Arlington List

This manual provides the rules for using the list, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about how to use the list better.

Rules

This section describes the rules for the use of the Arlington List. It details the rights, responsibilities, and operational rules that go with the use of the list. If you are more interested in how (mechanically) to do something, see the Help/Faq section.

Basic Rules

The list is a community of people gathering to interact with each other and help each other. It is requested that people treat each other with respect and civility. As owner of the list, I develop, maintain and enforce these rules, which are spelled out in the rest of this FAQ. Use of this list is subject to a couple of conditions:

  1. You agree to follow the list rules as spelled out here
  2. You agree that I am the final arbitor of the interpretation of these rule, and will accept my rulings on list matters,
  3. You realize that I do not have detailed control over what is posted on the list, as I do not review every message before it reaches the list[
  4. Therefore, you will hold me, and those that help me, harmless for the material here, but will deal with the original poster.
  5. If you can not agree to these rules, I ask that you leave the list.

Subscribing

(For more details on the mechanics, see the FAQ on subscribing.

To subscribe to the Arlington List, go to http://arlingtonlist.org/subscribe and fill out the form under the heading "Subscribing to arlington". After you submit the subscription form, you will be sent an email from the list software with instructions on how to confirm your subscription. This message should be sent automatically as soon as you submit the form, the page mentions you might need to wait for approval, but for the Arlington List you do not, you just need to provide confirmation. The message you get will give several methods, I suggest using the link to the confirmation page. The option to reply to the message might fail if your email program doesn't reply back with a plain text message.

The form ask for your "Full Name", which is requested but not required. The list software and its mangement respects your privacy, and places it under your control. The name you enter here can not be seen by anyone but the list administrator. No one else can see your name or email address until/unless you post a message or add an entry to the Cast of Characters.

One problem that might occur, is that you email provide might think of the message from the list software as spam., so if you don't get the confirmation email shortly, check your spam folder for the message (GMail users should also check the alternate inboxes Social and Forum). Another thing to try is to "white list" the mailing list by adding the following email addresses to your address book: arlington@arlingtonlist.org, arlington-bounces@arlingtonlist.org, and arlington-request@arlingtonlist.org, as these are addresses mentioned in emails from the list. (You should generally only actually send email to the first of these).

Placing your name in your messages when you post is also not required (but strongly requested). For more information, see the articles on Privacy and Anonymous Postings.

Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is allowed, but discouraged. Unless you have a very good reason not to sign your posts, please sign them with your real name. For the purpose of this policy, your real name means your full name, as it would typically appear on your driver's license, passport, credit card, or personalized checks.

Signing your posts with your real name means you stand behind your words. It means others on the list are more likely to take you seriously. And it means you are willing to be held accountable for what you say. In order for the list to be a good place to conduct civil discussion of important town issues, the large majority of posters must sign their real name.

At the same time, some people cannot post on certain topics under their real name without fear of losing their job, or jeopardizing their personal safety, or other reasons of a similar nature. So it is understood that allowing anonymous posting can be valuable, and we allow it for this reason.

It is all too easy, however, for the privilege of anonymous posting to be abused by someone who wants to vent their spleen without being held accountable. This behavior is not permitted.

Opinion on the list about anonymous posting is split. I get about equal amounts of mail saying that anonymous posting should be banned as that it should be allowed. So the compromise is as follows:

You are allowed to post anonymously if you have a good reason for it, and if you take care in your messages to avoid stirring things up. Anonymous postings that are argumentative, controversial, or uncivil will result in the poster's future postings being moderated (that is, individually approved by me). Messages from such a poster will be subject to being summarily rejected without notice.

This policy will generally only be enforced when it appears that the poster is abusing the privilege of anonymous posting. It will not usually be enforced when it is obvious that the message is only inadvertantly anonymous, for example when the poster forgets to sign a perfectly civil message.

By the way, if you sign your message with a false name, there is probably no way for me to know. However, there are over a thousand people on the Arlington list, so your friends and neighbors probably will know, unless you take care to use a different email address, and never give away any identifying details about yourself, and so on. In my experience this degree of deceit is unusual, and not worth worrying about for the purposes of the Arlington list. Grownups with integrity don't do it.

Basic Netiquette

It is expected that uses of the list will follow the basic rules of on-line etiquette (called Netiquette), including the following:

It is YOUR responsibility to make a good faith effort to express yourself clearly so others are apt to understand the meaning to your statements. Using words with loaded, shaded or twisted meanings is discouraged as people are prone to misunderstand things. Remember that humor may not reach everyone. There are thousands of people on the list, so without care, someone is apt to misunderstand things not stated clearly.

It is also YOUR responsibility to make a good faith effort to understand what someone else has said. They may well have a different background and assign a different meaning to a phrase than what you take it as,

YOU should also exhibit charity to others, to be slow to anger or take offense, and not assign to bad intentions that which may be accidental or unintended.

When posting, think if you statement is important enough to make to the thousands of members of the list. Take care to make you post easy for them to read and understand. With the large membership of the list, even costing everyone just a second has wasted over a hour of time.

Remember that there is a person on the other side. The electronic medium can sometimes depersonalize exchanges, and we be tempted to say things that we would never think of doing face to face. It is wise to stop and think about what you are writing before clicking send. Remember, once sent it can not be taken back.

Make your post easy to skip for people not interested in it. Give it a good subject line that describes the topic. If you are replying to a message, keep the subject identical (unless you have good reason to change it) and use the reply button. This allows people to skip the subjects they are not interested in easier.

Trim unneeded material from replies.

Make your message easy to find for those that ARE interested. Again, a good subject line is vital here (and helps in people searching for the message). Use appropriate keywords. If starting a new message, do NOT use the reply function, that will bury your message in the middle of the discussion of the message you replied to.

Posts should be civil and useful.

Civility

The Arlington list is a private forum managed and paid for by a volunteer. The mission of the list is to further civil online discussion in our town, and the purpose of these guidelines is to support that mission. Submitting postings to the Arlington list is a privilege granted to everyone without condition. However, posting freely and having your messages delivered immediately is a privilege earned by following these guidelines.

  1. Do not make personal attacks on other list members. See Personal Attacks for more details on what constitutes a personal attack.
  2. Do not repost to the list an e-mail you received privately, whether signed or unsigned, unless you have the author's permission to do so, or unless the message was obviously written with the intention of unlimited distribution. For the purpose of this guideline, "private" means "not posted to the Arlington list."
  3. Sign your posts with your real, full name. See Anonymous Posting for more details on what this means.
  4. Stick to the topic of Arlington. This is especially important if you are posting about something controversial. See On Topic for more details about what's on topic for the list.
  5. Take the long, heated arguments with one or two other people to private email.
  6. When posting on a controversial topic, take responsibility for guiding the discussion back towards civility, even if you don't think that others are doing the same.
  7. Remember, that just as you have the right to state your opinion on the matter, so does the other person.


Normally, everyone on the Arlington list is allowed to post anything they want, and their messages are delivered immediately without a chance for the list manager to see the messages first. However, if your postings violate these guidelines, then the list manager may contact you to discuss it. If, in the list manager's judgment, your postings continue to violate the guidelines repeatedly and with a lack of good-faith effort to improve, the list manager may choose to make your subscription moderated. The list manager will notify you in this case. Please also note that a new list member's subscription is moderated for the first few postings.


Having a moderated subscription means that when you post a message, it is not delivered to the list until the list manager approves the message (normally within 24 hours). If the list manager does not approve the message, you will be notified.


If you have been put on moderation and you want to be allowed to post freely again, write to the list manager.

Commercial Posting

You are allowed to make commercial postings to the Arlington List as long as they are relevant to Arlington and relatively infrequent.

"Commercial"
here means that the primary purpose of your posting is to advertise something about your business or service. Advertising to sell your car, for example, doesn't fall under this guideline unless that is your business. For the sake of this guideline, advertising specials or coupons in a way that you can get a referral bonus IS considered commercial.
"Relevant to Arlington"
means that, for example, your business is located in Arlington, you live in Arlington, or you posting is very likely to be of wide interest to Arlington residents.
"Relatively infrequently"
means that your postings for you business or service should occur no more than every three months or so. A simple reply of "We can do that" to a request to the list for a recommendation for a good or service that you provide will generally not be counted against your posting frequency.

Since one of the primary uses of the Arlington List is for residents to exchange recommendations for and against local businesses, you should expect that advertising your business may spark discussion, both pro and con, about your business. Civil criticism of or concerns raised about your business will not be considered a personal attack.

These are guidelines, and as always. the final judgement as to the appropriateness of a commercial post rests with the list owner.

Moderation

The list is not moderated in the normal sense of the word, which would mean that there is someone approving each and every message to the list. I manage the list, which means that I deal with subscriptions and answer questions, but I normally do not exercise any control over the content of the list beyond enforcement of the policies of the list contained herein.

New subscribers are placed in a state that there first few posts are held for review to make sure they conform to the list policies, and released to the list if they do so. Most people after a few posts are cleared from this state and their subsequent posts will go directly to the list without intervention. Very occasionally, a poster may be put back on moderation for repeated violations of the list policies.

On topic

People join the Arlington list, and stay despite the high volume and wide range of topics, because they are interested in the topic of Arlington. This policy provides guidance about how to stay on topic, and explains how the list manager handles threads that veer off topic.

Staying on topic is often difficult, and it is understood that there can be no hard and fast rules that everyone would be able to apply exactly the same way and get exactly the same results. Instead, staying on topic requires good judgment, which comes only with practice. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are writing a message. When you can answer "yes" to these questions, you are probably headed in the right direction.

  • "Is my message about Arlington?" If your message is very clearly and totally focused on Arlington politics, Arlington schools, Arlington restaurants – Arlington people places or things in other words – it's on topic.
  • "Is my message likely to be of wide interest to a large group of people who are here because they want to learn about and discuss Arlington?" If you feel confident that the answer to this question is yes, then your message is very likely to be on topic, even if it is not about Arlington per se. For example, messages about a neighboring town, or about a state-wide map database that includes maps of Arlington, or about a chain of stores that's coming to Arlington, are probably all on topic.
  • "Is my message an attempt to draw on the resources of my community?" In other words, if you live in Arlington and you are asking for help from or providing information to what you feel to be your community, then your message is probably on topic, even if the focus isn't on Arlington itself. For example, if you are inviting people from your town to a national political event, or you are asking your neighbors how they are handling some aspect of the state tax form, or you’re looking for the best route to Logan Airport, it's probably on topic even if the focus is not Arlington.

  • "Does my message avoid changing the subject?" When you reply to a message and you change the focus substantially, you may be going off topic. For example, if a list member posts a message inviting neighbors to a national political event, and you reply with a message that focuses on national politics instead of neighbors, you may not be staying on topic.

  • "Does my message avoid violating any of the other list policies?" If your message contains a personal attack or the text of a private email, it’s not on topic even if it otherwise would have been. If your message is of a commercial nature, please see the policy on commercial postings.

