International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries

Listserv Etiquette

A listserv is a communication tool that offers its members the opportunity to post suggestions or questions to a large number of people at the same time. When you submit a question or something that you want to share to the listserv, your submission is distributed to all of the other people on that list.

The IATUL listserv targets University Libraries in general and Universities offering graduate programs in science and engineering in particular.

Ten tips for sending messages
1. When responding to a listserv, keep your messages brief.
2. Include a portion or a summary of the message you are responding to.
3. Stick to the topics intended for discussion on the listserv.
4. Don't use all upper cases when writing. This is thought of as shouting.
5. Have an opening and closing in your message such as dear and bye
6. Be careful when using humour in your messages.
7. Don't send meaningless messages with no content, such as "I agree!"
8. Identify yourself. This could be your first and last name and your institution.
9 Avoid flaming individuals on the listserv. If you have a conflict with an individual, settle it by private e-mail messages.
10. Don't be critical of people's queries posted to the listserv. Many people are new to the listserv. Send them a private message and "gently" make suggestions if you think it is warranted. We're here to learn, share, and grow from each other.

Management Tips
Check Your E-mail Daily Regardless of how the IATUL listserv shares information with the group, you need to make a commitment to check your e-mail daily. Remember that the webserver that stores your incoming e-mail messages only has so much disk space.

Following Threads of Discussions
By signing up with IATUL listserv, you are not obligated to respond to all messages, or to any message. Pick and choose the topics that interest you. Look at the subject line of the incoming messages to see which thread of discussion is being addressed in that message. If this listserv works well, several different threads of discussions will be ongoing at one time.

Help When You Can
The purpose of Listservs is to share information. Help individuals in a query whenever you can, because someday you may want help locating information. Sometimes it is better to respond to just an individual rather than sending your message to the entire listserv group.

Unsubscribe If You'll Be Gone
If you plan on being gone for more than a week and will be unable to check your e-mail, you should unsubscribe from the list then you can resubscribe when you return.

Use a Meaningful Subject Line
When people receive mail from a listserv, one of the first pieces of information they look at is the subject line. Most people will keep the same subject line when they respond to a particular thread of discussion. Some people will delete unread messages simply because the subject line announces a topic that they are not interested in. This saves time for many people. If you subscribe to a high volume listserv, you'll appreciate those messages that have clear, meaningful subject lines.

No Attachments
Never send attachments with e-mail messages to individuals or to the listserv without prior permission from the recipient.

Cross Posting
If you are posting the same message to several Listservs, at the beginning of your messages state, "This message has been cross posted to (names of other Listservs)."

Attachment: A file or group of files which is attached to an e-mail message and sent to a recipient.
Flaming: This is when people send insulting, abrasive, or threatening remarks.
Moderated List: A mailing list or newsgroup in which submissions are edited before being posted to the group.
Spamming: This is the practice of sending unsolicited commercial e-mail messages in bulk or purposely overloading someone's mailbox with messages.
Threads: A group of e-mail messages that are all responding to one original e-mail message.
Emoticon: A text-based icon created from the keyboard to give your e-mail message some emotional flavour.

:-) Smiley

;-) Winkey smiley

:-> Devilish grin

:-( Frowny face

8-) User wears glasses

(-: Left handed smiley

:-{) User has a mustachio

[:-) User is wearing a walkman

%-) User's been staring at the screen too long

Frequently Used Acronyms: Often seen in e-mail messages, this is another way for expressing emotional flavour to messages.

AFAIK                  As far as I know
BTW                    By the way
FYI                      For your information
HTH                     Hope this helps
IMHO                   In my humble opinion
IMO                     In my opinion
IOW                    In other words
LOL                     Laughing out loud
ROTFL                 Rolling on the floor laughing
{g}                     Grin
{BG}                   Big grin 

For more on network etiquette see the Web version of the book Netiquette by Virginia Shea, published by Albion Books