Policy Statement - Steve Coker
Subject: Policy Statement
From: Steve Coker
Date: March 27, 1998


Please review the following policy statements and comply with them. Repeat or
flagrant violations of these policies may be cause for expulsion from the forum.
Banning people is not something anybody wants to do. But, its the only
"enforcement" tool available for people who fail to comply with common sense
policy statements. 

POLICY STATEMENT #1. SPAM and things like it.
Posting of virus warnings, test messages, chain letters, political
announcements, commercial ads, personal messages, profanity, or off-topic
messages is not acceptable and will be grounds for expulsion from this mailing
list forum.

Don't quote excessively. Some e-mail programs automatically quote the whole
message when you reply. This is wasteful and can be confusing. Quote the
relevant portions only. Delete extraneous material. If you need to practice
learning how to quote, don't practice in the forum.

Please keep your posts on topic. The forum is for discussion about genealogy.
This is not a general chat room.  If you want to chat, please do it somewhere
else. Don't send "personal chat" messages to the mailing list. If the "chat" is
about a topic relevant to the mailing list, and others on the list are likely to
want the information you are writing, then it may be appropriate to send it to
the mailing list.  But, if the chat is either not relevant to the mailing list
topic or is not something others are likely to want to know about, then it
probably should be sent privately and not addressed to the list service.

For examples:

"John, I checked the State Archives estate records for Sumter and Kershaw as you
asked. I found the following listings for the names Coker, DuBose, and Buddin
which may be of interest to you and others...."

That type of personal message is appropriate for the forum. Although it is
addressed personally to John and is in response to a lookup request made by
John, it provides information that may be of interest to other subscribers. But,
don't be suprised if you get lots of requests for additional lookups when you
send it to the forum.

"Mary, I haven't got the information you requested. But, did you try the recipe
yet? Wondering if you liked it."

That message should not be sent to the forum. It does not discuss information
related to Genealogy. 

POLICY STATEMENT #4. Attachments and message formats. 
Please do not send file attachments to the list. Many subscribers are using
older email programs that are not compliant with current standard protocols
(e.g. MIME). File attachments and HTML encoded messages cause such subscribers
confusion and problems. So, make certain HTML format is OFF in your email
program and that "cards" are not being appended to messages sent to the list.
And don't send file attachments to the forum. Please check your setups. If you
have a genealogy related, non-commercial file that you would like to make
available for others, you may post an announcement about its availability
telling people how them may obtain the file. If you think it is particularly
useful information, consider donating the file to one of the SCGenweb sites for
permanent online posting.

Don't be annoying or easily annoyed. Be considerate of others. Follow common
standards of etiquette as we all should do in public aspects of life. This is a
public forum accessible to people of all ages, sexes, races, religions,
political philosophies, nationalities, etc. Therefore messages should be
appropriate for a "General" audience. Do not use profanity. Do not attack
people. Be nice. If you can't be nice, be quiet. If you can't be nice or be
quiet, then be gone. Report all problems to the forum manager.  

POLICY STATEMENT #6. Clock settings.
Your e-mail program will use the date and time on your PC's clock to stamp your
messages. So make sure your system's data and time are correct. Messages with
incorrect dates are a problem in message archives.

POLICY STATEMENT #7. Illegal activities. 
Use of the forum for any illegal activity of any kind is unacceptable. For
examples, there are laws relating to copyright, data protection, computer
misuse, and libel. Although many resources are free, some are not allowed to be
redistributed with permission of the copyright holder and thus should not be
copied without prior permission. When in doubt, ask the copyright holder. You
are considered the author and/or the publisher of all messages that you post.
You accept total and absolute responsibility for everything you publish in this
forum. It is your responsibility to determine copyright restrictions, truth of
claims, etc.

POLICY STATEMENT #8. Access privileges.
Use of this system is a privilege granted to all people by the Forum Manager.
This privilege may be revoked by the Forum Manager at any time for any reason.

POLICY STATEMENT #9. General Notice.
Notice is hereby given that there are no facilities provided by this system for
sending or receiving private or confidential electronic communications. All
messages shall be deemed to be readily accessible to the general public. Do not
use this forum for any communication intended for only the sender and intended
recipients to read. Any information placed on this system will be made available
for general distribution to the public. The operators of this system have no
control over re-distribution or use by others. By your use of this system, you
agree to hold harmless the operators against any and all claims arising out of
such use regardless of the cause or fault. The Forum Manager makes no
representations, guaranties, or warranties of any kind regarding any
information, or materials distributed or discussed in the forum. By your use of
this public forum, you accept absolute and complete responsibility for your
actions. You are considered the writer and/or publisher of all materials that
you post in the forum. By using the forum you are agreeing to hold harmless and
defend the Forum Manager against all claims related to your actions involving
the forum. Information posted in this forum is not subject to prior review or
censoring of any kind. Although the Forum Manager encourages users to act
responsibly through the posting of these policy statements and guidelines, it is
understood that the Forum Manager has no capability to screen materials posted
to remove offensive, obscene, illegal, or otherwise potentially inappropriate
materials. You agree that use of the forum is done with the knowledge that
material is not censored in any manner.

POLICY STATEMENT #10. Privacy rights of others.
Respect people's feelings and their right to privacy. Think carefully before
forwarding an e-mail message. Don't send personal information about living
persons without their permission. 

These policy statements are subject to change without notice. They are provided
for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal guidance or advice.
Each publisher and reader using the forum accepts responsibility for obtaining
any and all necessary guidance, information, and advice they may require
regarding the laws and regulations which may apply to their usage of the system.
The Forum Manager is not responsible for providing such support or service.


