I manage the following active lists.
- theBRML: The Bad
Religion Mailing List, on the seminal punk band
- Icebike, on winter cycling, which
I also write
Webstandards.TO, for Toronto’s social club for standards-compliant Web developers
Note that the Typetalk, Trials, Content(-Management), Media Access, Vegan-Straightedge, Screenfont,
and Smithereens lists are dead or so close to it the effect is the same. (The Smithereens FAQ
is still available.) The Screenfont mailing list may be resuscitated in 2006.
See also: anti-censorship policy below.
Quickie signup instructions
My mailing lists are unmoderated. That means no one pre-screens what any subscriber wishes to say. There is no prior restraint, nor are postings censored after they are sent.
This policy merits clarification and expansion. I do not object categorically to moderated lists, where the listowner reads each posting and decides whether or not to forward it to the list. In my experience, however, moderated mailing lists are not significantly better than unmoderated lists on the issue of the sole advantage they are assumed to confer: Keeping everyone on-topic. In my experience, occasional seemingly off-topic discussion threads are merely the price we pay for the freedom of an unmoderated mailing list.
Further, many times I have been on the receiving end of list moderators’ wrath, and I have been silenced ante facto quite a few times. List moderators tend not to believe in freedom of expression.
None of my mailing lists ever has been or ever will be moderated. There are, however, a few groundrules.
- A listmember who, in my opinion, makes gratuitous personal attacks on one or several other listmembers for a protracted period even after warnings that such attacks are unnecessary risks being set to
NOPOST for a period of time. Under that setting, you can read mail from the list but may not post to it. After the period is over, the
NOPOST setting may be lifted on the understanding that a reasonable semblance of civility be maintained. A recurrence of the same behaviour may force me to place the member on
NOPOST permanently or, in extreme cases, to ban the member indefinitely.
- In this age of free Web-based E-mail accounts, it is comparatively easy for a determined person to resubscribe under different aliases, but that is OK as long as no gratuitously personal attacks emanate from those addresses. A person who jumps around addresses to circumvent this policy will, again, be placed on
NOPOST permanently or simply banned from the list.
- This policy appears to contradict the ethos of freedom of expression. To an extremely modest extent, it does. Note that the issue is style, not content. It is quite permissible to strongly, even bitterly disagree on a topic but refrain from deploying personal attacks. If you have to attack anything, attack the idea, not the personal characteristics of whoever is articulating it. It is assumed that all listmembers are adults and can handle disagreement, even strong or bitter disagreement. It is further assumed that all listmembers are people with actual feelings that may be hurt unnecessarily by other members. This policy cannot prevent such hurting of feelings from happening at all; it can merely prevent repeated recurrence. Such a limitation is reasonable.
- Off-topic postings: Protracted discussion of an off-topic point will be tolerated in most cases. I do reserve the right to declare a point off-topic and to ask that any entirely new remarks on that point that have not been made by anyone else be forwarded to the list immediately, after which that point becomes off-limits. Just as an example, the Media Access mailing list is not a forum for general discussion of disability, and extended postings on general disability topics may be deemed irrelevant to the rationale for the list.
- Exception: Because of its unusual history and the expectations of its subscribers, theBRML is exempt from the policy concerning off-topic posts. Exceptionally for theBRML only, there is no such thing as an off-topic post. Other parts of this policy remain in force for theBRML.
- Unnecessary quoting of preceding message text is not permitted. Do not forward an entire previous message to a list in order to reply to it. (It is quite possible that forwarding a message that occupies a mere couple of lines would be OK, of course.) I reserve the right to set members who persist in this violation of netiquette to
REVIEW, whereby postings are seen in advance and returned in the case of excess quoting – and for no other reason. There is no limitation on original content.
- On the Icebike list, top-posting is especially frowned upon. In fact, it’s forbidden, and if you do it, you will be set to
NOPOST for a week.
- Make sure to alter the subject line when replying to a digest message. Don’t forward the entire digest.
- Spam and company advertising are forbidden. This does not prevent you from posting an ad to Icebike selling your bike, for example.
- Forwarding a person’s private E-mail without permission is grounds for immediate