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An Email Group Netiquette Guide


This Netiquette is a condensed version of more comprehensive guides and contains those portions that are pertinent to Email Lists.

Some mailing lists have low rates of traffic, others can flood your mailbox with several hundred mail messages per day. Numerous incoming messages from various mailing lists by multiple users, requires extensive system processing which can tie up valuable resources. Subscription to Interest Groups or Discussion Lists should be kept to a minimum and should not exceed what your disk quota can handle, or you for that matter.

The primary problem with excessive clutter is that it takes away time and energy of the people reading the lists. This tends to cause people to drop out and create a lack of response to meaningful topics from numerous people due to the amount of time wading through the clutter.

The following are few tips that can make participation easier and more enjoyable, while attempting to keep the information that gets on the mailing list pertinent to the group as a whole, therefore not cluttering up mailboxes and wasting precious time of the participants of these lists.



Keep your questions and comments relevant to the focus of the discussion group.

Do not send or forward personal email to a list or another person without permission.  This is a copyright violation and a serious breach of privacy and you may be removed from a list for doing so.

Capitalize words only to highlight an important point or to distinguish a title or heading. *Asterisks* surrounding a word also can be used to make a stronger point. Capitalizing whole words that are not titles is generally termed as SHOUTING!

Be careful when using sarcasm and humor. Without face to face communications your joke may be viewed as criticism.

A one-line response can go in the subject. Enclose it in square brackets [like this] to denote there is no text to follow. (This is useful for answering requests for WWW addresses, "800" numbers, etc.).

Acronyms can be used to abbreviate when possible, though over-using acronyms can be confusing and annoying to the reader.


IMHO= in my humble/honest opinion
FYI = for your information
BTW = by the way
Flame = antagonistic criticism
:-) = happy face for humor
NDA = Not Diagnosed with Anything

If your posting is really only of value to one or two individuals on the net, use private Email and don't send it to the entire list.


Be sure the subject line reflects the topic. In other words, don't auto-reply and start a new thread leaving the old subject line in the header. This of course, providing that your software will allow you to change the subject.

Don't begin your message with a few words in the Subject line and continue in the body of the message. That leads to discontinuity of the message and defeats the purpose of the Subject Line.


When quoting another person, edit out whatever isn't directly applicable to your reply. Don't let your mailing or Usenet software automatically quote the entire body of messages you are replying to when it's not necessary. Take the time to edit any quotations down to the minimum necessary to provide context for your reply. Nobody likes reading a long message in quotes for the third or fourth time, only to be followed by a one-line response: "Good Idea!"

This saves reading time, disk space, network bandwidth, and makes things faster and easier for everybody.


Don't send "Me Too!", "Thank You", etc. messages to the group! Send those out to the individuals email address directly. A private "Thank You" is nicer too!


When people join an Email group, it is great that members want to welcome these people into the group and make them feel at home. Doing this on low volume lists helps to stimulate conversation. On high volume lists though, it is suggested that these people be welcomed using their private email address rather than have several welcome messages cluttering up group related discussions.


Resist the temptation to "flame" others on the list. Remember that these discussions are "public" and meant for constructive exchanges. Treat the others on the list as you would want them to treat you. People disagree, sometimes strongly. Please do state your opinion, clearly and freely in an objective manner. Please also understand that others are also free to express their opinions.


When signing up for a group it is important to save your subscription confirmation letter for reference. That way if you go on vacation you will have the subscription address for suspending mail.


DON'T! Sending out unsolicited commercial e-mail or posting inappropriate commercials is called 'Spamming'. Unsolicited means sent to an Email or Usenet group not designed specifically for the purposes of advertising. Reprisals for doing so can range from getting a few nasty letters reminding you that Spamming isn't nice, to several thousands of letters stating the same, crashing your site, the administrator being forced to remove your account and usually tacking on some administrative fees due to having to scramble to keep deleting enough mail to keep their site from crashing.


DON'T! Check with the administrator of any list first. Most likely it is a hoax, particularly the warning "Delete and do not Read!" warnings since it is absolutely impossible to get a virus by reading email. Even if a legitimate program virus, it is up to individual users to know to scan for viruses before running any program. There are thousands of programs with hundreds of viruses. It is not the function of an email list to serve as a clearing house of virus warning information (unless it is a virus warning listserv) nor to distribute chain letters. The same applies for the twice a year "Modem Tax" warnings. 


Mail to an e-mail list should only be sent in PLAIN ASCII text format.  Turn off HTML, MIME Encoding and "quoted-printable" formatting options.  Do not attach or send business cards or signature data files. These are only to be used when privately corresponding with people you know have the ability to decode these properly. They will not work in lists for a huge number of users nor for the readers of a digested version of an email list.


This material was derived in part from the following sources:

The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette - by Arlene Rinaldi

The Internet Roadmap (An Internet Training course) - Patrick Crispen
for the Roadmap96 Course

Blacklist of Internet Advertisers, Axel Boldt,

This guide by Randy Ryan,

Our-Kids Listserv Administrator
Support for Caregivers of Children with Disabilities

Copyright 1997 - 2000

Last Update: January 2000.

Permission to use any part of this document or link to it is freely granted.