Mailing List etiquette

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This could turn out to be a random list of points. Any editing is more than welcome!

General Mailing List Etiquette

Posting Style

Post in plain text

  • Plain text messages are significantly smaller in size and can dramatically reduce mail server load when sending your message to thousands of subscribers.
  • Reduced message size helps people on dial-up connections or with limited email quotas.
  • Plain text can be interpreted by all mail clients.
  • Plain text rendering is consistent within a user's mail client. I don't care what font, font size, or color you like.
  • Plain text is easier to prune in responses than html text.

Bottom post

  • Bottom posting means adding your reply to the bottom of the previous message. This is easily achieved in most mail clients by pressing [Ctrl] and [End] before doing any other typing.
    The reason for this is best summed up in the following piece of text which one of the list members uses as his sig:
    A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
    Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
    A: Top-posting.
    Q: What is the most annoying thing on usenet and in e-mail?
  • An acceptable alternative to bottom posting is interleaving your responses with the previous message. This can help the flow of a message if the subject matter is complicated. If you do this, make sure that the previous message has each line prefixed with '>' or similar to denote that it is not your writing.
    • An optional method for formatting interleaved posts for easier reading is to leave 1 blank line between your text and what your responding to and two blank lines after your text and the next section of quoted text.

Trim your message

  • Always remove any unneeded parts of the previous message or thread. This always includes the footer and signature from the previous message.
  • If the previous message is long and complicated and you are replying to only one part, only include that part in your reply.
  • Less is more.

Message Content

  • Keep the Language Simple
    • Don't assume that list subscribers are native English speakers. Keep your message simple so that we all understand you.
    • Simpler messages are easier to read. Messages that are difficult to read or understand will get fewer and less helpful responses.

MythTV-users specific etiquette

  • Please don't cross post
    • Posts shouldn't be sent to both -dev and -users lists. If you're not sure which list is appropriate, start with -users until you're asked to move it to -dev.
  • Have you searched the mailing list archive?
    • The archive can be found at http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/mythtv/users/
    • To search it using Google, use this 'site:www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/mythtv/users/' as part of your Google search
    • Search http://google.com as well - there is a chance that your issue isn't a mythtv-specific issue and the answer to your question is out there. TIP: include "re:" in your search to look for responses. Answers and solutions are usually in responses.
  • Which version of Myth are you using?
    • Please state whether you are using version 0.18, version 0.18.1, 0.19, 0.20, etc.
    • If you are using a version from SVN then you must include the version number. To find the SVN version number you can use svn info while in the mythtv directory. The current version will be displayed, along with other information.
    • Aside from MythTV version, what other information might be helpful to include? It never hurts to include your distribution name and version. If you are using mythtv binary packages, include the binary distribution source/name and version numbers.
    • If your hardware or config details are unusual or noteworthy and you suspect that information may be pertinent, include it.
  • What have you done?
    • What steps have you carried out to isolate your problem? This helps other users to determine whether your your problem is hardware, software, driver or MythTV related.
    • How reproducible is your problem? Does this happen every time you use Myth, every time your system is under load, at a specific time of day, during a particular show, on a particular channel?
    • Refine your reproducible testcase to the simplest possible case. If more people can reproduce your problem, you're more likely to get help or a fix.
    • Include any relevant log file information like the output from mythbackend, output from mythfrontend, output from /var/log/messages, error message during compile. NOTE: Only include the relevant information. It's okay to trim mundane stuff out of logfiles.
    • Have you done any debugging of this? Can you generate a backtrace? When did it work last? What have you done since? Help us help you.
  • Have you forgotten something?
    • Always read your message several times before posting it. Think about all the things that might intersect with your problem. Have you looked at all of them?
    • Tell us what *research* you've already done and what you found... reference posts in the archives if they were helpful, or if they pointed you in a certain direction. You're more likely to get help if you demonstrate that you've already searched on google and gossamer-threads.
  • Use a descriptive subject line
    • "I have a problem with Myth!" is not a helpful title. "Mythfrontend crashes entering live TV with PVR500" is. The clearer and more specific your title is without being overly long will help people know what your email is about and will most likely result in a quicker reply.
    • If your message is off-topic (not having to do with MythTV directly) please begin your subject line with "OT:"
  • Finally, don't repost your message too soon
    • Although we all know that your issue is simply the most important thing on the planet, not everyone reads mythtv-users every hour, or even every day. It might be a few days before someone responds to your message.
    • If you do feel the need to remind the list about your message, then you should add what steps you've taken since your initial post.
    • Don't change the subject line, simply responding is enough to "bump" the message. If your original subject line is poor (see above) then you may want to change it to something more descriptive. This helps keep threads together and does not leave "hanging" threads in gossamer in search results.
  • Do not use the the mailing list for advertising
    • Isaac has stressed several times advertising is inappropriate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why don't we have a web based forum instead of this mailing list?

This is a question that comes up on a regular basis, so unless you have a fascinating new insight into the matter it's probably best not to bring it up. Basically there are pros and cons to both mailing lists and forums; however we have a mailing list because:

  • Many users prefer managing text only emails to the graphics, adverts etc., that are associated with forums.
  • Somebody would have to provide (i.e pay for) the bandwidth and servers needed to run a forum.
  • Web based forums are difficult to archive.
  • Most email clients such as Thunderbird (and Gmail if you like web based mail) can be configured to make dealing with mailing lists surprisingly easy.

There are two known web-based archives of the list:

  • Gossamer Threads if you really want a web-forum look-alike, or
  • Nabble for search, threading, and (with an account) posting via the web.

Why don't my emails appear on the list?

You've probably set your preferences so that you don't receive your own emails from the list. To change this you need to go to the mailing list options page. Fill in your email address and password. (Use the forgotten password link if necessary.) The fourth and fifth options in the table are the ones that you want to look at. You can also turn off list delivery for a while, for instance if you are going away for a while and don't want your Inbox filling up.

Additionally, if you are using Gmail, then your own posts to the list are hidden by Gmail. They have a page to explain why, but not how to turn it off.

Anything else I should be aware of?

Three good rules to follow are:

  1. Search the mailing list archives (Gossamer or Nabble) before asking a question.
    There's a wealth of information there. Also check out the MythTV Docs to see if your question is answered there. If you're new to mailing lists in general try to learn a bit about netiquette from a site such as this one.
  2. When starting a new topic (or thread) create a new email.
    If you just reply to an existing message and change the subject your message may get threaded under the message you are replying to. This is undesirable as many people will not even see your message.
  3. Make sure your email client is properly configured.
    If your email client generates a new thread when you respond to someone's email, then it is not properly configured. Thread-splitting is not appreciated.
    Replying to digest emails is also frowned upon. Please just subscribe and reply to individual messages.
  4. Try not to stray too far off topic.
    By all means tell us if you think something is of interest to the Myth Community, but requesting things like Gmail invites or informing us of the latest free Ipods.com offer is really not a good thing to do.