17314File - Netiquette.txt
- Feb 1, 2014Assalamualaikum,
A few consideration when you make a posting...
Q. Is there anything I should not post to the list?
A. The basic rule is that as long as your post has some content
related to the primary subject of the list, and does not contain much
off-topic material, then it is fine for the list. Specifically, for
almost every list, this will immediately rule out many or all
commercial ads, postings on how to make money (such as MAKE MONEY
FAST), sociology surveys, help with homework, hot international news,
and requests for people to send birthday greetings to your friend.
Also, you should not post inflammatory (aka flame) mail to the list.
It is perfectly fine to disagree with people publicly, but be careful
how you do it. For example, if you think someone is lying on a
subject, it may be fine to say ``Betty's claims about Wilma's hair
stylist are a lie,'' but it is over the line to say ``Betty is a
On the flip side, if someone posts something with which you are in
particular agreement, that's great. You should not, however, follow
up to the list with a post containing no more than ``Me too!'' or
``Right on, brother!'' If you have something of substance to add to
the discussion, then by all means do so, but if you simply wish to
express a simple agreement, then do it in private mail.
You should not post subscribe or unsubscribe requests to the list.
They won't do any good there, and will do little more than annoy
other subscribers (unless they're filtered out by the list server, in
which case they will only annoy the list owner: not exactly a winning
move either). When you subscribe to the list, you should receive a
file explaining among other things, how to unsubscribe: keep this! If
worst come to worst, and you really cannot figure out how to leave
the list, contact the list owner and ask (politely) for help.
You should also not repost private email to the list unless you have
obtained prior consent from the author. Such reposting is at best
considered extremely rude, and in some legal jurisdictions may be a
violation of copyright, or other rights of the original author.
Q. Are there any important formatting considerations?
A. Visual formatting is very important in a textual medium like
email. If your postings are poorly formatted, they will be hard to
read, and people will tire of them quickly. As a result, fewer people
will read what you write to the end, and many will begin to skip your
Most importantly, learn to use the enter (or return) key on your
keyboard. The video display width of many network users is limited to
80 columns, and text which wraps beyond that length is quite a bit
more difficult to read. Since your text may be indented when quoted
by others you should keep your lines to a maximum length somewhere
below that point -- around 70 characters is a good target. There are
of course exceptions, such as wide tables, and long URLs, but the
rule is to keep it well under 80.
Be careful if you use a program which wraps your posts when you send
them. If you wrap at a wider column than it does, you may end up with
alternating long and short lines where it wraps one or two words from
each long line, but fails to join them to the next. If you know that
your software operates this way, you may be best off to simply write
each paragraph as one long line, and let it do all the wrapping. Be
very sure that this is the case though, as postings that come through
with really long, single line paragraphs are also annoying to read.
Wrapping at a considerably narrower margin, such as 40 characters is
also more difficult to read, as one must page down much more often.
However, don't be afraid to use blank lines to separate your
paragraphs, and do break your text into paragraphs. In fact, keeping
paragraphs fairly short is also easier to read; around ten lines is a
good upper limit.
Be careful when using tabs for indenting, as they will display
differently on other platforms. Also, avoid control characters and
other fancy visual effects which are likely platform specific. When
composing (and reading) mail, you're best to stick with a mono-spaced
font (as opposed to proportionally spaced), and avoid anything other
than the most basic text you can use to get your message across.
Q. When replying, should I quote the previous message?
A. Most certainly. You should always provide some context to your
replies so that people who may not have been following the thread
closely, or who have other things on their minds will easily be able
to determine what you're talking about.
However, when quoting, be very careful to edit the quoted sections
down to the bare minimum of text needed to maintain the context for
your reply. There is very little on a mailing list that is more
annoying than paging through a few pages of quoted text only to read
a few lines at the end. Also be careful that you clearly indicate
what text you're quoting (as opposed to what you're writing), and if
possible, cite the author of the original text.
If your mail program wants to attach the whole message you're
replying to on the end of your replies, please do not let it do this
if you can possibly avoid it. It is a good thing to include excerpts
from previous messages with your replies to maintain a logical flow
of discussion, but it is almost always a bad thing to include the
entire text of a message being replied to, be it at the start or end
of your reply.
Q. Should I mail a copy to the person I'm replying to?
A. That depends, but usually the answer is no. Unlike news, where
followups may take days to reach the original author, and may
sometimes never make it at all, mail service is typically faster and
more reliable. Also unlike news, private copies of postings to
mailing lists will result in multiple copies arriving in the
recipient's mailbox, rather than just one. Unless you have good
reason to believe that the person needs your answer as soon as
possible, then they'll probably thank you if you stick with just
sending it to the list.
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