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[] Newcomers please read: a Netiquette guide

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Archive-name: music/early/netiquette-guide
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1997/06/24

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Beginner's Kit/Etiquette Guide

This file is mainly intended for newcomers to the early music 
newsgroup/mailing list.  The under-signed wrote it, will try to post it 
regularly, and is of course open to suggestions and corrections.

If you are reading the newsgroups, go to news.announce.newusers first, and
read the general material there (especially Emily Postnews' guide to
Netiquette). Some of the advice will duplicated here for extra-emphasis,
but it is the best general introduction to newsgroups.

** where am I?

Depending on your personal situation, either reading the Early Music
mailing list (if messages come to you by e-mail) or the newsgroup (if you are using news software). If you are in the latter
case, always keep in mind that there are folks who do not enjoy the
benefits of news software, and are reading your posts in a different
format. Also remember that many folks pay for their access to the wonders
of the net.

If you have a choice of method, it is probably better for you to read the
newsgroup than receive the mailing list, which is an imperfect substitute.
Aside from keeping the general news traffic distinct from your private
e-mail, a news software typically provides many bells and whistles that
make reading and responding so much easier. If you pay for your connection
but have a newsreader that downloads to disk, there is no disadvantage in
cost. If you pay but can only read news on-line, you may want to consider
the list instead.

The list and the newsgroup are more or less equivalent: an automatic 
gateway in Vienna, Austria, posts all list messages and sends all posts
to the list. 

If you get EARLYM-L by e-mail, you probably received an automatic mailing
from the list software (the List Processor) with some beginning "lessons"
on List Processor commands.  Other commands allow you to customize the way
you receive messages.  One option is to receive an entire day's postings
as a single digest file instead of as they are posted, a useful option
while on vacation. There are many more options. To get more information
on List Processor commands, just send the command


to or contact the list administrator at the

NOTE: The list was recently moved from to and works now slightly differently.

** who else is here?

A very diverse bunch of people, academics, professional musicians, amateur
performers, or just music-lovers, on several continents. Regular and
occasional contributors number in the few hundreds, the readership probably
in the thousands, and growing.

(It has been suggested that we have a "bio file" to which people can
contribute a paragraph about themselves, and which would be available for
perusal. This doesn't currently exist, but it may soon).

** Is there a FAQ?

Yes.  However, it is under permanent construction.   It can be checked out by 
Web browsers at <URL>.

** what can I do?

Basically four things:

   *  read other people's posts,
   *  reply to them by private e-mail,
   *  reply to the whole group by a post, which is sent everywhere,
   *  initiate a new thread (i.e., a succession of posts, theoretically on
     the same topic).

The general purpose of the newsgroup is to discuss matters related to Early
Music. This can be understood in two ways: Classical Western music up to a
certain date (say, 1750 or 1800), which covers Medieval, Renaissance and
Baroque mainly. The newsgroup's charter uses the conveniently vague phrase 
"pre-Classical".  The other way is music performed with an emphasis on
authentic instruments, with appropriate techniques. One generic term is HIP
(historically informed performance). There are H.I. performances of
post-1750 works (even Brahms or Mahler can be HIPed), which is one reason
why the boundary between Early Music and other Classical music is fuzzy. In
fact, where this boundary lies is itself a hot topic of discussion.

A FAQ is currently being written, and it will address those issues in
greater detail than needed here.

Announcements of concerts, new recordings, new publications, and other
"commercial" posts are welcome, as long as they are clearly related to
early music, light on hype, heavy on info, and posted once.  Concert
announcements are encouraged, since many are curious to know what is
going on even in places far away from them; however, it would be useful 
to include an indication of geographical location (country or state) in
the subject line.

** how should I do it?

What you do via e-mail is your concern. When you post, on the other hand,
this concerns every reader. This newsgroup is not moderated, so anyone can
post anything they want. With a growing readership, the volume on this
group is increasing, and some basic rules might help to keep it to a
manageable level. Here are a few notions of "netiquette", intended as
guidelines to smooth the process, not as a rigidly enforced code.

to post or not to post

new thread

if you are starting a new thread, or asking for information, remember to
pause and consider whether this is the appropriate forum. Not that you'll
be savaged for being in the wrong place, but you may get back less than
expected. Also, if you are asking for info which is not of general
interest, add the phrase "Please reply by e-mail." As an incentive, you
might promise to post a summary.

You may want to check the newsgroup's archive (cf. infra) or DejaNews (cf.
ibidem) to check whether the information you are seeking hasn't already 
been aired.  Check the FAQ as well.


   * before responding, read all current articles on the same topic:
     someone may have already answered the question or raised the point,
     sometimes 5 people have already done so.

   *  will your message interest only the previous poster? If so, private
     e-mail is preferable.

subject line

   *  if you are responding to a post, the current subject line will be
     used automatically; if the discussion is wandering away from the
     original topic, change the subject line, but try to leave the first
     words of the original subject for those readers who follow threads.

             Re: countertenors
             vibrato (was Re: countertenors)

   *  if you are asking for CD recommendations, try to mention it in some
     way in the subject line (e.g., "CD recs"). In fact, we may try to
     develop a system of "labels" or key-words. News software have
     kill-files which allow users to delete messages whose subject lines
     contain certain strings.

