Mailing list netiquette

June 16, 2015

This netiquette is a recommendation on how to write messages to mailing lists that are easy to read, reduce the amount of text and number of messages, help mutual understanding and avoid flames. Much of its content is influenced by the netiquette of the openSUSE mailing lists.

Why we need mailing list netiquette?

A mailing-list consists of many members. The ‘just-readers’, the ones searching for help, the people who provide information and, perhaps the most common ones, people who may be put into several of these categories. Often someone knows something which the next one does not, and so on. Therefore, the mailing-list is built to be a place in the community for exchanging information and experience between its users. To have the mailing-list and the information exchange most readable, some rules are important.

Do it yourself

It is important that before asking a question you do a search about the topic. You might already get the answer or you might figure out something that could be interesting to share rather than ask.

Use a descriptive subject

Mailing lists receive a lot of emails every day. So, if you have a question or you are sharing something, please use a subject that summarizes and also gives some details about the body of the message. Here are some examples of subjects from the Mauritius Internet Users mailing list:

Good email subjects

- Removing unwanted information from Google
- Orange Fibre optics still 1Mbps after new month
- 100 Mbps local access to the internet

Bad email subjects

- (no subject)


When you reply to a message, please quote only the relevant passages to which you are replying. This helps keeping away clutter from long threads.


The bottom-posting style is used when an answer relates to a single question or statement in the previous message. This means that you reply underneath the quoted text. It leads to a natural flow in messages that have quotes from previous posts.

Hello Abdallah,

On 6/14/15 11:52 AM, Abdallah Ramsing wrote:
> Interesting point you have made.
> I do not know if Inbox by Google is different but once I came across an
> article stating that normally the mail system uses location to send
> targeted ads.

Could you provide a reference to the article?

People already specify their country when registering for Gmail. Now,
isn't using the real-time location a bit too much for targeted data? I
try to limit the information I give to online services. My 'current'
location as per GPS information is one of them.


Ish Sookun

Interleaved style

The interleaved style is used when you answer multiple statements from a previous message. That way, the reader first reads the question and then the answer.


At 10:16 27-05-2015, Mohammad Nadim wrote:
> It was probably something before the mailing list was created. @SM can
you share please?

I sent a proposal to the National Computer Board in 2009.

At 09:57 27-05-2015, Vy-Shane Sin Fat wrote:
> Yes, I set up to see if the community would be interested.
It's safe to say the experiment wasn't a success. I've taken the website

There were other experiments before that.

At 09:51 27-05-2015, Cédric Poottaren wrote:
> With regards to that you have said about attributions. Some time
people are really not ready even if they want to do something great. So
I'd give them time and push them up a little bit.

I cannot contribute if there is an attribution problem. It does not
matter for the group which you proposed as I would be unable to
contribute to it due to lack of time.


Ish Sookun

Changing the subject without opening a new thread

Very often a long thread splits into several topics (for example if there are several answers to the same problem). In this case changing the subject may be necessary. One widely accepted method for this is a subject like:

Re: Mauritius Internet (was: Notes of meeting of the Multistakeholder Forum)

Attribution & citation

If you’re quoting a paragraph or text from a webpage/report, please credit the work to the original author:

I quote an extract of a report written by Geoffrey Robertson QC:

    « ...the basic rule is that on the one hand the law should not
      permit the suppression of information of genuine public interest
      and on the other it should not allow improper intrusion into the
      intimacies of private life for no purpose other than sniggering
      sensationalism. »

Cite your source of information as follows:

According to Zone-H, a defacement archive website, there is record [1]
of “” which stated that the website did got hacked due
to unforeseen reasons. The issue is, why is denying the fact
that their website got hacked even there is a copy of the defacement?

P.S There is a previous thread in the mailing list which concerns


Don't be aggressive

Most of the people on the mailing lists are friendly and helpful. They use their free time to help others, so even if you are angry because you can’t solve some problem, please, calm down and then post your question. It will help you to tell what is the problem without aggressive and abusive language, and it will help readers to understand what is the problem.

To answer the question one has to know a few details about the problem. Don’t be upset because there is a question asking for more information. We would like to help, but not everybody has a good crystal ball to see the things that are not written in email, so we have to ask.

Mail lists are used by a lot of people whose first language is not English, nor do they know computer related terms. This sometimes leads to misunderstandings in excess of the normal misunderstandings that can happen in email exchanges.

Don’t be aggressive to new posters, but instead help them on their way to become a part of the community, sometimes a private email may be appropriate, to explain something.

Off-topic content

Most of the mailing lists are specialized to a specific topics. Please do not post off-topic messages to them.

Topic is what people want to read, the reason they subscribed to the list. For example the Mauritius Internet Users mailing list will accept discussions related to internet in Mauritius. So, anything outside of the defined topic is off-topic, even if is internet-related.

Cross posting

That is when the same message is sent to two or more mail lists at once and adding non-subscribers in the CC field. Care must be taken when replying to emails on the list that have people in the CC field which are non subscribers and might not be particularly interested with internal discussions of the group.

It is therefore important to analyze the email content and understand the reason why some people outside the list were added in the CC field.

Do not continue to include people in the CC field if the messages have become a 2-way conversation. Make sure to verify the To and CC fields properly when you click on [Reply All]. A first person might have included a mail list in the CC field for a particular reason; the primary recipients might not be your friends and you should perhaps refrain from barging into the conversation. You could always start a conversation with concerned people, especially those you do not know, in a polite manner.

More about netiquette guidelines.