Mailing Lists

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Contents

Free Geek Vancouver Mail Lists

Access

Free Geek maintains a number of email list for topical and general discussion and announcements. Subscribing to the lists is a good way of staying up to date with Free Geek.

fg-announce

The fg-announce list is for official announcements only. It is the best way to stay up to date with what's going on at FG. You will only receive mail; you cannot send to it. To subscribe, go here: fg-announce

fg-general

fg-general is where volunteers, staff, directors, and the public can discuss Free Geek. To subscribe, go here: fg-general

fg-society

The fg-society is a closed list for members of the FG society. To access it, you must be a member. To apply for membership, please contact FG's staff or directors.

Other Lists

A number of other lists exist for discussion of specific topics. Most are low volume. They can be browsed here: listinfo

Online archives of all the lists are available through the web interface.

Policies

Conduct

Mailing list users are expected to abide by our community policies:

Participation is a privilege, and decorum is a shared responsibility. Subscribers neglecting to respect our community standards may lose participation privileges.

Lists only accept messages from subscribers

Your Address must be subscribed to the list before you can send mail

For users with multiple email accounts, it is possible to subscribe every account and only enable mail receipt on the primary account.

If you are worried about a message you sent, you can look for it in the list archives. It can take several minutes until it appears. It is also possible to configure the list to send you a confirmation; do this through the web interface.

Rationale

Due to abuse by spammers the lists are configured to silently drop mail sent by addresses that are not subscribed to the list.

The list addresses are widely publicized and attract an astounding amount of spam. Some of it can be filtered out, but any spam reaching the lists drastically reduces their usability and membership.

It is reasonable to refuse mail from unknown addresses, but why drop the messages with no indication to the sender that their mail has not made it to the list?

This harsh policy is due to the common spammer practice of forging From: headers in their spam. Many spammers use real addresses for this purpose. If FG bounces these messages, we are effectively relaying the spam and certainly contributing to the problem. Industry best practice is to never bounce spam messages.

Why can FG not just hold these messages for moderation?

Given FG's popularity, an administrator might have to wade through as many as 60,000 spam messages to find one user's rejected mail. It may be actually worse than that as many spam runs target all of the list accounts so the administrator might have to delete 20 copies of each spam. That means there could be 1.2 million messages for every false negative.

Mail from the list has the Reply-To: field set to the poster

Hitting reply to respond to a list message on most mail clients will address the response to the original poster, not the list. Using the Reply-To-All button in your mail client when replying to a list message will solve this problem.

Rationale

The reason for this behavior is the principle of least damage.

With the lists set up this way, a user making a mistake sends a message intended for the public to a private individual.

The alternative, reply-to-list, means that a user making a mistake sends a message intended for a private individual to a public list.

While in the first case it is easier to make mistakes, errors are merely annoying. In the second case errors can have devastating effects on the list and on the parties involved.

The solution to the first situation is to resend the message to the list. In the second situation, there may be no solution. Secrets can not be taken back.

The List software strips attachments

Email attachments are removed from list messages.

URLs to files hosted elsewhere can be used instead of attachments.

Many types of documents can be represented as plain text inline.

Rationale

Many people subscribe to our lists. Some of these people are on dial-up or mobile devices where large attachments pose more than a minor annoyance.

Mail attachments can contain malware.

Many subscribers have little more than a passing interest in Free Geek, if we want to keep them as subscribers we should avoid annoying them by filling their inboxes with our files.

Free Geek maintains a wiki and a subversion (Version control system) server. These are appropriate for sharing files.

Attachments can pose problems for the visually impaired. Plain text is handled well by screen readers.

HTML mail is converted to plain text

HTML is automatically processed into plain text by the list software.

Rationale

Some mail clients don't handle HTML all that well. HTML mail can be a vector for various types of attacks. Allowing arbitrary HTML in the online archives is a serious security risk.

Posts to the list must be To: or CC: the list address

Messages sent to a list must include the list address in either the To: or CC: header. BCC: does not work

Rationale

This policy ensures that all parties to a communication are aware that the communication is taking place publicly. List messages are archived and available to the public. This can include quoted text from earlier exchanges in the thread.

Refusing messages BCC:'d to the list helps ensure transparency to all parties.

Posts to the list may have a maximum of ten other recipients

Messages sent to a list may have no more than ten recipients listed in the To: and CC: fields in total.

Rationale

This policy is an anti-spam measure. This is a cheap and simple way to filter inane and off topic forwards sent by users with a poor grasp of netiquette to their entire address book.

If you do need to send a message to a list as well as a long list of other addresses, send the mail twice, once to the list and once to the other users. This is extra work on the sender's part, but it helps to keep the list clear of garbage that wastes the time of, and annoys, our hundreds of subscribers.

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