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Networks for Training and Development, Inc. (Networks)' Discussion Group Service, which includes Bulletin/Message Boards, Chat Rooms, and Listservs, is available to anyone who has been invited by Networks to join. Access to and use of the service is subject to the terms and conditions of this document. BY ACCESSING THE SERVICE AND THE SITES, YOU ACCEPT, WITHOUT LIMITATION OR QUALIFICATION, ALL OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS IN THIS DOCUMENT.

Networks' services are informal forums for specific audiences and are designed to provide opportunities for participants to connect with one another; catch-up and gain assistance with each other's work; problem-solve and solution-share; and inform and teach one another about new strategies and techniques. The materials used and displayed on the services include, but not are not limited to: text; software; photographs; graphics; illustrations and artwork; video; music and sound; and names, logos, trademarks, and service marks. These may be protected by copyright, trademark, and other laws. Any such content may be displayed solely for your personal, non-commercial use. You agree not to modify, reproduce, retransmit, distribute, disseminate, sell, publish, broadcast, or circulate any such material without written permission of Networks.

This Service contains information, facts, and opinions from various individuals and organizations. THE SERVICE IS PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" BASIS.

The Service and the Sites include Bulletin/Message Boards, Chat Rooms, Listservs and other user and member created pages, which allow you and other users and members to post information, provide feedback, and interact. You agree not to post or transmit any unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, profane, hateful, racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable material of any kind, including, but not limited to, any material which encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, violate the rights of others, or otherwise violate any applicable local, state, national, or international law. You will be responsible for, and indemnify and hold harmless Networks against any claim arising from any material that you post or transmit. Although Networks may from time to time monitor or review discussions, Chat Rooms, Listservs, postings, transmissions, Bulletin/Message Boards and other user and member-generated pages on the Site, Networks is not under any obligation to do so. You acknowledge that Networks does not control the information available on the Bulletin/Message Boards, Chat Rooms, Listservs and other user and member generated pages and that any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers or other information or content presented or disseminated on any bulletin board, chat room or on any other user or member generated pages are those of their respective authors who are solely liable for their content. Networks reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to edit, refuse to post or remove any material submitted to or posted on the chat rooms, bulletin boards or on any other user or member generated pages.


Any communication or material you post or transmit to the Service and/or the Sites is, and will be treated as, non-confidential and non-proprietary. You assume full responsibility for anything you post or transmit, and you grant Networks the right to edit, copy, publish and distribute any information or content you post or transmit for any purpose.

How does a Listserv compare to the use of
e-mail lists or online chats?

Listservs offer a very important benefit to nonprofit organizations—they build community through the Internet. Listservs, named after the original software for e-mail list applications, are electronic mailing lists that distribute written discussions to those who subscribe; each posted unit of a discussion shows up in the subscribers' e-mail boxes.

One of the most useful features of e-mail lists or listservs is the fact that you can send the same message to many people at once. Similarly, you can also receive many messages at once in a compiled and organized fashion. With many listservs, subscribers can send responses to messages around to the rest of the list by just replying to the original e-mail.

A quality listserv offers several advantages over e-mail lists or online chats for hosting a virtual community. As a space on the web, a listserv has the potential to be tightly integrated into an existing web presence. Online content can be linked directly to relevant online discussions, creating a very easy transition from content to community.

A listserv allows for conversations to continue regardless of participant's online status—a participant can log on to post a message, then log off and return at a later point to resume the conversation. An online chat requires that participants are logged on at the same time for conversation to occur.

A listserv also provides an archive, where past conversations are archived for searching and review by participants as needed—this is typically missing from chat software. A typical chat service does not archive conversations for searching by date, subject/keyword. The archive provides a major benefit when comparing it to e-mail. Because of the archive, there is no need to save every e-mail that may be important to the user. Saving e-mails can be a huge worry for a lot of people, since saving everything important takes up a whole lot of space and memory and can make the inbox of one's e-mail a little difficult to search through. When you access the archive of a Listserv, you see that it is organized by which month the original posting to the Listserv was sent.

A quality listserv will provide integrated e-mail list services, where participants who register can choose to have new messages posted to their e-mail accounts on a regular basis. This listserv/message board integration helps to ease the transition of listserv only members to a web space by offering a familiar e-mail list feature, as well as reinforces the visibility of message board conversations.