     One such label has emerged in the past few months. One reader has made
     it a habit of posting limericks, inspired by recent comments or
     current news. The "label" for limericks is "uncouth," for purely
     accidental reasons. If you want to avoid silly limericks, delete all
     posts with that word in the subject line. (That reader is not the only
     one to post limericks, but his talent and prolificacy have earned him
     the title of List Laureate Limericist, or LLL).

   *  in general, try to be precise and concise: think of those who have to
     wade through dozens of mysteriously-labeled messages.

the message itself

   *  if you are responding, it may be the case that the body of the
     message you are responding to will be included automatically, preceded
     with a "quote character" like >. The result looks like this:

             In article <***> Claudio Monteverdi writes:
             >Prime le parole, doppo la musica.

     When the article to which you are responding was already quoting
     someone, the result becomes:

             In article <***> Orlando di Lasso writes:
             >In article <***> Claudio Monteverdi writes:
             >>Prime le parole, doppo la musica.
             >Claudio, you don't know beans about music.

     In what follows, readers will presume that text preceded by one > was
     written by Orlando, and text preceded by two > by Claudio.

   *  try to delete what is not directly relevant to your own message, and
     avoid quoting 95 lines of text to add 3 of your own. People will often
     indicate that they have made deletions by inserting:

             > [text deleted]
             > [snip, snip]
             > [omitted for brevity]

   *  do try to make the link with what precedes in the discussion, by
     quoting at least a few lines, or summing up the tenor of the previous
     message (remember that messages do not arrive in the same order at all
     sites, and you may be one of many to post on the same topic).

   *  keep your line length below 72 or 75 characters. Many screens only
     show 80 and will not wrap; furthermore, each time your message is
     quoted, it is shifted one (sometimes 2 or 3) character to the right.

   *  sign your message: people like to know who they're talking with.
     (Readers of the mailing list often do not know who wrote what unless
     it is signed, nor can they reply by e-mail rather than post). Many
     software will automatically include the contents of a "signature"
     file. But keep that signature file under 5 lines: the cutest 25-line
     ASCII drawing of a harpsichord tends to wear thin after a while.

** tunes

Anything pertaining to Early Music is fair game for a new topic. What Early
Music is, even within the context of this group, is still under debate.
Keep in mind that some topics are liable to start "flame-wars" (nasty
episodes where people become angry and hurl e-insults at each other), so
broach them with great care. One of them is vibrato (is it good, bad,
authentic, etc). Another is editing unpleasant texts by performers (should
performers remove offensive material). Yet another is <label>-specific
performing groups, where <label> is in {ethnic, gender, sexual orientation,
...}. A lot of this may seem baffling to non-US readers uncertain about the
current state of American culture, and they may need to ask a local
familiar with the territory.

** ornamentation

When people communicate via screenfuls of text, tempers can flare quickly.
Each individual has his or her style, but a bit of restraint can go a long
way. Re-read your post if you have the time. Humor is never in excess
supply: a well-placed "smiley" can turn a comment from ambiguous to
innocuous. Don't be afraid to post opinions, but be prepared to see them
contradicted. Do assert facts, but be gracious when found in error. Try to
make clear whether you are offering fact or opinion (this may avoid a
flame-war). Be gentle to newcomers, once you are an old hand (remember, we
all began somewhere).

** whither my posts?

To an archive, actually, maintained at the Economics University, Vienna,
Austria. Everything ever posted to this group since its inception in 1990
is there, and there are tools to search the archives for the occurrence of 
any string, or download messages by time period. You can access it on the 
Web at <URL>, by Gopher at 
<URL gopher://>, or by FTP at

The Vienna archive technically only contains messages to the EM list.  The
newsgroup itself is archived (like many others) automatically at DejaNews:
<>.  The DejaNews database only goes back to March 1995.

** Miscellaneous

* Spamming
Spamming is posting the same message to many unrelated newsgroups.  The 
message is usually irrelevant to the newsgroups where it appears.  This 
happens, either because some firm thinks it's found a free form of 
advertising, or because some nut thinks they've found a free soap-box.  
As the net grows, and more people come on-line, this sort of thing is 
bound to happen.  The archetypal event was a posting offering legal 
services by two shysters called Cantor and Siegel, whose names live 
down in infamy.  Thousands of irate readers replied to them, stuffing 
their mailbox with purposefully huge e-mails until the system which 
housed their account crashed.  This is called mail-bombing, which is 
considered impolite.  The Cantor-Siegel incident was much publicized.

Commercial providers of Internet access now have a very good reason to 
lay down extremely strict rules about spamming, since spamming by one 
of their clients can bring down their system and seriously inconvenience 
all their clients (that's why mail-bombing is both impolite and effective).
If spamming will bring about cancellation of the account, no commercial 
firm has much interest in engaging in such, and commercial spamming will 
remain a rarity.  Kook spamming cannot be prevented the same way, it can 
only be repressed, and so it must be endured as a consequence of the 
openness of the Net.

If r.m.e. is spammed, there is no need to follow-up with a post of your 
own telling the world how bad spamming is, or how irrelevant that posting 
is.  We all know that.  If you have specific and useful information 
("Here's a phone number to call to contact the sys-admin", "Don't bother, 
the offender's account has already been shut down"), please post it.  If 
you want to express your outrage to the poster, reply to him or her; or 
send mail to the sys-admin@or postmaster@ the originating site.  You may, 
however, rest assured that many thousands of other users will have already 
sent e-mail.

	Francois Velde

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM