Talk:Posting guidelines

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This page includes various old email postings that were the original statements (in recent memory at least) of the guidelines now stated on the actual page Posting guidelines. It is kept here as it explains the reasoning behind some of the guidelines.

Rationale for posting guidelines

On appropriate quoting

Various lists have different expectations. It is expected on this list that responders will quote just enough to give context to whatever new comments are being added. This makes for more efficient use of the list and shows consideration for those on the list that pay by the minute to access mail and/or by the bit transferred. If folks need help to know how to best use their email software of choice to reply and edit replies, ask. Always edit out the list footer info on how to unsubscribe as it will be added to each new post. If Gmail (or any other software) simply does not allow quoted text to be edited, we will make allowances. If it is simply inconvenient to do so, remember the few moments you take will be appreciated hundreds and thousands of times over by the readers of your post to this list. - Brian B, May 9, 2006

On top posting

It is not an expectation on this list that folks will bottom post or interleave postings. I think a very strong case can be made that bottom posting is desirable. I won't rehash all the pros here but do want to mention two things - top posters also tend to be the ones not to edit quoted material (see above) and a mixture of top and bottom posting makes it very hard on those who follow the thread in the digest form of this list. I don't object to a thoughtful reminder such as the one Jon gave us but I will not come down on anyone who top posts. I will follow up with those who habitually fail to edit quoted material. - Brian B, May 9, 2006

On and off topic

OT stands for Off Topic. It is a long standing designation for that from other email lists and Usenet groups. Some groups or lists prefer [OT] but that is not required here.

The main reason for using OT in the subject line is that the posting volume on this list is quite high and growing higher as we add more members. Some folks don't want to read everything. By adding OT properly to the subject line they can use filters or visually scan for the answers they are looking for, or the questions they can answer. Using OT does not directly address the issue of bandwidth and the costs to those on the list who still pay for their access by the byte unless they use server side filters, but the principle is similar.

It is tempting to think of anything labeled as OT as less important, or, to use the biblical language, that on topic are the sheep and off topic are the goats. That is not our intent. Although this list has always been under CMUG as far as I know, it was not started with the intent of being a general discussion list for Christians who use Macs [1]. It was started as a help and a resource to those who use Macs in ministry at a time when very little similar was available. We have grown far beyond those who are in ministry as their profession and who use Macs to where many who join are new or long time Mac users who are looking for a Christian group for support, info and yes, fellowship.

We had an in depth discussion on this whole issue (OT and the purpose of this list) a while back - maybe 2 years ago. At the time the number of the theological and other discussions on the list was higher. The tone of the conversations was sometimes harsher. Some folks either left the list or went passive. I am not sure if it was by Jesse's fiat or the general consensus or both but we came up with the values that currently drive this list. - that we want to maintain our heritage and primarily be a resource to those who use Macs in ministry - that list membership is open to those who recognize this purpose and who recognize that the list is intentionally Christian in its character and focus - we do allow Off Topic discussions under the parameters of being properly labeled, civilly discussed and limited in frequency and length.

There are plenty of other places out there for general Christian discussion - various email lists, Usenet groups and web forums. Please feel free to post such locations (preferably with annotation). At the same time, we recognize that we are a community and a fellowship, and that for whatever reason some people don't want to go elsewhere to ask their "off topic" questions. Hopefully we have achieved a balance that meets the needs of the whole community.

We also recognize that some discussions start on topic but a follow up comment or question can lead to posts that are off topic. When that happens, please add OT to the subject line as soon as possible.

Here is THE LIST:

Specifically On Topic:

  • Discussions of Mac hardware, software, the computer industry, Apple corporate, Mac Advocacy, third party peripherals
  • Questions about or support of or how-tos regarding Mac hardware, Mac software or third party peripherals
  • Creativity or problem solving in ministry or Bible study that involves Macs or Mac produced content
  • Discussion of vendors, resources and support sources of Mac hardware, Mac software and third party peripherals

Specifically Off Topic:

  • Anything not mentioned above <grin>
  • Theological discussions, Biblical interpretation, church history, church polity, current events, Christian living, politics, personal events or milestones, humorous items

This is getting quite long but I might as well discuss the special cases just to be thorough.

Special Case #1 - PRAYER REQUESTS

Unless you want to share your prayer request for a new or better Mac, technically prayer requests are off topic. It doesn't hurt to label them as such but I would never directly ask or remind someone to do so. Feel free to post your request without special labeling.

Special Case #2 - FOR SALE ITEMS

There are better venues for selling hardware or software than this list. Exceptions to this would be items that are specifically relevant to ministry, or that are being offered at a reduced cost or donated to the users of this list. Drew, your occasional posts of deals are always welcome. If anyone is not sure, please ask myself, David Lang or Jesse in advance of posting. [Note: that's an old list; see the page Board members for current contacts.]

Special Case #3 - I AM NOT LEFT HANDED

As long as they are brief, funny and the threads don't go on too long, the list has traditionally tolerated responses that are technically off topic as long as they invoke Monty Python, the Princess Bride or use puns.

[1] Kind of a footnote. I recognize that all Christians should be in ministry but for the purposes of this list people such as pastors, missionaries, scholars, worship leaders, etc. can have special needs for the resources this list can provide. - Brian B, October 2006

Responses to prayer requests

Although many members don't mind seeing public responses saying "Praying in [wherever]", others would rather not be distracted by these messages, and some may even feel uncomfortable, either thinking there is an appearance of boasting, or feeling under pressure to reply in kind. On reflection, the Board suggests that it is better to send this sort of reply off-list. - CATUG Board, April 2011


The above is kept here as an archive and to explain some rationales. The live version is at Posting guidelines.