Arlington List FAQ

Arlington List Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Table of Contents

What are the basic rules of the list?

The list is a community of people gathering to interact with each other and help each other. It is requested that people treat each other with respect and civility. As owner of the list, I develop, maintain and enforce these rules, which are spelled out in the rest of this FAQ. Use of this list is subject to a couple of conditions:

1. You agree to follow the list rules as spelled out here
2. You agree that I am the final arbitor of the interpretation of these rule, and will accept my rulings on list matters,
3. You realize that I do not have detailed control over what is posted on the list, as I do not review every message before it reaches the list
4. Therefore, you will hold me, and those that help me, harmless for the material here, but will deal with the original poster.
5. If you can not agree to these rules, I ask that you leave the list.

Richard Damon

How do I subscribe to the list?

Go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and find the section called "Subscribing to Arlington." Enter your e-mail address, your real, full name, a password of your own choosing in both password fields, select digest mode if you like, then press the "Subscribe" button.

Your privacy is under your control. Note that you do not have to provide your real name to subscribe to the list, nor are you required to sign your postings with your real name (though it's strongly recommended). Also, no one else on the list can see your e-mail address or discover that you are a member of the list until you post a message to the list. Further questions about privacy are answered in 13.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How do I cancel my subscription to the list?

To cancel your subscription, you’ll need your list password. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it.

Then go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in".

On the page that appears next, find the section called "Unsubscribing from Arlington," enter your password, check the checkbox labeled "Yes, I really want to unsubscribe", and press "Unsubscribe".
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Why didn't my html ("rich text") message or attachments make it through to the list?

The list software filters out all the formatting and attachments, and delivers only the plain text part of your message. This keeps the digest version from becoming cluttered with HTML, and prevents viruses from being transmitted via the list.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How do I get my list password?

Go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button.

On the page that appears next, find the section called "Password reminder" and press "Remind".

Your password will be emailed to you.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

I have a new e-mail address and I'd like to switch my subscription. How do I do it?

(Note: if these instructions seem daunting, please feel free to email gro.tsilnotgnilra|nimda-notgnilra#gro.tsilnotgnilra|nimda-notgnilra, and I’ll take care of it for you!)

You’ll need your list password in order to proceed. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it.

To switch your subscription, do the following:

Visit http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter your e-mail address under which you are currently subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in".

On the page that appears next, find the section called "Changing your arlington membership information," enter your new email address in both fields, enter your full, real name if it is not already present, and press the "Change My Address and Name" button.

In a minute or two, you will receive a confirmation email at your new email address. In the email there will be a link. Click on the link, then on the page that appears, click the "Change Address" button.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What can I change about my list subscription?

You’ll need your list password to change any of your subscription options. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it.

You can disable mail delivery; you can switch between regular mode and digest mode; you can switch your digests between plain text and MIME; you can control whether you receive messages you send to the list; and you can control whether you receive acknowledgements when you send messages to the list. Also, there is an option to conceal yourself from the subscriber list, but it doesn't actually do anything, because I have set up the list so that no one can ever see the subscriber list at all.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Can I disable mail delivery for a little while without unsubscribing?

Yes! You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it.

Go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in".

On the next page, find the section called "Mail delivery," and click "Disabled." At the bottom of the page, press the "Submit My Changes" button.

When you want to turn delivery back on, follow the above instructions, except choose "Enabled" instead of "Disabled."
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

There are too many messages on this list! What can I do?

There are two solutions: (a) Digests; (b) Filtering into Folders. With digests, you get a few big messages each day that contain all the messages for that day, instead of getting them as individual messages throughout the day. You enable digests by changing an option on your list subscription. See A7 for details.

With filtering into folders, you direct all List messages automatically into a specific mail folder on your computer, instead of having them interspersed throughout your general mail in-box. You set this up in a way specific to your mail client or service (AOL, Eudora, Outlook Express, Yahoo Mail, HotMail, etc). A8 will soon contain instructions for setting up filtering into folders on many of the popular mail clients and services.

There are advantages to each method, but filtering into folders is best, if you're willing to take a bit more trouble to set it up.

