- 1 Ground Rules
- 2 Posting
- 3 Replying
- 4 Other Mailing List Rules
- 5 References
- 6 Books
There are a few ground rules for participation in mailing lists and forums hosted by documentfoundation.org and libreoffice.org. Please respect these rules, and please respect each other.
Read carefully what you receive to make sure that you understand the message. Read carefully what you send, to make sure that your message will not be misunderstood. Know your audience. Make sure that the person or list of people you are sending your message to are right ones to be communicating with.
Many readers have very limited, and in some cases expensive electronic mail facilities. Be particularly careful not to cause unnecessary traffic, or to send unnecessary long messages.
Patience and Tolerance
Remember that not all readers have your native language as their native language, so make allowance for possible misunderstandings and unintended discourtesies. Remember that the absence of visual clues normally associated with face to face communication provides an ideal environment for being misunderstood.
If you are using humour or sarcasm, make sure to clearly label it as such. Humour is usually indicated by a smiley e.g. :) or (grin).
Dealing with Newcomers
Newcomers may be annoying. They ask the wrong questions, including ones that seem obvious (or whose answers seem easy to find). But lots of valued contributors started out this way, and treating newcomers kindly makes them more likely to turn into the valuable community members we all know and love (and cut some slack when they mess up).
So while you don't have to humor them or suffer them gladly, and it's fine to point out when they make mistakes, point newcomers in the right direction in addition to turning them away from the wrong ones, and be kind to them in the process of correcting their transgressions.
Please be careful about the information and the amount of details you post to the mailing list, about yourself or about any other individual.
Always include a descriptive subject line in your message. Use the Subject: line to get attention and make sure it describes the main point of your message. Keep messages to only one subject. Second subjects within a single message are often missed. Avoid very long subjects, as they might be trimmed by the email reader.
Remember that with many messages each week, many people use the subject line to decide if they should read your message or not. "Need Help" is not a good subject line. Likewise, not everybody who reads global mailing lists lives in the same country as you. If necessary, please give an indication of the country or countries you are interested, in together with a date range.
Avoid “text lingo”. Even if scientific findings say that humans don’t actually read words as in letter by letter but there are cases when we find it very difficult to predict a word when essential vowels are removed. So to avoid this, it would be better if we all stick to the standard form of spelling.
Avoid cluttering your message with excessive emphasis (such as stars, exclamation marks "!", etc). It can make the message hard to follow.
Be specific, especially when asking questions. You are much more likely to get a helpful reply if your message summarizes what efforts you have already made yourself to find the answer to your question.
Staying on Topic
Most mailing lists are high-traffic and read by busy people, so please pay attention to the topic of your messages, and check that it still relates to the charter of the mailing list to which you are posting. Off-topic discussion not taken to private email, or any place where it is not considered off-topic, by someone who knows they should be taking it elsewhere, might end up in a loss of time for everyone.
It is almost never appropriate to send the same message to two mailing lists. Please don't do it. Or, if you must, make sure you set the Followup-To and Reply-To fields to ensure that replies go only to one, not to both mailing lists.
Keep in mind that not everyone uses mail readers that can easily display HTML messages. Consequently, you will reach a larger audience if you post in plain-text. Many people simply ignore HTML messages, because it takes a non trivial amount of effort to read them.
TDF and LibreOffice mailing lists do not allow sending of attachments, which are automatically stripped by the server. If you have a large file that you would like to distribute, put it on a Web page and announce the URL instead of attaching it.
In any case, you are strongly discouraged to use proprietary formats for attachments (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel or Powerpoint, etc.). Please read more here: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html.
TDF and LibreOffice mailing lists are for constructive discussions about TDF as a project, and LibreOffice as a personal productivity software. TDF as a community was born out of a positive attitude with regards to the future of free software and free office suites, and therefore we expect the subject and the tone of discussions to be in line with this positive attitude. TDF does not like negative attitudes in general, even when targeted to companies advocating proprietary software (e.g. about Microsoft being the root of all evil).
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
It's tempting to revisit controversial decisions you disagree with, but it's rarely productive to do so, since it almost always results in the same heated, lengthy, and time/energy draining discussions leading to the same conclusion that was reached in the last round. Therefore, for issues already raised, discussed, and decided upon, reopen the discussion only if you have significant new information that would reasonably prompt reconsideration of the original decision.
Feel free to answer questions or provide clarification or comments in response to any posting you see on the mailing list. However, please "FOLLOW-UP" to the posting ONLY if you think your comments will be of interest to other readers and you wish your answer sent to all the mailing list readers. Otherwise, please use the 'Reply' function to respond directly to the poster. If your software doesn't allow 'Reply', note the e-mail address of the original poster and send an e-mail directly to that person.
Boring responses like “yes”, “I agree”, “O.K.” are discouraged because they add up to the traffic and the people in the mailing list are busy people who cannot afford to waste their time over such no-substance replies.
E-mails going into the mailing list are “threaded” meaning they are archived in such a way that you can easily follow a certain topic based on a “thread” or grouped e-mails with the same subjects. As much as possible, do not edit the subject unless it is absolutely necessary. If you are creating a new thread out of an old thread, you can mark it with “was:”. For example, “New thread (was: Old thread)”.
Do not quote the entire content of the message to which you are replying. Include only as much as is necessary for context. Remember that if someone wants to read the original message, they can, as it is easily accessible. A good rule of thumb is, don't include more quoted text than new text.
There is always a need for some trimming - either a salutation, a signature, some blank lines or whatever. If you are doing no trimming whatsoever of the quoted text, then you aren't trimming enough.
Top-Posting vs Bottom-Posting
Some people like to put reply after the quoted text, some like it the other way around, and still some prefer interspersed style. Debates about which posting style is better have led to many flame wars in the mailing lists. The most effective treatment of this question can be found atand we recommend you review this material and try to be an effective communicator.
Other Mailing List Rules
Please keep line lengths to about 72 characters to avoid problems with word wrap on replies. Most mail programs prepend the included lines with a '> '. It doesn't take many replies to extend the line over the normal 80 characters display size.
Always 'sign' your message with your name and your preferred e-mail address. This is especially important because some e-mail and newsreader software do not always convey the originator's full e-mail address. While you may certainly include your regular mail address in your postings, you may wish to give this out only in personal replies, when necessary.
Use a short signature, including only the essential information. Four lines are usually enough to include name, email, telephone number and other nicknames, and - if necessary - corporate affiliation. Please avoid lengthy legal disclaimers, which are useless in principle and even more useless - and disturbing - when posting to a mailing list.
If you are subscribed to a mailing list, this means that you have sent a subscribe message. Therefore, you should be able to send an unsubscribe message to stop receiving unwanted emails. Please inform mailing list managers only of you are absolutely sure that unsubscribing does not work.
Please DO NOT send "test messages." The system works. If you must test it, at least send a valid message, with useful information or questions.
Netiquette by Virginia Shea: http://www.albion.com/netiquette/book/.
Summary of Netiquette: Internet etiquette in the age of the blog by Matthew Strawbridge: http://www.swref.com/story/20090705/the_rules_of_netiquette.