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List Ettiquette and Mailer Settings

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Ettiquette is a thorny point to talk about, because if you aren't careful you come off sounding preachy. And nobody likes to be talked down to. But, nonetheless, it is a topic worthy of some brief discussion. Each community has some common points of ettiquette and the GZG online community is no different. This section on ettiquette and mailer settings (a subpart of ettiquette since having bad mailer settings can really cause other people grief) tries to not talk down to anyone nor to preach from the pulpit, but rather to inform new list subscribers of some of the landmines and pitfalls they might run across and to suggest some good ways to avoid them.

The recommendations to help new users are made below in a simple format, a table with one section devoted to things new users should consider doing and another section for things they might not want to do. Please consider these recommendations or requests rather than commandments and consider all of them to be proceeded by a big "PLEASE!".

Please DO post politely and thoughtfully. WHY: Part of this is common courtesy, part of it stems from the fact e-mail lacks body language and context that allows people to determine when you might be making light of an item or being intentionally ironic or humorous. Being extra careful in the language of your posting helps prevent flame-wars, misunderstandings, shouting matches, and hurt feelings.
Please DO post documents in plain-text only. WHY: Many subscriber's e-mail clients do very odd things with binary documents, enclosures, attachments, and with Rich-Text Format (RTF) or Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML) format email. Plaintext is the only truly universal solution that everyone's mailer supports reasonably well. Also, for those receiving digests, HTML or RTF results in very unreadable output and double posting of the e-mail in question. This burns bandwidth and takes up storage space needlessly.
Please DO make use of the list archives. WHY: The foremost reason the archives exist is so the community does not forget itself and constantly reinvent the wheel. Many new players will find questions or queries they may have well covered in the archives and a simple search on some appropriate keywords may turn up voluminous and surprisingly valuable discussions. This prevents revisiting the same topics every time a new list member joins. It also acts as a useful tool for members once they have joined, a place from which they can locate old discussions from the past when they become of interest or relevance.
Please DO resist the urge to post "me-too" replies. WHY: For some list users, bandwidth is precious. For most of us, time is precious. If you have something to add that is interesting and topical, the list members generally are interested. But avoid postings of simple agreement or disagreement if they are not accompanied by some meaningful debate or information. This helps keep the list signal-to-noise ratio high.
Please DO snip unnecessary information from posts to the list. WHY: If someone drafts a short reply to a long e-mail, by just hitting "reply" and adding their comments at the top, this tends to lead to very long e-mails with very little new content. Bandwidth is precious to some list members without the good fortune to have broadband Internet access, as is storage space. And anyone on digests will thank you as the entire long mail and will tend to appear multiple times in the digest, and that is rather annoying. If you do hit reply, snip out parts that aren't relevant to your reply even if they would fall at the bottom of the e-mail.
Please DO post an URL instead of attaching an image or full article. WHY: This provides a space conservative way of making list members aware of articles or images of interest and respects those with low bandwidth connections. It places the choice about whether to fetch the information (thus incurring the download delay) in the hands of the reader. And it means people who aren't interested may skip past the article faster, especially in the digest.
Please DO use emoticons and expressive language. WHY: Humans communicate extensive amounts of information in non-verbal ways which are all robbed from us by the medium e-mail text. The lack of context often leads to misunderstanding so the use of emoticons (smileys and frowns and tongue sticking out thingies - such as :) :| :( ;) :\ :-) ;-P etc) and descriptive language (for example - <*shrug*>, <*grin*>, <*wink*>, <*VBG!*>, LMAO (Laughing my arse off), etc) are considered a wonderful addition to e-mails and help to underscore when the user is joking, making light of a situation, or otherwise communicating in methods missing from e-mail otherwise.
Please DO be careful when expressing stereotypes or joking. WHY: This is not, as may first appear, a concession to political correctness. I think longtime listers would laugh at that idea! It rather reflects the fact the list is made up of people from many nations (Canada, USA, NZ, UK, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Australia, Spain, Hungary, etc), people of every background (Cherokee, Scots, English, Irish, Italian, Spanish, German, Byzantine,etc), people of every race or religion, and more than a few very unusual world views. In this environment, humor doesn't always translate well and jokes of a stereotypical nature may or may not sell well. The list appreciates humor, but good natured humor always sells the best.
Please DO be aware of the amazing knowlege base of the list. WHY: This list is a wonderful resource. It includes piles of miilitary people from a number of nations, a bioscientist extrordinaire, space scientists, research scientists, amateur historians, computer games designers, academics of various stripes, computer consultants, web designers, paramedics, pilots, government employees, intelligence community members, at least one salescreature, engineers, a ballistic expert who buids anti-armour weapons, a well known comic artist, and many others to numerous to name. The net result is the list usually has somebody who has been there, done that. If you post questions, you'll often find surprising experience pools to draw upon. The flip side of this situation is that it is advisable to express your opinions with some qualification and circumspection and to be prepared to find out that something you've read about is wrong because somebody on the list has actually done it or lived through it.
Please DO NOT send e-mail attachments or images to these mailing lists. WHY: Many subscriber's e-mail clients do very odd things with binary documents, enclosures, attachments, and with Rich-Text Format (RTF) or Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML) format email. Plaintext is the only truly universal solution that everyone's mailer supports reasonably well. Also, for those receiving digests, attachments results in unreadable output. This burns bandwidth and takes up storage space needlessly.
Please DO NOT take anything too seriously. WHY: Some list members have methods of expressing themselves which tend to excite others. Often times, those being excited fail to realize that the comments are tongue-in-cheek, meant as a joke, or are a short way of expressing a more complicated thesis. Responding hotly to these types of comments tends to lead to flame-wars and uncivil behaviour, so it is best to politely agree to disagree and take matters of deep personal conviction to forums more appropriate. This is a hobby gaming list about a world that isn't nor probably ever will be - when you think about that, taking things seriously enough to get all worked up just seems silly.

If everyone acts like an adult and displays courtesy, forbearance, patience, and caution in what they say and how they say it and in their reactions to what other people say, then the whole list becomes a more civil and pleasant environment and pointless flame-wars are avoided. This is to the benefit of the entire community because it keeps people coming back. Remove the enjoyable nature of the experience and people leave the list and the list is impoverished for their departure.

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