Lady Anarra's Little Book of E-mail List Etiquette
Copyright (c) 1996, 2001, 2002 Terry L. Neill
The Society for Creative Anachronism revolves around ideals of Chivalry and Honor. Etiquette is merely an extension of those ideals.
When posting to an email list, please bear these simple rules in mind:
- Trim the message you are replying to. In other words, do not quote the entire message then tack your message on to the end. This is extremely annoying!
Instead, cut all but the relevant part of the post and add your reply to that.
- Add substance to the discussion. Resist the impulse to post a "Me too" or "I agree" message to the list. If you agree, state some reasons
why. Add value.
- Stay on topic. Each list has a particular focus, for example to discuss aspects of the SCA, medieval history, or other reenactment topics. It is not a place
for virus warnings or the latest modern political jokes (unless that is the focus of the list).
- Change your subject line. If your reply drifts the discussion from the original topic, change the subject line to reflect that. Many people delete mail un-read
based on the subject line. If you've got inspirational things to say about Viking Longship construction, make sure your subject line doesn't say "(SILLY) Hagar
- Post items of general interest to the list. Send personal notes to the person.
For example, posting something like: "Mary, remember that discussion we had last week?" is INAPPROPRIATE.
Instead, post something like "Lady Mary and I were discussing exactly the same thing last week and we thought.…"
- Make sure your message is addressed ONLY to the list. There are few things more annoying or wasteful of disk space than getting two (or more!) copies of every
message. If your e-mail program automatically replies to all then make sure you delete the person's personal address (or delete the list address if it's a personal
- Make sure you're sending posts in ASCII and not with foreign characters like accents and umlauts. Some American mail programs cannot read non-ASCII characters.
Several e-mail programs balk at HTML-encoded e-mail. So if you have Outlook,
Outlook Express, or some other HTML-friendly program, please set your mail format options to
"Plain Text" instead of HTML.
- - Be polite. It seems like it wouldn't be necessary to say this in an SCA context. Unfortunately it is. The print-only medium of the e-mail environment makes
misunderstandings common. The reply feature makes angry posts easy to send. Re-read your post before you send it. Would you say that to the person's face? In front
of someone who's good opinion you value? Assume there has been a misunderstanding and strive to correct it.
"Do you really mean to say that Atlantian sheep are superior to East Kingdom ones?" is MUCH better than "You idiot! How dare you insult the East's
sheep! You should be thrown out of the Order of the Hooked Crook immediately!"
If you have a problem with a post or poster, send a private message. Posting chastising messages in public does not help to solve the situation.
- - Do not post private e-mail on a public forum without permission from the sender.
"Lord John wrote to me the other day that he liked court." is appropriate.
"Lord John wrote to me the other day:
'>I like court because I can get in a good nap.' "is NOT appropriate.
Realize that a large portion of the populace does not have access to this list. Issues discussed on an email list cannot turn into 'decisions' without input from
the rest of the group. Email lists supplement, they don't replace, conventional means of communication.
Finally - enjoy the discussions generated on email lists. Share them with your non-e-mail friends!
This document was written by Anarra Karlsdottir, known outside the SCA
as Terry L. Neill. It is copyright (c) 2002. You have permission to make
copies for personal use and to distribute it as you wish but only if it
remains complete, including the copyright notice, and is distributed for no
charge. If you wish to publish this in your local newsletter, you MUST contact
me at email@example.com to get my
address. I will give permission to re-print in return for a copy of the
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