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Subject: Soc.Religion.Unitarian-Univ Policy Guidelines

This article was archived around: Thu, 01 May 2008 07:00:01 EDT

All FAQs in Directory: unitarian-universalism
All FAQs posted in: soc.religion.unitarian-univ
Source: Usenet Version

Archive-name: unitarian-universalism/newsgroup-faq Posting-Frequency: 1st day of each month Last-modified: $Date: 2003/11/06 13:47:21 $ Version: $Id: uufaq,v 3.7 2003/11/06 13:47:21 johnl Exp $
THE CHARTER OF SOC.RELIGION.UNITARIAN-UNIV This group, soc.religion.unitarian-univ, [1] is to serve as a forum for discussion of issues pertaining to liberal or non-creedal religions, particularly Unitarian Universalism. Discussion of other religions is acceptable insofar as it is relevant to UUism, but keep in mind that another newsgroup (e.g., soc.religion.christian, soc.culture.jewish, etc.) may be more appropriate. Acceptable topics include, but are not limited to, discussion of UU principles and practices, questions regarding locations of UU congregations, organizing, running, administering, and living within UU churches, moral/ethical/philosophical discussion in a UU context, and comparisons of Unitarian Universalism to other religions. The most up-to-date version of this document can be found at: http://sruu.iecc.com/faq.html INTRODUCTION TO SOC.RELIGION.UNITARIAN-UNIV Submissions Posting to the newsgroup can be done via the usual posting mechanisms in well-configured systems and servers. This means that the news server recognizes soc.religion.unitarian-univ as a moderated newsgroup, and it will automatically mail the submissions to: uu@iecc.com This address can also be used directly if you are using a system that is not properly configured. Note that there are several of the major national Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that are not properly configured, and several of our regular posters are using the mail form of sending articles. Administrative material and queries should be sent to: uu-request@iecc.com The moderators as a group can be addressed as: uu-mods@iecc.com Materials submitted for posting to the newsgroup are handled by an automated system (the "mod-bot") and are acknowledged when received. Posting to the newsgroup requires a valid e-mail address. All posters must register once to verify that they did intend to send a message to soc.religion.unitarian-univ. The e-mail address of each member is recorded by the software, and is used to approve each subsequent posting as it arrives. The registration and verification mechanism requires that after the first posting is received at the S.R.U-U address the mod-bot software generates an e-mail message to the address contained in the headings of the article. This email must be returned to the SRUU mod-bot with its contents intact (generally using the reply feature of your mail program) so that the identifying information is not lost. Once the verification reply is received, the posting will be placed on the newsgroup for distribution, and this document will be emailed to the poster. Each posting from a registered poster or member is acknowledged by the software with a message to the e-mail address of record. If you do not receive a reply from the automatic software, the message wasn't received at the moderation machine (or the reply address that the mod-bot is using is failing to reach you). Archives All messages to soc.religion.unitarian-univ are archived online at http://archive.iecc.com/search.phtml/uu. You can look at all the messages posted on a given date, or search for messages by keyword. Moderation Policy Anyone with an interest in Unitarian Universalism or other liberal or non-creedal religions is welcomed and encouraged to post articles to soc.religion.unitarian-univ. The newsgroup is subject to the conventions of network etiquette. Articles on netiquette (as it is quaintly styled in Usenet) are found in the newsgroup news.announce.newusers on a regular basis. Other notes on etiquette are found below in this document. In practice, the automoderator software package will strip all crossposting to other newsgroups from the ``Newsgroups: '' line, then approve and insert the received articles into the newsgroup. All posts must come from registered members. The moderators may, from time to time, hand-moderate (i.e. review before approving) posts from some individuals. Currently (as of early 1999) this is not being done. The moderation guidelines are intended mainly to regulate the "noise level" of the newsgroup. Vigorous discussion and critical examination of the issues raised in conversation is highly encouraged. Personal attacks and inflammatory (flaming) remarks are not tolerated. To these ends, here are a few "bullet points" that give examples of the guidelines that the moderators may apply in evaluating articles posted by the members: * The "general rules of Usenet netiquette" will apply to this newsgroup. These can be found in articles appearing in the newsgroup news.announce.newusers at frequent intervals. * Irresponsible and blatant disrespect for other members may result