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Mailing List Policies

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The community mailing lists cover are divided among several topics and constitute one of the primary "places" where members of the OpenID and identity communities come together to confer about digital identity, technology and protocol development, security, user experience, community enrichment, and the spread of OpenID generally.

The community is comprised of individuals, representatives from companies, governments, and academic institutions, and technologists, designers, and all manner of interested person from all over the world. Therefore, critical to productive, useful, and inclusive discussions is an understanding of what kind of behaviors and contributions the community values and benefits from.

This document is an attempt to provide a guide describing expectations, etiquette, and techniques for creating a positive and constructive atmosphere.

Please read the entire document before your first post to one of the lists, as it explains the list policies and contains a few words about the kind of culture we've created and hope to maintain.


  • Unsubscribing. Do subscribe and unsubscribe using the web-based list management tool found here. Don't make the whole list sad over your departure by mailing everyone about it.

  • Crossposting. Do send each message to ONE and only ONE list at a time. Don't send a single message to multiple lists. If you want to send your message to multiple lists, do so individually so that replies maintain proper context. (This will also prevent Reply-To-All from including lists that not everyone may be subscribed to.) This applies to all lists, not just OpenID-managed lists.

  • Efficient replies. Do trim down replies to the essential content needed to make your point. Do accurately present and cite quoted material, but prune down unrelated content with ruthless abandon. Everyone else will thank you for it. Don't quote long messages completely and respond with single words or votes. Instead, only include the part of the original message that you wish to endorse or vote against. (If you wish to endorse or vote against most or all of a long message, you can keep your reply short by linking to its entry in the official mailing list archives.)

  • Reply inline. Do insert your replies at the appropriate insertion point in a reply. Don't just reply at the top of a message (so-called "top posting"), because, if you do, your message will lack context and be difficult to respond to effectively.

  • Keep your signature short. The shorter the better. Use a standard sig-separator like dash dash return ("--").

  • Employment solicitations, etc. Don't solicit members of the OpenID mailing list for employment, working on custom applications, or specific implementations, especially if they will not result in code or product that the entire community will freely benefit from. There are plenty of job boards, websites, mailing lists, and other venues for helping stimulate your economic situation. Do use them instead. When in doubt, ask the list owner first.

  • Commercial announcements. Don’t send advertisements to the list.Do share announcements of new tools, software, publications, and other resources related to OpenID in some way. In other words, a one-time announcement like "I just published a new book called 'OpenID for Moms' with O’Hara and Friends" is okay, but "Buy my book at 30% off and get a free back massager!" is not. If you're not sure, ask the list owner before posting.

  • Civility, cordiality, and being nice. In the course of any substantive discourse, viewpoints can be expressed in a number of different ways, both productive and counter-productive. The goal of discussion on the OpenID lists need not always be to reach consensus but to enlighten or improve the understanding of several different alternatives. As such, we encourage and delight in rigorous discussion and debate, even if gets a bit heated. Ad hominem attacks or flames (that is, those directed at a person, rather than an idea) will not be tolerated and may result in a cooling off period or ban.

    If you think someone’s flaming you or being needlessly offensive, do take it up with them in private e-mail. If they get abusive, discuss it with the list administrators. Don’t take it onto the public list, or make a public spectacle.

  • As a general rule, be nice, be patient and act with respect.

  • Asking for help. If you’re asking for help with a problem, remember this: A description of your problem is good. Do link to a page showing or documenting your problem. The OpenID wiki can be used for this purpose.

  • Rich text e-mail. Don't send elaborate HTML or RTF e-mail. It is preferred that you send plain text messages. This request is to ensure that anyone will be able to read your e-mail.

  • Attachments. In general, don't send them. Instead, do upload them to a public web address and link to them. If you want to share a document, consider Google Docs. If you want to share a slideshow or PDF, consider Scribd or Slideshare. If you want to share source code, consider GitHub or Google Code.

  • Posting to the list. Do make sure that you post from the e-mail address which you subscribed with. Otherwise, your message will get caught in our spam filters. And no one will ever see it. Ever. Don't e-mail the admins saying “why can’t I post?” without double-checking that you’re using the right e-mail address.

  • Subjects. Do title your messages with meaningful and clear subjects. Don't use general or nonspecific subjects. For example, “How do I include request a profile photo using SREG?” is better than “Photo help please”, which is better than, “help please”. Also, do change the e-mail subject to something more appropriate if the subject matter of a thread changes.

  • Bounces. If your address starts bouncing, you will be removed from the list. You will not be notified of this, as we don’t keep a list of secondary addresses. It’s your responsibility to resubscribe once the problem with your address has been fixed. "Bouncing" includes vacation autoresponders that e-mail either the list or people who post to the list. If we notice or get complaints about either, you’ll be unsubscribed right away.

  • Republishing. In general, don't republish any e-mail sent to the mailing list without receiving prior permission. While this rule may not be religiously enforced, no one wants their words used out of context without their knowledge. This policy applies to automated gateways such as SMTP to NNTP gateways.

  • With great power comes great responsibility. People who violate the goodwill of the list community will be unsubscribed swiftly. This responsibility lies with the list admins who are charged with the stewardship of the community lists.


When posting to a OpenID mailing list, remember that your message will be sent to people all over the world. They all have likes and dislikes as individual as your own. They will also be offended by certain things which you may not find remarkable. While you can’t foresee every potential area of conflict, there are certain guidelines that are fairly obvious: avoid swearing, cultural insults, blasphemy, proselytizing, and things of any similar nature. If you wouldn’t say it out loud in front of your grandmother while in a place of worship, then you probably shouldn’t say it on the list either.

At the same time, recognize that you are receiving messages from people all over the world. They all have likes and dislikes as individual as your own. They will also not find remarkable certain things by which you may be offended. Odds are that they probably didn’t set out with the purpose of offending you, so, if you feel a rising sense of offense, try taking a deep breath and counting to a nice high number. If, after this calming break, you still feel you must say something, e-mail the poster directly (and not on the list) to explain your feelings calmly, reasonably, and above all clearly, without attacking them. They may be unaware of the effect of their words, so this is your chance to educate them. If you just flame them for being “insensitive,” you may get flamed in return and create in them a resolve to keep offending you, just because you are (from their point of view) so uptight and irrational.

Above all, remember that other people are about as likely to change their basic natures and habits as you are to change yours. You may at some point have to make a choice between tolerating other people’s views and participating in the list. Please make this choice privately, and follow through quietly. Thank you.


These policies were inspired by the microformats mailing list policies, which in turn were influenced by the css-discuss mailing list policies.

See also: Bulletin Board Ettiquette For New Users And Old Timers and the JavaRanch Guidelines.

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