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Dinosaur List Administrative Message

This file was last touched December 3, 2007

// Policy tweaking:  You should be aware that whenever I make substantive
// changes to the DML's administrative web page, there is a link to the change
// here:
// The most recent change is the addition of some text relevant to
// copyright issues brought up last summer.  Happy New Year!
// If you're new to the DML... we have implemented a filter designed
// to block all MIME or html coded portions of messages.  We had to
// do this to prevent viruses from circulating through the list.  In
// order for your messages to reach everyone, and more importantly
// in order for your messages to appear in the archive, you *MUST*
// send them as plain text only.  If you have any doubts about whether
// you are doing this, please check the archives to see how your
// messages are appearing.  If you do not know how to format your mail
// as plain text only, please see: http://www.expita.com/nomime.html
// For more explanation about the filter and MESSAGE TRUNCATED errors, 
// please see: 
// As I noted previously, I've added instructions on how to see the plain 
// text alternative for a few programs: Pine, AppleMail, Juno, and Netscape.
// Check out the MessageTruncation page if you want to see those
// instructions or would like to add instructions for other mail readers.
// As always, comments on policy are welcomed as long as they are made
// to the list-owners and not to the list. -- 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:




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 receiving mail from the list
10.  Where to get more information

0.  Summary of changes from previous version

Added link (in section 10) to a description of some of the legal 
issues associated with usage of the list.

Tweaked wording (still in section 10) to discussion of FAQs.
We're admitting that six years of not working on it is a pretty
strong indication that we won't be getting around to it --
we' happy with what Mike Taylor has done.

-- MPR

1.  How to unsubscribe

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


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 list owner 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 one of the
list owners, (tha-that would be me): Mickey Rowe
(mrowe@lifesci.ucsb.edu) or Mary
Kirkaldy  (MKirkaldy@aol.com).
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!  I
don't recommend that you misspell words when you write to Mary.  She
might make fun of you.

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

Currently the DML is not moderated in the technical sense (the
list owners do not ordinarily see messages before they are distributed
to all subscribers), but that does not mean that the list is a
free-for-all.  We at DML management are strong proponents of 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.

When the list owners feel that contributions from particular
participants are in some way counter to the purposes of the list, we
will notify those participants privately.  If said participants do not
change their behavior, we may choose to revoke at least temporarily,
their privilege to submit messages to the DML.

If you feel a participant should be cautioned or disciplined please
let us know by writing to Mickey or Mary with your concerns.  We
generally handle such things without public discussion, so the only
way to find out what we are or are not doing is to ask us.  See
http://www.lifesci.ucsb.edu/~mrowe/dinosaur/KinmanIncident.html for
further discussion of our views on this subject specifically with
regards to an incident in which we chose to go public.

In addition to what you might glean from any private correspondence
directly from the list's owners, there are several specific
infractions that may cause you to lose some or all dinosaur list
privileges.  The rules formalized below have been and will continue to
be shaped by the list's evolution.  Their primary intent is to provide
participants with guidelines indicating what we expect of their
behavior and what they can expect from us.  We use these rules as much
as possible to decide how to treat potential "infractions", mainly
because we wish to be fair and (if you put in an honest effort)
predictable.  We welcome feedback (provided it is not sent directly to
the list) about these rules and their implementation.

          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 we 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 we 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 your posting privileges
will be suspended for a week.  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.
We're 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 beginning:


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:


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

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 
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

the National Academy of Sciences's official position on the subject

the University of California Museum of Paleontology's web site on
understanding evolution (http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evohome.html),

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

and from one of our own subscribers, 

Dr. Mathew F. Bonnan's "Evolution and Science: A Guide for
the Layperson" (http://www.wiu.edu/users/mfb100/evolution.htm).

For more information on "Intelligent Design", you can also see a
recent article in Phi Delta Kappan

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

          d) Flaming

We expect to have more difficulty enforcing the following (just within
the past week I've had a few occasions to consider implementing this
rule...), but we 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 we will treat the particular
disruption of Creationist messages.  That is, if you send in a message
such as one which contains an attack against another person on the
list, you can expect your posting privileges to be suspended.  A
second such offense may get you removed from the list permanently.  We
have no real desire to be dictators here, so we welcome suggestions
about messages which you think warrant disciplinary action.  We may
not ultimately agree with you, but we do want your input.