When you receive the list as digests, you can no longer treat each message as an individual e-mail for surgical deletion and other operations. Replying to a digest message works if you want to post a reply to the list, but the subject of the reply becomes something like "[arlington] RE: arlington digest, Vol 1 #318 - 28 msgs". It's easy enough to change that manually to the true subject, but if you forget, or type it wrong, your readers may not realize which message you are replying to. Also, with digests, there's no convenient way to reply to the sender rather than the whole List. You'll have to copy and paste the recipient's e-mail address, or use another method.

Filtering into folders automatically places all your Arlington List messages in a specific, segregated place (folder) on your own system or account, as soon as each message arrives. There are just as many messages and they arrive all day long, but they aren't cluttering up any other folder, and there aren't any other messages cluttering them up. You can go look at them in their special folder — or not — when you choose.

In their special ArlingtonList folder, you can still work with each message as an individual e-mail, and do things like sort and mark the headers, delete individual messages, and whatever features your e-mail system provides. Perhaps most important, you can reply or reply-all to an individual post in the usual way.

Another advantage of not using digests is that you can filter out messages from particular individuals, should you wish to. Again, the method for doing that varies with the mail system you are using.

There's essentially no discernable difference in efficiency between digests and filtering into folders: both take about the same time to download and both occupy about the same amount of disk space.

Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How do I switch between regular mode and digest mode?

You can change your subscription so that instead of getting every message individually, you get one or two big messages each day that contains 25 or so messages at a time.

You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it.

Go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Edit Options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in".

On the page that appears next, find the section called "Set Digest Mode," and select "On." At the bottom of the page, press the "Submit My Changes" button.

If you want to turn digest mode off, follow the above instructions, except choose "Off" instead of "On."
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Why am I getting duplicate messages?

If you are occasionally getting duplicate messages, then it's likely happening when someone replies to one of your messages, and sends the message to both you and the list. You'll get one copy directly, and another one a few minutes later via the list. If you are getting every message in duplicate, then it's probably because you are subscribed twice. E-mail me and let me know, and I'll fix it. If you are seeing duplicate messages in the digest, it's probably not real duplication, it's probably that people are quoting previous messages and it just looks like duplicate messages. If you're convinced that the digest really has duplicates, let me know and I'll look into it.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How can I read archived list messages?

You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see above for instructions on how to get it.

If you are interested in reading back issues of the list, go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/archives and enter your list username and password, and you'll be able to read them month by month.

If you want to search the archives, please visit http://www.arlingtonlist.org/archives/search.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Can I get a virus from the Arlington list?

No. It is absolutely impossible for a virus to be transmitted via a message sent through the Arlington list. This is because the Arlington list software delivers only plain text, and filters out attachments and scripts, which is how viruses are delivered.

However, you can get a virus from any individual with whom you correspond by e-mail. So if you correspond with an individual on the Arlington list, you may receive a virus from that person. And there are viruses which pretend to be from people who are in the address book of the infected person. So you may receive a virus which appears to be from someone you know from the Arlington list, but is really from someone whose address book contained that person. In the same way, other people can get a virus which appears to be from you but is really from someone with whom you've corresponded.

It is also possible to get a virus from a web site, so if you click on a link contained in an e-mail, and you visit the web site that the link points to, and that web site is malicious, you may get a virus that way.

The bottom line: if you subscribe to the Arlington list but never correspond with anyone on the list or post to the list, and you never click on any links in e-mails posted through the list, there is no way you can get a virus either from the list or from anyone on the list.

Everyone should take measures to prevent virus infection: running virus-scanning software is one good way to do this.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What is the privacy policy of the list?

Here is the current privacy policy of the list. It describes your rights to your postings, the way the list software handles your private information such as your e-mail address, and the topic of anonymity.

Definitions:

* List owner: the person who runs the list, plus anyone who is designed to run the list while the list owner is on vacation or otherwise unavailable.
* Lurker: one who subscribes to the list but has never posted a message.
* Post: to send a message to the whole list by e-mailing the message to gro.tsilnotgnilra|notgnilra#gro.tsilnotgnilra|notgnilra
* Subscription: your voluntary agreement to receive Arlington list messages
* Subscription information: your e-mail address and certain preferences such as whether you receive individual messages or digest messages

You have the right to remain a lurker Until you post a message to the list, your identity as a member of the list is secret. The list software prevents other list members from knowing who is a member of the list. Only the list owner has access to the list membership records. The list owner will make best reasonable efforts never to reveal the existence of your subscription as long as you are a lurker.

