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Nebraska Mailing List Etiquette

How we communicate:

Mailing Lists sponsored by the Nebraska Library Commission.
How they work and how they can work for you.

What is a mailing list? A mailing list server is an automatic mail list server developed by Eric Thomas for Bitnet in 1986. When email is addressed to a mailing list, it is automatically broadcast to everyone on the list. The result is similar to a newsgroup or forum, except that the messages are transmitted as email and are therefore available only to individuals on the list. LISTSERV is currently a commercial product marketed by L-Soft International. Although LISTSERV refers to a specific mailing list server, the term is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to any mailing list server. Another popular mailing list server is Majordomo, which is freeware.

How do Library Commission Mailing Lists work? The Nebraska Library Commission sponsors several Nebraska Library Mailing Lists all of which are described in detail at the link above. This web page gives wonderful instructions on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, and post messages to the mailing lists of your choice. We have several Mailing Lists at the commission that are a combination of other Mailing Lists, for instance SYSTEMS, and NETR. (See Nebraska Library Mailing Lists for definitions of each mailing list). A definition of SYSTEMS is: "A mailing list that combines several Nebraska Library Commission mailing lists in an effort to reduce duplication of emails to our users." When you subscribe to a mailing list, follow the instructions and you will receive approximately the following (selected text) "Please save this message for future reference, especially if this is the first time you subscribe to an electronic mailing list. If you ever need to leave the list, you will find the necessary instructions below…". Please keep the message in a folder so you know how to communicate with our Postmaster upon unsubscribing.

10 Rules of Etiquette for mailing lists:

1. Junk mail happens. From time to time, you'll receive email messages that you neither requested nor asked for. Sometimes they may even be offensive to you. Consider how you receive junk mail and phone calls from solicitors. Remember, you always have the ability to hang up, recycle, or delete these messages.

2. There's nothing more wonderful on a keyboard than a delete key. Suppose you log into your email account one day and see an advertisement for free Harry Potter books. You might look at it. It might be of interest to you. Did you ask for this email? Probably not. Are you glad you got it? Considering the current craze, perhaps yes. Another scenario is receiving an email for exotic products. Did you ask for this email - you get the idea. When you read the subject line, consider this caller ID. You can see who it is, decide for yourself if the message is worth reading, and either read or delete. It's that simple. Just delete it.

3. Be kind to your neighbors. We all make mistakes. Casting the first stone can lead you down a very rocky road. Sometimes we goof and we do it very publicly. If someone errs on the mailing list please be gentle and let them know OFF the list that this happened by responding to them privately. Remember, they probably didn't receive a copy of their own message so they may not know it happened.

4. Don't send meaningless messages to the entire list. Examples: "I agree," "yes", "why am I getting these messages?" But if you should receive one of these emails, see point number 2.

5. Avoid flaming individuals on the mailing list. If you have a conflict with an individual, settle it by private email messages, on the phone, or in person.

6. Don't be critical of people's queries posted to the list. Many people are new to the electronic world. Send them a private message and gently help them find their way. We're here to learn from one another and no one enjoys being disciplined in front of their peers.

7. Be careful about using humor in your postings. Sarcasm is rarely understood when typed in a message. Many times, a sense of humor relies upon facial expression. Email doesn't provide nuance - only text.

8. Signing off the list can only be accomplished by sending a command to the list server. If the content and traffic of the mailing list is no longer helpful to your needs, refer back to the email you received when you first signed onto the list or the following web page for instructions on how to sign off the list. Sending a note to the entire list requesting to be removed will not unsubscribe you.

9. Be careful to study the header when you respond to a mailing list message. Check and check again to see who is identified in the to: field. It only takes a couple of seconds to proof-read your email and it can save you a world of embarrassment that can easily be avoided. There's no way to retrieve an email once it's been sent.

10. Avoid typing emails when you are angry or upset. You have more courage to type things you'd probably never say to a person face-to-face. It's one thing to regret what you say, but it is quite another to regret what you type. Your email will be archived for others to search, read, and to print out at list archives.

For more information contact Dennis Klebe.