Netiquette on the Internet

Responses that do not add much to a message thread such as "Congratulations!" or "Thank you for saying that," are best left to private e-mail and not posted to the whole list. Due to the growing size of the list, members should ask themselves "Does this message help this list fulfill our primary purpose of abstaining from compulsive overeating and carrying the message to those who still suffer?" before hitting the send key. If not, please use private mail. This will help to make the list as useful as possible to its members by reducing messages that are not of interest to most of our members.

Here are some additional thoughts about Netiquette and lists in general.

"Etiquette" means "ticket" in French. On the Internet, "netiquette" is your ticket to "traveling" by email loops, meetings, etc. without annoying others.

Electronic mail messages can be informal, but thought should be given before they are sent. Don't send a message until you have taken time to review its contents and header. Make sure your message is correctly addressed (that you aren't copying it to a group address unintentionally or unwisely), that it is free of typos, and that you really mean what it says. Especially when sending a message to a mailing list try to be clear and concise.


When you send Internet electronic mail, make sure that the "From:" field in the headers of your messages can be used to generate replies from Internet hosts. The "From:" field should contain a full Internet address, for example,


The following From: fields will prevent people on the Internet from replying to your messages:

From: mari@ao (No domain name!)
From: "Mari" (no quotes)
From: (you must have an @)

Check the address of the recipient of your message. If you are not sure of an address, don't guess. Electronic mail addresses are very unforgiving, you must get every character exactly right.


Never Forget that the Person on the Other Side is Human

Because your interaction with the network is through a computer, it is easy to forget that there are people "out there." Situations arise where emotions erupt into a verbal free-for-all that can lead to hurt feelings. Strongly critical messages on the network are called "flames." The following will help you to avoid sending or provoking flames.

Try not to say anything to others that you would not say to them in person in a room full of people. Please remember that when you send a message to a mailing list, people all over the world are reading your words.

Don't attack people, try to persuade them by presenting facts. Cursing and abuse only make people less willing to help when you need it.

If you are upset at something or someone, wait until you have had a chance to calm down and think about it. A cup of coffee or a good night's sleep works wonders on your perspective. Hasty words create more problems than they solve.

Your email list administrators are experiences in the make up of your list. They know the kinds of email which incite or do harm to the members. They will have certain guidelines which you may not understand but they are there for a reason. Please honor them.


Please remember, thousands of people may read your message. They could include your close friend, a fellow compulsive eater, someone who is reading your message for hope and does not need controversy. Information posted on the net can come back to haunt you or the person you are talking about.

Think twice before you post personal information about yourself or others.


Say what you have to say succinctly and it will have a greater impact. Remember that the longer you make your article, the fewer people will bother to read it. This is a generalized statement and there are times when you will want to pour out your heart. If you feel like doing that, by all means, DO IT. When the words come from the heart, poison comes from the soul.


Most people will know you only by what you say and how well you say it. Take some time to make sure each posting won't embarrass you later. Minimize your spelling errors and make sure that the article is easy to read and to understand.


The subject line of an article enables people to decide whether or not to read your article. Tell people what the article is about before they read it. A title like "Abstinence" does not help as much as "I'm losing my abstinence. Help!" Don't expect people to read your article to find out what it's about, many won't bother. Some sites truncate the length of the subject line to forty characters, so keep your subjects short and to the point.


When you post an article, think about the people you are trying to reach. Try to get the most appropriate audience for your message, not the widest.

Avoid abbreviations and acronyms, if possible, and define the ones you use.

Be familiar with the group you are posting to before you post. It is a good idea when you first join a group to send a brief letter introducing yourself, letting everyone know that you look forward to "meeting" them and perhaps a little about yourself and your program.

You shouldn't post to groups you don't read, or to groups you've only read a few articles from, you may not be familiar with the conventions and themes of the group. One normally does not join a conversation by just walking up and talking. Instead, you listen first and then join in if you have something pertinent to contribute.


Without the voice inflections and body language of personal communications, it's easy for remarks meant to be funny to be misinterpreted. Subtle humor tends to get lost. Take steps to make sure that people realize you are trying to be funny. The net has developed a symbol called the smiley face, which looks like this: :-) It points out sections of articles with humorous intent. No matter how broad the humor or satire, it is safer to remind people that you are being funny.

