Email List Policies and Etiquette

Rules for Participating

  • Participation in's lists is a privilege and not a right. The UUA reserves the right to suspend participants from lists who violate standards and rules put forward by the UUA Board. Procedures for due process in conflict mediation and suspension have been established by the Information Technology Service staff group's Web Team. Decisions on suspension are delegated to the Web Team, in consultation with the Director of Communications, and are appealed to the UUA Chief Operating Officer.
  • UUA mailing lists may not be used for commercial announcements unless directly related to the topic of the list. The List Managers may use their discretion regarding which posts are appropriate.
  • List attachments are strongly discouraged. Many lists are configured to remove them automatically.
  • UUA mailing lists may not be used for creating offensive or disruptive messages, including those containing sexual implications, racial slurs, or any comment that offensively addresses someone's age, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, national origin, or disability.
  • List subscribers participate in lists at their own risk.
  • In the interest of encouraging broad list participation, List Managers may set limits on the number of posts per day from a single individual.
  • List Managers and Moderators are to be treated with respect as they carry out their work. Inappropriate language directed at List Managers, or engaging in protracted arguments about a decision, may result in a subscriber being blocked from participation on a given list or all UUA-run lists.
  • List archives may not be republished without permission from the UUA.

List Etiquette

Each email list has its own rules of list etiquette, as determined by the list's managers and subscribers. Following are some additional etiquette guidelines:

  • Don't "flame:" "Flaming" means sending messages that are far more belligerent, sarcastic, accusatory, or just plain mean than you would be in person. Something about email communication can prompt otherwise polite, kind people into acting like TOTAL JERKS on mailing lists (see—that was a flame right there!). If you are tempted to send an angry message, take a break first, then reconsider your message. Remember that a lot of tone and expression are lost in communications that aren't face-to-face.
  • Don't talk if you don't have anything to say: Put that way, this rule seems pretty obvious. But lots of people post messages that simply say "Me too!" or "I agree!" This can add significantly to the number of messages each subscriber receives, without necessarily adding meaning.
  • Use descriptive subject lines: When writing a new message or replying to a message, make sure that the subject line describes your message as specifically as possible. Never send a message with the subject "Help!" when it could say "Need 4th grade curriculum about Islam."
  • Identify yourself: Most email programs let you define a signature which appears at the end of each message you send. Your signature should be no more than four lines long and should include your name and email address; you might also include your website (if any), and a pithy quote or tag line. Don't include your mailing address, phone number, or "ASCII art" (pictures made out of punctuation).
  • When replying, include only the relevant part of the original message: Most email programs provide a way to "quote" the text of the message you are replying to. When people read your reply, they may not remember exactly which message you are replying to, so including the quote puts your message in context. On the other hand, delete the parts of the quote that aren't relevant, so each reader doesn't have to wade through headers, signatures, and other stuff that doesn't pertain to your message.
  • Reply privately when your message isn't of interest to the group: When you reply to a message, consider whether to send your reply to the mailing list or to the person who wrote the message. If you want to make a point that contributes to the group discussion, post your reply to the mailing list. If you want to criticize, ask a personal question, or ask something off the topic of the list, send your reply directly to the person who wrote the message.
  • Don't post chain letters and virus messages: It doesn't matter how worthy the chain letter sounds! Don't post messages to a list unless you personally know the information in it to be true. Most messages about computer viruses have proven to be bogus, so don't waste everyone's time with them. Ditto for sending postcards to dying children or news flashes about proposed modem taxes. And messages that purport to help you "make money fast" are, like all pyramid schemes, illegal. Just say no—delete chain letters and don't pass them along.