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I've found the safest way to be polite on the list is similar to the safest
way to be polite in a mixed face-to-face group that includes people you
don't know. Simply BE AWARE that what you're saying could be
misinterpreted. If you're very careful to say exactly what you mean, and
in a way that allows for civil disagreement, you'll be OK. At least, it
seems to have been working for me.
Couple of basic rules I try to follow:
1) Disagree publically, flame privately. IMHO, the net is no place for
"Jane, you ignorant slut" arguments ala Point/Counterpoint from Saturday
Night Live. Basically, if it's something you would say to a person's face
in public, then post it. If it's something you would probably only say to
their face in private, send private email. If it's something you would
never say to their face at all, don't say it.
2) Before sending what may be a controversial post regarding someone else's
post, ask yourself:
o is it true?
o is it nice?
o is it necessary?
If you can answer "yes" to two out of the three, it's probably ok to post
or send privately.
For example, unsubscribing with a message ("What a bunch of drivel!") may
be true, but it is neither nice nor necessary. If you want off the list,
I find myself writing a lot of flames (to vent, you understand), then not
sending them and deleting them. I still get it out of my system, but no
one else has to read it.
Generally flaming on this list occurs when someone makes a HUGE nettiquette
error in someone's eyes or when someone posts something that someone else
sees as an attack. So if you try not to assume it's an attack, or
something posted specifically to aggravate you, you won't be tempted to
flame (if you are to start with). Bear in mind this advice is coming from
a person with a temper about a long as an en dash, so I HAVE tried this at
home. If you write your posts with an eye toward careful clarity, you'll
probably avoid being flame-bait (which is not to say that I buy the idea
that "anyone is asking for it"). Strong personal opinion is fine, again,
IMHO, as long as you make it clear that it is your opinion, and not The
Truth handed down from on high.
Hope this helps all the new lurkers and posters. I've been on since
November, and the strategies I listed here seem to be working for me. Of
course, anyone is free to tell me they haven't been -- I'm happy to adjust.
Director, Region 8 Conference
bgraham -at- electriciti -dot- com