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Web Voyager

By Ellen Highland Fernandez

Current Column

Netiquette, Mailing Lists and News Groups

One of the nicest features about the Internet is the ability to send electronic messages. With e-mail, you can send notes to friends and colleagues, request information, and participate in special interest discussions. There will be times when you are cruising the web and you want to send the webmaster a note or request more information.

Here are some tips to help you become a better e-mail correspondents.

1. Take time to think through your letter. Try to use correct spelling and plan your thoughts. Once you press the send button, your letter is gone and may appear in another's mailbox in a matter of seconds.

2. Use the subject line of the letter. Don't leave it blank. Try to give an idea of what your letter is about. It will help ensure that your letter is among the first read. Some people receive hundreds of letters a day. If it is important that your letter be read, don't just say "important", tell why in three words or less.

3. When replying to another's letter, you can copy parts of the letter and include it in your response. It is not always necessary to include the other's letter. If you feel it is necessary, place your response before the other's letter so he/she does not need to wade through something he/she wrote and already read.

4. Feel free to use a signature file. But keep your signatures brief. A signature file usually contains your name and contact information. It may include something about you like your favorite quote or your job title. Avoid using drawings and other "cute" items which just take up space.

5. Remember, whatever you put in writing can have a long life span. Don't send notes you may regret.

6. Use caution when sending attached files. Be sure the person you are sending them to wants them. In general, if you should receive an unsolicited attached file or a file from someone you do not know, delete it. A file must be executable and then opened (executed) for it to pass on a virus.

Mailing Lists and News groups

Mailing lists are electronic publications routinely e-mailed to a list's subscribers. The lists are usually free and are a great way for people to share ideas and views on a common interest.

Be aware that you can receive a hundred or more letters a day from a busy list.

When looking for a list to join, you can search the web for lists. Go to the major search engines and type in "mailing lists" and your subject interest. For information on search engines see the Webvoyager columns "How to find information on the web" Part 1 and Part 2. You can also try these web sites: Search the List of Lists , Liszt , and Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists .

Upon joining a list, you will receive a letter telling you how to post to the list, how to unsubscribe, other mailing list commands, and the FAQ. Print out the letter and file it in a safe place so you will know how to post, enter commands, and unsubscribe when the time comes.

News groups or usenets are similar to mailing lists except that the postings do not come through electronic mail. You subscribe to the group and read the postings via a news reader. To find a news group, use a search engine and enter "Usenet" and your subject interest. You can also try Search for an Usenet Group and Browse a Usenet Group by Category and FAQ .

In checking out a list or usenet, look for the FAQ. FAQs are frequently asked questions. They are usually posted on the list at regular intervals. Often the list will also have a web site where the FAQ can be found. This will save you from asking the same questions everyone else has asked and will give you a general overview of the list.


Netiquette is etiquette on the net. There are some basic rules of manners for the Internet. Proper netiquette is especially important when utilizing a mailing list or usenet.

When you join a list, spend some time "lurking" or observing the postings before placing a note on the list. In this way, you learn how the group operates and are better able to make a viable contribution when you are ready to participate in a discussion. A person who is new to a list is called a "newbie".

It is easy to get passionate about a certain topic and want to express your views in a strong manner. Some people will "flame" others on the list. This means they will say something nasty. If you should ever get flamed, the best thing to do is to simply ignore it. Otherwise you can find yourself involved in a senseless and hurtful exchange.

If you want to give a particularly angry response, my advice is to write it out first (not in your e-mail program), print it and read it the next day to be sure you feel the same. Odds are, you will have experienced a catharsis by the act of writing and, by the next day, will have cooled down quite a bit.

Before joining a list or group, check out The Netiquette Home Page and

Zen and the Art of the Internet so you can be a polite and welcomed member of the group.

As you voyage down the cyber-path, you are encouraged to send me your ideas for topics you would like to see discussed and to share your favorite links. Send correspondence to me at: e-mail: Webmaster@cpubco.com, via post: Web Voyager, Ellen H. Fernandez, PO Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302, or through our web site. Phone: 626-1466.

EDITOR'S NOTE Ellen Highland Fernandez is the Webmaster for Clarksburg Publishing Company's site and her column appears on the first and third Sundays every month in the Sunday Exponent-Telegram

Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302 USA
Copyright © Clarksburg Publishing Company 1997