This text is taken verbatim from Myke Predko's web page (http://www.myke.com)
with his kind permission :
I have found "Listservers" to be an invaluable technical resource and on
this page, there are a number of pointers to different internet list servers
to subscribe to. The purpose of the listserver is to provide an address that
you can send a message to and have it relayed to other subscribers. This
means that a large amount of mail can be sent and received in a short period
of time (MIT's PIC Listserver typically processes 50 to 100 e-mails per day)
to a large number of people (MIT's PIC Listserver has over 1,500 subscribers).
Listservers are really wonderful things with it possible to get answers to
questions within literally minutes after posing them (although hours afterward
is probably more typical). There are a great deal of very knowledgeable people
who can answer questions on a variety of subjects (and have opinions on more
than just the subject at hand).
Having a great deal of people available makes the list essentially a community.
This is a world wide community and you have to try to be sensitive to different
people's feelings and cultures. In thinking of this, I have created the following
set of guidelines for list servers. The genesis of these guidelines came
about after the PICList went through a period of time with problems with
the same type of message coming through over and over.
I think these are pretty good guidelines for any list server and I suggest
that you try to follow them as much as possible to avoid getting into
embarrassing situations (of having your ancestry questioned because you made
a gaff). After the guidelines, I have provided a number of different list
servers that you can access.
Don't subscribe to a List and then immediately start sending questions to
the List. Instead, wait a day or so to get the hang of how messages are sent
and replied to on the List and get a "feel" for the best way of asking questions.
Some lists resend a note sent to it (while others do not). If you receive
a copy of your first message, don't automatically assume that it is a "bounce"
(wrong address) and resend it. In this case, you might want to wait a day
or so to see if any replies to show up before trying to resend it. Once you've
been on the list for a while, you should get an idea of how long it takes
to show up on the list and how long it takes to get a reply.
If you don't get a reply to a request, don't get angry or frustrated and
send off a reply demanding help. There's a good chance that nobody on the
list knows exactly how to solve your problem. In this case, try to break
down the problem and ask the question a different way.
Above I mentioned that you may be able to get replies within minutes, please
don't feel that this is something that you can count on. Nobody on any of
the lists given below are paid to reply to your questions. The majority of
people who reply are doing so to help others. Please respect that and don't
badger and help out in anyway that you can.
If you are changing the "Subject" line of a post, please reference the previous
topic (ie put in "was: '...'"). This will help others keep track of the
When replying to a previous post, try to minimize how much of the previous
note is copied in your note and maximize the relevance to your reply. This
is not to say that none of the message should be copied or referenced. There
is a very fine balance between having too much and too little. The sender
of the note you are replying to should be referenced (with their name or
My rule of thumb is, if the original question is less than ten lines, I copy
it all. If it is longer, then I cut it down (identifying what was cut out
with a "SNIP" Message), leaving just the question and any relevent information
as quoted. Most mail programs will mark the quoted text with a ">" character,
please use this convention to make it easier for others to follow your reply.
If you have an application that doesn't work, please don't copy the entire
source code into a note and then post it to a List. As soon as I see a note
like this I just delete it and go on to the next one (and I suspect that
I'm not the only one). Also, some lists may have a message size limit (anything
above this limit is thrown out) and you will not receive any kind of
If you are going to post source code: keep it short. People on the list are
more than happy and willing to answer specific questions, but simply copying
the complete source code in the note and asking a question like "Why won't
the LCD Display anything" really isn't useful for anybody. Instead, try to
isolate the failing code and describe what is actually happening along with
what you want to happen. If you do this, chances are you will get a helpful
A good thing to remember when asking why something won't work, make sure
you discuss the hardware that you are using. If you are asking about support
hardware (ie a programmer or emulator), make sure you describe your PC (or
workstation) setup. If your application isn't working as expected, describe
the hardware that you are using and what you have observed (ie if the clock
lines are wiggling, or the application works normally when you put a scope
probe on a pin).
