Netiquette is a word used to describe good manners or etiquette on the Internet. While there are a few rules which may seem arbitrary, most of it is just common sense. In order for Free Geek's Internet infrastructure to be useful and healthy, users must strive to conduct themselves in accordance with the following considerations:
Free Geek's email lists are set up for several purposes. Before posting, make sure your email fits in one or more of those categories.
- Facilitate communication within and between working groups.
- Allow those who can't always make it to the facility to participate and keep up-to-date.
- Create a set of archives for reference.
- Create a way for those outside of the Free Geek community to contact the group relevant to their interest.
Send emails only to appropriate lists - check list descriptions if you're not sure.
- It is easy to assume you know the emotions behind the words of an email, and easy to be wrong. Lesson one is try to look at everyone's comments in the best possible light before responding. This usually means if you are a little irritated by a message, take a break and then look at it anew before responding. Recognize also that your words may be greeted as much more harsh than you intended, or simply misunderstood. Give more latitude than you would in a face to face conversation, and consider carefully how your words may be received.
- ALL CAPS is regarded as shouting, and is never appropriate for an email list. If you feel a need to shout, you need to take it off list, and probably shouldn't do it at all.
- Flaming is never acceptable for an email list, even if (maybe especially if) you feel someone else started it.
- If you find yourself wanting to repeat your points in an email conversation, you are probably in the midst of an argument. You may want to consider your options.
Target your messages to the people on the list that don't know. Your witty mannerisms that your friends find endearing might be taken differently by the strangers on the list.
- Craft relevant and specific subject headings, e.g. "staff meeting minutes 11-12-05" not "meeting", "proposed fg hours change" not "proposal" or "hours."
- If you receive emails from a mailing list in digest form, you should tailor the subject line to reflect the subject you are addressing, instead of leaving the subject line 'fg-general Digest, Vol 123, Issue 1.'
All emails sent to Free Geek email lists should be in plain text. HTML is not handled well by all mail readers, and just detracts from your message.
Attachments should not be sent to FG mail lists. They will not be saved in the archive, and are not handled well.
Snip out irrelevant comments when replying. Keep replies focused on the substance of a message and not details like grammar and spelling. Don't make people wade through nested replies to find your comment. Also remember to not reply to any message you think is spam as this often results in more spam.
Go easy on the cross-posting (posting to multiple lists). There really is probably one appropriate place to send your post, and the people who need to see it are probably signed up for all the potentially appropriate lists anyway. If you post to multiple lists, the responses can get lost in multiple threads.
Taking it off list
Just because a conversation begins on an email list does not mean it should end there. If the subject veers from the purpose for the list, has been "beaten to death", or has become personal rather than public, it is time to take it off the list into private emails.
Taking it on-list
It's considered very inconsiderate to forward private emails (or portions thereof) to a public list without the sender's permission. People may not intend the message they sent you to be for public consumption. It's a good idea to ask first.
For a more complete discussion of what netiquette means, the following links might be useful: