Posting Etiquette

See also:
  • List Serve - Overall summary of email lists related to our projects
  • Managing List Email - Helpful suggestions for handling lots of email from lists.

These rules apply to Email-based list servers, web-based forums like Facebook, as well as physical mail. But there are differences, so we have groups the rules accordingly.

Rules applicable to both all types of posting.

  1. No Spam. Spam is posts that are added just to make it hard to use the forum or list. Avoid selling or advertising products and services. No virus, trojan horses, fake donation links. Do not flood or spam the group with repetitive messages or unlabeled repetitive links.
  2. Stay on topic! Do not post material to the list (or thread) that would be more appropriate for another list. Keep messages brief, to the point and meaningful. "Me, too" and "Cool" sent to several hundred subscribers is a waste of everyone's time.
  3. Avoid using all capital letters. This is the equivalent of SHOUTING (and considered rude). To emphasize a word or phrase, place asterisks or use underscores around a word. For instance, *word* or _word_
  4. No private Messages. Is your message something you want the rest of the world to see? Confidential information does not belong on a listserv or forum. Do not repost private messages with another person unless you have their permission.
  5. No Flaming. Flaming is the use of emotionally loaded content. It is fine to discuss controversial subjects, but personalizing the debate is not. You can really help the discussion to be productive by not making it personal, i.e. no personal remarks or ad hominem attacks. NO PERSONAL ATTACKS. NO "HATE" SPEECH!
  6. No fake arguments. Avoid responding to a post by splitting it up, line by line, and then pointing out how wrong and stupid the original poster was, and how the poster is not able to read and understand your statements, since the original post seems to continue without any knowledge of them, of course. Instead, respond to the entire idea or point by point, but do not cut up the original post and respond to each line.
  7. Use Private Messages. Reply to the individual sender privately when your response is not relevant to the entire list. On Facebook, use private messages to that person. Also, no posting of private messages on public forums or lists. No unauthorized disclosure of private information.
  8. Do good work. Take care in your posting, use a email client or editor that does spell-checking. Remember, your message is going to 100s of subscribers and you will be evaluated if you use poor English. Beware of words that a spell checker will miss, like "to"" vs. "too", "your" vs. "you're", etc. On Facebook, many browsers, like Firefox, provide spell checking, if you turn it on.
  9. No cross-posting Please do not post from other blogs and avoid sending "click-here" campaigns and other spam-like material to the list
  10. No alter-ego posting. You must be a real person. No sock-puppet posting. (But pseudonyms are okay.)
  11. Enjoy!

Rules applicable for email lists only.

  1. Manage your own subscription. There are links at the bottom of every email message that will take you to a management page, to change your email address, request daily digests (instead of getting every message) and to unsubscribe. (NOTE: Self Management has been disabled on citizensoversight.org due to robot attacks).
  2. Use informative subject headers. Be specific. Be precise. Vague subject lines (or no subject lines) are likely to be ignored or deleted. Don't just reply to a message and leave the Subject header intact if the subject is no longer the same.
  3. Sign your messages with your full name and e-mail address. Check your e-mail regularly. (No anonymous or alter-ego posting).
  4. Limit Quoting. When replying, summarize the original post selectively so that subscribers understand the context for your message. It is not necessary to quote the original post in its entirety.
  5. Correct To: Header. Read the "To:" line before you hit the Send button. Know whom you are replying to. Please note that replying probably does NOT send your reply to the entire list, but simply to the sender of that message. Enter the list email address in the "To:" line to send to the list. You don't need to send also to the original sender of the message, as they are likely also members of the list.
  6. Limit CC's. Do not copy a ton of other people when you send to a list, as they may already be members of the list. If you have a list of members you would like to suggest to be subscribers, send those email addresses to the administrator and he/she can easily send an invitation to all of them. Let them manage their own subscription so they don't get multiple copies and so they can opt-out if they don't want to read submissions to the list.
  7. Learn to manage your email. Are you getting overwhelmed by email? See this page for hints on how to handle email from listserves without getting overwhelmed: Managing List Email

Guidelines for web-based forums like Facebook

  1. No posts in violation of Facebook Terms of Use including expressive content which is illegal in the State of California and United States. This is broadly understood to include content which advocates imminent violence and illegal activities as well as illegal drug use in the State of California, and links to material of that nature.
  2. Post links to other pages, to videos, etc. at the top level, and not as a comment to another main entry. This is to make it easier to find them.
  3. Group Pictures Together. Avoid posting many single pictures as a top-level posts. Instead, link to an album or photo gallery in the top level.
  4. Link to other Posts Learn how to keep track of really important threads by saving the link to the thread. Hover over the date (like "21 minutes ago" or "December 15, 2011") right-click, save link location, and then paste it in another document, wiki page, or save as a favorite.

Suggestions to Admin Facebook forums

Being on an admin team for a Facebook group can be a lot of work, or almost no work at all. It all depends on the ground rules that are agreed to by the members. If a sensible set of rules, like those above, are used and people respect them, then the forum will run almost with no work. Otherwise, it can be an immense amount of work.

Rules for Admins
  1. whenever you approve someone to the group, we need to also send them the rules. Send the link to this page.
  2. Unless the transgression is egregious (like spamming or posting private information w/o permission,) if there is a violation of the rules, follow these steps:
    1. add comment pointing to the rules, stating that they need to respect the rules.
    2. if the violations continue, send a PM describing the violation of the rules.
    3. Third step is un-membering the user.
  3. Un-membering people can be only for breaking the rules and going through the three step process above (unless the violation is severe, then action must be taken immediately.)
  4. Re-approving members requires them to agree to abide by the rules and consensus by the admins.
  5. No deletions of any threads/comments is allowed unless it is off topic, pure spam, private information, or posts in violation of Facebook terms of service.
  6. Any exceptions to rule #5 above, the thread must be recorded elsewhere.
  7. We must tell each other about the steps 2-4 above and keep records of what was done and why.

If we induct users carefully so they know the rules, admins should not have to step in very often.

Special Rules for Physical Mail

When lobbying mail is sent to govt officials (such as postcards) advocating for action of some sort, if we are sending the item and we can review it, our policy is that we will have the right, and shall not to send it if it violates any of the rules of etiquette, and we will if possible let the user know of the violation.
Topic revision: r15 - 2017-08-08, RaymondLutz
 

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