You have the right to subscribe anonymously The only personally identifying information the list software stores about you as part of your subscription is your e-mail address, optionally your name, and some preference settings such as whether you prefer individual messages or digest messages. Other than your name, the list software does not store personal information about you other than that which is part of your e-mail address. There is no policy that requires you to provide your real name as part of your list subscription, and as long as you never post a message, you will never be asked for your name. If you post a message anonymously, you should expect that fellow list members will ask you for your name, because there is a general expectation among the list that providing your real name makes your words more credible and adds to the level of civility and community that we expect from each other. You will never be removed from the list by the list owner solely because of your anonymous status, but you may be removed from the list without prior notice if you anonymously post messages which violate list policy or otherwise cause harm to the list in the judgment of the list owner.

Personal information retained by the list software The list software retains your e-mail address, your name if you provide it, a number of non-identifying personal preferences such as whether you prefer individual messages or digest messages, and the contents of all messages you post to the list. No other information is retained. All messages you post to the list are archived and available to anyone who subscribes to the list. Your archive queries are stored and displayed only to you. The archives are protected from access by the Internet at large, but anyone may subscribe to the list and then access the archives. Information in the archives may not be modified.

Access to your subscription information Access to your e-mail address and your preferences is password protected, so others are prevented from accessing it. Only you and the list owner are allowed to access this information. This information will never be shared with anyone without your prior permission.

Risks of spam If you never post a message to the list, there is no way for anyone, whether a member of the list or not, to obtain your e-mail address, so there is no risk of getting spam as a result of your list membership. If you post a message to the list, it is possible, though unlikely, that another member of the list will use your e-mail address to send you spam, or will forward your message to someone else who use your e-mail address to send you spam. If you join the cast of characters, a public web page, you expose your e-mail address to the public, and your e-mail address may be obtained for the purpose of sending you spam.

Ownership of your postings By posting a message to the list, you retain your copyright but grant (1) a non-exclusive license to all list members to forward that message by e-mail to anyone, and (2) a non-exclusive license to the list owner to maintain an archive. These two rights you grant by posting to the list constitute the only exceptions to the normal protection afforded by the copyright you retain to your words, so any other use of an e-mail you send to this list requires your prior permission. Any use of your posting without your permission, beyond the two licenses granted here, is a matter between you and the person who uses your posting improperly, and you agree to hold the list owner harmless.

After you leave the list Your subscription information is destroyed when you leave the list. Archived messages previously posted by you are retained indefinitely and continue to be subject to the above "ownership of your postings" policy.

Best efforts of the list owner The list owner makes best reasonable efforts to enforce the above policies. However, the list software may contain defects which compromise your privacy, and the password protection of secret information may be compromised by a determined attacker. You agree to hold the list owner harmless in the event that your privacy is compromised.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Is this list moderated?

No, not in the technical sense of "moderated," which would mean that there is someone approving each and every message to the list. I manage the list, which means that I deal with subscriptions and answer questions, but I normally do not exercise any control over the content of the list beyond enforcement of the civility policies ("16").

Occasionally, it happens that non-members will try to post messages to the list without first subscribing. Those messages are sometimes ill advised, since they are sent without benefit of much knowledge about the list. When this happens, I suggest that the sender join the list first, read it for a while, and then decide whether they still want to send their message.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What is this list good for?

Here are just a few of the many good things that people use this list for.

* Asking for recommendations for plumbers, electricians, masons, and the like.
* Discussing town politics, current news and events, schools, and other Arlington-related issues.
* Finding and providing housing in Arlington.
* Selling or giving away used stuff.
* Advertising concerts, plays, dances, etc., which either take place in Arlington, or involve Arlington residents.
* Announcing breaking town news.
* Finding other people in town who are interested in the same things you are.

The Arlington list covers a wide range of topics. You will almost certainly find that some topics interest you more than others. You should skip over or delete messages or topics that don't interest you. Doing so will probably make the list much more interesting and useful to you. Don't be surprised if some days nothing seems of interest — topics you find more relevant will probably crop up again in a day or two!
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How do I help maintain civility on the list?