It is not unusual for a discussion thread to drift from its original focus on Arlington into other territory – philosophy, political parties, technical matters of law, definitions of words, and so on are common directions of drift. This sort of drift is only natural, and it takes a conscious effort to bring the focus back to Arlington. If you make that effort, your fellow list members will appreciate it.

If a thread that was originally on topic goes off topic, the list manager may choose to end the thread. Ending the thread means that the list manager posts a message to the list with the subject "Thread is off topic and has been ended (was " followed by the subject of the thread being ended. The list manager may also adjust the list software so that messages on that thread will be held for approval instead going through immediately without approval as they normally do. Not all off-topic threads are created equal: an off-topic thread about boating is not likely to be as disruptive to the list as an off-topic thread about a controversial and provocative topic. So the list manager will exercise judgment as to which threads need to be ended. Please trust that the list manager is choosing which threads to end in a fair and objective manner, based on the potential level of disruptiveness, and not on any personal preferences or viewpoints the list manager may hold.

Personal Attacks

We strive to maintain a civil atmosphere for discussion on the Arlington list. One of the cornerstones of civility is the expectation that you can say controversial things and not be attacked personally for them. So the list policy is that personal attacks are never allowed.


What is a personal attack?


A personal attack is a message, posted in the context of an argument, in which the poster makes unfriendly remarks about another list member instead of addressing the specific points made by that list member.


A personal attack often takes the form of a comment such as, "you have no idea what you're talking about," an insult such as "based on your postings I can see that you're incompentent," or a rhetorical question such as, "how hypocritical can you be?"


The "no personal attacks" rule is intended to apply primarily in the case of messages and responses on the list. Personal attacks on someone not known to be a list member, such as the proprietor of a local business or a public figure, are similarly discouraged, but are not specifically part of this policy.


Similarly, attacks on the list as a group, such as "you're all a bunch of nincompoops on this list," are discouraged, but not specifically part of this policy.


OK, what should I do instead?


Here's the scenario: someone's made a provocative statement on the list, and you're trying to find the right words with which to rebut it. "You fool!" No... "You idiot!" No... Then what?


You will never go wrong if you stick to the rule, "seek first to understand, then to be understood." If someone posts something that makes you really angry or upset, try if you possibly can to give them the benefit of the doubt -- perhaps there's still the possibility that there's something to be learned from them. Try asking questions designed to help you understand them better. If you're sure you understand them, at least try asking questions designed to lead them toward the contradictions that are so obvious to you.


If you're ready to give up on seeking to understand, you might consider simply ignoring them. Perhaps you feel you can't bring yourself to let a provocative statement "stand unchallenged." But the readers of the Arlington list know better than to assume that everyone agrees with an unchallenged provocative statement. Often the person making the provocative statement is just hoping to get a rise. You don't have to take the bait.


If after all you feel compelled to write back to them, at least make sure you address their specific comments. Quote the relevant portions of their message, and address their comments directly. If you must respond, "This is a crazy thing to say" is a lot better than "you're crazy."


What are the consequences of posting a personal attack?


If you post a personal attack, you may receive a message from the list manager titled "No personal attacks", which will quote your message and ask you to refrain from making personal attacks. Such a message from the list manager will always be private, never copied to the Arlington list; public humiliation is unseemly and ineffective.


Please note that under normal circumstances the list manager does not see messages before they are delivered, and can only deal with personal attacks after the fact.


Also please note that the list manager doesn't always have time to read every message posted to the list, and doesn't always recognize a personal attack even when it's in front of his face. So some personal attacks may not result in a follow-up email from the list manager. List members are always encouraged to point out to the list manager anything that they feel is a personal attack.


How come my posting was singled out for a "no personal attacks" follow-up email from the list manager?


Since all follow-up emails are sent privately, there's no way for you to tell whether others on the same thread are getting follow-up emails. Please assume that you're not being singled out based on whether the list manager agrees with you or not. The "no personal attacks" policy is enforced as fairly as possible, and in particular a "no personal attacks" follow-up email does not mean the list manager is taking sides in the argument.


What should I do if I get a "no personal attacks" email from the list manager?


First and foremost, please try to take it in the spirit in which it was intended: as part of an ongoing effort to keep the list civil. It doesn't represent any sort of judgment against you personally.


Some of the terms in the definition of a personal attack, such as "argument" and "unfriendly," are obviously subjective and open to interpretation. So a thoughtful and considered reply to the list manager is always welcome. In particular, if the list manager's explanation of why your message was considered a personal attack doesn't satisfy you, you're always welcome to ask questions.


What are the consequences of posting repeated personal attacks?


In the past, the list policy was "three strikes and you're out." This rule has been abandoned in an effort to discover if civility can be maintained without threats. So other than increasingly stern warnings, there are currently no other consequences enforced by the list manager.


However, you can easily destroy your reputation on the list by posting repeated personal attacks, and it won't be long before few people are reading any of your postings.


Note: the above applies only to messages signed with the poster's full, real name. Anonymous personal attacks may result in banning without warning. See Anonymous Posting for more information about anonymous posting.

Privacy

Here is the current privacy policy of the list. It describes your rights to your postings, the way the list software handles your private information such as your e-mail address, and the topic of anonymity.

Definitions:

  • List owner: the person who runs the list, plus anyone who is designed to run the list while the list owner is on vacation or otherwise unavailable.

  • Lurker: one who subscribes to the list but has never posted a message.

  • Post: to send a message to the whole list by e-mailing the message to arlington@arlingtonlist.org

  • Subscription: your voluntary agreement to receive Arlington list messages

  • Subscription information: your e-mail address and certain preferences such as whether you receive individual messages or digest messages


You have the right to remain a lurker
Until you post a message to the list, your identity as a member of the list is secret. The list software prevents other list members from knowing who is a member of the list. Only the list owner has access to the list membership records. The list owner will make best reasonable efforts never to reveal the existence of your subscription as long as you are a lurker.

You have the right to subscribe anonymously
The only personally identifying information the list software stores about you as part of your subscription is your e-mail address, optionally your name, and some preference settings such as whether you prefer individual messages or digest messages. Other than your name, the list software does not store personal information about you other than that which is part of your e-mail address. There is no policy that requires you to provide your real name as part of your list subscription, and as long as you never post a message, you will never be asked for your name. If you post a message anonymously, you should expect that fellow list members will ask you for your name, because there is a general expectation among the list that providing your real name makes your words more credible and adds to the level of civility and community that we expect from each other. You will never be removed from the list by the list owner solely because of your anonymous status, but you may be removed from the list without prior notice if you anonymously post messages which violate list policy or otherwise cause harm to the list in the judgment of the list owner.

Personal information retained by the list software
The list software retains your e-mail address, your name if you provide it, a number of non-identifying personal preferences such as whether you prefer individual messages or digest messages, and the contents of all messages you post to the list. No other information is retained. All messages you post to the list are archived and available to anyone who subscribes to the list. Your archive queries are stored and displayed only to you. The archives are protected from access by the Internet at large, but anyone may subscribe to the list and then access the archives. Information in the archives may not be modified.

Access to your subscription information
Access to your e-mail address and your preferences is password protected, so others are prevented from accessing it. Only you and the list owner are allowed to access this information. This information will never be shared with anyone without your prior permission.

Risks of spam
If you never post a message to the list, there is no way for anyone, whether a member of the list or not, to obtain your e-mail address, so there is no risk of getting spam as a result of your list membership. If you post a message to the list, it is possible, though unlikely, that another member of the list will use your e-mail address to send you spam, or will forward your message to someone else who use your e-mail address to send you spam. If you join the cast of characters, a public web page, you expose your e-mail address to the public, and your e-mail address may be obtained for the purpose of sending you spam.

Ownership of your postings
By posting a message to the list, you retain your copyright but grant (1) a non-exclusive license to all list members to forward that message by e-mail to anyone, and (2) a non-exclusive license to the list owner to maintain an archive. These two rights you grant by posting to the list constitute the only exceptions to the normal protection afforded by the copyright you retain to your words, so any other use of an e-mail you send to this list requires your prior permission. Any use of your posting without your permission, beyond the two licenses granted here, is a matter between you and the person who uses your posting improperly, and you agree to hold the list owner harmless.

After you leave the list
The list software erases its information about you when you leave the list. Archived messages previously posted by you are retained indefinitely and continue to be subject to the above "ownership of your postings" policy.

Best efforts of the list owner
The list owner makes best reasonable efforts to enforce the above policies. However, the list software may contain defects which compromise your privacy, and the password protection of secret information may be compromised by a determined attacker. You agree to hold the list owner harmless in the event that your privacy is compromised.

Topic Keywords

Please not that this feature was newly added to the list in Feb 2010, and some details may need to be adjusted as time progresses.

The list software the the ArlingtonList uses offers regular subscribers to the list to filter thier subscription by predefined keywords placed in the subject of the messages. To digest subscribers, I am sorry to say but there is no option to filter the digests.

You can set up your filter options at the standard option page at http://arlingtonlist.org/subscribe/ where you can log in with your email address and list password. Part way down the page is a set of boxes to select which categories of messages you wish to receive, and in the next section an option to receive messages that do not match any of the categories. You may check the boxes for categories you which to recieve, and messages that do not fall into those categories will be dropped from your subscripition (they will still show up in the archives if you search there). At a minimum I would request that you subscribe to the admin category which will be used to post important notices about the list. Until tagging becomes very common, you probably also want to include the unclassified messages too.

Currently tagging is optional, but encouraged. In the future I hope to have a routine running that will apply a gentile prod (via email) to remind people to add tags to their messages, and at some point I may make tagging a requirement (and untagged messages held for moderator review). To tag a message just requires adding the code phrase to the subject line of your message

The list of current tags are:

[admin]
Administrative messages, reserved for use by the list administrator or for replying to one of his messages so marked
[free]
For posting items to be given away for free
[sell]
Offers to sell excess stuff you have (non-commercial)
[ISO]
Stuff you are In Search Of. This is for items that would be offered in [free] or [sell], if looking for a person/business ask for a recommendation
[AD]
Commercial notices, note that list policy is that these be infrequent, for more information on commercial posting see Commercial Postings
[rcmd]
A place to post recommendations for a local business/service or to ask about one.
[food]
It has been said that all conversations will eventually get to food. A tag for recipes, where to get ingredients, and things like this. Restaurant review/recommendations should go under [rcmd]
[event]
Announcements for upcoming events in or about our town.
[news]
Late breaking announcements about things that have happened in town.
[politics]
A place to discuss our LOCAL politics. This is for things relating specifically to our town, and not State, Federal (or larger) issues
[schools]
Talk about our schools. Note that talk of political things about the school (like budgets) belong in politics
[history]
Talk about our town way back when.
[travel]
How to get to other places from here, and what other places might be nice to go to
[tech]
Technical help request (things like help with a computer)
[misc]
Anything else that isn't covered above, but still is on topic as it is specific to Arlington
[OT]
Short discussion about things that aren't really on topic, but appropriate because they are helpful and generally non-controversial

To make it easier for phone users, the tags may also be enclosed in ( ) as in (food)

Policies

This page discusses various policies I use to implement and enforce these rules. They are a bit more flexible than the rules, and more subject to change as conditions warrant.

