Postal Etiquette

With a small mailing list such as Ackanomic, the necessity of adhering to standard netiquette is not nearly as important as (say) within the anarchic world of Usenet. But there are still a few guidelines that we think are good to follow.

  1. Remember that not everybody uses the same mail program as you do. Stick to the common denominator: flat text. Please, no HTML markup or RTF. Note that Microsoft mailers frequently default to adding RTF to your outgoing email. This is completely transparent to you, but it appears on non-Microsoft mailers as a MIME attachment, which for many people becomes a large uuencoded block at the bottom of every message (which really bulks up the email archives over time).
  2. Similarly, avoid gratuitous use of non-ASCII characters. The ISO-Latin and Unicode characters are not standard, and there is no guarantee that they will appear the same for everyone, or even appear at all. (If you're unsure of what characters are and aren't ASCII, this means avoiding things like accented letters, letters not in the Roman alphabet, left- and right-handed quotation marks, and basically anything that doesn't appear on a standard American keyboard. See also Rule 500.1.)
  3. Also in keeping with sticking to the common denominator: try to keep the length of your lines to seventy-six characters or less. If you send out email with lines longer than eighty characters, it will show up looking rather ragged for those not using a GUI email program. Also, some email gateways will automatically reformat your text to heed this limit, which will make it look ragged no matter what.
  4. If you have a signature file, try to keep it within the McQuarry limit: four lines or less, not counting an optional sig separator (i.e., a line containing only dash-dash-space). Longer signatures are fine when they're not automatically appended to every message.
  5. This isn't a point of etiquette, but since the subject is at hand: be careful of using a signature file when sending email to the nomicbot. If you don't have a sig separator, you can find your signature taken as being part of your submitted proposal.
  6. When replying to another email, please don't include the entire original message unless everything in message is germane to your response. Delete the paragraphs that you're not responding to.
  7. Be consistent in the formatting of replies. The standard method is to quote as much original text as necessary to provide context, and then place your followup text following after. The original text is usually prefixed with a greater-than character, and a single blank line separates it from your followup. However, some mailers default to indenting the original text with spaces, and putting the reply text above, with a separating line of dashes. This is acceptable, too, as long as you're consistent. In any case, it should be clear which text is written by you and which isn't. (For example, don't start your followup text on the same line as where the original ends.)
  8. Attributions of original text when replying are often left out, since it's usually not too hard to keep track of conversations in a small group. But they can't hurt, and they should be used when there is a possbility of confusion, or if the identity of the original author is somehow relevant to the discussion.
  9. Always put "Acka:" in your subject lines!

Ackanomic Main Page