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
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.
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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