Netiquette for List Serve Users
List Serves or electronic mailing lists are one of the most useful means of communication, since they enable their members to instantly transmit or receive information and opinions on matters of common interest. When a message is sent to a mail list the List Server immediately distributes it to all subscribers. Conversely, when replies to that message are "mailed," they too, are broadcast to the entire list of subscribers in a matter of minutes or seconds, making this a highly interactive form of communication.
The following brief set of suggested guidelines is intended to make the use of electronic mail lists as valuable and productive as possible, for all subscribers.
1. Be germane. Tailor your message to the issue being addressed or up for discussion, since that will tend to produce the most focussed and valuable responses from your colleagues.
2. Know your audience. It is important to recognize that your audience may have varying degrees of knowledge and experience with technology. Keeping this in mind will help to ensure that your ideas reach everyone's eyes.
3. Brevity is important. Please keep your messages as short and to the point as is consistent with conveying the substance of your thoughts.
4. Identify yourself. Please sign your message with your full name and ABA affiliation. Among other things, this gives your colleagues the opportunity to consult directly with you on questions or issues that may have come up in discussion.
5. Provide a subject line. Posting a subject line that reflects your message's contents, affords your colleagues the ability to prioritize their reading. This is a significant consideration particularly when the list of subscribers is large and there is a high volume of transmissions.
6. If possible avoid attachments. Attachments can be very useful, but frequently they are incompatible with your audience's software. Therefore, when at all possible, avoid using them.
7. Be careful with replies. It is important to remember that all messages or replies are sent to the entire list, unless otherwise directed. Consequently, if you wish to transmit something of a more personal or private nature, please make sure that it is sent to the specific recipient intended. When at all possible, be sure to avoid replies that include prior correspondence, since this tends to slow down the discussion process.
8. Please do not use auto-reply. With the nature of electronic mail lists being high-speed, high-volume interchanges among a large number of individuals, auto-replies tend to not be compatible with a List Serve.
9. Keeping it simple is your best bet. A short message using simple formatting is your best bet to ensure that all the intended recipients can view your transmission without any difficulty.