It's important to remember that the list has about 1600 members. It's generally considered good manners to follow what have become accepted list practices. Most of these are common sense, but it's always a good idea to read this section over periodically, because we all tend to forget the details . . .
In order to save yourself (well, really the rest of us) some grief and embarassment, you might also want to browse Emily PostNews. Also although not netiquette, try to learn to write right, write bright, and write tight...
Example of Good Posting
Here is an example of a proper reply post to the list:
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999
From: Steve Arthur
Subject: BMW: Re: High Watt Bulbs
Rick Beam wrote:
>Using a high wattage bulb may melt your bulb socket
Did you look in the IBMWR Tech pages for how to install relays? I installed them and am now running a 130/90 without worries :)
BMW RA, BMW MOA, BMWBMW
Why is this a good post?
- Proper Quoting. the author snipped all 73 unneeded lines of Rick's post, and only quoted back the relevant portion. further, he used carats (">") to signify the quoted text and "<snip>" to show where he had deleted text not directly relevant to his reply. Lastly, he properly included "Rick Beam wrote:" before the quoted text so folks would know who wrote the text to which he was replying.
- Correct Subject Line. Often folks neglect to change the subject line when hitting "reply" to a digest.
- Proper Signature. Steve has signed the post with his full name and hometown. He's also included other info in his signature but has not exceeded 5 lines.
These first few guidelines are borrowed from a post by Don Eilenberger.
- Written words can often be misunderstood - they don't impart...except in exceptional cases...the facial expressions and body language that often allow what sounds insulting to be understood as humor. Take care in what you put in writing!
- There can be more than one opinion on a topic, and more than one way to solve a mechanical problem. This list is information - you can take it or leave it. It isn't necessary to flame someone (doubting technical competence) if you don't agree with them. State your case, and let it go. The readers of the list are smart enough to figure out who is right - and in many cases - everyone is right.
- Lurk more! Type less! Being a top-dog on the monthly posting ranks isn't really a goal to seek, unless your posting has content. The content can be technical, trip reports, questions, opinions.. but make sure it actually has some content. Or humor.
- If you're new to the list - LURK EVEN MORE! Learn who is who and the general tenor of the list.. look to see who is asked questions - and why.
- It's been mentioned - but quoting an entire question/article is usually not necessary, a short quote of part of a message is enough to continue a thread, and allow the readers to get the max info in the least time. Quoting an entire digest is a real no-no, I usually send private email to the perpetrator after it's done the second time.
- Learn to type. Paragraphs are easy to do - and extra hit of the enter key. Capitals aren't necessary, but often enhance readability. Your postings will be judged/respected not only for content - but only if people will bother to read them. Again, spelling isn't real important, and I often hack it for effect (or just 'cause of stupidity), but try to take a bit of care.
Ray Eydmann has compiled some excellent additional guidelines for proper posting. Not only good form but good manners as well, this list should be read and re-read regularly.
- Personal attacks and ridicule are never welcome, and are often the quickest route to being asked to leave. They can often lead to flame wars (which then lead to the list being shifted from unmoderated to moderated mode, something nobody likes...)
- Keep private E-mail private. Personal notes should never be reposted to the list without permission. Some individuals prefer to reply to a post directly and not to the list. This decision should be respected and anything in these type of posts should *never* be reposted to the list without getting permission from the originator. Some people are not comfortable posting to the list or are afraid a post to the list may be inappropriate.If you believe such a note is relevant to the list - please seek permission before including any of it in a note to the list. More importantly respect the individual's wishes if they say no.
- Use Emoticons. In email conversations other nuances are often lost - facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, so carefully think through your note before you write it and again before you send it. Emoticons, the smile - :), the wink - ;), and the frown :-/ are the most common, can help set the tone.
- Check your spelling. Proof-reading and spell checking is a *good* thing.
- And finally, it never hurts to remind folks that ALL CAPS is considered yelling and poor protocol.
What to post, What not to post
Do post about BMW motorcycles, how to ride 'em, repair 'em, fix 'em, break 'em, travel on them, what to wear when riding them, great rides you've taken, cars that have tried to kill you while you were riding one, great meals you've ridden to, and anything else you can think of that has even some marginal BMW 'cycle content.
Questions are fine; we all learn from them.
Do not post about things that aren't or can't be related to BMW motorcycles, such as: religion, guns and/or gun control, politics (BMW club politics, national politics, international politics), "Virus Alerts," $250 cookie recipes, or why fuchsia is your favorite color.
Do not post "test" messages. If you were able to subscribe, it works. Also, the list has a little gismo that should unsubscribe you if you post a test message; it works occasionally.
If you use a web browser as your mail tool, make sure you turn off HTML, winmail, and any other non-ASCII text formatting for your messages. Post in straight ASCII text. Do you AOL and can't figure out how to turn off formatting? Click here.