The Arlington list is a private forum managed and paid for by a volunteer. The mission of the list is to further civil online discussion in our town, and the purpose of these guidelines is to support that mission. Submitting postings to the Arlington list is a privilege granted to everyone without condition. However, posting freely and having your messages delivered immediately is a privilege earned by following these guidelines.

1. Do not make personal attacks on other list members. See 35 for more details on what constitutes a personal attack. 2. Do not repost to the list an e-mail you received privately, whether signed or unsigned, unless you have the author's permission to do so, or unless the message was obviously written with the intention of unlimited distribution. For the purpose of this guideline, "private" means "not posted to the Arlington list." 3. Sign your posts with your real, full name. See 26 for more details on what this means. 4. Stick to the topic of Arlington. This is especially important if you are posting about something controversial. See 36 for more details about what's on topic for the list. 5. Take the long, heated arguments with one or two other people to private email. 6. When posting on a controversial topic, take responsibility for guiding the discussion back towards civility, even if you don't think that others are doing the same.

Normally, everyone on the Arlington list is allowed to post anything they want, and their messages are delivered immediately without a chance for the list manager to see the messages first. However, if your postings violate these guidelines, then the list manager may contact you to discuss it. If, in the list manager's judgment, your postings continue to violate the guidelines repeatedly and with a lack of good-faith effort to improve, the list manager may choose to make your subscription moderated. The list manager will notify you in this case. Please also note that a new list member's subscription is moderated for the first few postings.

Having a moderated subscription means that when you post a message, it is not delivered to the list until the list manager approves the message (normally within 24 hours). If the list manager does not approve the message, you will be notified.

If you have been put on moderation and you want to be allowed to post freely again, write to the list manager.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What are some tips for writing better e-mails?

The principles that guide these tips are simple: we want our e-mail list to be interesting, civil, and manageable. Interesting means posts that are on-topic and make for good reading. Civil means posts that treat list members with respect, though it doesn't rule out a good argument once in a while. Manageable means fewer e-mails are better than more if they say the same thing. We all have enough noise in our lives.

PLEASE EDIT YOUR POST. When you reply to a message, please don't quote the entire previous message. Please take an extra few seconds to edit the amount of quoted material down to the bare minimum so that your reply will make sense. This especially helps the digest version of the list, where one long reply thread might fill a whole digest message.

CONSIDER ASKING FOR REPLIES TO GO TO YOU. If you're asking for a contractor reference, for example, you might consider asking people to e-mail you directly and offering to summarize the results. When you do this, you provide a very helpful service to the entire list, because you consolidate all the useful info into one message which can be saved if it's of interest, or skipped if it's not.

ASK YOURSELF: WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE? Think about whether your message is of interest to the whole list, or just the person you're replying to. If it's just the person you're replying to, consider sending it just to that person rather than the whole list. Note that when you reply to a list message, by default your reply will go to the individual person; if you want it to go to the whole list, you'll need to edit the "To:" field of your reply. In any case, please note who your reply is going to and make it a conscious decision.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Did someone just say something that annoyed the $#@! out of you? Don't you just want to write back to the whole list and tell them what you really think of them? Well, go ahead and write it! Just don't send it for a few hours or a day. Re-read it before you send it. Rewrite it so it's civil. We'll all appreciate your efforts.

WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK. I'm happy to answer questions of style, form, etiquette, or even spelling :-).
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How many subscribers are there?

As of July 1, 2006, there were about 2110 subscribers.

As of February 1, 2004, there were about 1,139 subscribers.

As of January 1, 2004, there were about 1,094 subscribers.

As of December 1, 2003, there were about 1,067 subscribers.

As of November 2, 2003, there were about 1,040 subscribers.

As of October 1, 2003, there were about 1,023 subscribers.

As of September 3, 2003, there were about 985 subscribers.

As of August 1, 2003, there were about 948 subscribers.

As of July 1, 2003, there were about 921 subscribers.

As of of March 1, 2003, there were about 794 subscribers.

As of February 4, 2003, there were about 767 subscribers.

As of January 5, 2003, there were about 740 subscribers.

Note: the number of subscribers is an estimate, because there are some people who are subscribed under multiple email addresses.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta), Peter Davis

Are commercial postings allowed?