in a cooling-off, or, in extreme cases, banning from posting to the newsgroup. Sanctions may be imposed by the moderators with the overall history of the posters activities, it will not matter that many or most postings are not abusive, any pattern of abuse may result in moderator action. Abuse is not exhaustively defined - a principle of ``we know it when we see it'' will be applied. Without long laundry lists of things defined as abuse, a feeling of what might be acceptable to the community and the moderation team is the operative definition. Examples of abuse might include: * Threats * Personally directed invective against other posters or their friends, families, or associates. * Circumventing the moderation system or assisting others in the circumvention of the moderation system. * Use of email to harass or abuse newsgroup members. * Explicit or vulgar language are not forbidden. However, the use of such language may tip the balance when considered in combination with other factors. The guidelines will be applied with a liberal interpretation in sympathy with the Principles of the UUA. The principles are taken as statements of intent, not statements of law. Administrative communications, such as comments, complaints and inquiries, should be mailed to the moderators, and not posted to the group. Posting requires that the member accept occasional e-mails from the moderators. Refusal of email from the moderators, or reporting them to their ISPs may be grounds for cooling or banning. Since Usenet is a communications medium, you should be open to email dialog as a response to your posting. If such email turn into harassing or illegal activity, the matter should be reported to the moderators or the offender's ISP for action or assistance. Warning e-mail from a moderator is defined as not being harassment. Complaints about e-mail from moderators should be sent to: uu-request@iecc.com so that the rest of the moderators may evaluate any claims about other moderators' actions. As of Monday April 26, 1999, there is a ``moratorium''[2] on meta-discussion in the newsgroup.[3] Such discussion is a constant generator of complaints to (and about) the moderators, and most newsgroups members who have given the moderators their opinion about such discussions have stated that they want it to stop appearing in the newsgroup. A new mailing list for such policy discussion is available from the moderation site. The sruu-policy mailing list is handled by the majordomo[4] server at iecc.com. To subscribe send a message to the address: majordomo@lists.iecc.com that contains a command of the form: subscribe sruu-policy your_email_address end If you would rather receive the messages as a daily digest, also send "set sruu digest" in the same message. This begins the usual mailing list subscription dialog process. You will be asked to confirm your request for the mailing list, and then the message will be processed and you will begin receiveing messages from the mailing list shortly thereafter. Additional comments about netiquette are included below in this document. Moderation Procedures The moderators read all postings in the newsgroup. When they notice unacceptable conduct by a group member as a first step, they will send e-mail warnings. (Failure to accept the mail, or the discovery that an email address is not valid will result in posting privleges being suspended until the e-mail address works again.) If the moderators don't seem to be on their toes, and posters see unacceptable behavior occurring, email may be sent to: uu-request@iecc.com to bring it to their attention. This address sends to all the moderators. Stage two moderation, when posters fail to voluntarily behave themselves in response to e-mail from the moderators, consists of fixed-term, progressive "time-out" intervals. These intervals apply to all postings from the person during the time-out period. Two or more moderators must agree to impose a time-out on a member. Time-out nominations from a single moderator expire after three days. The first time-out assigned is 3-days long. During the time-out, all postings from the e-mail address of the member are rejected by the mod-bot. Rejected postings will be returned to the sender by email. A second time-out within a 1-year period increases the length of the timeout to 1 week. Each subsequent time-out within a 1-year window is twice as long as the previous one, up to a maximum of a year. After one year of no time-outs, the length of the time-out for any given member is reset to 3-days. This table shows the cooling off times for each time-out within a year: first 3 days second 1 week third 2 weeks fourth 1 month fifth 2 months sixth 4 months seventh a year Members placed in time-out are notified via e-mail. No public announcements of actions taken will be made in the newsgroup. [6] Usenet and Internet e-mail occasionally lose messages, and the moderators can have no control over what happens to messages on their way to or from the moderation system. Notification will be done on a best-effort basis. Why Auto-Moderation? The concept of an auto-moderator was