[Mailman-Users] Meta: bringing along the newcomers
Stephen J. Turnbull
stephen at xemacs.org
Fri Dec 18 06:55:44 CET 2009
> On Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 12:00:34PM -0500, (Some) Poor Fellow wrote:
> > Thanks
> please don't
> (1) reply to list-posts off-list: send them to the list;
> (2) top-post
Given the recent surge in non-traditional list admins (ie, folks
without a Unix or mail admin background), I feel this is excessively
curt. I don't know about this particular Poor Fellow, but the generic
Poor Fellow probably had no idea it wasn't going to the right place
(he probably isn't subscribed, either, so he won't notice that he
didn't get his own post back).
I suggest that better wording is "Please be careful to ensure that
your reply is addressed to the list."
Actually there should be a FAQ for that in Section 1, so you can add
"see FAQ x.yy". I suggest adding this to FAQ 1.22. Something like
1.22 How should I write my post when asking a question on this
Customs vary on the Internet, and while we [except for the
majority of us old Usenet curmudgeons ;-] don't want to impose our
customs on the rest of the 'Net, your questions *will* be answered
more quickly and helpfully if you observe the following:
o The first thing you should do is indicate that you've done your
homework. Look at the Mailman documentation linked from
http://www.list.org/docs.html. Search the Frequently Asked
Questions in the wiki. Search the archives of the mailing list
(see "How do I search the archives of the mailman-users mailing
Once you've looked through all the relevant pieces of
documentation, FAQ entries, archive messages, etc... and you
still haven't found your answer, please give us additional
information as well as the question itself. See FAQ .
Specifically, we would like to know:
1. What methods did you use to look through the documentation
and search the FAQ, mailing list archives, etc...?
2. If there were things that initially sounded relevant but
ended up not being useful to you, which ones were they?
If you did miss something that is relevant, then having this
information will help us go back and improve the
documentation/FAQ/etc... so that the next person who does the
same search will hopefully hit the correct answer.
In addition, we would appreciate it if you could provide URLs
and precise descriptions of the information you found but which
was not helpful to you.
o If you have a specific/detailed question, please proceed to FAQ
entry 1.23 at "I have a specific-detailed question -- What kind
of information do I need to provide when posting a question to
this mailing list?"
See also FAQ entry 4.78 "Troubleshooting- No mail going out to
With this information, we are much more likely to be able to
provide you assistance with your question.
o Be careful to ensure that your reply is addressed to the list.
The widespread practice of "Reply-To munging" is *not*
implemented on our lists because it makes it difficult (and
sometimes impossible) to send a private reply. Because this
need is frequent in working on Mailman issues (many questions
involve details of network and host configuration that could be
used by crackers to compromise security), we do not set
Reply-To to the list. (Reply-To munging is not a good idea in
most cases; see Chip Rosenthal's essay "Reply-To Munging
o It is a very good idea to subscribe to the list, or at least
follow the thread in the archives. For various reasons,
related posts may *not* be addressed to you, but only to the
list. It would be a shame if you missed them.
o Once you've sent your post, *wait* at least 48 hours for it to
be forwarded to you or appear in the archives before assuming
it got lost. Because we must allow non-members to post, we are
relatively vulnerable to spam, and the lists are *moderated* by
rather busy volunteers.
Also, make sure that any spamblocking software you have is
*off* for a while; you will get no sympathy at all if you block
a reply (and note you don't know where it will come from,
because the respondent may feel that the required information
is sensitive, and should not be discussed in public -- see #2
above). No sympathy for the delay itself, and many of the less
frequent contributors will ignore you completely thereafter.
(The core people will still take care of you, but about half
the useful answers come from the peanut gallery -- it's a
o Avoid top-posting (adding a quick comment to the top of a
message, leaving the automatically included quoted block
intact. The people who provide the best answers are used to a
style in which irrelevant details in the quote are *trimmed*
(deleted), and in which responses to specific points appear
*inline*, ie, immediately below the statements or questions
they refer to. We don't ask you to like this style; however,
it is a fact that most of us will be irritated if we scan to
the bottom of a long quote and discover we just wasted as
little as 5 seconds doing so.
In general, conforming to the practices of "Netiquette" will
smooth the path to resolving your Mailman issues. It's not
just a matter of conforming to the "peculiar institutions" of
the Mailman community: these practices are actually more
effective in this context. [needs URL for netiquette]
Sorry, I'm Confluence-differently-abled at the moment. Assuming
nobody thinks this is a terrible idea, I'll eventually get to posting
this myself, but if somebody wants to speed up the process, I wouldn't
In case it's not obvious, stuff in [square brackets] should not be
cut/pasted to the FAQ.
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