  • I will normally deal with problems with individuals privately (normally via email) rather than in open public settings. It is my observance that people are more apt to listen and change when things are done this way. Public rebukes tend to lock a person into a defensive posture, trying to prove that they are right, as opposed to looking for what is right.
  • Related to that, I prefer people when they see things they don't like on the list to either contact the person directly and privately themselves or contact me privately. Direct contact can make sense if you are curious if there is a legitimate reason for what you see as a problem, contacting me makes more sense if you think it may need "official" handling. It is also possible to do both, writing to the person and copying me on it. If you make a public complaint about it, on the list or elsewhere, I will consider the public posting to be sufficient dealing with the problem, and ignore future private requests from the complainant about this.
  • It is my policy to not discuss what actions I have taken with a third party. This is in part due to privacy, in part due to lack of time, and in part that it can easily stretch into people second guessing my decisions and making me spend a lot of time filling in the background behind them.
  • People who I contact about problems who respond back politely will be treated better than people who reply back with complaints and insults. Nothing gets a person on my "naughty" list faster than for someone to reply back that I don't have the right to police what is on the list or that they have a 1st amendment right to post what ever they want on the list.
  • My general preference is to err on the side of allowing more discussion rather than less, and to work with a gentile hand initially. I will get firm if I feel the need.
  • Similarly, I will tend to give someone the benefit of the doubt when there hasn't been a history of problems, but am much less tolerant of repeat offenders, especially if there has been no sense that they have had a real change of attitude.

Help/FAQ

This section is designed to be of a more helpful nature, dealing with the mechanics of how to do things, and less on restrictions on what you can do.

Cast of Characters

The "cast of characters" is a web page where some list members have contributed brief bios. Everyone is welcome to contribute one! While it's strictly optional, it's a nice thing to do. See http://arlingtonlist.org/cast for more info.

Changing my list options

You’ll need your list password in order to proceed. If you don’t have it, please see "Getting your password" for instructions on how to get it.

To change your various list options, visit http://www.arlingtonlist.org/options.htm. In the text box at the bottom, enter your e-mail address under which you are currently subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in". (This page might get skipped, if your browser has remembered your log in).

The options page give you the following options:

  • Your Email address and "Real Name"
  • Change you list password
  • Get a password reminder
  • Mail Delivery - Enabled means you will get email messages from the list, Disabled suppresses the list from sending you messages, this can be used for vacation holds, etc
  • Set Digest Mode - Allows you to select individual emails or geting just a few Digest Messages a day. See /faq/digest for more information about digests.
  • Get Mime Digest or Plain Text Digests - What format digests to get. MIME digests, if your email program understands them are better, but many programs now don't support them well. See /faq/digest for more information about digests.
  • Receive your own posts to the list - This option, when set to no, tells the list to not send you a copy of your own posts. This does not affect digests. See Using Gmail for why gmail users will not see their own posts even if this option is set to yes.
  • Receive acknowledgement mail when you send mail to the list?
  • Get password reminder email for this list? By default you will be emailed once a month a password reminder telling you what email you are subscribed with and the associated password. Turning this option off will disable this message (but you can still request a reminder if you know the email address you are subscribed with). I do not suggest doing this unless you are sure to be able to remember the email address you are subscribed with, as it is very hard to retrieve that if you forget.
  • Conceal yourself from subscriber list? This option suppresses you name from the list of subscribers. The list is set to not let members see this list, so this option isn't really needed.
  • What language do you prefer? (Only English is currently supported)
  • Which topic categories would you like to subscribe to? Select what topics you want to see. See Topics for more information on topics.
  • Do you want to receive messages that do not match any topic filter? If you select any topics above, controls if you see messages which are not tagged. It is currently strongly suggest that you enable this, as most messages do not yet have topics provided.
  • Avoid duplicate copies of messages? Allows you to suppress getting a copy of the message from the list if you were copied directly in a reply. Does not affect digests.

Changing my Digest Options

The list generates a single digest to be sent to all subscribers who have subscribed to the digest, so it is impossible to customize it for different subscribers. The list automatically sends the digest when it reaches 60k in size, which tends to happen every couple of hours during the day. There current tends to be about 5-10 digests a day.

I get a small stream of emails asking about adjusting the size of the digest (normally to make it bigger so less digests are sent). If it is set any bigger, then some recipients will start having trouble (in particular those getting it on Blackberries) receiving the digest because it will be too big.

While the digest is a popular form in which to receive the list -- it has been chosen by about half of the subscribers -- It also has some significant drawbacks, and the solution to too many digests may actually be to go to individual emails and a filter. See There are too many messages!! for a full discussion on this, and hints to handle it.

Changing my email address

(Note: if these instructions seem daunting, please feel free to email arlington-owner@arlingtonlist.org, and I’ll take care of it for you!, I will need your old and new email addresses, you will still need to do the final confirmation below)

You’ll need your list password in order to proceed. If you don’t have it, please see "Getting your password" for instructions on how to get it.
To switch your subscription, do the following:
Visit http://www.arlingtonlist.org/options.htm. In the text box at the bottom, enter your e-mail address under which you are currently subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in".

On the page that appears next, find the section called "Changing your arlington membership information," enter your new email address in both fields, enter your full, real name if it is not already present, and press the "Change My Address and Name" button.

In a minute or two, you will receive a confirmation email at your new email address. In the email there will be a link. Click on the link, then on the page that appears, click the "Change Address" button. The message will talk about being able to just hit reply, and that might work, but may systems now "mess up" the message more than they used to, and sometimes the confirming reply is not recognized. Clicking the link should always work if you have internet access.

If you don't get the confirmation message, then either you miss typed your address, or your new address is blocking mail from the list (check your spam box). Another thing to try is to "white list" the mailing list by adding the following email addresses to your address book: arlington@arlingtonlist.org, arlington-bounces@arlingtonlist.org, and arlington-request@arlingtonlist.org, as these are addresses mentioned in emails from the list. (You should generally only actually send email to the first of these).

Switching to/from digest mode

First, if you are wanting to switch to digest because of the volume of message on the list, see the topic on Too many messages for alternate solutions.

Changing the size of the Digest

The digest version of the list is generated automatically by the list software. It is configured so as to make each digest message about 40K in size. This usually results in somewhere between six and ten digest messages per day, depending on list volume. Its size can not be set individually for each subscriber.

I get a trickle of emails asking for the digests to be bigger, smaller, more frequent, and less frequent, so I think I've found a happy medium.

Though the digest is a popular form in which to receive the Arlington list -- it is chosen by about half the subscribers -- it also has its drawbacks: it's harder to search and reply to, and it's impossible to sort individual messages.

You might want to consider switching from the digest mode to individual messages, and setting up a rule in your mail program to file those messages in a separate folder instead.

Filtering Emails from the list

One problem that some people have with the list is the volume of email that they get for it, and the best way to handle this volume is to configure your email client to move the messages from the list into a folder and out of your inbox. This folder can then usually be sorted in a number of ways and if you get behind, you can quickly delete mails you are not interested in. This article deals with the general principles and strategies of filtering. For help on actually creating a filter, see the section for your email client.

There are several basic statagies that can normally be used to do this filtering: Subject, Recipient, or Header Filters.

  1. Subject Filter: This form of filter is based on looking for the string [arlington] in the subject of the message. It works on the principle that all messages posted to the list have the string [arlington] added to the subject (if it isn't already there). It will tend to catch replies directly to you, whither or not it is also going to the list, as most programs will copy the subject, including the [arlington] tag for the reply. If the person edits the subject field, it might not be there, or if they "reply" from the digest or by creating a new email message, it likely will not be present.
  2. Recipient Filter: This form of filter is based on looking for the message to be sent to arlington@arlingtonlist.org A filter of this type needs to check both the To: and CC: fields, as the list address might be in either on of them. This works on the principle that (almost) all messages to the list will need to name the list as either a To or CC recipient. The almost is there because of two exceptions, messages from the towns announcement list, which the Arlington list is a subscriber to, do not list the Arlington List as a recipient, but send it as a bcc: and a special filter rule is in place to allow these messages to the list. A second rare exception is that even though the list software has a filter stopping messages that are bcc'ed to the list, and almost all that do so are rejected, an extremely few are let to the list. This filter will catch all email that was sent to the list, even if the copy you get was a direct reply
  3. Header Filter: This form of filter is based on looking for the header line List-Id containing the string arlington@arlingtonlist.org. Not all email programs can filter this way, and sometimes how to set up this sort of filter can be more difficult. This header is added to all email that passes through the list, both "normal" posts and administrative messages like password reminders and message notices, so this is the best filter if you want the filtering to be for messages "from the list", It will not catch the copy of a reply made directly to you.
  4. Separate Mailbox: While technically not an email filter, some people separate the list email from their other email by setting up a separate email box for the list (and maybe other higher volume sources). If you own your own domain this is simple to set up. There are also a number of free email providers. The biggest issues with this is it can be a bit more effort to check what is happening on the list, and to submit a message to the list, you need to send it from an email address subscribed to the list.

A summary of the options appears below:

Filter Type Filters List Messages Filters Replies to you that also go to the list Filter Private replies to you that do NOT go to the list Filters administrative messages
Subjet Filter Yes Normally Normally No
Recipient Filter Yes Yes No No
Header Filter Yes No No Yes

All of these catch the most important case of Filters List Messages, which is by far the largest volume category. Which one (or possibly ones) to use depends on how you really want the other categories of messages to be treated. There are advantages of organization for trying to catch all of them, but if your in box is otherwise low volume, not catching some of these might make something "important" stand out (like a reply to you).

Getting Duplicate messages

If you are occasionally getting duplicate messages, then it's likely happening when someone replies to one of your messages, and sends the message to both you and the list. You'll get one copy directly, and another one a few minutes later via the list. If you are getting every message in duplicate, then it's probably because you are subscribed twice. E-mail me and let me know, and I'll fix it. If you are seeing duplicate messages in the digest, it's probably not real duplication, it's probably that people are quoting previous messages and it just looks like duplicate messages. If you're convinced that the digest really has duplicates, let me know and I'll look into it.

Getting your password

Go to http://arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you subscribed, and press the "unsubscribe or edit options" button.

On the page that appears next, find the section called "Password reminder" and press "Remind"

You password will be emailed to you at that address.

My formatting is all messed up

The Arlington list is a plain text list, and messages should be sent in plain text. The list will make some attempts at converting formatted text, but sometimes this doesn't work well and you end up with strange looking messages.