A listserv is not trivial to "nourish" and manage. Unlike typical e-mail lists, past and present messages on a message board are readily viewable. This means that evidence of quality participation and a large group of participants is necessary to encourage more visitors to contribute. Success here requires a coordinated effort of staff to start and continue online discussions, manage participant questions and suggestions for improvements, and develop promotional strategies for driving traffic to the conversations.


We define one-to-one communications as those in which a person is communicating with another person as if face-to-face: a dialog. In general, rules of common courtesy for interaction with people should be in force for any situation and on the Internet it's doubly important where, for example, body language and tone of voice must be inferred.

Listserv User Guidelines

Any time you engage in One-to-Many communications, all the rules for mail should also apply. After all, communicating with many people via one mail message or post is quite analogous to communicating with one person with the exception of possibly offending a great many more people than in one-to-one communication. Therefore, it's quite important to know as much as you can about the audience of your message.

1. Save the first subscription message for any lists you join as it will contain important information on how to unsubscribe and how to check the listserv archives.

2. Contact Diane Kehoe at dianek@networksfortraining.org for help. She can assist you with any system problems. Also, contact Diane if you receive anything questionable or illegal.

3. Most Networks listservs are private. Do not send mail to these lists uninvited. Do not report mail from these lists to a wider audience.

4. In general, it's not possible to retrieve messages once you have sent them. Even your system administrator will not be able to get a message back once you have sent it. This means you must make sure you really want the message to go as you have written it.

5. Remember that you are addressing a group of people. Think about the best and most succinct way to present your message. Be considerate of other people's time. Be sure to make the subject heading for your message clear and focused.

6. Unless you have your own Internet access through an Internet provider, be sure to check with your employer about ownership of electronic mail (e-mail). Laws about the ownership of e-mail vary from place to place.

7. Unless you are using an encryption device (hardware or software), you should assume that mail on the Internet is not secure. Never put in a mail message anything you would not put on a postcard.

8. Respect the copyright on material that you reproduce.

9. If you are forwarding or re-posting a message you've received, do not change the wording. If the message was a personal message to you and you are re-posting to a group, you should ask permission first. You may shorten the message and quote only relevant parts, but be sure you give proper attribution.

10. Never send chain letters or spam via the Networks Service. Chain letters are forbidden on the Internet. Your network privileges will be revoked. Notify the Networks system administrator if your ever receive one.

11. A good rule of thumb: Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you receive. You should not send heated messages (we call these "flames") even if you are provoked. On the other hand, you shouldn't be surprised if you get flamed and it's prudent not to respond to flames.

12. In general, it's a good idea to at least check all your mail subjects before responding to a message. Sometimes a person who asks you for help (or clarification) will send another message which effectively says "Never Mind". Also make sure that any message you respond to was directed to you. You might be cc'd rather than the primary recipient.

13. Make things easy for the recipient. Many mailers strip header information which includes your return address. If you want people to know who you are, be sure to include a line or two at the end of your message with contact information. You can create this file ahead of time and add it to the end of your messages. (Some mailers do this automatically.) In Internet parlance, this is known as a ".sig" or "signature" file. Your .sig file takes the place of your business card. (And you can have more than one to apply in different circumstances.)

14. Be careful when addressing mail. There are addresses which may go to a group but the address looks like it is just one person. Know to whom you are sending.

15. Verify all addresses before initiating long or personal discourse. It's also a good practice to include the word "Long" in the subject header so the recipient knows the message will take time to read and respond to. Over 100 lines is considered "long".

16. Remember that the recipient is a human being whose culture, language, and humor have different points of reference from your own. Remember that date formats, measurements, and idioms may not travel well. Be especially careful with sarcasm.


18. Use symbols for emphasis. That *is* what I meant. Use underscores for underlining. _War and Peace_ is my favorite book.

19. Use smileys to indicate tone of voice, but use them sparingly. :-) is an example of a smiley (Look sideways). Don't assume that the inclusion of a smiley will make the recipient happy with what you say or wipe out an otherwise insulting comment.

