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Dinosaur List Administrative Messge



This file was last edited on November 1, 2000.

// I removed notice of the modifications.  It appears that the
// listprocessor silently rejects this message if I have not edited
// the body since the last time it was sent.  I will likely change
// insignificant things each month in order to squeak the message 
// past listproc's checksum routine.

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.psych.ucsb.edu/~rowe/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.  What to do if you're not getting mail
10.  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
(rowe@psych.ucsb.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 two people were
removed by request after disciplinary action was taken against them,
and another person has had his ability to submit messages to the list
permanently revoked after repeated violations of the rules).  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.  We will not tolerate messages that directly help buyers
and sellers of real fossil material find each other.  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(for
example, giving a url to the site) -- even if you're mentioning the
advertisement only to lament its existence -- you will be warned not
to do so again.  The warning you are sent will include a one week
suspension of your privilege to submit messages to the list because we
want to underscore the seriousness with which we view offenses to this
policy.  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.  In
administering this rule we broadly interpret "advertisement" to mean
anything that reports a fossil which is or will be up for sale. This
includes but is not limited to announcements of fossils that will be
made available for auction, and we do not draw a strong distinction
between "journalism" and "advertising" in this context. Commercial
fossil dealers can be quite good at generating publicity, so the fact
that a news organization such as CNN writes a story will not prevent
us from judging the story to be an advertisement _sensu lato_. In
short, if you are considering sending a message that a) has anything
to do with a real or potential exchange of a fossil for money or b)
contains a URL to a story with content such as described in a) you
should send it to the list administrators first and ask whether or not
it would be appropriate. If you send such a message to the list
without our pre-screening we're not going to be very receptive to
arguments about why you thought it was acceptable.  We would prefer to
have that argument ahead of time so that there's no need for us to
consider disciplinary action.

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.

During a flareup surrounding the Kansas Board of Education's
decision in August of 1999 to change the guidelines for K-12 education
in that state, it became clear that there was a good deal of confusion
surrounding this topic on the dinosaur list. From the begining:

http://www.cmnh.org/fun/dinosaur-archive/1997Jun/msg00675.html

this policy was intended to squelch any discussions of
Creationism. Many appear to have erroneously presumed that they can
write what they want as long as they do not support Creationist
positions. However, that too is wrong as I tried to make clear early
on:

http://www.cmnh.org/fun/dinosaur-archive/1997Jun/msg00974.html

Specifically, in that message I wrote:

**My goal is to keep the peace while allowing a healthy discussion of
the science involved in the study of dinosaur remains. In my view
Creationism doesn't fit under that scope. That doesn't mean we should
be openly hostile about it even if the hostility is expressed as
humor.**

Since that bit of advice has gone unheeded, we have decided to close
up a loophole -- responding to messages about Creationism will be
treated **exactly the same as Creationist messages themselves**. If
somebody brings up the topic and you respond, you will lose your
privilege to submit messages for one week. A second infraction may get
you removed from the list.

Some have indicated that by banning the topic we are somehow sending
the message that there is some scientific validity to Creationism. We
don't think that position is logically defensible, but to try to cover
that base here we will state again that Creationism does not belong on
the dinosaur list because it is not science. We sympathise with those
trying to teach science in a culture which does not always recognize
what is and isn't good science, though, and for the benefit of such
people we here provide some links which we think are useful in this
context:

The National Center for Science Education, (http://WWW.NatCenSciEd.org/)

the National Academy of Sciences's official position on the subject,
       (http://books.nap.edu/html/creationism/index.html)

and the talk.origins home page (http://www.ediacara.org/~to/index.html)
and its FAQ archive. (http://www.talkorigins.org/)

Please feel free to write to me in order let us know if any of these
links break or if you have additional sites you'd like to add to this
section.

         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 which contains 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.  As with flaming, second such offense may get you
removed from the list permanently.  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 (rowe@psych.ucsb.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 (generally 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.

Additionally, list owners may order an immediate shutdown of
discussions which arise on subjects which are not germane to the
purpose of the list -- dinosaur science. Notable examples of subjects
which have no place on the list are cryptozoology, time travel, Planet
of the Apes, and random computer virus alerts, among others. List
members will be expected to recognize these calls for cessation of
discussion (i.e. Mickey Rowe or Mary Kirkaldy will unambiguously post
that this thread is not to be pursued). Disciplinary action may be
taken against list members who continue to post on these subjects,
whether or not 24 hours has passed. Similarly, discussion on whether
the subject should be allowed is to be sent to the list owners and not
to 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, 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!), and attachments
are a dandy way to transmit computer viruses.  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 (rowe@psych.ucsb.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 administrators,

--
Mickey Rowe     (rowe@psych.ucsb.edu)
Mary Kirkaldy   (MKirkaldy@aol.com)