Don't use words like "subscribe," "unsubscribe," "sign off," or anything similar in the top five lines of your message. The list software thinks it's a command and bounces your message. Either use the standard list synonym, "Volvo," (As in: "Bail revoked, gotta Volvo." or "Road trip... volvoing until 4/1.") or start your message with five blank lines.
Do not post personal attacks or take private arguments or email public.
Do post For Sale "classified ad" messages if you are an individual or posting for a friend. But don't overdo it -- no one likes to live next door to a non-stop yard sale. Once a month per person is plenty. Generally you should use the Marketplace for this anyway.
Do not post advertising messages on behalf of a company. (If you do not understand the difference between these last two items, first read the legal spiel on commercial use. If you still have questions, please send email explaining your mystification and seeking expert guidance and advice to: email@example.com.)
Why are these guidelines useful?
Context and attribution
Quite a few messages on the mailing list, as in news groups, are replies to previous messages that hopefully carry a discussion along. When you reply to another's message, it is helpful to other readers if you put your message in some sort of context. This is particularly true if you are responding to someone else's comments. Usually it is easy enough to copy the original message content to your own posting.
At the same time it is considered irritating - i.e. not polite - to enclose the whole previous message. Everyone else, including the originator, has already seen it. Just quote what you need and leave the rest. A little creative editing makes reading your message much more pleasant and therefore much more likely to be received with an open mind.
Also when you are responding to someone else's comments or posting, you really ought to acknowledge who wrote what. Usually by copying the person's name or email address into your reply. But beware of false or inaccurate attributions. This can really irritate other people and lead to nasty flame wars that draw the administrator's unwanted attention.
(Remember, when you're a digest subscriber, that when you reply to a message, you (usually) have to manually edit the Subject: line so others will know what message you're replying to. Otherwise your reply will appear to be a reply to all the messages in the digest. Digest reader software can help with this.)
Sign your name
Remember that there are almost two thousand people on the mailing list. Most of us like to know who we are talking to. Just like with the regular post office, if you don't sign your letters we may be able to decipher enough from the post mark to make an educated guess as to where the letter originated. But it's still nice to see that the writer thinks enough of their own work/thoughts to sign his/her name to them. Almost all mail tools will let you create and automatically add signatures to your postings.
A capital idea
Over the years, a convention has developed on the Internet NOT TO USE CAPITAL LETTERS UNLESS YOU WANT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO SOMETHING. When used in friendly correspondence, it looks as if you're shouting.
Think twice, write once
Lastly, politeness always helps. If you read something that really steams you, write your reply. And then sit on it for a few hours before you roast the witless squid who angered you. You're likely to be surprised how letting a little time go by moderates your thoughts. And ultimately makes life more pleasant for all who use the list.
Try to stay fairly close to the main topic: BMW motorcycles
It's often hard to do, especially in the winter, when fewer of us can ride and cabin fever spills onto the list. However, it is a BMW Motorcycle list. If you find a thread of messages drifting away into the ozone, consider taking the discussion to private, rather than public, email. Put a "No BMW Content" or off-topic (OT) disclaimer in your message's subject line, so people who want to can easily skip less-relevent stuff.
You may also want to consider subscribing to the BMW-oriented mailing list / electronic motorcycle club that's dedicated as much to off-topic chat as to cycles: The Village Idiots. Subscribe by sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org; the entire text of the message body should be the word: subscribe.
If you happen to be a MOA member who is more, or as, interested in club politics as riding, take it to the MOA mailing list (subscribe to the MOA list, by emailing email@example.com with the two words: subscribe bmwmoa as the entire message body). Do not post MOA info, activity, or political rants on the BMWMC list.
Other cycle-related mailing lists can be found by looking at our link pages.
Caring for list administrators
Running the list takes a lot of time and patience. The list admins get to deal with mail errors, user requests, and other list admin functions all day long. We have set things up so that you have different avenues available to you to get things you need. Using them will definitely keep a smile on his face. Use the normal admin address, firstname.lastname@example.org for casual requests. Use the emergency address if you've got a serious system problem. You can send mail to the list owner address in the message headers, but keep in mind that your message is now competing with hundreds of others for our attention if you do that.
If you can direct your question to a specific IBMWR admin, all the better. Who's helping out?
Three sure fire ways to piss off an admin:
Threaten, or make obnoxious comments about, another member. Take your disagreement private, don't share it with all 1600 of us.
Post a complaint about the way the list is set up. If you don't like something about the list, or have a suggestion, put on your politeness hat and send personal email. Chances are that it can be fixed or there's a good reason why it's not already fixed.
Send messages to the list asking to be unsubscribed. That will probably do the job, but that isn't anyone's favorite thing to either read or to deal with. And you'll probably get a few other folks mad at you as well. Not to mention advertising the fact that you don't know your way around the net. And that you didn't save this file. :-) If you lose this file and need to unsubscribe, send email to an administrator, look in the archives for a monthly instructional posting, or remember that instructions are on the FAQ site..