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Manager Guide: Policies / Etiquette
As list manager, one of your most important jobs is keeping the conversation on the list positive, constructive, and full of useful information. You are charged with discouraging personal attacks, off-topic messages, content-free messages ("Me too!"), repetitive messages ("As I said before..."), and nit-picking arguments where two people feel compelled to refute the other person's postings line by line.
When you create boundaries for appropriate topics and modes of expression, subscribers may cry "Censorship!" and "First Amendment rights!" These are both specious complaints; the First Amendment applies only to the government not restricting the right of free speech, and has nothing to do with private organizations decided what to publish or distribute. The UUA (and its list managers) has the right to determine what information is distributed via its Internet host computer, UUA.org. Participation on UUA Email Lists and Bulletin Boards is a privilege and not a right. Anyone can start their own mailing list using one of the many free services available. UUA lists are for UU-related material presented according to the UUA Principles and Purposes.
See the UUA's process for Email List Conflict Resolution for more information. If you need help resolving a situation, contact the UUA ITS Web Team.
You should be familiar with the following rules for list management. When things go wrong, people blame you, the list management volunteers, the UUA, their UU minister—you name it. We have made some rules to help list managers run lists smoothly, and to enable the UUA to help you when things go wrong. Questions or comments may be directed to the UUA ITS Web Team.
- The Web Team is responsible for setting general standards for on-list conduct and for the roles and responsibility of List Managers. The purpose of these standards will be to maintain fairness, respect for individual and group rights, to see that all subscribers (including the List Managers) are accorded worth and dignity in list communications, to protect the UUA from legal action or damage to its reputation, and to communicate to List Managers that part of their role is to maintain a balance on their lists between too much control and too little.
- It is the responsibility of the Manger of the Web Team to determine whether these standards are being maintained and to take whatever action appropriate. These actions may include temporary or permanent suspension of list membership, temporary or permanent suspension of posting privileges, removal of List Managers, changing list status to private or moderated, and elimination of lists.
- Every list must have two list managers, and all List Managers must be approved by the UUA. List Managers must be thoughtful and responsible individuals of good judgment who are believed to have conducted themselves maturely on the Internet. They must keep the list discussions on topic, maintain the list of subscribers, and they must be willing to treat all subscribers and potential subscribers fairly. Arbitrary treatment of subscribers, inattentiveness, or inconsistent application of list guidelines can result in the removal of the list manager and/or elimination of the list. Such action is at the discretion of the Web Team.
- All List Managers will be subscribed to the UUA List Owners Mailing list. They may receive list mail as a digest, but they may not unsubscribe nor set "nomail."
- Lists may not be made closed, moderated, or hidden except with the permission of the Web Team. An exception is changing an unmoderated to moderated on a temporary basis when needed to impose a "cooling off period" or the like. When making such a temporary change, the Web Team must be notified immediately, and the change may remain in effect for only 72 hours unless a longer period or permanent change is approved by the Web Team.
In general discussion on mailing lists should follow the UU Principles and Purposes. Your list may have additional rules. For example, you may require people to identify which congregation they represent, or talk exclusively from their own experience, or be aware of the precise use of language. As list manager, you can create these additional rules, with input from the list subscribers.
If your list is sponsored by an organization (UUCF, UUBF, a district, etc.), that organization is responsible for the management and oversight of the list. You, the manager, act as that organization's representative in upholding the mission of the organization and the UUA Principles and Purposes.
There is a Procedure for Conflict Resolution worked out by the Web Team and the Board of Trustees. Follow it if you are having trouble with a list subscriber or another list manager.
All List Managers are charged with the fair administration of their lists. Discussion concerning UUA elections must not overtake the expressed purpose of any mailing list, and discussion must follow the rules stated in the Election Campaign Practices policies passed by the UUA Board of Trustees on October 23, 1999. List Managers are not prohibited from endorsing candidates. List Managers may wish to carefully consider, however, whether endorsing a candidate would compromise, in any way, their effectiveness as a list manager. Managers will encourage those who wish to discuss the election to do so on Election-L, a list created specifically for this purpose, which shall be in use at times determined by the Secretary of the Association. If any list manager feels that s/he can not uphold these values and election rules in an impartial and fair manner, s/he is asked to contact the Web Team immediately.