ASA: Netiquette

Terry M. Gray (
Mon, 29 Jul 1996 13:43:56 -0400

Here are some thoughts.

1. Network news netiquette suggests that you don't post to the group unless
it is a point that several people are interested in. Now we're not exactly
network news, but in general if someone has asked a specific question for
information, it is best to answer that person in private. If there might
be general interest, that person could collate and summarize responses
(without necessarily identifying the person who responsed). This way all
of us don't have to get the many messages. I would recommend this approach
to the References needed thread. At the end Steve could send us a list of
all the ones he collected. We could even turn such lists into an FAQ. In
general, on the other hand, most of our posts are not requests for specific
information but are on-going discussions involving several individuals.
For these we want posting to the group.

2. I would say that it is never appropriate to repost some one's private
response to a public list without their permission, even if you think it
was meant for the whole group.

3. I will be happy to receive more input from people who think that the
reply to: ought to be sent to the group rather than to the sender. That
can be changed if we think that it is wise. But as James M. pointed out,
it can result in increased noise. It is always possible to pay attention
to the To: line in your outgoing mail and change it or add the group if
necessary. Frankly, I'd rather be in a position where I accidently don't
send it to the group (that's easy to fix if you keep a copy of your
outgoing mail) rather than accidently send a message meant for an
individual to the whole group.

4. I've just returned from the annual meeting of the ASA and received some
feedback about our internet projects. We only have 130 subscribers to this
group--far from the total membership of the asa. Some people informed me
that the group was too noisy--too many posts and too much discussion on
origins--for their interests. Jack Haas and I wondered about this at the
very beginning. It is likely that we will be starting a new list
(asa-matters or something like that) that is a low traffic group giving
announcements about the ASA and a discussion of ASA policies (such as the
Feedback thread). We are thinking that we will subscribe ALL ASA members
for whom we have email address (of course, with instructions on how to
unsubscribe if you are incensed at such a unilateral and involuntary
subscription). There may be other lists springing up, but I am resistant
to that. In the meantime may I suggest that we "return" to the proposed
practice of placing a keyword before the subject so that people not
interested in that topic can see right away its category. Here are the
original instructions with the list of proposed keywords that Jack and I
put together:

>ASA -- announcements and discussion of ASA policies
>JOBS -- announcements of positions available and jobs wanted
>ORIGINS -- creation/evolution discussion
>ETHICS -- discussion of medical and other ethical questions raised by
> modern science
>BIBLE -- discussion of exegetical/theological issues related to scientific
> questions
>ENVIRON -- discussion of environmental issues and ethics
>SOC/PSYC -- discussion of Christianity and psychology and the social sciences
>A subject line would look like this:
>ETHICS: Y chromosomes and behavior
> and then a reply
>Re: ETHICS: Y chromosomes and behavior.

5. Also, in response to the ASA meeting, there will be some changes to the
ASA Web site. Keep your eyes open.

6. Finally, if you are on this list and you are not a member of the ASA,
that's okay, but as always we're looking for new members, so check out the
home page at
and consider joining. It's not too expensive and it's a great cause.


Terry M. Gray, Ph.D. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Calvin College 3201 Burton SE Grand Rapids, MI 40546
Office: (616) 957-7187 FAX: (616) 957-6501

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