20. Wait overnight to send emotional responses to messages. If you have really strong feelings about a subject, indicate it via FLAME ON/OFF enclosures. For example:
This type of argument is not worth the bandwidth it takes to send it. It's illogical and poorly reasoned. The rest of the world agrees with me.

21. Do not include control characters or non-ASCII attachments in messages unless they are MIME attachments or unless your mailer encodes these. If you send encoded messages make sure the recipient can decode them.

22. Be brief without being overly terse. When replying to a message, include enough original material to be understood but no more. It is extremely bad form to simply reply to a message by including the entire previous message: edit out all the irrelevant material.

23. Limit line length to fewer than 65 characters and end a line with a carriage return.

24. Mail should have a subject heading which reflects the content of the message.

25. If you include a signature keep it short. Rule of thumb is no longer than 4 lines. Remember that many people pay for connectivity by the minute, and the longer your message is, the more they pay.

26. Just as mail (today) may not be private, mail (and news) is (today) subject to forgery and spoofing of various degrees of detectability. Apply common sense "reality checks" before assuming a message is valid.

27. If you think the importance of a message justifies it, immediately reply briefly to an e-mail message to let the sender know you got it, even if you will send a longer reply later.

28. "Reasonable" expectations for conduct via e-mail depend on your relationship to a person and the context of the communication. Norms learned in a particular e-mail environment may not apply in general to your e-mail communication with people across the Internet. Be careful with slang or local acronyms.

29. The cost of delivering an e-mail message is, on the average, paid about equally by the sender and the recipient (or their organizations). This is unlike other media such as physical mail, telephone, TV, or radio. Sending someone mail may also cost them in other specific ways like network bandwidth, disk space or CPU usage. This is a fundamental economic reason why unsolicited e-mail advertising is unwelcome (and is forbidden in many contexts).

30. Know how large a message you are sending. Including large files such as Postscript files or programs may make your message so large that it cannot be delivered or at least consumes excessive resources. A good rule of thumb would be not to send a file larger than 50 Kilobytes. Consider file transfer as an alternative, or cutting the file into smaller chunks and sending each as a separate message.

31. Don't send large amounts of unsolicited information to people.

32. If your mail system allows you to forward mail, beware the dreaded forwarding loop. Be sure you haven't set up forwarding on several hosts so that a message sent to you gets into an endless loop from one computer to the next to the next.

33. Do not blame the system administrator for the behavior of the system users.

34. Consider that a large audience will see your posts. That may include your present or your next boss. Take care in what you write. Remember too, that mailing lists and Newsgroups are frequently archived, and that your words may be stored for a very long time in a place to which many people have access.

35. Assume that individuals speak for themselves, and what they say does not represent their organization (unless stated explicitly).

36. If you find a personal message has gone to a list or group, send an apology to the person and to the group.

37. If you should find yourself in a disagreement with one person, make your responses to each other via mail rather than continue to send messages to the list or the group. If you are debating a point on which the group might have some interest, you may summarize for them later.

38. If you are caught in an argument, keep the discussion focused on issues rather than the personalities involved.

39. Material which is inappropriate when posted under one's own name is still inappropriate when posted anonymously.

40. Expect a slight delay in seeing your post when posting to a moderated group. The moderator may change your subject line to have your post conform to a particular thread.

41. Don't get involved in flame wars. Neither post nor respond to incendiary material.

42. As in other environments, it is wise to "listen" first to get to know the culture of the group.

43. It's not necessary to greet everyone on a channel or room personally. Usually one "Hello" or the equivalent is enough. Using the automation features of your client to greet people is not acceptable behavior.

44. Warn the participants if you intend to ship large quantities of information. If all consent to receiving it, you may send, but sending unwanted information without a warning is considered bad form just as it is in mail.

45. Don't assume that people who you don't know will want to talk to you. If you feel compelled to send private messages to people you don't know, then be willing to accept gracefully the fact that they might be busy or simply not want to chat with you.

46. Don't badger other users for personal information such as sex, age, or location. After you have built an acquaintance with another user, these questions may be more appropriate, but many people hesitate to give this information to people with whom they are not familiar. If a user is using a nickname alias or pseudonym, respect that user's desire for anonymity. Even if you and that person are close friends, it is more courteous to use his nickname. Do not use that person's real name online without permission.

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