talked about for a long time on Usenet. This group was the first formal USENET group to actually use an automoderator program (the mod-bot) for its operation. The auto-moderation method was proposed and approved due to a sense-of-the-net feeling that another un-moderated soc.religion newsgroup would not be approved by the Usenet powers-that-be[7], and yet the "character" of a UU newsgroup would be best achieved by as minimal a set of moderation policies as possible. The current auto-moderation software attempts to meet this goal; allowing posts to occur nearly as freely as an unmoderated group with minimal delay, yet allowing the newsgroup readership and moderators to protect the group from deliberate or inadvertent attacks of spamming, abusive members or other net.mayhem. Since the creation of this newsgroup, other newsgroups have developed automated moderation methods, and a number of auto-moderation software packages are available for use. The Cast and Crew of Soc.Religion.Unitarian-Univ The current moderators of s.r.u-u are: Lance A. Brown brown9@niehs.nih.gov Gregory "Wolfe" Woodbury ggw@wolves.durham.nc.us The Mod-Bot software, and the hosting of S.R.U-U are provided by the courtesy and efforts of our host and group "owner": John R. Levine johnl@iecc.com * John Levine has been involved in Usenet since 1981, and is an author of several books, including "The Internet for Dummies" and "Unix for Dummies". He's a member of and on the board of the First Unitarian Church of Ithaca (N.Y.) * Greg Woodbury has been using computers since 1958, and is a Systems Programmer and writer in Durham, North Carolina. He has been involved in Usenet as a user and administrator since its inception at Duke University in 1979. He is a member of the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. * Lance Brown is a computer programmer and systems administrator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. He is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hillsboro. Lance also runs the UUS-L independent UU mailing list: that list can be accessed at UUS-L@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU Subscriptions are made by sending the message "Subscribe UUS-L" to: LISTSERV@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU Notes on Network News Etiquette (by Greg Woodbury) Since its creation in 1979, NetNews/Usenet[5] has developed as a "virtual culture" with a set of conventions and "rules" by which it operates. The underpinning of all these rules and conventions is an assumption that the readers and posters wish to communicate with each other. Along with these rules, are a set of values, which are much harder to define in any reasonable manner. I will venture to say, however, that there is a radical belief (in general) in favor of minimal interference with the free expression of individuals. There are those who think this applies to all expressions (including spam, porn, hate, etc.) And there are those who feel that there are reasonable limitations which can be placed on the postings. I am definitely in the latter camp. I base this on an understanding of the operational status of Usenet. Usenet is perhaps the only operative anarchy in existence that has lasted for more than 10 years. (Note: anarchy does not imply the lack of coordination.) Each site that participates in Usenet does so because its owners believe that they will benefit by participation. Each site contributes resources to the effort, and (by definition) agrees to exchange messages in a common format with other participating sites. Each site represents a computer where the owners have a proprietary interest in preserving their ownership and control. To this end, each site can, and does, make its own decisions on which newsgroups to receive and send. Finally, each site agrees to honor the policies of the sites to which it connects. It is this agreement, which generally exists only as a verbal "gentlemen's agreement" that makes Usenet an anarchy. The aggregate effect of all these trust agreements is that the policy of the net tends to a common set of conventions. These conventions are the "rules" of Usenet. The following bullet items present a sampling of the "core" set of conventions. (Courtesy of Margy Levine Young and news.announce.newusers) * Avoid excessive quoting - the readers have memories, only include as much previous text as is minimally necessary to provide context. * Don't post text that extends beyond 72 columns. Not everyone has wide screen capabilities, some news programs will (badly) re-wrap lines that are too wide, and there needs to be some room so that quotations don't get pushed beyond the margins. * Be careful in preserving the correct attributions of quotes. Attributing certain statements to the wrong person is rude, and likely to lead to conflicts that are unnecessary and 'harmful' to the noise level of the group. * Preserve Subject line appropriateness -- if the topic is still on track with the Subject line, don't change it gratuitously; if the topic has changed substantially, and the Subject line no longer applies, then change it (with