          e) irritating other members of the list

As we wrote above, we're not comfortable as dictators, so we're
formally 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's posting privileges will be
suspended 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 8d.  (Let's
all hope that the threat of this is all we need...  If it isn't, then
we 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.  People often think the phrase refers to
insults, but it is actually more general in the context of a logical
argument. 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
addressing the personalities of others may have their posting
privileges suspended for one week 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.  As with flaming, a second such offense may get you removed
from the list permanently.  When I suggested this rule, one alert
subscriber (Sam Girouard, R.I.P.) 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 traffic 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 suspension of posting privileges.
Subsequent infractions of this quota rule would earn you longer
suspensions.  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 suspension 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@lifesci.ucsb.edu)
or Mary (MKirkaldy@aol.com) 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 we
agree with you, we will write to the list and ask that the thread be
shut down.  At that time one of us 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 suspension of posting
privileges.  At present we are not considering disciplinary action
against people who write to the list requesting that a thread be
ended, but we might change our minds 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.  Generally we will allow two hours
since we realize there's no guarantee that you will receive our
message as soon as it is sent.  We have been and will be inflexible
about breaches -- we can't know when you received a message, and the
fact that you may not have read a message you already received is not
a good defense in our eyes; standard netiquette is that you should not
be writing to a public forum unless you have read all of your messages
from that forum because you want to make sure that what you're writing
is not a repeat of something someone else has already written.
Discussion on whether the subject should be allowed is to be sent to
the list owners and not to the list.

For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that we recognize
that not all people agree on when a thread has stopped being
interesting, we created a spinoff mailing list.  The initial plan for
that list was to provide space for people to continue discussions that
started on the DML but for one reason or another had worn out their
welcome.  The thread that originally inspired the creation of the
spinoff list was in turn inspired by Greg Paul imagining the
appearance of dinosaurs that didn't evolve, but presumably could have.
Chris Srnka asked about it
(http://dml.cmnh.org/2001Jul/msg01134.html), and voila, KilledThreads
was born

Responses to Chris' question ballooned into a huge project that
provides the bulk of what's in the archives for that list.  We at DML
management are happy that the list has found that purpose.  However,
the list can be used for any topic you'd like to discuss that is
somehow relevant to the list but would not be tolerated on the DML
proper.  For instance, if you'd like to complain publicly about list
administration and don't want to go through the normal channels as
spelled out here, the KilledThreads list is the place to do it.

          i) Attachments

We don't expect to discipline anyone for this, but we 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 (mrowe@lifesci.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.

          j) Violating embargoes

Scientific journals generally have a policy to reject material for
publication when that material has already been published some place
else.  Consequently scientists need to keep some things to themselves
until papers describing those things are published.  During the final
stages of the publication process, journals will frequently release
information to members of the press with the understanding that the
individuals receiving that information will not distribute it before
some pre-specified time.  The time during which the press has the
information and is ethically obliged not to share it is referred to as
an embargo period.  Journals may decide not to publish an article
they'd already decided to publish if its content is disseminated
during that period.  Consequently the authors will pay a price if
someone else distributes that information.

We at dinosaur list management do not take a position on whether or
not embargoes are a good thing.  If you'd like to know more about the
background of embargoes, you should look at the news focus in the
October 30th, 1998 issue of Science
There are five articles in that news focus, and they give a pretty
good overview of what others think of embargoes and why.  Our goal is
only to protect researchers whose publications could be compromised by
the premature release of information about their research.  Whether or
not you (or we) think embargoes should be done away with is irrelevant
to official policy.  As long as authors can be hurt by people talking
about their research we will do what we can to protect them.  If you
think there is any chance something you want to submit to the list is
privileged information you should seek the advice of the researchers
who performed the work.  If you violate an embargo or otherwise
release information that jeopardizes a publication there is a good
chance we will permanently remove you from the dinosaur list.  As
always we will try to use some discretion in implementing the policy,
but do not submit something if you are uncertain as to whether or not
it will be in violation of this policy.  That is not the way to find
out where our boundaries lie unless you want to be banned from the

          k) Facilitating participation by exiles

Earlier versions of this page used to boast how congenial the list has
been and included a statement that no one had ever been forcibly
removed.  Unfortunately, that condition no longer pertains to the DML.
There are several people who have made themselves unwelcome as
participants, and we have taken moderate technical measures to prevent
their participation.  Some of these individuals still read the list's
archives, and sometimes they will send e-mail directly to the authors
of DML messages.  To remain in good standing, participants are
forbidden to allow these exiles to participate vicariously through
forwarded messages.  When sending a "response" to the DML, you should
make sure that the message to which you are responding really was sent
to the DML.  And if someone ever asks you to send in a message on
their behalf you should be suspicious.  Don't do it unless you are
certain they have not been banned from the list.  If you do send
comments from an individual banned from the list, you will be at least
warned not to send comments from that individual again.  If it is a
second offense for you or we have other compelling reasons to believe
that you knew the person was banned, you will join them in exile.

Your humble list administrators,

Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@lifesci.ucsb.edu)
Mary Kirkaldy   (MKirkaldy@AOL.COM)