The following suggestions are provided for your general guidance. While failure
to comply with these suggestions may not result in expulsion from the forum, it
might result in confusion, embarrassment, or ineffective communications.

SUGGESTION #1. Citation of sources.
State your sources. Genealogy information is incomplete and of little use
without supporting evidence. Please include citations of the sources for
relationships you publish. If no source is known or available, then state
"source unknown" or state that the information is theory needing proof.

SUGGESTION #2. Impressions.
In a forum such as this, you are judged by the quality of your written
communications. So take care about how you present yourself. For example, your
e-mail messages should be typed properly with capitals and spacing in the right
places. Grammar and spelling should be checked before sending. Messages you
publish are archived and made available for future researchers. So, your
messages may be read years from now by one of your relatives or future
descendants. Think about that before you hit the send command.

Before you join in a discussion, read some of the messages to get a feel for the
material being discussed. Try searching the message archives to get a feel for
what has already been discussed on the topics you are interested in researching.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are a good source of background information on
the nature of the group. FAQs save you from asking a lot of basic questions that
others have heard too often already. 

SUGGESTION #4. Basic Do's and Don'ts.
Do choose your words carefully. This forum is a public medium. You have no
control over where your words go after you send your message and you can't edit
them after they are sent. 

Don't write anything that you wouldn't say to a stranger face-to-face. 

Do re-read your message carefully before you send it. 

Don't write e-mail messages in a hurry (or a temper).

Do quote from the original message when replying. Don't quote excessively.  

Don't write anything that isn't suitable for all ages, sexes, religions, races,
etc.  Remember, this is a public forum.

Don't overuse the 'cc' function. 

Don't send "thank you" messages to an entire forum when you are only thanking a
few people.  

Don't let brevity triumph over clarity. There's no point in being brief if your
message is not understood by the people you want to communicate with.

Don't try to impose your personal philosophy on others about how the world, or
the forum, should work. There is room for a diversity of attitudes and
philosophies. Try to be tolerant. If you must complain, do it nicely. 

SUGGESTION #5. Effective communications.
Good e-mail is like good writing using any other medium. Some guidelines for
composing effective e-mail messages are: 

 one subject per message; 
 use a descriptive subject heading; 
 be concise - keep messages short and to the point; 
 write short sentences; 
 use bulleted lists to break up complicated text; 
 quote selectively from the original e-mail when replying; 

Messages can be made more concise using three letter acronyms (TLAs) to
abbreviate common expressions. Some common ones are 'FYI' (for your
information), 'BTW' (by-the-way), 'IMO' (in my opinion), 'WRT' (with respect
to), 'NRN' (no reply necessary), 'TIA' (thanks in advance), and 'B4N' (bye for

Person-to-person communication provides visual and aural clues to your meaning
through facial expressions, body language, or voice inflections. We have limited
ways to imitate these techniques in e-mail messages using 'emoticons' or
'intensifiers'. Emoticons (or 'smileys') are faces (viewed sideways) that can be
used within your messages to help convey feelings. The main ones are ':-)' to
represent a smile, ':-(' to represent unhappiness and ';-)' to represent a wink.
Don't overdo them - too many smileys can be irritating. Intensifiers provide
emphasis. These include **enclosing your words within asterisks** or USING
UPPERCASE. Use uppercase with care - it's considered shouting on the net. 

SUGGESTION #6. Organize.
Most e-mail programs provide a filing system for storing messages. Use it.
Create separate folders for regular correspondence, projects, or groups you
receive mail from regularly. Keep your inbox tidy so that it only contains
messages needing action. 

Create filters in your email program to automatically route messages from
mailing lists into folders setup for those lists.  This technique is useful for
any category of mail you receive regularly.

Delete messages after they are no longer needed.

Purge sent messages periodically.

Check for new e-mail at least once per day and go through all your folders at
least once per week. 

Use an email program that allows automated retrieval of messages so that your
service provider's system doesn't become clogged with a backlog of messages
waiting for you to retrieve them.

SUGGESTION #7. Signatures and Addresses.
Make sure that you include your e-mail address in your message so that people
can communicate with you. Most email programs have configuration options for
both a "Sender's Address" and a "Reply-To" address. By default, replies are
automatically addressed to "reply-to" address given in the message. However, in
some forums, if the "reply-to" address is blank, the forum's address will be
inserted automatically as the "reply-to" address. Review your address settings
and make sure you have the appropriate settings for these options. Remember that
messages from non-subscriber addresses may be rejected and not accepted for
posting in the forum. 

Many people include a "signature" at the end of their message. A signature is a
small piece of text which provides contact information and sometimes a favorite
saying. Signatures should be short, usually between 2 to 5 lines. For example: 

| John Doe                        [email protected] |
| P.O. Box 123, Anycity, USA         Tel: 555-555-5555 |
| http://my.service.com/Doe          Fax: 555-555-5555 |

Signatures greater than nine lines are considered annoying. If you frequently
send messages to the forum, please use a short signature for the majority of the

Note that a "signature" as used here is different from a "card" as mentioned in
the policy statements above. Cards are normally sent as encoded (e.g. MIME)
attachments while signatures such as the above example are simply text within
the message.

If you have any suggestions for clarification or improvement of these policies
and guidelines, please send them to the Forum Manager. Do not post them for
public discussion in the forum. 

Thanks for understanding,

Steve Coker
[email protected]
Forum Manager for SCRoots, Coker, and DuBose genealogy forums.

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