But also be aware that frequently satire is posted without explicit indications. If an article outrages you strongly, ask yourself if it may have been unmarked satire. Several self-proclaimed connoisseurs refuse to use smiley faces, so take heed or you may make a temporary fool of yourself.


Avoid posting messages to more than one group unless you are sure it is appropriate. If you do post to multiple groups, don't post to each group separately. Instead, specify all the groups on a single message. This reduces network overhead and lets people who subscribe to more than one of those groups see the message once instead of having to wade through each copy. And please, PLEASE use blind carbon copies. Nothing is worse than seeing a long header when it is just so easy to use a BCC. And if you don't know how, find out how.


When you are following up someone's article, please summarize the parts of the article to which you are responding. This allows readers to appreciate your comments rather than trying to remember what the original article said. It is also possible for your response to reach some sites before the original article does!

Summarization is best done by including appropriate quotes from the original article. Don't include the entire article, since it will irritate the people who have already seen it. Even if you are responding to the entire article, summarize only the major points you are discussing.


If you're responding to a thread (a discussion being participated in by a number of people) give a one-two sentence overview of the "gist of the thread". Then say what you want to say.


Using capital letters on the Internet is considered shouting. Also the use of colored and unusual fonts can be frustrating for some.


Before you submit a follow-up to a message, read the rest of the messages on the loop to see whether someone has already said what you want to say. If someone has, don't repeat it. Or at least be sure you have something to add to it. Also don't send to the whole loop posts that say "I agree." "Atta Boy." "Congratulations." The loopies may have no idea who/what you're talking about.


Once something is posted onto the network, it is *probably* in the public domain unless you own the appropriate rights (for example, if you wrote it yourself) and you post it with a valid copyright notice; a court would have to decide the specifics and there are arguments for both sides of the issue.

Now that the US has ratified the Berne convention, the issue is even murkier. For all practical purposes, though, assume that you effectively give up the copyright if you don't put in a notice. Of course, the information becomes public, so you mustn't post trade secrets that way.


If you are using facts to support a cause, state where they came from. Don't take someone else's ideas and use them as your own. You don't want someone pretending that your ideas are theirs; show them the same respect.


Every few months a plague descends on the network called the spelling flame. It starts out when someone posts an article correcting the spelling or grammar in some article. The immediate result seems to be for everyone on the net to turn into a sixth grade English teacher and pick apart each other's posting. This is not productive and tends to cause people to get angry with each other.

It is important to remember that we all make mistakes, and that there are many users on the net who use English as a second language. There are also a number of people who suffer from dyslexia and who have difficulty noticing their spelling mistakes. If you feel that you must make a comment on the quality of a posting, please do so by private email, not on the network.

In our loop we often talk about losing weight. Many members will write that they need to "loose weight." Other members will read the incorrect spelling of "lose" and cringe ... but it will be very poor Netiquette to write that person and say: It's "lose weight", Dummy, not "loose weight. Loose weight is that stuff that hangs off you after you LOSE weight."


Many people can have a signature added to their postings automatically Don't overdo it. Signatures can tell the world something about you, but keep them short. A signature that is longer than the message itself is considered to be in bad taste. The main purpose of a signature is to help people locate you, not to tell your life story. Every signature should include at least your return address relative to a major, known site on the network and a proper domain-format address. On The Recovery Loops it violates a guideline to use a commercial URL in your signature. So please don't.

These are just a few of things about Netiquette and some of them were given to me by our ONElist server. Others are specifically for our loops.


Never forget that the person on the other side is human.

Be careful what you say about others.

Be brief.

Your postings reflect upon you; be proud of them.

Use descriptive titles.

Think about your audience.

Be careful with humor and sarcasm.

Only post a message once.

Summarize what you are following up.

Read follow-ups and don't repeat what has already been said.

Be careful about copyrights and licenses.

Cite appropriate references.

When summarizing, summarize.

Don't use ALL capital letters.

Spelling flames are considered harmful.

Don't overdo signatures.

Keep coming back.


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