Posting about bad experiences

It is ok to post about a bad (or good) experience with a business, but take great care. Arlington list subscribers are by and large just as interested in knowing about negative experiences with local businesses as about positive ones. However, a local business thrives on its good reputation, and it's all too easy for it to become tarnished. So please take great care in writing about a bad experience.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Stick to the facts.
  • Try to imagine what happened from the business's perspective, and take that into account in your story.
  • Hopefully, you talked with the business first, to see if they were willing to help with the problem
  • Be sure of your motives. If you think others will truly be helped by your story, that's fine; but if you're just blowing off steam, maybe writing the message was sufficient and actually sending it isn't necessary.
  • Remember that there are over a thousand members of the Arlington list, so what you say can really have an effect.
  • Many local business owners are on the list, and it's of great value to the list that so many local busines owners care enough about what we think to take the time and effort to read and participate.
  • Also realize that many people have likely dealt with the business and haven't had a problem. It is a statement of fact that you had a problem with the business, and that they did not, this is not a contradiction. To generalize and say because of your problem they must be horrible, but because of others not having problems they must be great, is an improper generalization.

Posting to the list

Using your favorite email program, compose your message and then send it to the address arlington@arlingtonlist.org. The message should be listed as being sent from an address that is subscribed to the list, and name the list as one of its recipients (no BCC to the list). The message should have an appropriate subject.

Many people find it helpful to create an entry in their address book for this address.

If you accidentally send it to another address at arlingtonlist.org, it may end up in my mailbox (also possibly my spam box, where I might not see it), and I'll write back to you with a fairly impersonal message letting you know. Please don't take it personally! Unfortunately, once the message has arrived in my mailbox, I can't cause it to be delivered to the list short of forwarding it, which would make it come from me instead of you.

Reading old messages on the list

You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "Getting your password" for instructions on how to get it.


If you are interested in reading back issues of the list, go to http://arlingtonlist.org/archives and enter your list username and password, and you'll be able to read them month by month.


If you want to search the archives, please visit http://arlingtonlist.org/archives/search.

Recomendations Archives

The Recommendation database was taken offline because it got too out of date. If someone wants to bring it back online, and is willing to help keep it updated, contact me.

You may also want to check out the wiki at http://wiki.arlingtonlist.org/

Searching the Archives

The Arlignton List has two sets of archives available to its subscribers, and access to these will require you to log in with your list email address and password. If you do not remember your password see Getting your Password

The first is built by the list software (available at http://arlingtonlist.org/archives. This set of archives first groups all the messages by the month they were posted, and in each month, provides a listing of the messages sorted in several manners (Author, Date, Subject, Thread).

The second is built by custom code (available at http://arlingtonlist.org/archives/search This archive is searchable over author, date, and content.

Use of that search form is described here:

The form provides fields to specify what to search for. These are "Search", "Author", "Start", and "End"

Search defines what words or phrases are to be found in the desired messages, it will search for the words in either the subject of the message or the body. The field uses a special syntax to define what words to look for. By default, the form will look for messages containing any combination of the words in any order, ranking pages with more matches higher than those with less. You can modify this a follows:

+word
Words preceded by a + symbol MUST occur in the message
-word
Words preceded by a - symbol MUST NOT occur in the message
word*
Matches any word that begins with word
"word1 word2 word3"
Match the word sequence in order. Punctuation does not need to be matched
>word
Increase weight of word so matches with this word count more than other words
<word
Decrease weight of word so matches with this word count less than other words
~word
Word has negative weight, messages with this word count less than message without it

Words of 3 or less characters are not processed, as well as some longer very common words.

If search is empty, there will be no match score.

Author defines a string that needs to be present as part of the from field of the message.

Start and End specify the starting and ending dates to search for messages. Only message that were sent on or after the start date and before the end date are selected. Generally it is intended that the user provide a full date, but the routine parsing is actually fairly versatile (start dates like today, yesterday, or this week will be processed). The one thing I have heard that it doesn't accept is just a year.

History of the List

The Arlington List was started by Betsy Schwartz in the late summer of 1998 with a signup sheet passed around the Mt Gilboa playground construction site at the Reservoir.

Stopping Email temporarily

You’ll need your list password in order to proceed. If you don’t have it, please see "Getting your password" for instructions on how to get it.

To change your various list options, visit http://www.arlingtonlist.org/options.htm. In the text box at the bottom, enter your e-mail address under which you are currently subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in". (This page might get skipped, if your browser has remembered your log in).

On the next page will be your options page, the first option is "Mail Delivery", change that option to "Disable" to stop receiving messages. Change back to "Enable" to resume getting messages.

Subscribing

Go to http://arlingtonlist.org/subscribe to get to the subscription form (it will redirect you to the list software page)

In the form enter

  • your email address,
  • your name (optional, but see Rules / Subscribing for why you should put in your real name),
  • a password (if you don't, a random one will be chosen for you), the list will email a reminder to you monthly with this password listed.
  • Select Individual Messages or Digest format. (See Digests for a discussion of the digest)

The list software will then email you a confirmation message. In that message is a link to click on to confirm your subscription. The message also mentions replying, but that is less reliable as some email programs reformat messages in ways that the list can't recognize.

You will then start to receive your messages. Note that you must send message to the list form the address you subscribed with.

To unsubscribe, see Unsubscribing

Subscription suddenly stopped

The most likely reason that your subscription stopped is that the list software detected that messages sent to your email address were bouncing. Perhaps your mailbox was full, or perhaps there were problems with your mail system.

You can re-enable your subscription yourself! You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "Getting your password" for instructions on how to get it.

To re-enable your subscription, go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Edit Options" button.

On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in".

On the page that appears next, find the section called "Disable mail delivery," and select "Off." At the bottom of the page, press the "Submit My Changes" button.

There are too many messages!

There are three solutions: (a) Digests; (b) Filtering into Folders; (c) Setting No Mail and reading on-line
With digests, you get a few big messages each day that contain all the messages for that day, instead of getting them as individual messages throughout the day. You enable digests by changing an option on your list subscription. See Digests for details.


With filtering into folders, you direct all List messages automatically into a specific mail folder on your computer, instead of having them interspersed throughout your general mail in-box. You set this up in a way specific to your mail client or service (AOL, Eudora, Outlook Express, Yahoo Mail, HotMail, etc). See Filtering for a bigger discussion on how to set up filtering, and Using the list with various programs for detailed instructions for you program (if a writeup is available for it).


There are advantages to each method, but filtering into folders is best, if you're willing to take a bit more trouble to set it up.


When you receive the list as digests, you can no longer treat each message as an individual e-mail for surgical deletion and other operations. Replying to a digest message works if you want to post a reply to the list, but the subject of the reply becomes something like "[arlington] RE: arlington digest, Vol 1 #318 - 28 msgs". It's easy enough to change that manually to the true subject, but if you forget, or type it wrong, your readers may not realize which message you are replying to. Also, with digests, there's no convenient way to reply to the sender rather than the whole List. You'll have to copy and paste the recipient's e-mail address, or use another method.


Filtering into folders automatically places all your Arlington List messages in a specific, segregated place (folder) on your own system or account, as soon as each message arrives. There are just as many messages and they arrive all day long, but they aren't cluttering up any other folder, and there aren't any other messages cluttering them up. You can go look at them in their special folder -- or not -- when you choose.


In their special ArlingtonList folder, you can still work with each message as an individual e-mail, and do things like sort and mark the headers, delete individual messages, and whatever features your e-mail system provides. Perhaps most important, you can reply or reply-all to an individual post in the usual way.


Another advantage of not using digests is that you can filter out messages from particular individuals, should you wish to. Again, the method for doing that varies with the mail system you are using.


There's essentially no discernable difference in efficiency between digests and filtering into folders: both take about the same time to download and both occupy about the same amount of disk space.

Unsubscribing

There are several ways to unsubscribe. The simplest methods begin at http://arlingtonlist.org/options.htm which has a form where you can enter your email address then press the button marked "Unsubscribe or edit options". (This same form is also available at the bottom of http://arlingtonlist.org/subscribe ).

Pressing the button will bring your to a page where you can either log in with your password (see Getting your password if you need help getting it) to directly unsubscribe, or you can press the button that says "Unsubscribe" on this page. If you use this button, the list will email you a message with a link to click on to confirm that it is you who wants to unsubscribe. This message also comments about replying to the email, but this doesn't always work, as if your email program replies with a formatted message, that formatting can confuse the message processor, thus I suggest using the link.

Using the list with various programs

This section contains a number of hints on methods to use various programs/mail providers to use the list better.

If anyone would like to contribute guides for these or other programs, please contact me.

Using GMail

Using Outlook

Using Verizon Webmail

One common problem with Verizon is that their web mail client does not send Plain Text messages. Please see the article below on how to correct this.

Setting up Email Filter on Verizon

See Filtering for a discussion of the effects of the various types of filters. Note that Verizon doesn't support generic header filtering, so that option is not available.

Verizon Web Mail supports some basic filtering, including detecting key words in the Subject of a message or the recipients of the message.

The first step is to create a folder to place the messages in. Select Settings / Email and the press the + after My Folders (circled).

Then enter the name you want for your folder, and press "Create"

Resulting in the following, showing the folder as created.

Lastly, we can create the actual filter shown below. Select Settings / Email Settings / Filters and build the filter as shown below. Filtering messages to the list should look in both the To and Cc fields, as the list's address might end up in either one depending on the program the poster used to generate this message (if a reply). A Subject message would read "If Subject Contains [arlington]". Press the "Save" button to create the filter.

Verizon Plain Text

There are two ways to fix the fact that Verizon doesn't include plain text version in formatted messages.

The first is to just change your settings so all messages are posted in plain text (and you can manually change this on a message by message basis). Select the "Settings" function on the menu bar, then General Settings / Display. On the page near the bottom is the option "Compose Email Format", select "Plain Text" to make messages default to being in Plain Text (see picture below, circled in green).

The second option is to change the settings message by message as needed. When you start a new message, it will default to being in Rich Text Format (unless you have changed the setting as above), and you will be present with a screen like below. Note that you are given a formatting bar with lots of options, the last of which (circled) is to convert the message to plain text.

If the Plain Text option is selected, you will get the following message, since for post to the list we WANT to lose the formatting, you should select Ok

This will then give you the following screen, note that formatting bar is mostly gone. The main thing is a link to convert back to Rich Text. If you changed the default to Plain Text, you can use this when you want to send a formatted message (not to the list).

Using Yahoo

Why didn't my post show up?

In order for a message to make it to the list several things need to happen:

  1. It must be sent to the list address, this is arlington@arlingtonlist.org, sending to any other address will not get your message to the list.Message sent to other addresses will not make it to the list. Some broken software seems to want to send replies to the wrong address. arlington-bounces, arlington-request, arlington-owner, or arlingtonlist are NOT proper email addresses for sending messages to the list.
  2. The message must be sent from an address that is subscribed to the list. The list software will automatically discard messages that do not come from subscribers. The email address that the mail comes from must be spelled exactly like the subscription address, the list does not know that the email is from you unless the email address matches, it doesn't know about other email addresses you may have, or alternate spellings allowed by your ISP.
  3. The list is a plain text list, if a message is sent with formatting or attachments, these are removed by the list software (this blocks viruses and keeps the digest readable). Some software (particularly web mail systems) do not include the expected plain version of formatted messages, which will cause the messages to be ignored quietly by the list.
  4. If you are a new poster (or have been put on moderation for violation of list rules) your message will be held for review. This will delay the message getting to the list, it will generally be forwarded to the list when reviewed if it is appropriate or a rejection message will be returned to you.
  5. If you have cleared the option "Receive on posts to the list" (or are on Gmail) you will not see your own messages. See Changing my list options for more information.

