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dinosaur mailing list administrative message



This file was last edited on November 30, 1998.

// This file itself hasn't been changed recently, but you might want
// to know that to subscribe to the list, there is now an extra step.
// I configured the listprocessor to require confirmation of
// subscriptions to help prevent the list's being used in mail-bombing
// campaigns.  Your subscription confirmation should, of course, go to
// listproc@usc.edu, but as you saw yesterday, people can and will
// make mistakes.  Note: The new procedure will not effect you unless
// you need to re-subscribe for some reason.-- MPR

Rather than sending the whole long administrative message each month
I'm going to give you only the table of contents and the two sections
that I expect to be the most popular.  If you wish to see the entire
document you can visit it at any time at:

http://www.cisab.indiana.edu/~mrowe/dinosaur-administrivia.html

-------------------------

Contents:

1.  How to unsubscribe
2.  How to subscribe
3.  How to receive the list as a digest
4.  How to access the archives
5.  What to do when you're going on vacation
6.  How to change your address for the list
7.  How to send messages to the list
8.  Things not to do and what will happen if you do them
9.  Where to get more information

-------------------------

1.  How to unsubscribe

In order to permanently stop receiving mail from the dinosaur list,
you should send an e-mail message to:

listproc@usc.edu

with a BLANK SUBJECT LINE (if your mail reader will not allow you to
send an empty subject line, just put "Hi" in your subject) and ONLY
the following line in the body (i.e. text) of the message:

unsubscribe dinosaur

You will know that you have been unsubscribed because listproc will
notify you when it removes your address from the list.  If you receive
mail from the list after that notification, please do not send in
another unsubscribe request.  You may ask for assistance to verify
that you are unsubscribed, but please wait at least 24 hours before
going that route.  Frequently some mail will be on its way to you when
you send listproc an unsubscribe message, and thus you may receive mail
from the list even though you are no longer subscribed.

Why "unsubscribe" sometimes fails (or things to look for if listproc
sends you an error message in response to an unsubscribe request):

        a) Misspellings

Please double check your spelling of all words.  Misspelled words are
the most common reason that "unsubscribe" requests fail.
Unfortunately computer programs aren't very good at determining your
actual intended message if it's different from what you've typed --
listproc does not contain a spell-checker.

        b) Alternate addresses

You must send the unsubscribe request from the same e-mail address
that you used to subscribe. If you submit an unsubscribe request and
listproc tells you that you are not subscribed, please try to verify
that you sent your request from the proper address.

If you only have one address and your first unsubscribe request
indicates that you are not subscribed, you will probably need the help
of the listowner in order to have your address removed.  This is
frequently a problem when helpful system administrators re-arrange
your system in such a way as that your outgoing mail carries an
address different from what it carried at the time you subscribed.
There is essentially nothing you can do for yourself in this situation
except to ask for help (although I usually notice the error messages
and will investigate even if you don't ask).  

If you can't get listproc to take you off the list and you're
convinced it's not your fault, the person to go to for help is the
primary list owner (tha-that would be me): Mickey Rowe
(mrowe@indiana.edu).  Feel free to misspell words when you write to
me.  I'm a little bit friendlier than listproc when it comes to
dealing with such things!

8.  Things not to do and what will happen if you do them

For nearly a year this list was moderated.  Currently it is not
moderated, but that does not mean that there is a free-for-all here.
I'm all for free speech, but this list was created for a purpose -- to
give people a forum for the scientific discussion of dinosaurs.  If
your messages are counterproductive to that purpose, your privileges
to submit messages can and will be revoked.  Some specifics:

We have generally been a congenial group, and nobody has ever been
forcefully removed for abuse of the list (although one person asked to
be removed after disciplinary action was taken against him).  However,
since the list is currently unmoderated, removing subscribers and
instructing listproc to ignore their mail are our only means for
dealing with problems.  Since we have been congenial I don't expect
this to become a concern.  Please work with me to ensure that my
expectations are met!

There are several infractions that may cost you to lose all dinosaur
list privileges.  

        a) Attempting to use the list for advertising fossils

The first such infraction is using the list as a means to aid in the
selling or buying of fossils.  All of us involved in list maintenance
feel quite strongly that the list's resources should not be used for
that purpose.  If you advertise a fossil for sale (even if you're not
the one who'll be collecting the money) you may be removed from the
list without warning.  If you pass along a message that is not
explicitly an advertisement but serves to alert others of a location
where an advertisement can be found -- even if you're mentioning the
advertisement only to lament its existence -- you will be warned not
to do so again.  If you repeat such an infraction and I have even the
slightest suspicion that you did so in willful disregard of the list's
policies you will be permanently removed from the list.

