mactalk Guidelines

Explanation

mactalk is a Mailing List, which provides a platform for discussions via email. YMUG members can “subscribe” to this email list without charge.

(It is not a “forum” in the Internet sense of “web site where messages can be posted”.)

A Mailing list provides “one to many” communication; in other words, each email message is sent to many people – unlike ordinary email which is generally “one to one”.

Because the mactalk mailing list is used to communicate with many people and is mainly used to request help, it is necessary to establish guidelines to improve communication. Some of the guidelines must be enforced as rules (distinguished by “MUST” in the text, below), otherwise confusion and annoyance will prevail. Any subscriber who infringes a rule could receive a private warning from The Committee. If the infringements continue, The Committee may decide to take action – for example, the infringing member might lose the right to post to mactalk, either for a limited period or indefinitely.

The views expressed on mactalk are the member’s own views and don’t necessarily represent the views of YMUG or The Committee.

Guidelines

  1. You MUST treat all members with respect. Do not post inflammatory or derogatory remarks about a specific member or members. Any complaints should be sent privately to a committee member and The Committee will act as arbitrators whose decision is final.

  2. When replying to a message you MUST include the bare minimum of information from that message as a properly formatted “quotation”, followed by your response. It is also acceptable to “interlace” your responses to more than one phrase or paragraph. You MUST NOT “top post”; in other words, you MUST NOT type your response then follow it with the entire previous message below. (There are several reasons for this rule which will be explained separately.)

  3. Once sent, a message can not be recalled. Therefore, to avoid any embarrassment or misunderstanding, you should check your message carefully for mistakes before sending.

  4. Each new discussion topic or request for assistance should be sent with a unique and relevant Subject (title). For example: “Mac Mini dead Power Supply.”

  5. When you reply to a post you should click on “Reply” to ensure continuity of Subject line.

  6. When you begin a new topic you MUST NOT start by clicking on “Reply” from a previous topic. Instead, you must click “New” to begin a new, blank message, then type the Subject line and your message and send it to mactalk@ymug.org

There are good, technical reasons for doing it this way (to support “threading”), which are explained below.

  • Each new question topic should include complete information, as explained below under “Asking for Help”.

  • You may advertise goods for private sale to members by sending a new message. The message subject should include [AD] separated by spaces so that subscribers can use a rule to filter out adverts if they so wish. The message body should include a complete description of the goods and the price. You should also state the (UK) postage and/or state “collection only” from (and the name of your nearest town). Items unrelated to Apple products may be advertised.

If you don’t wish to state your price but prefer to accept offers, please set up an auction on eBay or similar and post details and a link to the auction. Please include the statement “This is an auction and you may be bidding against other YMUG members”.

Alternatively, you can declare an item for sale and request offers – OFF LIST – i.e. not via mactalk but direct to the member. You MUST make it clear via the mactalk list when such items have been disposed of.

  • As with all email, messages to the mactalk mailing list might be read by people who are not subscribers. You are advised to be cautious about disclosing personal details. It’s easy, for example, for bad people to associate your address from one post with “I’m off on holiday on the 18th” from another post.

  • Messages which are unrelated to Apple products are generally acceptable but the Subject line MUST include [OT] separated by spaces so that subscribers can use a rule to filter out such messages if they so wish. Don’t omit those [ ] square brackets.

  • Do not send basic “Thank You” messages to the list. If one member posted something that deserves thanks, please email him/her direct OFF LIST. There is no need to swamp the entire list with messages containing nothing more than “thanks, Mary”.

However, it would be useful if you type a brief synopsis of the hardware/software, symptoms and the solution, plus your “thanks”, then we’ve got everything relevant in a single, final message. Previous messages can then (if desired) be deleted by any recipient who wants to keep only the salient points. This method obviates the need to search back to determine exactly what the symptoms were and what was suggested.

  • If including a link, please state the nature of the link – i.e. what it’s about. Otherwise, you are expecting 200 people to click on it and maybe only 10 will be genuinely interested. This means that the web site in question gets its bandwidth used up for no purpose and those who are uninterested may be annoyed – especially if it’s a link to a “Flash” movie that won’t play on, for example, an iPad.

Note A: Some of the “rules” do NOT apply to off-topic [OT] messages, where rambling, contention and levity is encouraged. Please use your common sense.

Note B: Any member who persistently ignores the guidelines (which are to the benefit of all) will be “put on moderation”. This means that each of his/her messages sent to the list will be delayed until a committee member has read and approved it (or rejected it).

Asking for help:

Doing it this way makes it more likely that you’ll receive a useful answer:-

  • State what you are trying to achieve.

  • State why you are trying to achieve it.

  • State what you have already tried.

  • List make, model, software version etc.

  • State the exact error messages or symptoms that you observed.

  • DO NOT refer to your inanimate device as if it were human. For example DO NOT state that “My TV/computer wouldn’t let me …”. This is totally unhelpful. State exactly what you did (e.g. pressed a specific button sequence) and what you observed (e.g. a red flashing light, error message, three beeps).

  • Do write understandable English: start a sentence with a capital letter and end it with a full stop (US “period”). Check spelling. Include a brief description of your problem in the Subject line and repeat it in the message body. (Don’t limit the description to something obvious such as “Need help!!!”.)

  • Check units – e.g. don’t type “Gb” (Gigabits) if you mean “GB” (GigaBytes, which are 8 times larger). Don’t type “MB” (Megabytes – a measurement of size) if you mean “Mbps” (Megabits per second – a measurement of data transmission speed).

Providing complete information is most likely to result in the best solution (and sometimes that really is “don’t do it”).

Providing incomplete or incorrect information will greatly increase the chances of your being asked “why” or of being told “don’t”. Avoid getting yourself into the position of having to write “I already tried that” or “I forgot to mention…”. Nothing will annoy your helper more! Always included FULL details of what you already tried.

In short, plan your report and question carefully; check for mistakes; make it easy to understand. It may be easier if you type it in a simple word-processor first, check it, save a copy, then paste it into the email or forum message window.

Thread

Apple Mail is able to “Organize by thread” when you select that option. It’s useful because it attempts to keep together all posts about the same subject. To do this, it looks in the hidden email header for a specific code associated with the discussion. Where it sees that code, it assumes that the post is part of the same discussion. In the absence of a code (e.g. when someone on “digest” replies) then Apple mail will go by the “Subject” line instead.
However, if someone clicks on “Reply” then alters the Subject line, Apple mail will STILL associate the new post with the existing discussion. Consequently, unrelated messages get mixed in with the original discussion.