You are allowed to make commercial postings to the Arlington list as long as they are relevant to Arlington and relatively infrequent. "Commercial" means that the primary purpose of your posting is to advertise something about your business or service — advertising to sell your car, for example, doesn't fall under this guideline unless that's your business. "Relevant to Arlington" means that, for example, your business or service is located in Arlington, or you live in Arlington, or your posting is very likely to be of wide interest to Arlington residents. "Relatively infrequent" means that postings from your business or service should occur no more often than every three months or so.

Since one of the primary uses of the Arlington list is for residents to exchange recommendations for and against local businesses, you should expect that advertising your business may spark discussion, both pro and con, about the business. Civil criticism of or concerns raised about your business will not normally be considered a personal attack.

These are guidelines, and, as always, the final judgment as to the appropriateness of a commercial posting rests with the list owner.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What is a list dinner?

List dinners are organized to help Arlingtonians meet one another and to enjoy a tasty meal. We have business owners, homeowners, renters, longtime residents, public officials, etc., who attend each month. The dinners are open to anyone on the list who lives in Arlington or who is interested in being with a room full of Arlingtonians.

The dinners are usually planned for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday starting at 6:30 or 7 p.m. We try to choose restaurants that are very vegetarian friendly. As for kids, when a post is sent to invite people to the dinners, it indicates whether or not it is a kid-friendly restaurant. We also do pot luck dinners at list member's homes and, occasionally, special venues such as the Medford Boat Club.

The check is split evenly as appetizers are often shared. People who order more food than the average pay a little more. We have name tags at each of the dinners, and you get a chance to meet those seated near you at the dinner. It is recommended to come more than once to get a chance to meet everyone at the dinners and to find those with whom you may have more in common.

If you have more questions or suggestions, you can send an e-mail to Linda Guttman at moc.apsluosdnaydob|adnil#moc.apsluosdnaydob|adnil, Dick Smith at moc.loa|htimxiD#moc.loa|htimxiD, or Margy Rydzynski at ten.nozirev|menygram#ten.nozirev|menygram.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What is the cast of characters and how do I add information about me?

The "cast of characters" is a web page where some list members have contributed brief bios. Everyone is welcome to contribute one! While it's strictly optional, it's a nice thing to do. See http://www.arlingtonlist.org/cast for more info.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How many posts a day are there? Who posts the most? How many people subscribe and unsubscribe?

These statistics and more are available, updated in real-time, on the statistics page: http://www.arlingtonlist.org/stats. In order to view this page, you will need your list e-mail address and password. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it.

Suggestions for other statistics are welcome; please send your ideas to gro.tsilnotgnilra|nimda-notgnilra#gro.tsilnotgnilra|nimda-notgnilra.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Why didn't my posting show up immediately?

Normally, messages are delivered to the entire list within ten minutes of being received by the list software. The list software wakes up and delivers messages every five minutes, so it usually takes at least a few minutes before you'll see a copy of your message come back to you.

Occasionally, the list software can get backed up, and delivery can be delayed for an hour or more. If you sent a message to the list and you didn't see it show up within a few hours, you should resend your message.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Can I change the size or frequency of the digest messages?

The digest version of the list is generated automatically by the list software. It is configured so as to make each digest message about 40K in size. This usually results in somewhere between one and four digest messages per day, depending on list volume.

I get a trickle of emails asking for the digests to be bigger, smaller, more frequent, and less frequent, so I think I've found a happy medium.

Though the digest is a popular form in which to receive the Arlington list — it is chosen by about half the subscribers — it also has its drawbacks: it's harder to search and reply to, and it's impossible to sort individual messages.

You might want to consider switching from the digest mode to individual messages, and setting up a rule in your mail program to file those messages in a separate folder instead.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Can I search the list archives?

Yes! The archives search page is located at http://www.arlingtonlist.org/archives/search. You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it.

Note: There is also a database of recommendations culled from the list, and you don't need your list password to access it! You can find it at http://www.arlingtonlist.org/Recommendations.php. It doesn't contain every message, just recommendations. Contact gro.tsilnotgnilra|retsambew#gro.tsilnotgnilra|retsambew if you would like to talk to a human about the recommendations database.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What is the list policy on anonymous posting?

