Netiquette Of Replying

The following rules of netiquette apply to replying, and generally apply to email, the newsgroups, and mailing lists.

Replying and Forwarding

The basic rules of replying and forwarding are listed below:

  • Reply to sender. When someone asks a question or posts an offer for information or services to a mailing list or newsgroup, then you should send them an email directly instead of posting a reply to the whole list or newsgroup which takes up a lot of bandwidth for people that aren’t interested in the topic.

    Replying to the sender is also a good idea because the original sender may not see your reply if they don’t carefully review the list or newsgroup for replies, which happens more often than you might think.

  • Minimize forwarding. If you receive an email to several people and need to reply, you should pare down the addressee list to those that need to know or may be interested in the what you have to say, to do your part to reduce the overall volume of email. However, copy more people rather than less when in doubt, in case people need to know the information for reasons you aren’t aware of.
  • Forward when necessary. Make sure you don’t forward an email to someone who was copied on the original email, a mistake which is easy to make if you don’t first check the whole list of of To: and CC: addressees.

Summarize For the Group


Fri May 7 22:13:32 1982
Distributed UNIX?

I am interested in collecting all references and information available on network based distributed UNIX systems. Candidate examples include Bell Labs F/S UNIX and UCLA LOCUS. I am primarily interested in network based (multimachine) systems, although multiple processor bus oriented systems may be discussed also. Please mail all info and pointers to me directly, I will summarize to the net if there is interest.

Greg Guthrie
Bell Labs
Naperville, Ill (312)979-7303

If you post a question to a list or newsgroup, and you get several answers sent directly to you, and they would likely be of interest to the list or group, then write a brief message summarizing all of the responses and post it for the benefit of others.

Check Current Information Before Replying

Often someone will send an email or post a message, only to send a retraction or changed information a short time later. Always check your recent email or the most recent posted messages before replying to someone else’s message, in order to make sure the situation has not already changed, and that your response is still on-topic and useful.

Reference Past Communications

Include a portion of a message that you are replying to when it is relevant. However, don’t include more than necessary, otherwise people will give up reading. Use the word <snip> to indicate deletions.

Acknowledge Important Communications

If someone sends you an important email, it is polite to send them a quick acknowledgment so they know you got it. For example, if someone sends you an email asking “can we set up a teleconference tomorrow at noon?”, then it would be polite to send them a note before the end of the day, for example saying that you are working on getting a room, so that you don’t leave them wondering if you got their message.