Pets with Diabetes   Email etiquette and "netiquette"


Starting a new topic



What not to post

The people on the list

Before you send


Welcome to the Pet Diabetes mailing list!

"Netiquette" stands for "Internet Etiquette", and refers to the set of practices developed over the years to make the Internet experience pleasant for everyone. Like other forms of etiquette, netiquette is primarily concerned with matters of courtesy in communication. Netiquette benefits everyone.

When we converse, we expect other people to observe certain rules of behavior. The same is true online. All mailing lists have some form of guidelines. It's all about consideration for fellow listmembers and communicating clearly. Here are a few pointers to help you communicate courteously and effectively on our mailing list.

Starting a new topic

  • Use subject lines carefully.
    How much time have you wasted reading emails with a misleading subject line? Make the "Subject" section of the header as concise and descriptive as possible. Properly titled messages help people organize and prioritize their email, and allows those who are not interested in a topic to delete messages without having to read them. 

  • Introduce a new subject with a new message.
    Do not start a new topic using the reply button. If you reply to a message to start a new topic, it may be ignored by those not following that thread; you may not get the answers your questions deserve; and those whose mail programs allow threading will become annoyed.

  • Off-topic posts are not strictly disallowed but should be kept to a minimum.
    Sometimes they help ease a stressful time. Please precede your Subject line with "OT" (for Off-Topic"), to alert other readers. Off-topic messages should not contain subjects inappropriate for the list, as per list rules.

Replying to an existing email

  • Trim your replies to a message.
    Quote only relevant portions of the original post. Edit your replies to include enough of the original message to give other readers the context for your message.

  • Avoid posting one-line "me too" and "thank you" type messages.
    Do not quote an entire message just to say some form of "I agree". It is usually better to send these messages  privately.


  • Include a short signature. 
    A "signature" at the bottom of your posts in with your name and the name of your pet, your pet's species and date of diagnosis is always helpful for other members. "dd" = diabetic dog, "dc" = diabetic cat, "dx" means diagnosis. So a typical sig could read: "Mary and Fluffy, dc dx April 1, 2004". 

  • Don't use capital letters.
    USING ALL CAPS MAKES IT LOOK LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING! IT'S ALSO MORE DIFFICULT TO READ. You can use *asterisks* around a word or phrase for emphasis. Reconsider your emphasis marks before adding them— they can be misinterpreted as angry remarks.

  • Please turn off HTML formatting in your e-mail client, if possible.
    Not all email clients can display HTML properly, so we request that you use plain text in your messages. Most e-mail programs allow you to specify "plain text" instead of "HTML" or "rich text". Look for the setting in your Preferences section, and change it to "plain text" or "ASCII".

  • Line length: Don't send lines longer than 70 characters.
    This helps avoid "wrapped" or broken lines in an email, which are uncomfortable to read. Check your email program's "Preferences" section for information on how to adjust this setting.

  • White space is not always wasted space.
    White space—the empty space around text—greatly improves clarity. A blank line only adds a byte to the article length, so don't be stingy if it will help make your meaning clearer.

What not to post

  • Don't post flames.
    "Flames" are messages meant to insult another person, often because the writer thinks he or she is "right." Don't legitimize a flame by responding to it. Silence is the most effective method of letting an author know that his or her words were not appreciated. If you really feel a need to respond, do so by private email instead of through the list. Before replying, though, go to do an errand first, so you can calm down, then reply constructively instead of angrily.

    If a post breaks these guidelines, give the owner/moderator a reasonable chance to address the issue. If the issue is not addressed, send a private email to the owner/moderator. 

  • Do not forward personal email.
    Never post (in whole or in part) personal email that you have received and forward it to the list. That is considered extremely rude. Keep private email private, just as you would wish others to do for you—unless of course, you have permission from that person.

  • Do not post advertisements.
    Product advertising is not allowed. If you own it or make a profit from it, please don't try to sell it on the list. 

  • Obey your list rules regarding inappropriate topics.
    For this list, these topics
    include general animal welfare issues, news about animal abuse cases, "campaigning" on pet issues, ethical, religious or personal debate or argument.

The people on the list

  • Remember that the person on the other side is a human being.
    Because your interaction with the network is through a computer, it is easy to forget that there are people "out there." Situations can easily arise where emotions erupt and feelings are hurt. Don't say anything to others that you would not say in person in a room full of people.

  • Your postings reflect upon you; be proud of them.
    Most people will know you only by what you say and how well you say it. Take some time to make sure each posting will not embarrass you later. Minimize spelling errors and make sure that your messages are easy to read and understand.

  • Be careful when using humor and sarcasm.
    Without the voice inflections and body language of personal communications, it is easy to misinterpret a remark that was meant to be funny. Subtle humor tends to get lost, so take steps to make sure that people realize you are trying to be funny. Emoticons, or symbols that represent emotions such as smiles :-) are often used on the Internet. Sarcasm is usually inappropriate.

  • Be forgiving of other people's mistakes.
    Everyone was a newbie once. So when someone makes a mistake try to be kind about it. If it's a minor error, you may not need to say anything. Even if you feel strongly about it, think twice before reacting. Having good manners yourself doesn't give you license to correct everyone else.

  • Be careful what you say about others.
    Please remember that your posts can travel quite far. You do not necessarily have control as to where your posts can end up. Information broadcast on the Internet can come back to haunt you or the person you are talking about.

  • Posts cost money and resources.
    Always consider that everyone on the list is paying to read what you post. Your post is consuming both bandwidth and disk space.

Before you send

  • Check spelling and clarity.
    Obvious misspellings are jarring and distract the reader. Every mail program allows you to edit your message before posting, and most systems have some kind of spelling checker that you can use. Try also to make sure that your messages are easy to read and understand.

  • Think twice before sending anything that might be misunderstood.
    Without the voice inflections and body language of personal communications, it is easy to misinterpret a remark. Don't respond in anger.

Email etiquette is not complicated and makes everyone's experience within a mailing list group more pleasant and more productive. 

If you ever find one of your emails is moderated for breaking one of the list guidelines or straying from the rules of netiquette, please don't take it personally. Nobody is perfect and we sometimes forget the rules. The moderators will usually send friendly reminders to list members when a rule has been broken. Please take it as such... a friendly reminder.

Questions about email etiquette? Contact the list owner:

Go to the Pet Diabetes mailing list main page.

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Updated October 2005
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