issues.

Suggested topics include

  • Questions and answers regarding computer and technology related hardware, software, operating systems, peripherals, and accessories
  • Internet and other sources for computer and technology related information (hardware, software, services)
  • Software (new, unlicensed) or hardware for sale, trade, or donation
  • Requests for computer and technology related volunteer and job positions
  • Computer and technology industry news, updates, and humor
  • Notifications about TCS news, projects, and SIG meetings.

At the discretion of the TCS Board of Directors, members engaging in off-topic or unwelcome behavior may be subject to removal from the listserv. Examples of unacceptable postings might include e-mail assaults with antagonistic, sarcastic, or insulting language; messages which accuse, belittle, or criticize another participant; or other socially inappropriate activity.

Pursuant to Board action of November 2001, using the the listserv to organize political type action like boycotts or protests or to mine the listserv for potential supporters of a political type action is not permitted nor are actions relating to, involving, or characteristic of politics such as persistent campaigning for a personal cause or goal. Computer-related general informational political discussion and reporting without recommendations to action or recruitment on the listserv and other TCS entities is permissible and within the scope of sanctioned TCS activities.

Use of the listserv to publicly debate or dispute the policies of the Society is inappropriate for this forum. Rather, any member wishing to comment on or recommend changes in the policies of the Society should do so either by contacting a Board member, by personal appearance at any Board of Directors meeting, or by e-mail to the Board. An e-mail message can be sent to all the Board members at once by addressing it to the Board of Directors along with your comment or suggestion.

If you are not sure if a message that you want to post is appropriate for our listserv, you can send it to the Listserv Director privately for review.