Information about the list

The following topics provide more background information about the list

Concern of the operation of the list

First. I would suggest addressing any issues directly with me. Second, you can join the Arlington List Governance list and post your concern or idea there! The Arlington List Administration list is for discussing the way the Arlington list is being run, for voicing concerns about the list, for suggesting new ideas, and so on. To subscribe to this list, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/arlingtonlistadmin/ and subscribe to the group. To post to the Administration list, send your message to arlingtonlistadmin@yahoogroups.com. You must first join before you will be allowed to post.

 

Globe Article about the list

ARLINGTON
Community ties grow on town's e-mail list

By David Desjardins, Globe Correspondent, 7/25/2002

ARLINGTON - When a Fordham Street house burned down on July 6, news of the tragedy sparked a community response. One resident, Jerri Newman, contacted the family who owned the house, asking what kind of help they needed. Another, Diane Gordon - whose own house had burned down a couple of years ago - talked about the aid her family received after the fire, and, along with still others, volunteered to help organize assistance.

Offers of aid in the wake of a neighbor's disaster are not all that unusual, but the nature of this particular response was. None of the people offering help knew the family who lost their home; in fact, many didn't even know one another. Their interactions took place mostly over the Internet. They are members of Arlington's e-mail list, a lively daily online conversation devoted to all things Arlington.

''It was very nice to get a call from those people,'' said Marianne Benson, whose family is in temporary housing until the house can be rebuilt. ''It's wonderful what they did.''

The list, a five-year-old institution in town, doesn't always concern itself with such serious matters. Topics for public consumption range from excitement over the imminent opening nearby of a Krispy Kreme donut shop to the pros and cons of closing one of the town's fire stations.

E-mail lists aimed at people with a common interest are all over the Internet; there are lists for devotees of almost anything one can think of: dog lovers, hikers, train enthusiasts. Arlington's list is uncommon in that, for a group whose members have only their place of residence in common, participation is extremely active. Postings to the list usually run over 100 each day.

''I've never participated in an e-mail list that's so local,'' said Jan Stetson, a technical writer who constructed the Web site www.arlingtonlist.org, where people can get access to the list. '' A person says, `A tree fell in my yard, and I've cut it up: Does anyone want firewood?'''

Officials in the neighboring towns of Belmont, Lexington, and Winchester say they don't know of any comparable list in their communities. Even technology-savvy Cambridge has no links to an e-mail list from the town's official Web site.

''Arlington is frankly ahead of most other towns on this,'' said Bob Sprague, Arlington's webmaster, a frequent contributor to the list.

His opinion is echoed by many list subscribers. ''Arlington has a huge number of people who have made the leap of using e-mail as a way of life,'' said David Coletta, who manages the Arlington list. ''It's no coincidence that AT&T and RCN both used Arlington as a pilot community for rolling out cable modems. Many people here are in high-tech, and they have the money.''

The list is open to anyone who wants to subscribe. Messages come via e-mail either individually or in batches of as many as 30 messages at a time. Subscribers can read all posted messages, which include the sender's name and e-mail address, and can respond either individually or to the list itself.

Started in 1997 by Betsy Schwartz - using software made available at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, where she worked - the list is many things to many people: 550 subscribers by last count.

Some members are content simply to read other people's messages - ''lurkers'' is the term that list members use for these. Others write frequently on a universe of subjects: the frequent power losses of recent weeks, for which NSTAR has come under severe fire; the proposed closing of the Park Circle fire station (later defeated at Town Meeting); news about new restaurants; recommendations on local business establishments. Some submit messages of immediate interest: Travis J.I. Corcoran - known to list members as TJIC for his initials - for example, said, ''I sometimes send out news flashes (for example, an oil spill on Mass. Ave. which caused me to drop my bike during my cycle commute), because I know that others do read continuously and may be able to make use of alerts.''

Town officials also use the list on an informal basis. School Committee member Paul Schlichtman, Selectwoman Diane M. Mahon, and state Representative J. James Marzilli Jr. are all regular contributors, and Sprague, the town's webmaster, makes frequent use of the list to disseminate town-related information. The town's Web site contains a link to the list. Sprague is such a frequent poster that list manager Coletta said a lot of people write him and call him Bob.

Political discourse is also a regular component of the list. Corcoran, a seven-year Arlington resident, relishes the list's political debate because, he said, his ''libertarian/anarchist'' views are generally unrepresented there. On the other side of the political spectrum is Joe Tully, a Town Meeting member who describes himself as ''left of left'': ''I'm probably more active than I ever wanted to be. I can't let things go.'' Tully said he views the list as ''a quick and efficient microcosm of the Internet, as it relates to our town politics.''

A key element of the list's popularity seems to be its open atmosphere. Unlike many e-mail lists, the Arlington list is not moderated: members' submissions are uncensored.

Coletta - who works for eRoom Technology, in Cambridge, and said he spends a couple of hours a week of his personal time managing the list - describes himself as ''the benevolent dictator.'' There are pretty simple rules, he said: no personal attacks on other list members and no re-posting of private e-mail. When those rules are violated, Coletta said, he contacts the offending party. ''When I give someone a warning,'' he said, ''people have generally responded positively.''

Still, sometimes the conversation on the list gets heated; in some people's opinion, too hot. ''There's quite a free range of political debate on the e-mail list,'' said Sprague. ''Because it gets into such free-ranging discussion, it's probably best that the town not be formally connected with it.''

Stetson said the free expression found on the list is crucial. Another list she subscribed to, she said, changed dramatically after becoming a moderated forum: ''It became essentially useless. It didn't seem to be a free-flowing conversation. It ceased to have the immediacy - that you could throw out a question or problem and get back answers from a variety of quarters.''

When it comes to discussing the list's role in the community, most members point with pride to its grass-roots effort last year to help a young girl with cancer. It started when Sprague, who had learned that the granddaughter of a fellow town employee was in need of a bone-marrow transplant, posted a message about the girl's situation. Other list members responded, wanting to help.

One, Joe Tully, contacted the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and was told that people who wanted to be tested for a possible bone-marrow donation should go to the Boston facility. Another, Lori Uhland, decided that wasn't enough; she persuaded Dana-Farber to hold a bone-marrow drive in Arlington. Within a month, the drive was held at Town Hall, and 97 official donors were signed up.

The girl did receive a bone-marrow donation - though not, in the end, from any of the donors who signed up that day. Some of those donors, however, have continued in the program with Dana-Farber. ''It was most certainly the list's finest moment,'' said list member Jane Stein.

''It was amazing to see all these people reaching out and doing something for a stranger,'' Uhland said. ''People say that we're disconnected as a society because of people using computers so much, but in this case, the exact opposite was true: Computers brought individuals together and created a connection that is really strong.''

One subscriber, Linda Guttmann, organizes monthly dinners at which subscribers may put faces to names and enjoy conversation and a meal. Still, a surprising number of list members say they personally know few fellow subscribers. Coletta himself said he has attended only one list dinner: ''Not knowing the people is helpful in some ways,'' he said. ''I sort of assume that any of the people I meet in town could be list members. It tends to soften your daily interactions around town.''

Whether it be help in finding a lost cat or advice in caring for a sick relative, many list members say they've seen the list's benefits firsthand.

Said Stetson: ''There are so many positive things. ... There's as much free-floating helpfulness and good spirit as there is mean spirit and unhelpfulness.''

This story ran on page N1 of the Boston Globe on 7/25/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

How many posts per day?

There are currently about 80-100 posts per day. See also the stats page

How many subscribers?

As of October 1, 2012, there were about 5367 subscribers
As of July 1, 2006, there were about 2110 subscribers.
As of February 1, 2004, there were about 1,139 subscribers.
As of January 1, 2004, there were about 1,094 subscribers.
As of December 1, 2003, there were about 1,067 subscribers.
As of November 2, 2003, there were about 1,040 subscribers.
As of October 1, 2003, there were about 1,023 subscribers.
As of September 3, 2003, there were about 985 subscribers.
As of August 1, 2003, there were about 948 subscribers.
As of July 1, 2003, there were about 921 subscribers.
As of of March 1, 2003, there were about 794 subscribers.
As of February 4, 2003, there were about 767 subscribers.
As of January 5, 2003, there were about 740 subscribers.

Note: the number of subscribers is an estimate, because there are some people who are subscribed under multiple email addresses.

How to write interesting posts

The principles that guide these tips are simple: we want our e-mail list to be interesting, civil, and manageable. Interesting means posts that are on-topic and make for good reading. Civil means posts that treat list members with respect, though it doesn't rule out a good argument once in a while. Manageable means fewer e-mails are better than more if they say the same thing. We all have enough noise in our lives.


PLEASE EDIT YOUR POST. When you reply to a message, please don't quote the entire previous message. Please take an extra few seconds to edit the amount of quoted material down to the bare minimum so that your reply will make sense. This especially helps the digest version of the list, where one long reply thread might fill a whole digest message.


CONSIDER ASKING FOR REPLIES TO GO TO YOU. If you're asking for a contractor reference, for example, you might consider asking people to e-mail you directly and offering to summarize the results. When you do this, you provide a very helpful service to the entire list, because you consolidate all the useful info into one message which can be saved if it's of interest, or skipped if it's not.


ASK YOURSELF: WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE? Think about whether your message is of interest to the whole list, or just the person you're replying to. If it's just the person you're replying to, consider sending it just to that person rather than the whole list. Note that when you reply to a list message, by default your reply will go to the individual person; if you want it to go to the whole list, you'll need to edit the "To:" field of your reply. In any case, please note who your reply is going to and make it a conscious decision.


TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Did someone just say something that annoyed the $#@! out of you? Don't you just want to write back to the whole list and tell them what you really think of them? Well, go ahead and write it! Just don't send it for a few hours or a day. Re-read it before you send it. Rewrite it so it's civil. We'll all appreciate your efforts.


WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK. I'm happy to answer questions of style, form, etiquette, or even spelling :-).

List Dinners

List dinners are organized to help Arlingtonians meet one another and to enjoy a tasty meal in Arlington. We have business owners, homeowners, renters, longtime residents, public officials, etc., who attend each month. The dinners are open to anyone on the list who lives in Arlington or who is interested in being with a room full of Arlingtonians.

The dinners are usually planned for a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday starting at 7 p.m. Occasionally we meet on a Friday evening. We try to choose restaurants that are very vegetarian friendly. As for kids, when a post is sent to invite people to the dinners, it indicates whether or not it is a kid-friendly restaurant. We also do pot luck dinners at list member's homes. Occasionally we dine out of town to enjoy a cuisine that is not available in Arlington.

You are responsible for your own check. Sometimes appetizers are shared and the people who share them divide up their cost. We have name tags at each of the dinners, and you get a chance to meet those seated near you at the dinner. It is recommended to come more than once to get a chance to meet everyone at the dinners and to find those with whom you may have more in common.

