Kill the D*mn Off-Topic Posts:
a short chapbook on what to do when faced
with off-topic posts on the Amber E-mail List.

To: amber @
Subject: LIST ADMIN Re: AMBER: Swearing
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 11:25:05 -0400
From: Lisa Leutheuser 

Spam has become one of those ill-defined terms where every e-mail
not to someone's liking is suddenly called "spam."  Sorry folks.
It's not that simple: off-topic posts are not always spam.  Sometimes
they're just off-topic.  In general, for this list, off-topic posts 
are not welcome.  I don't care if the apocalypse is about to happen; 
it's off-topic, so don't send a warning about it to the list.

I think people expect a little too much from the medium, that is,
from e-mail.

1) The Internet only appears to provide instant communication.

2) Messages arrive USUALLY in the order they were sent, but not always.

3) List admin messages asking people to cease are sent AFTER the
   offending messages, and therefore, will not be seen by MOST readers
   until after they've read the offending message.

4) When a person sends a message to the list, it goes to
   (aka where majordomo attempts to send out the message
   to every member of the amber list.  Sometimes messages get delayed
   due to network or computer failures.  Majordomo will patiently attempt
   to resend the message to those who did not receive it the first time
   for three days before giving up.  So it's possible for some people
   to not receive some messages.

5) Conversations wander, and the people participating in them do not
   always notice right away that it's time to move the topic off the
   list.  If the list traffic is light, then I don't kick marginal
   threads like English Law, which eventually seemed to have little
   to do with Amber, off the list. (No was complaining and I figured
   that someone might be using this to form the basis for Amber law
   in their campaign.)  But for the copyright thread, because it had 
   outlived its usefulness to Amberfic writers, I did step in and say 
   to take it elsewhere when the polite requests from other people 
   who beat me to it seemed to not work.

What does this mean?

It means give the list admin an opportunity to respond.  I do not live
on the net 24/7; therefore, I will not see every message as soon as it
arrives in my mailbox.

It means that sending complaints to me personally is the best way 
to express your unhappiness.  In addition to general announcements 
to the list, I handle much of the "take it off the list" through 
private e-mail.

It means that because of #4 that some of you may receive some of
these off-topic messages up to three days after most everyone else
has seen them (and out of order, at that).  Therefore, before sending
out "take this off the list" post that perhaps it would be a good idea
to follow the age-old advice of "look before you leap", that is, look
ahead in your messages to see someone else has already done this.
( we don't end up with 20 "take this off the list" messages in
response to one off-topic post.)

Finally, I hate lecturing.  Would you all just chill out and allow
some grace and patience for an imperfect medium used by imperfect
humans, or I'm gonna start swearing.

Lisa Leutheuser
Amber List Admin
eal @

All that said, I do have another lecture on netcourtesy that I recommend for amber list members who want to know more about my philosophy about off-topic posts to the list.

Return to the Amber List page.