Anonymous posting is allowed, but discouraged. Unless you have a very good reason not to sign your posts, please sign them with your real name. For the purpose of this policy, your real name means your full name, as it would typically appear on your driver's license, passport, credit card, or personalized checks.

Signing your posts with your real name means you stand behind your words. It means others on the list are more likely to take you seriously. And it means you are willing to be held accountable for what you say. In order for the list to be a good place to conduct civil discussion of important town issues, the large majority of posters must sign their real name.

At the same time, some people cannot post on certain topics under their real name without fear of losing their job, or jeopardizing their personal safety, or other reasons of a similar nature. So it is understood that allowing anonymous posting can be valuable, and we allow it for this reason.

It is all too easy, however, for the privilege of anonymous posting to be abused by someone who wants to vent their spleen without being held accountable. This behavior is not permitted.

Opinion on the list about anonymous posting is split. I get about equal amounts of mail saying that anonymous posting should be banned as that it should be allowed. So the compromise is as follows:

You are allowed to post anonymously if you have a good reason for it, and if you take care in your messages to avoid stirring things up. Anonymous postings that are argumentative, controversial, or uncivil will result in the poster's future postings being moderated (that is, individually approved by me). Messages from such a poster will be subject to being summarily rejected without notice.

This policy will generally only be enforced when it appears that the poster is abusing the privilege of anonymous posting. It will not usually be enforced when it is obvious that the message is only inadvertantly anonymous, for example when the poster forgets to sign a perfectly civil message.

By the way, if you sign your message with a false name, there is probably no way for me to know. However, there are over a thousand people on the Arlington list, so your friends and neighbors probably will know, unless you take care to use a different email address, and never give away any identifying details about yourself, and so on. In my experience this degree of deceit is unusual, and not worth worrying about for the purposes of the Arlington list. Grownups with integrity don't do it.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How do I send ("post") a message to the list?

Using your favorite email program, compose your message and then send it to the address gro.tsilnotgnilra|notgnilra#gro.tsilnotgnilra|notgnilra.

Many people find it helpful to create an entry in their address book for this address.

If you accidentally send it to another address at arlingtonlist.org, it will end up in my mailbox, and I'll write back to you with a fairly impersonal message letting you know. Please don't take it personally! Unfortunately, once the message has arrived in my mailbox, I can't cause it to be delivered to the list short of forwarding it, which would make it come from me instead of you.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Where are all the recommendations archived?

The Recommendation database was taken offline because it got too out of date. If someone wants to bring it back online, and is willing to help keep it updated, contact me. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How do I submit a recommendation?

The Recommendation database was taken offline because it got too out of date. If someone wants to bring it back online, and is willing to help keep it updated, contact me. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

How do I get my business to be listed in the recommendations database on the Arlington list web site?

The Recommendation database was taken offline because it got too out of date. If someone wants to bring it back online, and is willing to help keep it updated, contact me. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Why did my subscription mysteriously stop?

The most likely reason that your subscription stopped is that the list software detected that messages sent to your email address were bouncing. Perhaps your mailbox was full, or perhaps there were problems with your mail system.

You can re-enable your subscription yourself! You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it.

To re-enable your subscription, go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Edit Options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in".

On the page that appears next, find the section called "Disable mail delivery," and select "Off." At the bottom of the page, press the "Submit My Changes" button.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

Will I get more spam because of the Arlington list?

The short answer: probably not.

The longer answer: If you never post a message to the list, there is no way for anyone, whether a member of the list or not, to obtain your e-mail address, so there is no risk of getting spam as a result of your list membership. If you post a message to the list, it is possible, though very unlikely, that another member of the list will use your e-mail address to send you spam, or will forward your message to someone else who use your e-mail address to send you spam.

Note: If you join the cast of characters, a public web page, you expose your e-mail address to the public, and your e-mail address may be obtained for the purpose of sending you spam. Email addresses are obfuscated on this page, which reduces the chance of them being used for spam, but it's still possible. See also 21.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

I had a bad experience with a local business. Is it okay for me to post about it?