If you have more questions or suggestions, you can send an e-mail to Linda Guttman at queenofcocoa@gmail.com or Dick Smith at Dixmith@aol.com.

Spam

Will you get more spam from being subscribed to the Arlington List? The short answer: probably not.

The longer answer: If you never post a message to the list, there is no way for anyone, whether a member of the list or not, to obtain your e-mail address, so there is no risk of getting spam as a result of your list membership. If you post a message to the list, it is possible, though very unlikely, that another member of the list will use your e-mail address to send you spam, or will forward your message to someone else who use your e-mail address to send you spam. The list archives are kept private, in part, to keep automated robots from harvesting the archives for email addresses to spam.

Note: If you join the cast of characters, a public web page, you expose your e-mail address to the public, and your e-mail address may be obtained for the purpose of sending you spam. Email addresses are obfuscated on this page, which reduces the chance of them being used for spam, but it's still possible. See also Cast of Characters

Viruses

Can I get a virus from the list? No. It is absolutely impossible for a virus to be transmitted via a message sent through the Arlington list. This is because the Arlington list software delivers only plain text, and filters out attachments and scripts, which is how viruses are delivered.

However, you can get a virus from any individual with whom you correspond by e-mail. So if you correspond with an individual on the Arlington list, you may receive a virus from that person. And there are viruses which pretend to be from people who are in the address book of the infected person. So you may receive a virus which appears to be from someone you know from the Arlington list, but is really from someone whose address book contained that person. In the same way, other people can get a virus which appears to be from you but is really from someone with whom you've corresponded.

It is also possible to get a virus from a web site, so if you click on a link contained in an e-mail, and you visit the web site that the link points to, and that web site is malicious, you may get a virus that way.

The bottom line: if you subscribe to the Arlington list but never correspond with anyone on the list or post to the list, and you never click on any links in e-mails posted through the list, there is no way you can get a virus either from the list or from anyone on the list.

Everyone should take measures to prevent virus infection: running virus-scanning software is one good way to do this.

What is the list good for?

Here are just a few of the many good things that people use this list for.

  • Asking for recommendations for plumbers, electricians, masons, and the like.

  • Discussing town politics, current news and events, schools, and other Arlington-related issues.

  • Finding and providing housing in Arlington.

  • Selling or giving away used stuff.

  • Advertising concerts, plays, dances, etc., which either take place in Arlington, or involve Arlington residents.

  • Announcing breaking town news.

  • Finding other people in town who are interested in the same things you are.

The Arlington list covers a wide range of topics. You will almost certainly find that some topics interest you more than others. You should skip over or delete messages or topics that don't interest you. Doing so will probably make the list much more interesting and useful to you. Don't be surprised if some days nothing seems of interest -- topics you find more relevant will probably crop up again in a day or two!

Old FAQ

Arlington List Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

[0] What are the basic rules of the list?

Now at Basic Rules The list is a community of people gathering to interact with each other and help each other. It is requested that people treat each other with respect and civility. As owner of the list, I develop, maintain and enforce these rules, which are spelled out in the rest of this FAQ. Use of this list is subject to a couple of conditions:

  1. You agree to follow the list rules as spelled out here
  2. You agree that I am the final arbitor of the interpretation of these rule, and will accept my rulings on list matters,
  3. You realize that I do not have detailed control over what is posted on the list, as I do not review every message before it reaches the list
  4. Therefore, you will hold me, and those that help me, harmless for the material here, but will deal with the original poster.
  5. If you can not agree to these rules, I ask that you leave the list.

Richard Damon

[1] How do I subscribe to the list?

Now at FAQ / Subscribing and Rules / Subscribing Go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and find the section called "Subscribing to Arlington." Enter your e-mail address, your real, full name, a password of your own choosing in both password fields, select digest mode if you like, then press the "Subscribe" button. Your privacy is under your control. Note that you do not have to provide your real name to subscribe to the list, nor are you required to sign your postings with your real name (though it's strongly recommended). Also, no one else on the list can see your e-mail address or discover that you are a member of the list until you post a message to the list. Further questions about privacy are answered in 13. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[2] How do I cancel my subscription to the list?

Now at Unsubscribe To cancel your subscription, you’ll need your list password. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. Then go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button. On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in". On the page that appears next, find the section called "Unsubscribing from Arlington," enter your password, check the checkbox labeled "Yes, I really want to unsubscribe", and press "Unsubscribe". Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[3] Why didn't my html ("rich text") message or attachments make it through to the list?

Now at Why didn't my post show up? The list software filters out all the formatting and attachments, and delivers only the plain text part of your message. This keeps the digest version from becoming cluttered with HTML, and prevents viruses from being transmitted via the list. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[4] How do I get my list password?

Now at Getting your password Go to http://arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button. On the page that appears next, find the section called "Password reminder" and press "Remind". Your password will be emailed to you. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[5] I have a new e-mail address and I'd like to switch my subscription. How do I do it?

Now at Changing my email address (Note: if these instructions seem daunting, please feel free to email arlington-owner@arlingtonlist.org, and I’ll take care of it for you!) You’ll need your list password in order to proceed. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. To switch your subscription, do the following: Visit http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter your e-mail address under which you are currently subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button. On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in". On the page that appears next, find the section called "Changing your arlington membership information," enter your new email address in both fields, enter your full, real name if it is not already present, and press the "Change My Address and Name" button. In a minute or two, you will receive a confirmation email at your new email address. In the email there will be a link. Click on the link, then on the page that appears, click the "Change Address" button. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[6] What can I change about my list subscription?

Now at Changing my list options You’ll need your list password to change any of your subscription options. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. You can disable mail delivery; you can switch between regular mode and digest mode; you can switch your digests between plain text and MIME; you can control whether you receive messages you send to the list; and you can control whether you receive acknowledgements when you send messages to the list. Also, there is an option to conceal yourself from the subscriber list, but it doesn't actually do anything, because I have set up the list so that no one can ever see the subscriber list at all. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[7] Can I disable mail delivery for a little while without unsubscribing?

Now at Stopping Email temporarily Yes! You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. Go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button. On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in". On the next page, find the section called "Mail delivery," and click "Disabled." At the bottom of the page, press the "Submit My Changes" button. When you want to turn delivery back on, follow the above instructions, except choose "Enabled" instead of "Disabled." Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[8] There are too many messages on this list! What can I do?

Now at There are too many messages There are two solutions: (a) Digests; (b) Filtering into Folders. With digests, you get a few big messages each day that contain all the messages for that day, instead of getting them as individual messages throughout the day. You enable digests by changing an option on your list subscription. See A7 for details. With filtering into folders, you direct all List messages automatically into a specific mail folder on your computer, instead of having them interspersed throughout your general mail in-box. You set this up in a way specific to your mail client or service (AOL, Eudora, Outlook Express, Yahoo Mail, HotMail, etc). A8 will soon contain instructions for setting up filtering into folders on many of the popular mail clients and services. There are advantages to each method, but filtering into folders is best, if you're willing to take a bit more trouble to set it up. When you receive the list as digests, you can no longer treat each message as an individual e-mail for surgical deletion and other operations. Replying to a digest message works if you want to post a reply to the list, but the subject of the reply becomes something like "[arlington] RE: arlington digest, Vol 1 #318 - 28 msgs". It's easy enough to change that manually to the true subject, but if you forget, or type it wrong, your readers may not realize which message you are replying to. Also, with digests, there's no convenient way to reply to the sender rather than the whole List. You'll have to copy and paste the recipient's e-mail address, or use another method. Filtering into folders automatically places all your Arlington List messages in a specific, segregated place (folder) on your own system or account, as soon as each message arrives. There are just as many messages and they arrive all day long, but they aren't cluttering up any other folder, and there aren't any other messages cluttering them up. You can go look at them in their special folder -- or not -- when you choose. In their special ArlingtonList folder, you can still work with each message as an individual e-mail, and do things like sort and mark the headers, delete individual messages, and whatever features your e-mail system provides. Perhaps most important, you can reply or reply-all to an individual post in the usual way. Another advantage of not using digests is that you can filter out messages from particular individuals, should you wish to. Again, the method for doing that varies with the mail system you are using. There's essentially no discernable difference in efficiency between digests and filtering into folders: both take about the same time to download and both occupy about the same amount of disk space. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[9] How do I switch between regular mode and digest mode?

Now at Switching to/from digest mode You can change your subscription so that instead of getting every message individually, you get one or two big messages each day that contains 25 or so messages at a time. You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. Go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Edit Options" button. On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in". On the page that appears next, find the section called "Set Digest Mode," and select "On." At the bottom of the page, press the "Submit My Changes" button. If you want to turn digest mode off, follow the above instructions, except choose "Off" instead of "On." Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[10] Why am I getting duplicate messages?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/duplicate If you are occasionally getting duplicate messages, then it's likely happening when someone replies to one of your messages, and sends the message to both you and the list. You'll get one copy directly, and another one a few minutes later via the list. If you are getting every message in duplicate, then it's probably because you are subscribed twice. E-mail me and let me know, and I'll fix it. If you are seeing duplicate messages in the digest, it's probably not real duplication, it's probably that people are quoting previous messages and it just looks like duplicate messages. If you're convinced that the digest really has duplicates, let me know and I'll look into it. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[11] How can I read archived list messages?

Now at Searching the Archives You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. If you are interested in reading back issues of the list, go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/archives and enter your list username and password, and you'll be able to read them month by month. If you want to search the archives, please visit http://www.arlingtonlist.org/archives/search. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[12] Can I get a virus from the Arlington list?

Now at Viruses No. It is absolutely impossible for a virus to be transmitted via a message sent through the Arlington list. This is because the Arlington list software delivers only plain text, and filters out attachments and scripts, which is how viruses are delivered. However, you can get a virus from any individual with whom you correspond by e-mail. So if you correspond with an individual on the Arlington list, you may receive a virus from that person. And there are viruses which pretend to be from people who are in the address book of the infected person. So you may receive a virus which appears to be from someone you know from the Arlington list, but is really from someone whose address book contained that person. In the same way, other people can get a virus which appears to be from you but is really from someone with whom you've corresponded. It is also possible to get a virus from a web site, so if you click on a link contained in an e-mail, and you visit the web site that the link points to, and that web site is malicious, you may get a virus that way. The bottom line: if you subscribe to the Arlington list but never correspond with anyone on the list or post to the list, and you never click on any links in e-mails posted through the list, there is no way you can get a virus either from the list or from anyone on the list. Everyone should take measures to prevent virus infection: running virus-scanning software is one good way to do this. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[13] What is the privacy policy of the list?

