UK Harm Reduction Alliance - UKHRA. What is harm reduction? Click here...

UKHRA discussion list nettiquette

Introduction
List culture
Posting
Off-list messages to individuals
Replying to messages
Confidentiality
‘Policing’ the list

The digest facility
Joining, leaving and changing address


Introduction
UKHRA discussion exists to facilitate the sharing of information and views and for debate and discussion of harm reduction issues.

This statement on list etiquette was agreed by the group in September 2004, and is posted on the website as a guide for new or prospective members and as a reminder for the group.

If you are new to the internet, or have trouble joining the UKHRA lists, click here.

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List culture
It is hoped that contributions by members of UKHRA discussion will always be polite, will always seek to address issues and ideas rather than individuals, and will always seek to carry discussions forward.

Normal rules of civil social interaction should apply to all postings… the translation of thoughts to the written, rather than spoken, word and the remoteness of the recipients should not be used as an excuse to communicate in an anti-social manner.

Barriers to communication such as person-to-person aggression, deviation from the spirit of a topic, excessive use of jargon or banter in an otherwise serious topic, should all be avoided.

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Posting
When you hit the send button your message will go to the 200+ members of the list. Members (particularly regular posters) should bear this in mind before they hit send so as to avoid cluttering the list with unnecessary messages, but the list positively welcomes new members and encourages them to start new discussions because the list exists to answer questions and debate issues.

It should be assumed that individuals post messages to the list because they want public discussion not a private conversation. If senders don't want public responses they should say so in their message. If senders want off-list responses, their message should give an indication of how they will deal with them (e.g. by posting a summary of replies back to the list).

BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR IDEAS and give new information. A simple message 'I agree' only gives information about yourself. If you have further ideas say so. Messages that begin 'I agree with that message because.... ' or 'I disagree with that message because....' are much more likely to lead to useful discussion.

PRIVATE AGENDAS: For the same kinds of reason please don't quote off-list messages in your postings to the list. Such quotes discourage open discussion because they will not be understandable to members not in the know, and because they give the impression the real agenda is being pursued elsewhere.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO STICK YOUR NECK OUT: If you express yourself in too extreme a form you can graciously moderate your position in some later message in the light of the discussion. If you display ignorance there are plenty of members who can put you right, but this should be done in a spirit of generosity and understanding.

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Off-list messages to individuals
Should only ever be of a supportive or informative nature. Sending emails containing language or sentiments that would not be appropriate for the list direct to people can be very intimidating and is therefore not acceptable, and can be reported to the list moderators who will warn, and possibly remove from the list the individuals concerned.

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Replying to messages
Responses should be addressed to the message not to the sender. Messages beginning 'Angela, I agree...' belong in private mail. They reduce public discussion because some members will see such messages as part of a personal relationship, rather than as part of a public discussion. Some members will see messages such as those beginning 'George, I think you are a twit ...' as a private argument. Members who see things that way will not join in the thread of the discussion

Worse still, personally phrased aggressive message may encourage others to join in the argument in the same style. The argument will escalate into the 'flaming' that has destroyed discussions on many lists. This flaming is unpleasant and it sometimes even prevents return to the topic of the discussion.

The issue of drugs and drug use raise strong feelings, but we should not allow these to become personal, or inhibit debate and discussion.

BE NEAT AND TIDY: remember to delete the original message text from your reply to a list message. You can, of course, quote lines you particularly want to refer to, but you should assume that members have already read the message you are replying to.

When hitting 'reply': check that the subject line corresponds to your message. This makes it easier for members to follow particular threads.

PLAIN TEXT ONLY PLEASE: Do not use html or styled formatting when sending messages -- some members will not be able to read your post. Non-formatted texts take up less bandwidth and download quicker. You should make sure that your email software is set to compose messages in plain ASCII text.

If you use Outlook Express go to Edit/Preferences/Message Composition/Mail Sending Format to make sure that Plain Text is ticked. In Outlook go to Tools/Options/Mail Format to check that you are sending Plain Text.

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Confidentiality
Anyone can join the list and membership is not monitored or moderated - many members of the list follow the discussions but do not post and this should be borne in mind by members.

By joining the list you agree to maintain confidentiality of members and respect their right not to have postings forwarded or copied off list without express permission (this can be requested on or off list).

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‘Policing’ the list
The list usually polices itself effectively and no one (other than unsolicited advertisers who have never contributed before) has ever been removed from the group.

This is because to unnecessarily interfere with discussion could unreasonably restrict the flow of debate, and because we recognise that it is impossible to exclude anyone from the list who really wants to be there - all they would need to do is re-register under a new name with a new hotmail address. This possibility makes exclusion rather a symbolic act.

As a general rule it would be unreasonable and unrealistic for UKHRA to exclude list members on the basis of expressed opinions, at least where these opinions are not outside the law. A policy that attempts to exclude people on the basis of offensive or distasteful remarks would probably be unwelcome, unworkable and unfair.

There are however, limited circumstances where we feel it could be appropriate to exclude people. These would include sending vitriolic abuse (on or off list) to other list members and posting unsolicited advertising. In the case of unsolicited advertising, particularly of products unrelated to harm reduction, removal will be instant. If any list members have experienced abusive emails off list as a direct result of their participation in this forum and would like support around this, we would urge you to contact any member of the committee (click here to go to a page with email addresses for all committee members).

Removal from the list will only be done when both moderators have agreed. Members who feel they have been unjustly removed may appeal to the chair of ukhra and request that the decision be reviewed by the committee.

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The digest facility:
UKHRA discussion has a digest facility that supports the posting of list messages only once a day. To use this you should go to the yahoo website http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ukhra-discussion/ and go to > my groups > edit my membership.

But if you are replying to a message from a digest please alter the subject line to maintain coherence in the discussion. The subject line should be altered to the subject line of the specific message you are referring to.

ATTACHMENTS: do not send attachments to the list as yahoo will filter them out because attachments are the most common way in which viruses spread.

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Joining, leaving and changing address
Are all easy to do by going to the yahoo groups site:

For UKHRA discussion go to:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ukhra-discussion/

For UKHRA needle exchange discussion go to:
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/needle-X-discussion/

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