Yes, but take great care. Arlington list subscribers are by and large just as interested in knowing about negative experiences with local businesses as about positive ones. However, a local business thrives on its good reputation, and it's all too easy for it to become tarnished. So please take great care in writing about a bad experience.

Here are some guidelines:

* Stick to the facts.
* Try to imagine what happened from the business's perspective, and take that into account in your story.
* Be sure of your motives. If you think others will truly be helped by your story, that's fine; but if you're just blowing off steam, maybe writing the message was sufficient and actually sending it isn't necessary.
* Remember that there are over a thousand members of the Arlington list, so what you say can really have an effect.
* Many local business owners are on the list, and it's of great value to the list that so many local busines owners care enough about what we think to take the time and effort to read and participate.

Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

If I have a concern about the way the list is run, or an idea for how to make it better, and I'd like to discuss it, what should I do?

Join the Arlington List Governance list and post your concern or idea there! The Arlington List Governance list (a-l-g) is for discussing the way the Arlington list is being run, for voicing concerns about the list, for suggesting new ideas, and so on.

To subscribe to this list, visit http://four.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/arlington-list-governance and enter your email address.

To post to the a-l-g list, send your message to gro.tsilnotgnilra|ecnanrevog-tsil-notgnilra#gro.tsilnotgnilra|ecnanrevog-tsil-notgnilra. You must first join before you will be allowed to post.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What is the list policy on personal attacks?

We strive to maintain a civil atmosphere for discussion on the Arlington list. One of the cornerstones of civility is the expectation that you can say controversial things and not be attacked personally for them. So the list policy is that personal attacks are never allowed.

What is a personal attack?

A personal attack is a message, posted in the context of an argument, in which the poster makes unfriendly remarks about another list member instead of addressing the specific points made by that list member.

A personal attack often takes the form of a comment such as, "you have no idea what you're talking about," an insult such as "based on your postings I can see that you're incompentent," or a rhetorical question such as, "how hypocritical can you be?"

The "no personal attacks" rule is intended to apply primarily in the case of messages and responses on the list. Personal attacks on someone not known to be a list member, such as the proprietor of a local business or a public figure, are similarly discouraged, but are not specifically part of this policy.

Similarly, attacks on the list as a group, such as "you're all a bunch of nincompoops on this list," are discouraged, but not specifically part of this policy.

OK, what should I do instead?

Here's the scenario: someone's made a provocative statement on the list, and you're trying to find the right words with which to rebut it. "You fool!" No… "You idiot!" No… Then what?

You will never go wrong if you stick to the rule, "seek first to understand, then to be understood." If someone posts something that makes you really angry or upset, try if you possibly can to give them the benefit of the doubt — perhaps there's still the possibility that there's something to be learned from them. Try asking questions designed to help you understand them better. If you're sure you understand them, at least try asking questions designed to lead them toward the contradictions that are so obvious to you.

If you're ready to give up on seeking to understand, you might consider simply ignoring them. Perhaps you feel you can't bring yourself to let a provocative statement "stand unchallenged." But the readers of the Arlington list know better than to assume that everyone agrees with an unchallenged provocative statement. Often the person making the provocative statement is just hoping to get a rise. You don't have to take the bait.

If after all you feel compelled to write back to them, at least make sure you address their specific comments. Quote the relevant portions of their message, and address their comments directly. If you must respond, "This is a crazy thing to say" is a lot better than "you're crazy."

What are the consequences of posting a personal attack?

If you post a personal attack, you may receive a message from the list manager titled "No personal attacks", which will quote your message and ask you to refrain from making personal attacks. Such a message from the list manager will always be private, never copied to the Arlington list; public humiliation is unseemly and ineffective.

Please note that under normal circumstances the list manager does not see messages before they are delivered, and can only deal with personal attacks after the fact.

Also please note that the list manager doesn't always have time to read every message posted to the list, and doesn't always recognize a personal attack even when it's in front of his face. So some personal attacks may not result in a follow-up email from the list manager. List members are always encouraged to point out to the list manager anything that they feel is a personal attack.

How come my posting was singled out for a "no personal attacks" follow-up email from the list manager?

Since all follow-up emails are sent privately, there's no way for you to tell whether others on the same thread are getting follow-up emails. Please assume that you're not being singled out based on whether the list manager agrees with you or not. The "no personal attacks" policy is enforced as fairly as possible, and in particular a "no personal attacks" follow-up email does not mean the list manager is taking sides in the argument.

