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Welcome to the Silicon Valley Linux Users Group

Linux - The Operating System of the 21st Century TM

SVLUG Mailing Lists Netiquette

Thanks for reading these suggestions, before continuing to the signup information for our lists (bottom).

SVLUG offers the following netiquette suggestions for its lists. (See also mailing lists' listinfo pages for concerns unique to each list.)

These are suggestions, to explain our cultural norms: They are not official rules. SVLUG's listadmins normally intervene only to ensure lists' technical operation, to halt spam (incontrovertible spam, not postings someone merely dislikes), and to halt major eruptions of offtopic spew. Enforcement if any should always be minimal and public. (We don't do backroom politics, and our preferred means of social control is to help everyone apply his/her own well-tuned killfile.) You are always welcome to discuss that and any other policy issues on SVLUG's public Volunteers mailing list.

Consider other forums

  • If rushed (e.g., seeking help) or needing more-interactive help than e-mail affords, consider using the #svlug IRC channel on irc.freenode.net, founded August 6, 1999 by Drew Bloechl.
  • For matters better discussed in person, consider attending the next meeting or after-meeting dinner gathering.


  • Stay on-topic: Linux, or matters of likely interest to Silicon Valley Linux users.
  • Silicon Valley subscribers: Be mindful of our international audience. Our lists have subscribers world-wide.
  • International subscribers: Be mindful of our local audience. We realize you want to see what Silicon Valley Linux users are discussing, but remember: Some topics will be local.

Reduce "noise"

    Don't send or attach entire documents. Send URLs (Web addresses) where interested readers can find them.

    • Exceptions are small attachments (small sniplets of code; but try to provide URLs instead, if you can).

    • Vcards are frowned upon but tolerated.

    • PGP / GnuPG signatures as MIME attachments are fine. (Attachments for signatures are actually better than in-line, being RFC-compliant and easier for non-PGP / GnuPG users to ignore.)

    • Other MIME contents are not OK. In particular, HTML-format default output from most common mail clients is considered very obnoxious. G.E. Boyd's page "Configuring Mail Clients to Send Plain ASCII Text" has instructions for all popular mail clients.

    Continuously growing messages become difficult to read, and don't look much like a conversation. Context is good, but almost never the entire prior message (much less prior thread).

    • Regardless of your software's defaults, trimming is your responsibility: If your mail client quotes the entire message, and you answer a few lines on top (as MS Outlook does), you're still responsible for trimming the quoted message, and — at the very least — removing the quoted signature, previous unrelated quotations, and list footer.

      You can also (preferred by most subscribers), reply in-line, as you'll see most people do on-list. (Note: Free-download add-ins exist for MS Outlook through XP, for MS-Outlook after XP, and for MS-Outlook Express to make them quote properly. Highly recommended.)

      If your mail client doesn't let you do this easily, consider another one. (Two choices among many are Mozilla Thunderbird, which is cross-platform, and mutt, a Unix console-mode client.)

    • If a paragraph contain something you're not replying to, that can be snipped without distorting meanings, do snip it.

    • When quoting, make clear which parts of your mail are quoted, and, if using multiple levels of quoting, from whom. Always supply attribution on quotations, even if your mailer is boneheaded and doesn't help: A new reader might attribute someone else's thoughts as yours!

    • Don't hesitate to split up paragraphs into parts, to interject your comment. Use ellipses (...) to show the split.

    • You can mention having snipped something: summarize the content. However, beware igniting flame wars by summarizing too brutally. If you think your summary may be misunderstood, leave text intact.

    consider pondering until your comments are more complete; people will respect the extra content.

    • Don't quote more lines than those comprising your reply!

    • Don't send "me too" messages: One-line indications of agreement are wasteful.

  • Keep your e-mail signature short — 4 lines or fewer, preceded by a "-- " delimiter line. (That line must comprise exactly two flush-left hyphens, then one space, then a hard return.)

When To Avoid Hitting the Send Key

  • The main SVLUG list is a place to discuss matters with fellow Linux users, not a corkboard for posting flyers. Local and interesting events are worth mentioning, but at least tell us why they're interesting. It might spark good discussions.

  • Postings whose intent is to draw private rather than public replies are probably unsuited for our public forums.

  • Take (and keep) interpersonal disputes private; don't post or CC them in front of us. Public apologies are fine, if so moved.

  • If you must correct factual errors on the list, be polite and correct just the facts. Don't personally attack the author. Consider eschewing the words "you" and "your", as they tend to make your critique seem personal, even if not so intended.

  • Consider whether your message, sent to hundreds of people, would result in hundreds of tomatoes being thrown at you, if said at a mall or picnic. Is it really worth sending to hundreds of people? If yes, don't hesitate. However, if you wouldn't say it in public, don't say it here. SVLUG's mailing lists are public places. (They're also archived: Don't forget that your postings will represent you for a very long time.)

  • Are you really talking to everyone, or just this one person? If some other people on the thread, would that be useful, or interfere with your conversation? If the conversation is becoming private, take the thread off-list via private reply. (I.e., send to the author only.)

Sign-up to the Lists

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IRC Chat

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