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Everybody play nice!

A few things have happened in the past couple of days to make me feel
like I should elaborate on some etiquette particular to this list.

In the past I (and others) have complained about politics on the list.
Paul Willis' recent message was *not* one that I would have complained
about for one very simple reason.  Although he used a broad brush to
paint his picture of Australian politicians, he did so in a context
that was related to the preservation of particular dinosaur fossils.
Politics is generally verboten, but if it's unambiguously relevant to
dinosaurs or fossils I don't have any problem with it, and it seems to
me that no one else should or does either.  In the past we've
entertained discussions of fossil legislation (proposed or
instantiated) in the United States, and I don't think anyone has ever
complained about said entertainment (no pun intended).

In related news, we've had a recent message which drifted off into a
discussion of animal rights.  I agree with Derek that extinction is
generally a relevant topic for this list, but it wasn't really the
focus of the original message.  Animal rights is a political topic
that has nothing to do with dinosaurs (for the nit pickers I'll add
"excluding birds"), and thus should not have been introduced here as
the main subject of a message.

I see a stark contrast between the above two topics and I find it
unfortunate that it was only the latter one that generated a
discussion.  My advice is that if a message you're composing isn't
clearly related to dinosaurs then you probably shouldn't send it here.
If it isn't clearly related to dinosaurs and it addresses a
contentious issue it *definitely* shouldn't be submitted here.
Internecine battles (e.g. about dinosaur thermoregulatory physiology)
are bad enough; off-topic internecine battles won't be tolerated.  If
you want to start a fight... er discussion on such a topic, take it to
private e-mail.

And since I'm already giving advice...  It's also not a very good idea
to send short cryptic messages.  Short cryptic and sarcastic messages
are an even worse idea.  For instance:

> Ever heard of THEROPODS?????????????????????????????????????????????
> You know, those meat-eating dinosaurs???????????????????????????????

I wasn't even a little bit surprised when the person to whom the above
was directed didn't understand the apparent point.  It took me a bit
of thought to figure it out.  The author of the above was not saying
anything about the sexuality of theropods; he was suggesting that the
reported ulcerations on the sauropods' ribs were caused by theropods
rather than other sauropods.  I don't know what "ulcerations" were
being referred to in the message that drew that response, so I can't
really comment on the content of the thread.  But quite frankly I
suspect the author of the above didn't really know anything about
these particular "ulcerations" either.  It appears to me that said
author was more interested in making someone else look stupid than in
furthering discussion.  If I've totally misinterpreted the message I
apologize (though as I said; it was short and cryptic), but I think we
can do better than that.

Thanks for your cooperation,

Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@indiana.edu)