Now at Privacy Here is the current privacy policy of the list. It describes your rights to your postings, the way the list software handles your private information such as your e-mail address, and the topic of anonymity. Definitions:

  • List owner: the person who runs the list, plus anyone who is designed to run the list while the list owner is on vacation or otherwise unavailable.
  • Lurker: one who subscribes to the list but has never posted a message.
  • Post: to send a message to the whole list by e-mailing the message to arlington@arlingtonlist.org
  • Subscription: your voluntary agreement to receive Arlington list messages
  • Subscription information: your e-mail address and certain preferences such as whether you receive individual messages or digest messages

You have the right to remain a lurker Until you post a message to the list, your identity as a member of the list is secret. The list software prevents other list members from knowing who is a member of the list. Only the list owner has access to the list membership records. The list owner will make best reasonable efforts never to reveal the existence of your subscription as long as you are a lurker. You have the right to subscribe anonymously The only personally identifying information the list software stores about you as part of your subscription is your e-mail address, optionally your name, and some preference settings such as whether you prefer individual messages or digest messages. Other than your name, the list software does not store personal information about you other than that which is part of your e-mail address. There is no policy that requires you to provide your real name as part of your list subscription, and as long as you never post a message, you will never be asked for your name. If you post a message anonymously, you should expect that fellow list members will ask you for your name, because there is a general expectation among the list that providing your real name makes your words more credible and adds to the level of civility and community that we expect from each other. You will never be removed from the list by the list owner solely because of your anonymous status, but you may be removed from the list without prior notice if you anonymously post messages which violate list policy or otherwise cause harm to the list in the judgment of the list owner. Personal information retained by the list software The list software retains your e-mail address, your name if you provide it, a number of non-identifying personal preferences such as whether you prefer individual messages or digest messages, and the contents of all messages you post to the list. No other information is retained. All messages you post to the list are archived and available to anyone who subscribes to the list. Your archive queries are stored and displayed only to you. The archives are protected from access by the Internet at large, but anyone may subscribe to the list and then access the archives. Information in the archives may not be modified. Access to your subscription information Access to your e-mail address and your preferences is password protected, so others are prevented from accessing it. Only you and the list owner are allowed to access this information. This information will never be shared with anyone without your prior permission. Risks of spam If you never post a message to the list, there is no way for anyone, whether a member of the list or not, to obtain your e-mail address, so there is no risk of getting spam as a result of your list membership. If you post a message to the list, it is possible, though unlikely, that another member of the list will use your e-mail address to send you spam, or will forward your message to someone else who use your e-mail address to send you spam. If you join the cast of characters, a public web page, you expose your e-mail address to the public, and your e-mail address may be obtained for the purpose of sending you spam. Ownership of your postings By posting a message to the list, you retain your copyright but grant (1) a non-exclusive license to all list members to forward that message by e-mail to anyone, and (2) a non-exclusive license to the list owner to maintain an archive. These two rights you grant by posting to the list constitute the only exceptions to the normal protection afforded by the copyright you retain to your words, so any other use of an e-mail you send to this list requires your prior permission. Any use of your posting without your permission, beyond the two licenses granted here, is a matter between you and the person who uses your posting improperly, and you agree to hold the list owner harmless. After you leave the list Your subscription information is destroyed when you leave the list. Archived messages previously posted by you are retained indefinitely and continue to be subject to the above "ownership of your postings" policy. Best efforts of the list owner The list owner makes best reasonable efforts to enforce the above policies. However, the list software may contain defects which compromise your privacy, and the password protection of secret information may be compromised by a determined attacker. You agree to hold the list owner harmless in the event that your privacy is compromised. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[14] Is this list moderated?

Now at Moderation No, not in the technical sense of "moderated," which would mean that there is someone approving each and every message to the list. I manage the list, which means that I deal with subscriptions and answer questions, but I normally do not exercise any control over the content of the list beyond enforcement of the civility policies ("16"). Occasionally, it happens that non-members will try to post messages to the list without first subscribing. Those messages are sometimes ill advised, since they are sent without benefit of much knowledge about the list. When this happens, I suggest that the sender join the list first, read it for a while, and then decide whether they still want to send their message. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[15] What is this list good for?

Now at What is the list good for Here are just a few of the many good things that people use this list for.

  • Asking for recommendations for plumbers, electricians, masons, and the like.
  • Discussing town politics, current news and events, schools, and other Arlington-related issues.
  • Finding and providing housing in Arlington.
  • Selling or giving away used stuff.
  • Advertising concerts, plays, dances, etc., which either take place in Arlington, or involve Arlington residents.
  • Announcing breaking town news.
  • Finding other people in town who are interested in the same things you are.

The Arlington list covers a wide range of topics. You will almost certainly find that some topics interest you more than others. You should skip over or delete messages or topics that don't interest you. Doing so will probably make the list much more interesting and useful to you. Don't be surprised if some days nothing seems of interest -- topics you find more relevant will probably crop up again in a day or two. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[16] How do I help maintain civility on the list?

Now at Civility The Arlington list is a private forum managed and paid for by a volunteer. The mission of the list is to further civil online discussion in our town, and the purpose of these guidelines is to support that mission. Submitting postings to the Arlington list is a privilege granted to everyone without condition. However, posting freely and having your messages delivered immediately is a privilege earned by following these guidelines. 1. Do not make personal attacks on other list members. See 35 for more details on what constitutes a personal attack. 2. Do not repost to the list an e-mail you received privately, whether signed or unsigned, unless you have the author's permission to do so, or unless the message was obviously written with the intention of unlimited distribution. For the purpose of this guideline, "private" means "not posted to the Arlington list." 3. Sign your posts with your real, full name. See 26 for more details on what this means. 4. Stick to the topic of Arlington. This is especially important if you are posting about something controversial. See 36 for more details about what's on topic for the list. 5. Take the long, heated arguments with one or two other people to private email. 6. When posting on a controversial topic, take responsibility for guiding the discussion back towards civility, even if you don't think that others are doing the same. Normally, everyone on the Arlington list is allowed to post anything they want, and their messages are delivered immediately without a chance for the list manager to see the messages first. However, if your postings violate these guidelines, then the list manager may contact you to discuss it. If, in the list manager's judgment, your postings continue to violate the guidelines repeatedly and with a lack of good-faith effort to improve, the list manager may choose to make your subscription moderated. The list manager will notify you in this case. Please also note that a new list member's subscription is moderated for the first few postings. Having a moderated subscription means that when you post a message, it is not delivered to the list until the list manager approves the message (normally within 24 hours). If the list manager does not approve the message, you will be notified. If you have been put on moderation and you want to be allowed to post freely again, write to the list manager. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[17] What are some tips for writing better e-mails?

Now at How to write interesting posts The principles that guide these tips are simple: we want our e-mail list to be interesting, civil, and manageable. Interesting means posts that are on-topic and make for good reading. Civil means posts that treat list members with respect, though it doesn't rule out a good argument once in a while. Manageable means fewer e-mails are better than more if they say the same thing. We all have enough noise in our lives. PLEASE EDIT YOUR POST. When you reply to a message, please don't quote the entire previous message. Please take an extra few seconds to edit the amount of quoted material down to the bare minimum so that your reply will make sense. This especially helps the digest version of the list, where one long reply thread might fill a whole digest message. CONSIDER ASKING FOR REPLIES TO GO TO YOU. If you're asking for a contractor reference, for example, you might consider asking people to e-mail you directly and offering to summarize the results. When you do this, you provide a very helpful service to the entire list, because you consolidate all the useful info into one message which can be saved if it's of interest, or skipped if it's not. ASK YOURSELF: WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE? Think about whether your message is of interest to the whole list, or just the person you're replying to. If it's just the person you're replying to, consider sending it just to that person rather than the whole list. Note that when you reply to a list message, by default your reply will go to the individual person; if you want it to go to the whole list, you'll need to edit the "To:" field of your reply. In any case, please note who your reply is going to and make it a conscious decision. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Did someone just say something that annoyed the $#@! out of you? Don't you just want to write back to the whole list and tell them what you really think of them? Well, go ahead and write it! Just don't send it for a few hours or a day. Re-read it before you send it. Rewrite it so it's civil. We'll all appreciate your efforts. WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK. I'm happy to answer questions of style, form, etiquette, or even spelling :-). Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[18] How many subscribers are there?

Now at How many subscribers? As of July 1, 2006, there were about 2110 subscribers. As of February 1, 2004, there were about 1,139 subscribers. As of January 1, 2004, there were about 1,094 subscribers. As of December 1, 2003, there were about 1,067 subscribers. As of November 2, 2003, there were about 1,040 subscribers. As of October 1, 2003, there were about 1,023 subscribers. As of September 3, 2003, there were about 985 subscribers. As of August 1, 2003, there were about 948 subscribers. As of July 1, 2003, there were about 921 subscribers. As of of March 1, 2003, there were about 794 subscribers. As of February 4, 2003, there were about 767 subscribers. As of January 5, 2003, there were about 740 subscribers. Note: the number of subscribers is an estimate, because there are some people who are subscribed under multiple email addresses. Richard Damon (from David Coletta), Peter Davis

[19] Are commercial postings allowed?

Now at Commercial Posting You are allowed to make commercial postings to the Arlington list as long as they are relevant to Arlington and relatively infrequent. "Commercial" means that the primary purpose of your posting is to advertise something about your business or service -- advertising to sell your car, for example, doesn't fall under this guideline unless that's your business. "Relevant to Arlington" means that, for example, your business or service is located in Arlington, or you live in Arlington, or your posting is very likely to be of wide interest to Arlington residents. "Relatively infrequent" means that postings from your business or service should occur no more often than every three months or so. Since one of the primary uses of the Arlington list is for residents to exchange recommendations for and against local businesses, you should expect that advertising your business may spark discussion, both pro and con, about the business. Civil criticism of or concerns raised about your business will not normally be considered a personal attack. These are guidelines, and, as always, the final judgment as to the appropriateness of a commercial posting rests with the list owner. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[20] What is a list dinner?

Now at List Dinners List dinners are organized to help Arlingtonians meet one another and to enjoy a tasty meal in Arlington. We have business owners, homeowners, renters, longtime residents, public officials, etc., who attend each month. The dinners are open to anyone on the list who lives in Arlington or who is interested in being with a room full of Arlingtonians. The dinners are usually planned for a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday starting at 7 p.m. Occasionally we meet on a Friday evening. We try to choose restaurants that are very vegetarian friendly. As for kids, when a post is sent to invite people to the dinners, it indicates whether or not it is a kid-friendly restaurant. We also do pot luck dinners at list member's homes. Occasionally we dine out of town to enjoy a cuisine that is not available in Arlington. You are responsible for your own check. Sometimes appetizers are shared and the people who share them divide up their cost. We have name tags at each of the dinners, and you get a chance to meet those seated near you at the dinner. It is recommended to come more than once to get a chance to meet everyone at the dinners and to find those with whom you may have more in common. If you have more questions or suggestions, you can send an e-mail to Linda Guttman at queenofcocoa@gmail.com or Dick Smith at Dixmith@aol.com. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[21] What is the cast of characters and how do I add information about me?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/cast The "cast of characters" is a web page where some list members have contributed brief bios. Everyone is welcome to contribute one! While it's strictly optional, it's a nice thing to do. See http://www.arlingtonlist.org/cast for more info. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[22] How many posts a day are there? Who posts the most? How many people subscribe and unsubscribe?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/info/posts These statistics and more are available, updated in real-time, on the statistics page: http://www.arlingtonlist.org/stats. In order to view this page, you will need your list e-mail address and password. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. Suggestions for other statistics are welcome; please send your ideas to arlington-owner@arlingtonlist.org. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[23] Why didn't my posting show up immediately?