Please note that the above refers explicitly to the sale of fossils.
Other *dinosaur relevant* advertisements (as long as they're short and
preferably in the form of instructions for how to obtain more
information) have traditionally been accepted.  Advertisements for the
sale of *replicas* of fossils are also permissible without reservation.

        b) Spam

Off topic advertisements (e.g. spam) are also explicitly forbidden,
though I suspect that spam would get you thrown off of *any* list.

        c) Creationism

There appears to be a near unanimous sentiment on the list that
arguments about Creationism should not be entertained here.  If you
attempt to introduce a Creationist argument you will receive a
week-long time out.  That is, the list will not accept your messages
for one week after the time that I see such a message from you.  After
that week you will be allowed to submit messages again, but if you
repeat the infraction you will be removed from the list.  It is my
impression that the above is lenient in that many list members might
prefer to have people who submit Creationist arguments be removed
after the first violation.  I'm currently opting for a bit of
leniency but may become more strict if this becomes a problem.

        d) Flaming

I expect to have more difficulty enforcing the following (during the
single week prior to the announcement of this rule I had a few
occasions to consider implementing it...), but I would also like to be
able to keep a light handle on the discussions by reserving the right
to treat generally disruptive behavior in the same manner that I will
treat the particular disruption of Creationist messages.  That is, if
you send in a message such as one which contains nothing but an attack
against another person on the list, you can expect to receive a time
out.  A second such offense may get you removed from the list
permanently.

        e) irritating other members of the list

I'm not comfortable as a dictator, so I'm asking for the lists' help
in the execution of a modified version of section 8d above.  In
addition to being silenced for abject flaming, you may be sent to a
virtual corner to cool off if others on the list think that your
behavior warrants such treatment.  In particular, if I receive three
complaints about an individual within a span of three days, then that
individual will be timed out for one week.  If this ever happens to
you, please take it gracefully because if you come back flaming then
you will still be subject to the disciplinary actions described in
section 8 d.  (Let's all hope that the threat of this is all we
need...  If it isn't, then I must rely upon all of you to be
conscientious and complain when you think a situation warrants it.)

       f) Ad Hominem

The phrase "_Ad Hominem_" is frequently used incorrectly in terms of
its historical definition.  Technically an _Ad Hominem_ argument is
one that addresses characteristics (or supposed characteristics) of a
person presenting an argument rather than the presented argument
itself.  People making such attacks on the personalities of others are
subject to a one week timeout whether the attacked person is on the
list or not.  Check the archives for just about any discussion of
Robert Bakker or Alan Feduccia and you'll find offenses of this
policy.  Any such offenses occuring after June 30, 1998 are subject to
punitive action.  When I suggested this rule, one alert subscriber
pointed out that the list historically recognized one reason for
discussing personalities.  If you are considering a collaboration with
another paleontologist and would like to solicit opinions about the
wisdom of your choice, you may ask the list.  Responses should go
directly to the person making the request, however, especially if they
are of a sensitive nature.

        g) treating the list as your own personal forum

When discussions get hot people have a tendency to write many
messages in a short span of time.  Because the list can only
process a finite number of messages per day, and because most
people will only tolerate so much taffic before they start deciding
the list isn't worth the effort of trying to keep up, this is a bad
thing.  During moderation everyone was held to a limit of only five
messages per day.  Any messages after the fifth were held in queue
until the next day.  Since the list is no longer moderated, that's
not an option.  I suggested reinstating a quota of five messages
per day with a sixth message earning an offender  a one-day
timeout.  Subsequent infractions of this quota rule would earn you
longer timeouts.  Although five per day seemed to work well during
moderation, a few people thought this number was too low.  I'm thus
changing it to seven on a trial basis.  Infractions will earn you
only a one-day time out even if it's not the first time you've gone
over your quota.  Let's see how this works.  If it doesn't then the
policy could be amended or abandoned. 

       h) Moratoria on tired threads

The proper procedure for terminating a thread that you think has worn
out its welcome on the list is to write to me (mrowe@indiana.edu) with
a specific complaint about the thread and why you think it's gone on
long enough (I suspect that typically naming the thread you object to
will be sufficient since in most cases the reason for its
objectionability will be readily apparent).  If I agree with you, I
will write to the list and ask that the thread be shut down.  At that
time I will specify a period (not less than 24 nor more than 48 hours;
exact length dependent upon factors such as the relevance of the
thread, the time it has existed, and the amount of repetition that's
already been seen) during which final statements on the thread may be
submitted.  Anyone who attempts to continue or resurrect the thread
within a week of the thread's official demise will be subject to a
week-long timeout.  At present I am not considering disciplinary
action against people who write to the list requesting that a thread
be ended, but I might change my mind in the future.  The purpose of
this rule is to end meta-discussions about what should or shouldn't be
discussed on the list.

        i) Attachments

I don't expect to discipline anyone for this, but I do ask that you
not include attachments (such as files containing images) to messages.
A large number of people will not be able to read the files, and many
will not even be able to receive them (believe it or not some people
have limits on the sizes of messages they can receive!).  If you wish
to transmit an image or other form of encoded message please find
another place to make it available and send to the dinosaur list only
an announcement of the file's availability.  If you have no other
space to put up the file, you can write to me (mrowe@indiana.edu).  I
don't want to get in the business of making temporary web pages, but I
do have such resources available to me.  If I don't get too many
requests I can offer limited use of those resources to others.

Your humble list administrator,

--
Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@indiana.edu)