You may find a totally awesome and appropriate web page and want to share
it with the List. Please make it easier on the people in the list to cut
and paste the URL by putting it on a line all by itself in the format:
If you have a new application, graphic, or whatever that takes up more than
1K you would like to share with everyone on the List, please don't send it
as an attachment in a note to the List. Instead, either indicate you are
have this amazing piece of work and tell people that you have it and where
to request it (either to you directly or to a web server address). Many
listservers, if a large file is received may automatically delete (thrown
into the "bit bucket") it and you may or may not get a message telling you
If you don't have a web page of your own or one you can access, requesting
somebody to put it on their web page or ftp server is acceptable.
Many of these listservers are made available, maintained and/or moderated
by a device manufacturer. Keep this in mind if you are going to advertise
your own product and understand what the company's policy on this is before
sending out an advertisement.
Putting job postings or employment requests _may_ be appropriate for a List
(like the previous point, check with the list's maintainer). However, I don't
recommend that the rate of pay or conditions of employment should be included
in the note (unless you want to be characterized as cheap, greedy, unreasonable
Spams are sent to every List server occasionally. Please do not "reply" to
the note even if the message says that to get off the spammer's mailing list
just "reply". This will send a message to everyone in the list. If you must
send a note detailing your disgust, send it to the spam orignator (although
to their ISP will probably get better results).
NOTE: There are a number of companies sending out bogus spams to collect
the originating addresses of replying messages and sell them to other companies
or distributors of addresses on CD-ROM. When receiving a spam, see if it
has been sent to you personally or the list before replying - but beware
if you are replying to the spam, you may be just sending your e-mail address
for some company to resell to real spammers.
I know it's frustrating and, like everyone else, I'm sure you would like
to have all spammers eviscerated, but if you want to minimize how much you
are bothered in by spams in the future, you just have to ignore any spams
that are sent to you.
Following up with the previous message, if you are going to put in pointers
to a list server, just put a hyperlink to the listserver request ID, NOT
TO THE LISTSERVER ITSELF. If you provide the address to the listserver, Spammers
can pull the link from your page and use it as an address to send Spams to.
By not doing this, you will be minimizing the opportunity for spammers to
send notes to the list.
Off topic messages, while tolerated will probably bring lots of abuse upon
yourself. If you feel it is appropriate to send an off topic message, some
lists request that you put "[OT]" in the subject line, some members of the
list use mail filters and this will allow them to ignore the off topic posts
Eventually a discussion (this usually happens with off topic discussions)
will get so strung out that there is only two people left arguing with each
other. At this point stop the discussion entirely or go 'private'. You can
obtain the other person's e-mail address from the header of the message -
send your message to him or her and not to the entire list. Everyone else
on the list would have lost interest a long time ago and probably would like
the discussion to just go away (so oblige them).
Posts referencing Pirate sites and sources for "cracked" or "hacked" software
is not apporiate in any case and may be illegal. If you are not sure if it
is okay to post the latest software you've found on the 'Net, then DON'T
until you have checked with the owners of the software and gotten their
permission. It would also be a good idea to indicate in your post that you
have the owner's permission to distribute cracked software.
A variety of different microcontrollers are used in "Smart Cards" (such as
used with Cable and Satellite scrambling) and asking how they work will probably
result in abusive replies or having your questions ignored. If you have a
legitimate reason for asking about smart cards, make sure you state it in
your e-mail to the list.
When you first subscribe to a list, you will get a reply telling you how
to unsubscribe from the list. DON'T LOSE THIS NOTE. In the past in some lists,
people having trouble unsubscribing have sent questions to the list asking
how and sometimes getting angry when their requests go unheeded. If you are
trying to unsubscribe from a list and need help from others on the list,
explain what you are trying to do and how you've tried to accomplish it.
If you're like me and just log one once or twice a day, read all the notes
regarding a specific thread before replying. When replying to a question
that has already be answered look for what you can add to the discussion,
not reiterate what's already been said.
Lastly, please try to be courteous to all on the List. Others may not have
your knowledge and experience or they may be sensitive about different issues.
There is a very high level of professionalism on all the lists presented
below, please help maintain it.
Being insulting or rude will only get the same back and probably have your
posts and legitimate questions ignored in the future by others on the list
who don't want to have anything to do with you.
To put this succinctly: "Don't be offensive or easily offended."