Mailing List Guidelines

In order to prevent inappropriate posting to this list the following guidelines have been established. A large part of this material has been quoted or abstracted from other mailing list usage guidelines, in particular the Oxford University Department of Computer Science’s guidelines and from the Netiquette website at which in turn extensively uses the material from the book Netiquette by Virginia Shea.

The core guideline for usage is “Be pleasant and polite. Don’t use offensive language, and don’t be confrontational for the sake of confrontation.”

There is a widely recognised set of guidelines emerging to reflect the appropriate usage of electronic forms of communication. These conventions (often called ‘network etiquette’, or ‘netiquette’) recognise that it is very easy to despatch email messages very quickly, and little thought is often given as to how the message will be received. For instance, if you had intended something in fun, will the humour be evident? If not, it could become quite offensive.

The following code sets out what is considered acceptable behavior for users of the San Francisco Bay Chapter’s electronic mailing list. This is not a comprehensive list, more information can be found on the Netiquette site listed above, please read between the lines and recognize the intent of these guidelines and respect the others who will be reading your postings.

Be very careful how you express yourself, especially if you feel heated about the subject (for instance if you are shooting off a quick response to some issue). Email lacks the other cues and clues that convey the sense in which what you say is to be taken, and you can easily convey the wrong impression. If you meant something in jest, use a ‘smiley’ [ :-] ] to convey that.

Remember the message will be read by another person who may not appreciate your ‘personality’. Don’t reproduce a message in full when responding to it. This is hard on the readers, and wasteful of resources. Instead, be selective in the parts that you include in your response.

Try to keep messages fairly brief. Most people wouldn’t choose a computer screen to read text on in preference to a printed document, and it can get very tiring for some users. Try to restrict yourself to one or two screen-fulls at most.

Make sure that the ‘subject’ field of your message is meaningful. Where someone receives many messages, it can be very confusing and frustrating not to be able to judge the subject matter correctly from its subject field. When you use the ‘reply’ option, ensure that the subject field (usually filled in for you under those circumstances) still accurately reflects the content of your message.

Try to restrict yourself to one subject per message, sending multiple messages if you have multiple subjects. This helps recipients to use the ‘subject’ field to manage the messages they have received.

Don’t broadcast email messages unnecessarily. It’s very easy to do, but can be very annoying to recipients. In particular, do not send or forward chain email – it offends some people.

Don’t extract and use text from someone else’s message without acknowledgement. This is plagiarism. You wouldn’t do this with conventional mail, so don’t let the ease of being able to do it with email lead you into bad habits.

Don’t make changes to someone else’s message and pass it on without making it clear where you have made the changes. This would be misrepresentation.

Don’t pretend you are someone else when sending mail.

Don’t send frivolous, abusive or defamatory messages. Apart from being discourteous or offensive, they may break the law.

Be tolerant of others’ mistakes. Some people are new to this medium, and may not be good typists, or they may accidentally delete your message and ask you to resend it.

Remember that the various laws of the land relating to written communication apply equally to email messages, including the laws relating to defamation, copyright, obscenity, fraudulent misrepresentation, freedom of information, and wrongful discrimination.
The San Francisco Bay Chapters electronic mailing list is deliberately unmoderated with no restriction on posting being enforced by the Executive Committee or anyone else. The only requirement to post is that the poster must be a member of the list, but no restriction is placed upon membership and anyone may join (go to the eGroups site listed above in order to do this or send email to any of the Executive Committee members).

If a list user is seen to be violating the intent of the guidelines listed above the following penalties will be applied.

On the first occasion of a minor violation of the above guidelines the list member will be warned that their posting content is inappropriate. If the pattern of behaviour continues or if the violation is more serious (such as a virulent flame attack, inappropriate carbon copying of private communication to the list as a whole, continuation of a private disagreement in the public forum of the list, etc.) the list member will be placed on probation and their postings will be placed on directed moderation for a period no less than 6 months. This means that their posting content to the list will be evaluated by the Executive Committee and if it is considered inappropriate it will not be forwarded to the list. No editing will be performed, the posts will either be accepted or rejected on a case by case basis. If the list member continues to submit inappropriate content on any future occasion or tries to circumvent this posting restriction by any method (such as subscribing a new email address, using another member’s email address, or directly emailing any large number of list members directly, etc.) they will be permanently banned from using the mailing list.

Since the mailing list is a supplemental benefit provided to members of the caving community who wish to keep abreast of events in the San Francisco Bay caving community and there is no official sanction or function of the mailing list in the operation of the San Francisco Bay Chapter this policy and it’s enforcement is not subject to the rules defined in the Bylaws of the club regarding sanctions against members of the club. All guideline interpretation with regards to posting content by list members and penalty enforcement shall be at the sole discretion of the Executive Committee. If there is a case of conflict of interest involving an Executive Committee member, they would be expected to abstain from involvement in any decisions pertaining to them.