notice.) The main reason for this is so that the readers can decide from the Subject lines whether they have an interest in that particular discussion thread. The contents of the Subject: line are used by many newsreader programs to organize articles into threads. * Don't post spam, commercials, or chain letters. See www.cauce.org for details. * Don't post material written by others without their permission. This specifically applies to materials from all commercial sources. * Don't post private e-mail that you receive without permission. This is an incredibly rude act, and a violation of copyright. Note however, that posting received threats and harassing email is well justified in many cases. * Note that posting to a newsgroup has an implication that folks who read your article will reply by email. If you don't want this to happen, put a notice in the article, or reconsider whether you want to participate in Usenet at all. * Single emails from Usenet readers are not harassment. The basic assumption of wanting to communicate implies dialogue. If you don't want email as a result of posting, reconsider whether you want to post it as an article at all. * Don't post information that has already been recently posted, or more than once to the group in similar words (whether by you or by others). * Before you submit a follow-up to a message, read the rest of the messages in the newsgroup to see whether someone has already said what you want to say. If someone has, don't repeat it. * Don't attack or denigrate list or group members or moderators (but feel free to debate the points that people have made). * Don't post regarding criticism of other subscribers' newsreaders, posting style, spelling, grammar, or netiquette (these criticisms should be sent by e-mail to the poster in question). * Make sure that your posts contain more new material than quoted material, including quotes only as needed to support your point (but quoting so as to maintain the original meaning of the quotes). * Don't post attached files or other non-ASCII information. Avoid HTML or other non-text formatted messages. (Except in specific "binaries-only" newsgroups.) * Don't post "flames" (angry messages that create more heat than light) or "trolls" (messages designed to generate flames or extreme controversy in the targeted newsgroups). * Every few months a plague descends on Usenet called the spelling flame. It starts out when someone posts an article correcting the spelling or grammar in some article. The immediate result seems to be for everyone on the net to turn into a 6th grade English teacher and pick apart each other's postings for a few weeks. This is not productive and tends to cause people who used to be friends to get angry with each other. Not everyone on the net has English as their native tongue. * Advertisements on Usenet are rarely appreciated. In general, the louder or more inappropriate the ad is, the more antagonism it will stir up. The news.announce.newusers newsgroup postings, "Rules for posting to Usenet" and "Advertising on Usenet: How To Do It, How Not To Do It" have more information on this subject. * Pick your words carefully. Writing with precision is as important (maybe more importanti) here as it is in any other kind of discourse. Consider carefully whether what you have written can be misinterpreted, and whether that is something you wish to have happen. * Read the newsgroup news.announce.newusers -- regularly. Even if you've been on the net since "before the beginning" the articles found there provide a convenient review anytime. ___________________________________ FOOTNOTES 1. The last component of the newsgroup name is limited to 14 characters for historical reasons. Older machines generally had file names limited to 14 characters. 2. ``moratorium'' (From Latin ``mora'' to delay) 2. a suspension of activity. 3. This item used to read: Meta-discussions[8] about the group itself should be limited to one topical thread at a time. Preferably, such a thread should contain the string "[META]" in the Subject line. 4. The majordomo mailing list program derives its name from the Latin major domus "The chief of the house," and its modern meaning of butler or steward. 5. The original version of the program that defined the formats that became Usenet was named "netnews". The moniker "Usenet" was coined by Jim Ellis(?), of Duke University, when the program was released to the Usenix conference participants in 1979. 6. This item used to read: The newsgroup is also notified of the action by an automatically generated posting. 7. The phrase powers-that-be refers to the Usenet system owners and system administrators who make the decisions to carry or to not carry newsgroups on the basis of recommendations from David "Tale" Lawrence. 8. Meta-discussion uses the prefix form meta- in its sense of transcending and as a parallel to the definition of metalanguage to mean "discussion about discussion." This is a meta-footnote. ________________________________________________________ Corrections, comments or additions to this document should be sent to: ggw@wolves.durham.nc.us