TeamFC3S List Etiquette
As a long-time member (and heavy poster) to the TeamFC3S mailing list, I decided to put together a quick list of good etiquette for list members to follow when posting to the list. Most of this list applies really to any mailing list.
The rationale behind e-mail etiquette is the lack of face-to-face contact. It's very easy for someone to type something with good intentions, but have it misread as hostile by another reader. Even if the reader doesn't immediately respond back, every post you make creates an impression of yourself to other members of the list, and their preconception of you might be altered.
Everything here are guidelines - I'm not a list admin, nor a moderator. I have no direct power over the list. But, I think you'll find that writing in the manner presented here will be very beneficial. If you have a problem, people will be more likely to help, and your word will be moreso accepted, rather than doubted.
So, with that said, onto the guidelines.
- Make sure your e-mail goes to the list. When responding to a message, by default, most mail software will put the person's e-mail address who wrote that post in the To: line. If you send a message like this, it will simply go to that one person, and not the whole list. I usually add the list's e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the CC: line of the message. This only holds true for messages that should be in the open discussion of the list, and not private messages. Example: someone posts some parts for sale to the list. Respond directly to them - the list doesn't care about the business dealings. Also, if you're writing a new message to the list, you don't have to CC: it to individual people that are on the list. They get the list, they will see it.
- Send all e-mail in plain text. If your e-mail program creates e-mail in HTML, turn that feature off. People reading the list with e-mail programs that don't directly support HTML formatting get a screen of garbage, instead of your message.
- NEVER send attachments to the list. The list software may or may not forward it on, but it's always a Bad Idea. Many users are on slow connections to the Internet, and don't want the added time of downloading the attachment. If you do have a picture or something you'd like to share, put it on a web page and write a message with the web address to the picture. There are numerous free web page providers out there (Freeservers, Geocities, etc.), so this is easy to do.
- Never post in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. It's very hard to read, and is only to be used for emphasis, kind of like bold text. Example: I REALLY love this new exhaust system.
- When you respond to a message, trim away any unnecessary text from the message. When responding, most e-mail programs will put the original message in the new e-mail message as a quotation. Delete out any extra part of the original message that's not relevant to your response. If the message is short and easy to read and understand, it will be better for others to comprehend and respond.
- When responding to a message, after deleting the unnecessary parts, try and respond in a original-response format. As in, a paragraph of the original, followed by your comments or observations. Example:
>Man, I just bought a new RX-7 and it's reallly neat! I've got some questions, though. OK, shoot! >I need some tires. What tires do you recommend? Dunlop SP8000's. >What's the best exhaust for it? Apex'i N1 cat-back. It rules! >Thanks! No prob. Dale
This format makes it easy for everyone to follow the responses to the original poster's various questions. Putting your response at the top of the message, with the quoted original message below, makes it difficult to see which one of your comments apply to what part of the original post. This style is also conducive to not trimming the excess from the original message, which, after many responses in one thread, can make for VERY lengthy e-mails with small amounts of new content.
- Try to format your message into appropriate paragraphs and sentences. Yeah, I know, you're not in grade school writing a term paper, but it's easy to do and makes the message far easier to understand. One giant block of text that's not broken into paragraphs is very tough to wade through and read - the easier it is to read, the more likely that you'll get a good response.
- If your messages are frequently shorter than your signature at the bottom of your message, it might be time to trim down the signature. A few lines of relavant info is usually plenty. Typical signatures include name, type of car, web page address, and maybe a quote.
- Use your real name when posting to the list. Screen names and handles are cute, but they're a barrier to good communication. I'd much rather write a message to John Smith than to suPerKILLAH996 or the like. Your name is who you are, be proud of it!
- Don't be afraid to use the occaisional emoticon. These are the "happy faces" and the like - :) for smiley face, :( for sad face, etc. Again, since this isn't face-to-face communication, it can be hard to tell if something is meant as sarcasm or is serious. For example:
> My car just dyno'd 400hp to the rear wheels! Man, your car is really crappy.
That could be taken as a personal insult. Now, with some revision:
> My car just dyno'd 400hp to the rear wheels! Man, your car is really crappy :) - I wish mine did!
Much clearer to understand. Yeah, it's kind of a lame example, but you get the point :).
- What are flame wars? When someone posts something that's a hot point of debate, but not constructive to the mission of the list itself, that's a flame war. They usually result in a lot of name calling, hurt feelings, "I'm unsubscribing to this list!" posts, and HUGE amounts of list traffic. I've seen flame wars QUADRUPLE the amount of posts to the list.
- Why are they bad? What if this topic needs to be debated? That's a tricky question. Sometimes the discussion will be about something that is of value to the list. Sometimes not. You're going to have to use good judgement. Many flame wars are really between two people in the list having a public argument. Saying something about the argument really won't help anything. If you see 2 people arguing in the middle of the mall, you don't walk up and give your 2 cents on the issue. Same idea.
- What do you do when a flame war arises? Flame wars are just like real fire - take away the fuel, and they die out. Bite your tongue. Don't make a post. For every post that's made, 3 to 5 people can and will respond to it, and people respond to those, and on and on. It may not be easy, but just delete the message in question and go on.
- So, how does one avoid a flame war? First off, there are a few topics and hot spots that usually will ignite a flame war. These are all from memory, of flame wars from the past history of the list. Some include:
1) Any two-person argument. "So-and-so list member screwed me on a deal" "No I didn't!" And so forth.
2) Same as #1, but about a vendor or company, especially when that vendor or company is on the list. Sometimes, it's good to hear about companies that do shady business dealings - again, this is a discretion point.
3) Arguing about which car is faster or better. "The Super Whamodyne 9000 is WAY better than an RX-7". This type of post is sometimes called flame bait - from a person to incite a flame war. Avoid.
4) The recent discussions about racing on public highways. "Last night I wupped up on a Super Whamodyne 9000 on the interstate!" "Take it to the track!"
I'll come up with more here as memory serves :).
- There are a number of abbreviations common to e-mail discussion. Here's a few of the most popular:
FYI - For Your Information
IMHO - In My Humble Opinion
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
ROFL - Rolling On the Floor Laughing.
LOL - Laughing Out Loud
BTW - By The Way
RTFM - Read The Fucking Manual
There are many other technical abbreviations we use in the RX-7 community. I'll eventually have a comprehensive list on this page.
- Be polite and friendly in your writing. It's the whole "you can catch more flies with honey" thing. Gruff or abrasive posts aren't as conducive to making friends, or getting good answers.
- If you have a problem with the car, try and give a relatively detailed explanation, and make SURE to list somewhere in the message what kind of car it is.
- Refrain from racial or ethnic slurs. These just are not called for, period, in any form of discussion.
SOME LAST WORDS
- Remember, people that help other people on the list are doing it for FUN, and doing it out of a love for the car. Keep that in perspective.
- Many people on the list (myself included) subscribe to numerous mailing lists. We read a LOT of e-mail. That's part of the reason for this etiquette guide - if you make it easy to read and digest quickly, it's much more likely you'll get a response. If something is hard to read or understand, it will probably get skipped.
This guide will probably grow in the future as I think up more stuff for it :). This is all off the top of my head.