ADMIN: Responsibilities

Subject: ADMIN: Responsibilities
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 06:51:48 -0600


<Medium long rant, plus a related sidebar, plus the
responsibilities message.>

Please take a minute to review the TECHWR-L
Responsibilities message below. In the interest
of keeping the list pretty focused and
information-dense, I'd ask that you review
these whenever you post.

I'm mentioning this now because of the message
earlier today about finding a free WYSIWYG
HTML editor. While the posting per se cannot
really be considered off-topic, this certainly
seems to be a pretty extreme example of
asking first and researching later--thus asking
TECHWR-L list members to do your homework
for you.

Why do I say that? First, there's a free WYSIWYG
HTML editor bundled with both of the major
Web browsers, so there's a really good chance
that the person with the question already has
the software installed. I found at least two more
freeware WYSIWYG editors on a software site,
and some of the major code-based editors have
either a preview mode or allow you to edit either
code or formatted pages (don't know for sure if
any of those are free).

I'm not expanding on this to embarrass the
original poster, but do think it's a very clear
illustration of a case in which a little research on
the part of the person with the question would
have gone a long way.

Had the question been about recommendations
for the most powerful/easiest to use/cleanest
HTML code editor, my reaction would be somewhat
different, as those are questions that effectively
use this information resource.

<Sidebar/Continued Responsibilities Rant>
I find postings that castigate the list members for
"not following directions" incredibly self-centered.
If you're posting a question, you're asking other people
for help. Attaching "conditions" to that help that
the posters must follow is quite self-serving,
and criticizing those who helped you by telling
them that they didn't do it "properly" is

If I post a question to a discussion forum,
I'm asking other people to take time from
their projects to help me with my problem.
Thus it doesn't seem unreasonable for me to
gratefully accept any help offered, in the
spirit in which it was given, and simply smile
and move on past help that doesn't quite
hit the mark (perhaps because I wasn't clear
in _my_ message). If I would prefer to have
responses come to a specific email address,
I might ask for that, but if they don't--oh well,
at least someone tried to help with my problem.
If it's critical that messages come to a specific
address, I should post from that one and not
mention any others.
<End Sidebar/Rant>


--31 July 1998--


To Other List Members
To Yourself
To Listowner

In the ongoing effort to make this list as useful
as possible, I've recast the Posting Rules (which
do still exist) in terms of responsibilities in a
number of areas--I think this offers a more
constructive way of looking at the list and can,
I think, help make things run a little more
smoothly. Additionally, this reflects my
philosophical view of how the list _should_ run--based
on responsibilities, not explicit rules.

With that...


* Make sure that the list continues to run and
be a valuable information resource. This
includes stopping inappropriate discussions
and silencing posters who cannot or will not
respect other list members' needs and time.
* Help members and potential readers learn about
and use the list.
* Help members with administrative problems, like
changed email addresses or similar issues.
* Handle off-topic messages, spam, and inappropriate
or unprofessional messages, through either
private or public means, as needed.
* Forward (anonymously and confidentially) questions
and messages for the list that could be
career-limiting or embarrassing if the name of
the poster were known. Sending private replies
back to the original poster is unfortunately not


To Other List Members:

* Be nice. Attack ideas, not personalities, and
stay nice in off-line commentary as well.
* Be concise and clear in your postings, and
edit unnecessary content before sending.
* Stay focused on the topic. Other people didn't
subscribe to this list for anything other
than professional discussions about
technical communication, and it's your
responsibility to do everything in your
power to remain focused on that topic.
* Post only appropriate messages. If it's not
clearly about technical communication, it's
not appropriate for this list, regardless
of how critical or vital it may seem to
you. Make the connection explicit if necessary.
* Respect other people's time. If the correct
usage/word/information is in a standard
reference book that you have, look it up
rather than asking 4000 other people to
look it up for you. If you've already done
your homework, then say so explicitly.
* Post only accurate information. If you're posting
verifiable technical information, tips, or
instructions, take the time to ensure that
they're accurate. If you don't have the time to
ensure that your message is completely accurate
using authoritative sources, don't post it.
* Use the archives and don't post questions
that have been beaten to death recently.
If it's been posted, it's in the archives,
so don't ask others to do the archive
research for you.
* Remember that few absolutes exist--for every
_rule_ of technical communication that you
have always followed, someone else always
follows a contradictory rule. What you post is
usually an opinion, and will be better
received when presented as one.
* Fix your email problems on your own or with the
help of the listowner. The other list members
have better things to do than to delete your
test message.

To Yourself:

* Remember that your postings go to potential
employers, co-workers, and friends. Additionally,
they're archived forever in several places.
* Post valuable messages. I know of well over 100
list members who have gotten jobs as a direct
or indirect result of their techwr-l postings,
and they're all people who send substantive,
well-thought-out, constructive contributions.
(Yes, these are the people who post the messages
that you print out and file.)
* Post good questions. Although there is truth in the
old saw about "the only dumb question is the one
unasked", posting the same question that was
addressed at length in each of the last 4 weeks
(and thus answered at length in the archives),
is a dumb question.
* Learn to use your email program well, including
taking advantage of mail filtering, searching,
sorting, and filing features. Send only plain
text messages and no attachments to the list.
* Learn to use archives and online resources
effectively, both for technical communication
information and for other information.

To Listowner:

* Keep the list instructions and use them.
* Keep the list rules and follow them.
* Contact the listowner if you have problems,
questions, or issues.
* Send list messages to the list, send administrative
messages, questions, commentary, or complaints
to the listowner.

* Eric J. Ray, ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com,
* TECHWR-L Listowner, co-author _Mastering HTML 4.0_
* _HTML 4 for Dummies Quick Reference_, and others.
* Looking for new consulting projects--please query if interested.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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