What should I do if I get a "no personal attacks" email from the list manager?

First and foremost, please try to take it in the spirit in which it was intended: as part of an ongoing effort to keep the list civil. It doesn't represent any sort of judgment against you personally.

Some of the terms in the definition of a personal attack, such as "argument" and "unfriendly," are obviously subjective and open to interpretation. So a thoughtful and considered reply to the list manager is always welcome. In particular, if the list manager's explanation of why your message was considered a personal attack doesn't satisfy you, you're always welcome to ask questions.

What are the consequences of posting repeated personal attacks?

In the past, the list policy was "three strikes and you're out." This rule has been abandoned in an effort to discover if civility can be maintained without threats. So other than increasingly stern warnings, there are currently no other consequences enforced by the list manager.

However, you can easily destroy your reputation on the list by posting repeated personal attacks, and it won't be long before few people are reading any of your postings.

Note: the above applies only to messages signed with the poster's full, real name. Anonymous personal attacks may result in banning without warning. See 26 for more information about anonymous posting.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

What is on topic for the Arlington list?

(Please note that this is a new policy in an area where many people disagree, so this policy is likely to be revised a number of times before it settles down. Please check back again to see what revisions may have taken place.)

People join the Arlington list, and stay despite the high volume and wide range of topics, because they are interested in the topic of Arlington. This policy provides guidance about how to stay on topic, and explains how the list manager handles threads that veer off topic.

Staying on topic is often difficult, and it is understood that there can be no hard and fast rules that everyone would be able to apply exactly the same way and get exactly the same results. Instead, staying on topic requires good judgment, which comes only with practice. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are writing a message. When you can answer "yes" to these questions, you are probably headed in the right direction.

* "Is my message about Arlington?" If your message is very clearly and totally focused on Arlington politics, Arlington schools, Arlington restaurants – Arlington people places or things in other words – it's on topic.

* "Is my message likely to be of wide interest to a large group of people who are here because they want to learn about and discuss Arlington?" If you feel confident that the answer to this question is yes, then your message is very likely to be on topic, even if it is not about Arlington per se. For example, messages about a neighboring town, or about a state-wide map database that includes maps of Arlington, or about a chain of stores that's coming to Arlington, are probably all on topic.

* "Is my message an attempt to draw on the resources of my community?" In other words, if you live in Arlington and you are asking for help from or providing information to what you feel to be your community, then your message is probably on topic, even if the focus isn't on Arlington itself. For example, if you are inviting people from your town to a national political event, or you are asking your neighbors how they are handling some aspect of the state tax form, or you’re looking for the best route to Logan Airport, it's probably on topic even if the focus is not Arlington.

* "Does my message avoid changing the subject?" When you reply to a message and you change the focus substantially, you may be going off topic. For example, if a list member posts a message inviting neighbors to a national political event, and you reply with a message that focuses on national politics instead of neighbors, you may not be staying on topic.

* "Does my message avoid violating any of the other list policies?" If your message contains a personal attack or the text of a private email, it’s not on topic even if it otherwise would have been. If your message is of a commercial nature, please see the policy on commercial postings ("19").

It is not unusual for a discussion thread to drift from its original focus on Arlington into other territory – philosophy, political parties, technical matters of law, definitions of words, and so on are common directions of drift. This sort of drift is only natural, and it takes a conscious effort to bring the focus back to Arlington. If you make that effort, your fellow list members will appreciate it.

If a thread that was originally on topic goes off topic, the list manager may choose to end the thread. Ending the thread means that the list manager posts a message to the list with the subject "Thread is off topic and has been ended (was " followed by the subject of the thread being ended. The list manager may also adjust the list software so that messages on that thread will be held for approval instead going through immediately without approval as they normally do. Not all off-topic threads are created equal: an off-topic thread about boating is not likely to be as disruptive to the list as an off-topic thread about a controversial and provocative topic. So the list manager will exercise judgment as to which threads need to be ended. Please trust that the list manager is choosing which threads to end in a fair and objective manner, based on the potential level of disruptiveness, and not on any personal preferences or viewpoints the list manager may hold.
Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

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