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 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 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 your 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, 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 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:,, and, 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 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 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 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 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, 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 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

Recommendations 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

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 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 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:

Words preceded by a + symbol MUST occur in the message
Words preceded by a - symbol MUST NOT occur in the message
Matches any word that begins with word
"word1 word2 word3"
Match the word sequence in order. Punctuation does not need to be matched
Increase weight of word so matches with this word count more than other words
Decrease weight of word so matches with this word count less than other words
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 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.


Go to 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 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.


There are several ways to unsubscribe. The simplest methods begin at 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 ). 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, 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.