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There's also a strange phenomenon associated with mailing lists. The members of the list often become sort of a family. Some people in the family get along well with each other, others don't. You can expect to witness all kinds of situations, just as you would in any normal family. But just like family and friends, if you threaten them, they will stick together in unison to keep the group together.

For this reason, it's a good idea to make a slow entrance into your first few email lists. Stay in the background for a week or two to see how everyone acts, and to learn what is accepted and what isn't. If you barge in and act 'loud' you will probably get a lukewarm response at best. Depending on how badly you are perceived (intentions not withstanding) you can be attacked, made fun of, or snickered at. Just as if you barged in at your wife or husband's family reunion and got drunk and passed out next to the toilet. Make a good first impression, and you will most likely be welcomed into the group.

Remember, all mailing and discussion lists are unique. Something accepted on one list may be totally unacceptable on another. Make sure you know the rules before you accidentally break them. Learn all you can about the list before you subscribe, and then watch how others act before posting. It's not usually necessary, but consider introducing yourself to the group as your first message. Just a little personal info like your name and city, what interested you about the list, and what your interests are.

Most lists have some sort of guidelines or rules that they expect members to follow. Mostly these are common sense rules. For example, you should avoid things that are not related to what the list is about, or attacking other members of the list based on race, religion or beliefs. Just stick to the topic(s) that the list pertains to.

You also have to keep in mind that the written word can be an imprecise method to communicate. While it's possible to convey some emotion through email, sometimes it's difficult to tell whether someone is joking or just being mean. Consider this before starting a flame war with another list member.

Misunderstandings happen all the time, just like real life, and should be worked out in private,  just like real life. Rarely do several hundred list members want to get every email of two (or more) people arguing with each other.

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