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Mailing List Use - Etiquette

A little attention to etiquette will maximize everyone's enjoyment of mailing lists.

Mailing lists are one of the largest public spaces on the Internet where anybody can participate. In any public space where people bump up against other people, a certain level of etiquette is needed to make sure that the experience is pleasant for everyone. The best advice is the simplest -- be as polite as you can at all times. The general rules of netiquette apply to mailing list communications as well.

Violations of mailing list etiquette can get you reprimanded by the list owner. Very occasionally, it becomes necessary to revoke list access to a particularly disruptive member in order to maintain a usable space for the rest of the subscribers.

Resources. The following resources provide information helpful with mailing list etiquette:

  • The section on Internet Etiquette provides good advice for virtual participation in the Internet, much of which is applicable to mailing lists.
  • The classic "How many Internet mail list subscribers does it take to change a light bulb?" provides indirect advice on behavior to avoid on mailing lists, first posted on the Usenet newsgroups on 15 April 1997.
  • Randy Woodward's "A typical mailing list thread" provides a wonderful parody of a mailing list discussion gone wild, found here.
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