For those new to lists and e-mail in general, here are a few pointers to help use the lists effectively.
1. "Sign Your Messages."
At least include your name and e-mail address at the bottom of your message, much like you would sign a letter. Some users include such things as their title, department, institution, phone number and fax number. If a recipient of your message would like to contact you, including this information will assist them in responding.
Many e-mail packages allow you to insert a text file into the body of the message. If this is the case, use a wordprocessor program or text editor and create your 'trailer' and then insert it at the bottom of your message.
2. "DON'T USE ALL CAPS or all lower case letters."
Using all one case of letters can make your message difficult to read. Some readers find all caps offensive -- similar to being shouted at.
3. "Remember, e-mail is nothing but a letter or a memo."
As such, you should follow normal letter/memo writing practices, ie., paragraphs, capitalisation, spacing, etc. This will greatly increase reader understanding. Nobody's going to check your grammar, it just helps get the point across accurately.
4. "Be careful with sarcasm."
We all have a sense of humour, but sometimes it doesn't come across as such when the recipient can't see your smiling face. Humour's fine, but you might want to put a little smiley face :-) after it, or some other notation so people know it is intended to be humorous.
5. "Include an accurate message subject."
Many readers will look at the sender and the subject and delete or read the message as these two items relate to them. If you don't have a subject or your subject is incorrect, your important message may not be read by the person who has the answer for you.
6. "Don't respond to the list when you want to correspond with a person."
Before you send a message, think about who your audience is. If you want to send a note to a person, send it to that person (e-mail address from the trailer mentioned in point 1 above). Responses to the list are great, if it is something the list subscribers will benefit from. Otherwise, it just clutters up a lot of mail boxes, like getting junk mail at home.
7. "Read It Before You Send It."
Sometimes it's too easy to type a quick message and send it before you've realised what you've written. This can be embarrassing. Keep in mind that hundreds of people will get the correspondence you send to the list. You don't want to look like a grammar school dropout.
8. Most of all, use the list.
Many people are new to e-mail or haven't been subscribers very long. We were all there once (at least:-)), so don't be afraid to ask questions.