Electronic mailing lists ("listservs") are intended to be a convenient and efficient way for committee members to communicate about committee business. They enable their members to instantly transmit or receive information and opinions on matters of common interest. When a message or a reply is sent to a mail list, the list server immediately distributes it to all subscribers. This is a highly interactive form of communication.
The following guidelines are intended to make our use of listservs as valuable and productive as possible, for all subscribers.
1. Be germane. Messages posted to a listserv must related to the issues and business of the committee or entity for which the listserv was established. Tailor your message to the issue being addressed, since that will tend to produce the most focused and valuable responses from your colleagues. If another person posts a comment or question that is off the subject, do NOT reply to the list and keep the off-subject conversation going publicly.
2. Be extremely judicious in your use of the "reply to all" button. If you are replying with a message that just says “thanks for the information,” a request to receive a copy of what someone has offered to share, or simply to agree with someone (such as “me, too”), do not reply to the entire group. Instead, send your response directly to the e-mail address of the person who posted the message (e.g., if using Microsoft Outlook hit "Reply" not "Reply All"). When at all possible, be sure to avoid replies that include prior correspondence, since this tends to slow down the discussion process. Do not post an entire e-mail only to add a short response.
3. Be polite. We are all volunteers, and humans. Don't post something to a listserv that you wouldn’t say to a friend. Do not forward a personal email to a listserv without the express permission of the original email's author.
4. Ask questions. Offer answers. Share your knowledge.
5. Know your audience. It is important to recognize that your audience may have varying degrees of knowledge and experience.
6. Brevity is important. Please keep your messages as short and to the point as is consistent with conveying the substance of your thoughts.
7. Identify yourself. Please sign your message with your full name and affiliation. Among other things, this gives your colleagues the opportunity to consult directly with you on questions or issues that may have come up in discussion.
8. Provide a useful subject line. Posting a subject line that reflects your message's contents affords your colleagues the ability to prioritize their reading. This is a significant consideration particularly when the list of subscribers is large and there is a high volume of transmissions. Please also modify the subject line as the subject evolves.
9. If possible avoid attachments. Attachments can be very useful, but frequently they are incompatible with your audience's software. Therefore, when at all possible, avoid using them. It's preferable to reference the source of a document and provide instructions on how to obtain a copy. If you must post a long message, warn the readers with a statement at the top of the mail message.
12. Remember that all listserv exchanges are public domain, and archived.