[techtalk] Netiquette explanation (was: mail format)

Jenn V. jenn at simegen.com
Mon Nov 29 02:34:12 EST 1999

Replies to grrltalk, not to techtalk, please.

Steve Kudlak wrote:

> What I dislike most about netequitte is that new rules which it is way too easy to trip over, seem to me get made up everyday.
> So it is hard to run afoul of some new rule. Worse yet when one feels that the rule is a silly and petty thing. If someone
> explains why this causes trouble, then that is the horse of a different color 

Explanations, then.

Hopefully you will see how these rules of netiquette are extensions of 'be
polite, be helpful'. They're courtesy guidelines - like 'try to open doors
for people carrying heavy or awkward packages' and 'help a person get a
stroller into or out of a bus'.

1. Offtopic posts moving:

Almost everyone who subscribes to mailing lists complains of having 'too
many' emails to cope with, each day.
Those who don't complain are usually ones who have learned how to pick out
the posts which are useful to them, based on the list topic and subject

Maintaining topic relevence enables everyone (those who have learned, and
those who are learning) to keep their useful-to-them information level

Everything that gets said is relevent to the person saying it - but keeping
topics relevent enables it to get to the people for whom /receiving/ it is
also relevent.
Trying to send it to EVERYONE just causes people to unsubscribe.

2. Subject lines changing:

See point 1.
Subject lines are the way to keep information within a given mailing list
relevent to the receivers. If the subject lines are maintained correctly,
people can just junk messages unread if the subject is irrelevent to them.

3. No HTML messages:

HTML doesn't come out right in a message digest, and rarely comes out right
in an archive.
HTML is also unreadable to a lot of people.

Mail messages with prettified backgrounds or strange fonts or colours can
also be unreadable, even to people who do have HTML readable browsers.

Mail messages with font sizes specified can be unreadable to people with
sight difficulties.

Mail messages with both HTML and non-HTML versions included cause bandwidth
problems for people not in the States. I know that most folks in the States
seem to take bandwidth for granted, but in less densely populated or less
wealthy countries, there are still people with 2400 or lower baud modems,
paying for their access by time and/or byte.

And as a techie, I _wince_ at the waste of resources caused by sending a
message twice. Why waste the resources? Every byte /wasted/ (like sending
both HTML and non-HTML mail with every message sent) causes congestion and
slows the net.

4. Quoting kept to a minimum:

Most people in a mailing list will have read the message that's being
Causing them to plow through it again ensures that they /won't/. They don't
time to reread everything - remember that almost everyone who gets email
complains of getting too much.

Pull out enough to give the context of the reply. Strip off signatures,
out anything not actually relevent to the comment you wish to make. 

THAT will ensure that they DO read the quoted section - it also tells them
that you've actually thought about what you're replying to, and thought
what is relevent to the _reader_ of the message.

And a disagreement:

The rules Debs mentioned are not new rules - they existed as part of
mailing list netiquette when I first got online, except for the HTML one.
That one turned up as a supplement to the then-existing 'no images or large
attachments' mailing list one, once the HTML-mailers started to show up.

Jenn V.
  "We're repairing the coolant loop of a nuclear fusion reactor. 
   This is women's work!"
		Helix, Freefall. http://www.purrsia.com/freefall/

Jenn Vesperman    jenn at simegen.com     http://www.simegen.com/~jenn

techtalk at linuxchix.org   http://www.linuxchix.org

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