Normally, messages are delivered to the entire list within ten minutes of being received by the list software. The list software wakes up and delivers messages every five minutes, so it usually takes at least a few minutes before you'll see a copy of your message come back to you. Occasionally, the list software can get backed up, and delivery can be delayed for an hour or more. If you sent a message to the list and you didn't see it show up within a few hours, you should resend your message Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[24] Can I change the size or frequency of the digest messages?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/digestsize The digest version of the list is generated automatically by the list software. It is configured so as to make each digest message about 40K in size. This usually results in somewhere between one and four digest messages per day, depending on list volume. I get a trickle of emails asking for the digests to be bigger, smaller, more frequent, and less frequent, so I think I've found a happy medium. Though the digest is a popular form in which to receive the Arlington list -- it is chosen by about half the subscribers -- it also has its drawbacks: it's harder to search and reply to, and it's impossible to sort individual messages. You might want to consider switching from the digest mode to individual messages, and setting up a rule in your mail program to file those messages in a separate folder instead. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[25] Can I search the list archives?

>Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/search Yes! The archives search page is located at http://www.arlingtonlist.org/archives/search. You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[26] What is the list policy on anonymous posting?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/rules/anonymous Anonymous posting is allowed, but discouraged. Unless you have a very good reason not to sign your posts, please sign them with your real name. For the purpose of this policy, your real name means your full name, as it would typically appear on your driver's license, passport, credit card, or personalized checks. Signing your posts with your real name means you stand behind your words. It means others on the list are more likely to take you seriously. And it means you are willing to be held accountable for what you say. In order for the list to be a good place to conduct civil discussion of important town issues, the large majority of posters must sign their real name. At the same time, some people cannot post on certain topics under their real name without fear of losing their job, or jeopardizing their personal safety, or other reasons of a similar nature. So it is understood that allowing anonymous posting can be valuable, and we allow it for this reason. It is all too easy, however, for the privilege of anonymous posting to be abused by someone who wants to vent their spleen without being held accountable. This behavior is not permitted. Opinion on the list about anonymous posting is split. I get about equal amounts of mail saying that anonymous posting should be banned as that it should be allowed. So the compromise is as follows: You are allowed to post anonymously if you have a good reason for it, and if you take care in your messages to avoid stirring things up. Anonymous postings that are argumentative, controversial, or uncivil will result in the poster's future postings being moderated (that is, individually approved by me). Messages from such a poster will be subject to being summarily rejected without notice. This policy will generally only be enforced when it appears that the poster is abusing the privilege of anonymous posting. It will not usually be enforced when it is obvious that the message is only inadvertantly anonymous, for example when the poster forgets to sign a perfectly civil message. By the way, if you sign your message with a false name, there is probably no way for me to know. However, there are over a thousand people on the Arlington list, so your friends and neighbors probably will know, unless you take care to use a different email address, and never give away any identifying details about yourself, and so on. In my experience this degree of deceit is unusual, and not worth worrying about for the purposes of the Arlington list. Grownups with integrity don't do it. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[27] How do I send ("post") a message to the list?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/posting Using your favorite email program, compose your message and then send it to the address arlington@arlingtonlist.org. Many people find it helpful to create an entry in their address book for this address. If you accidentally send it to another address at arlingtonlist.org, it will end up in my mailbox, and I'll write back to you with a fairly impersonal message letting you know. Please don't take it personally! Unfortunately, once the message has arrived in my mailbox, I can't cause it to be delivered to the list short of forwarding it, which would make it come from me instead of you. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[28] Where are all the recommendations archived?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/recommend The Recommendation database was taken offline because it got too out of date. If someone wants to bring it back online, and is willing to help keep it updated, contact me. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[29] How do I submit a recommendation?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/recommend The Recommendation database was taken offline because it got too out of date. If someone wants to bring it back online, and is willing to help keep it updated, contact me. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[30] How do I get my business to be listed in the recommendations database on the Arlington list web site?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/recommend The Recommendation database was taken offline because it got too out of date. If someone wants to bring it back online, and is willing to help keep it updated, contact me. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[31] Why did my subscription mysteriously stop?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/stopped The most likely reason that your subscription stopped is that the list software detected that messages sent to your email address were bouncing. Perhaps your mailbox was full, or perhaps there were problems with your mail system. You can re-enable your subscription yourself! You’ll need your list password to do this. If you don’t have it, please see "4" for instructions on how to get it. To re-enable your subscription, go to http://www.arlingtonlist.org/listinfo/arlington and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the text box at the bottom, enter the e-mail address under which you are subscribed, and press the "Edit Options" button. On the page that appears next, enter your list password and press "Log in". On the page that appears next, find the section called "Disable mail delivery," and select "Off." At the bottom of the page, press the "Submit My Changes" button. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[32] Will I get more spam because of the Arlington list?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/spam The short answer: probably not. The longer answer: If you never post a message to the list, there is no way for anyone, whether a member of the list or not, to obtain your e-mail address, so there is no risk of getting spam as a result of your list membership. If you post a message to the list, it is possible, though very unlikely, that another member of the list will use your e-mail address to send you spam, or will forward your message to someone else who use your e-mail address to send you spam. Note: If you join the cast of characters, a public web page, you expose your e-mail address to the public, and your e-mail address may be obtained for the purpose of sending you spam. Email addresses are obfuscated on this page, which reduces the chance of them being used for spam, but it's still possible. See also 21. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[33] I had a bad experience with a local business. Is it okay for me to post about it?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/negative Yes, but take great care. Arlington list subscribers are by and large just as interested in knowing about negative experiences with local businesses as about positive ones. However, a local business thrives on its good reputation, and it's all too easy for it to become tarnished. So please take great care in writing about a bad experience. Here are some guidelines:

Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[34] If I have a concern about the way the list is run, or an idea for how to make it better, and I'd like to discuss it, what should I do?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/faq/governance Join the Arlington List Governance list and post your concern or idea there! The Arlington List Governance list (a-l-g) is for discussing the way the Arlington list is being run, for voicing concerns about the list, for suggesting new ideas, and so on. To subscribe to this list, visit https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/arlingtonlistadmin/info and enter your email address. To post to the a-l-g list, send your message to arlington-list-governance@arlingtonlist.org. You must first join before you will be allowed to post. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[35] What is the list policy on personal attacks?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/rules/attacks We strive to maintain a civil atmosphere for discussion on the Arlington list. One of the cornerstones of civility is the expectation that you can say controversial things and not be attacked personally for them. So the list policy is that personal attacks are never allowed. What is a personal attack? A personal attack is a message, posted in the context of an argument, in which the poster makes unfriendly remarks about another list member instead of addressing the specific points made by that list member. A personal attack often takes the form of a comment such as, "you have no idea what you're talking about," an insult such as "based on your postings I can see that you're incompentent," or a rhetorical question such as, "how hypocritical can you be?" The "no personal attacks" rule is intended to apply primarily in the case of messages and responses on the list. Personal attacks on someone not known to be a list member, such as the proprietor of a local business or a public figure, are similarly discouraged, but are not specifically part of this policy. Similarly, attacks on the list as a group, such as "you're all a bunch of nincompoops on this list," are discouraged, but not specifically part of this policy. OK, what should I do instead? Here's the scenario: someone's made a provocative statement on the list, and you're trying to find the right words with which to rebut it. "You fool!" No... "You idiot!" No... Then what? You will never go wrong if you stick to the rule, "seek first to understand, then to be understood." If someone posts something that makes you really angry or upset, try if you possibly can to give them the benefit of the doubt -- perhaps there's still the possibility that there's something to be learned from them. Try asking questions designed to help you understand them better. If you're sure you understand them, at least try asking questions designed to lead them toward the contradictions that are so obvious to you. If you're ready to give up on seeking to understand, you might consider simply ignoring them. Perhaps you feel you can't bring yourself to let a provocative statement "stand unchallenged." But the readers of the Arlington list know better than to assume that everyone agrees with an unchallenged provocative statement. Often the person making the provocative statement is just hoping to get a rise. You don't have to take the bait. If after all you feel compelled to write back to them, at least make sure you address their specific comments. Quote the relevant portions of their message, and address their comments directly. If you must respond, "This is a crazy thing to say" is a lot better than "you're crazy." What are the consequences of posting a personal attack? If you post a personal attack, you may receive a message from the list manager titled "No personal attacks", which will quote your message and ask you to refrain from making personal attacks. Such a message from the list manager will always be private, never copied to the Arlington list; public humiliation is unseemly and ineffective. Please note that under normal circumstances the list manager does not see messages before they are delivered, and can only deal with personal attacks after the fact. Also please note that the list manager doesn't always have time to read every message posted to the list, and doesn't always recognize a personal attack even when it's in front of his face. So some personal attacks may not result in a follow-up email from the list manager. List members are always encouraged to point out to the list manager anything that they feel is a personal attack. How come my posting was singled out for a "no personal attacks" follow-up email from the list manager? Since all follow-up emails are sent privately, there's no way for you to tell whether others on the same thread are getting follow-up emails. Please assume that you're not being singled out based on whether the list manager agrees with you or not. The "no personal attacks" policy is enforced as fairly as possible, and in particular a "no personal attacks" follow-up email does not mean the list manager is taking sides in the argument. What should I do if I get a "no personal attacks" email from the list manager? First and foremost, please try to take it in the spirit in which it was intended: as part of an ongoing effort to keep the list civil. It doesn't represent any sort of judgment against you personally. Some of the terms in the definition of a personal attack, such as "argument" and "unfriendly," are obviously subjective and open to interpretation. So a thoughtful and considered reply to the list manager is always welcome. In particular, if the list manager's explanation of why your message was considered a personal attack doesn't satisfy you, you're always welcome to ask questions. What are the consequences of posting repeated personal attacks? In the past, the list policy was "three strikes and you're out." This rule has been abandoned in an effort to discover if civility can be maintained without threats. So other than increasingly stern warnings, there are currently no other consequences enforced by the list manager. However, you can easily destroy your reputation on the list by posting repeated personal attacks, and it won't be long before few people are reading any of your postings. Note: the above applies only to messages signed with the poster's full, real name. Anonymous personal attacks may result in banning without warning. See 26 for more information about anonymous posting. Richard Damon (from David Coletta)

[36] What is on topic for the Arlington list?

Now at http://new.arlingtonlist.org/rules/ontopic (Please note that this is a new policy in an area where many people disagree, so this policy is likely to be revised a number of times before it settles down. Please check back again to see what revisions may have taken place.) People join the Arlington list, and stay despite the high volume and wide range of topics, because they are interested in the topic of Arlington. This policy provides guidance about how to stay on topic, and explains how the list manager handles threads that veer off topic. Staying on topic is often difficult, and it is understood that there can be no hard and fast rules that everyone would be able to apply exactly the same way and get exactly the same results. Instead, staying on topic requires good judgment, which comes only with practice. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are writing a message. When you can answer "yes" to these questions, you are probably headed in the right direction.