635To get best value out of this discussion forum (especially for the time starved and those desiring to be good neighbors)
- Jul 25, 2006
In this day of titanic information overload, here are a few small suggestions which I would strongly suggest you consider. It will make your use of the World Transport Forum more efficient for you and for all those hundreds of people who share your interests in sustainable transport and social justice.
a. Please bear in mind that this is the ‘ideas and communications space’ for World Transport Policy and Practice, and our exchanges here are meant to center on the Journal, its articles, and feedback and suggestions for future issues.
b. For more general discussions of transport issues and challenges, we would point you to the New Mobility Agenda at http://www.newmobility.org which maintains is own discussion forum for these issues.
c. Please take five minutes to read the Welcoming Note. Yes I know it is a great bore but you will find it helpful and make a better neighbor of you. And while it will also show you how to improve your access of the discussions and save you considerable time, here are the points of netiquette you really do need to know about:
1. Make sure you are replying to the correct party.
When you answer a group message, your answer will in many cases be sent to all the members of the list. If you wish the sender only to receive your answer, please click on the "Forward" button instead of "Respond" and copy the sender's email address into the "To" box. Remember, there is no feeling so "sinking" as when a personal message goes instead to 500 busy, possibly unhappy people. We would ask you to be extremely careful about distinguishing between:
- Basically personal messages (such as a thank you note, a specific question or an observation intended for this or that person) which are best addressed to your individual correspondent, and
- Communications to the group as a whole.
2. Exception Information is the rule here:
We are all asked to bear in mind that our colleagues are very busy people and we want to make sure that whatever comes out of this forum (I) they do not receive more than a handful messages a week on average and (ii), more important, that what is distributed to the group is quite literally "exception information", i.e., communications which address issues which are of high common interest. I hate to say it, but when we see people being a bit too casual in their choice of mode, our list administrator actually goes in and picks off what we think to be a bit too personal and indicate this to them as such. This may strike you as a bit priggish on our part and indeed is a bit of a bore to actually do; but we think it's better that than overloading people who have a lot of real work to do and who see this as a useful tool and not one more wasteful Internet chore.
3. Copying content of earlier communications (“Judicious snipping”)
Please do not simply copy and pass on the content of all previous communications. Nobody, nobody likes to wade through this stuff. Moreover, it obscures the point of your message for those whose time is important. Where you need to cite an earlier note for context purposes, please do this in a sparing and structured way ("judicious snipping" we call it). We will all appreciate your thoughtfulness.
4. Retaining Subject Headings:
Once a discussion of any given topic has got underway, it helps retain the original subject heading. (This is because this heading in one of the main ways in which we can recall any given dialogue and exchange around that topic, a process of recall which we believe is extremely important to the extent to which this collective intellectual patrimony is available to be mined for subsequent uses. Likewise, if you note that the subject heading is preceded by a FWD: or Re: in any given case, it's a good idea to delete this so that your message will enter into the correct repertory.)
5. Other guidelines to keep in mind:
- Proof-read your submissions. The time you take is magnified 500-fold in time savings by readers in trying to understand your points.
- Don't send very long messages, papers, or binary files to the list; rather, post a summary in straight text, offering to send to those requesting it the longer or coded document. Such requests should always be OFF-LIST (to the person offering it, not the whole list). Another good alternative is to point people to a website with your material.
- When referring to research or statements, try to cite them, either a bibliographic or web reference.
- Cool off: If you feel yourself getting heated about what another has written, consider sending that to only that person, not the entire list. This keeps the recipient from feeling as defensive and possibly escalating the exchange into a conflagration.
- After joining, don't post for a couple weeks, so that you can get a sense of the style of the list. Your first post might contain a short (one para.) introduction of yourself, but this is not required (when lists first start, introductions are the best way to get things started).
6. How many messages should YOU be posting to the group? Certainly no more than two or three per week. Thank you. In exceptional cases let's get together and figure out a strategy (since there are other options including our several "cafés".)