Mailing List Etiquette

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This can also be found (with html links) at:

             The list below are specific to the mailing
             lists. Where they differ with respect to RFC1855, these points
             override those in RFC1855:

              1. [12]Subscription requirements.
              2. [13]Sending a new message to the list.
              3. [14]Replying to a message from the list.
              4. [15]Sending a message to multiple linux-arm* lists.
              5. [16]HTML encoded messages.
              6. [17]Email attachments.
              7. [18]Commercial email.
              8. [19]Searching the archives.
              9. [20]Support for commercial products.
             10. [21]Cross-posting between linux-arm* lists and other lists.
             11. [22]Automatic replies.
             12. [23]Virus scanners and email sanitisers.

             1. Subscription requirements. [[24]rmk]
                Recently, we have had to impose a restriction on the mailing lists.
                You must be subscribed to the mailing list in order to post
                messages to that mailing list. This is because of the UK Data
                Protection laws. Only subscribe to these lists if you accept the
                legal notice displayed on the relevant pages; by subscribing, you
                accept the terms laid out in the legal notice. Answers will be
                copied to you.

             2. Sending a new message to the list. [[25]rmk]
                Please do not reply to an existing message as a short-cut to post a
                message to the lists. Email is not a disjunct set of messages, but
                is threaded, and mailing lists use this feature to provide a
                coherent archive. Some email clients (notably better than Microsoft
                based clients) also group messages into a thread. When ever you hit
                the "Reply" button, it adds information to your outgoing email that
                tells the rest of the world that it is a reply to that message.

                Messages which violate this etiquette point are automatically

             3. Replying to a message from the list. [[26]erikm, [27]dwmw2]
                When you do reply to a message someone else has posted, please use
                the "Group reply" or "Reply to all" button on your mailer.
                Individual developers don't know everything, and by replying to
                them personally, you effectively cut yourself off from all the
                other people who could help you. Please ensure that you reply to
                the list and the sender of the message.

                See [28]this popular news item for more information ([29]as seen on
                linux-kernel by gregkh.)

                If you are including the original message in your reply, always
                edit the message such that it only quotes the sections which are
                relevant to your reply. Don't just quote the whole of the message
                to which you're replying.

                Also, please use a mail client which correctly includes References:
                and/or In-Reply-To: headers in email replies. These headers are
                what keeps threads together by indicating precisely which messages
                you are replying to, and the absence of them obfuscates the mailing
                list by making your reply appear to start a new thread of its own
                rather than being correctly associated with the message to which
                you replied. Some mail clients, in particular some configurations
                of Microsoft Outlook, are not standards-compliant and do not
                conform to the recommendations of [30]RFC 2822. In the case of
                Outlook you may be able to work around the bug by switching to its
                'Internet Email' mode.

                If you reply to a message, avoid top-posting like this:

              Thank you for your reply. Wouldn't it be a better idea to frobnicate


              -----Original Message-----
              From: Alice [mailto:alice@xxxxxxxxxxx]
              Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 8:47 PM
              To: Bob
              Cc: linux-arm-kernel
              Subject: Re: What is foo supposed to do?

              It's to make sure bar does not eat the gnats.

                This is why top posting is so bad ([31]as seen on linux-kernel by

              A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
              Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
              A: Top-posting.
              Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?

                All this is pretty straight forward, and can be found in [32]RFC
                1855 - Netiquette Guidelines.

             4. Sending a message to multiple linux-arm* lists. [[33]rmk]
                Don't do this. If you do attempt this, the list server will filter
                your message out and will with-hold it until the list administrator
                does something with it, which normally ends up bouncing it back to
                you. In addition, you will receive a message about "Cross-posting".

                Choose one and only one list which is most appropriate for the
                subject of your message. Don't post to all the mailing lists you
                can find. rmk himself has a policy where, if he sees this
                happening, he will ignore both your posts.

             5. HTML encoded messages. [[34]rmk, [35]rfs]
                Sorry, we don't accept HTML encoded messages on these lists, even
                if they are multi-part with a text alterative; the list server
                filters them out. Please ensure that your mailer does not send HTML
                encoded mail; Microsoft Outlook and Netscape Mail send HTML encoded
                mail by default.

             6. Email attachments. [[36]rmk]
                Please ensure that all attachments are plain text. There is a limit
                of around 40KiB on the overall size of the message, so if you want
                to send a large attachment, please upload it to a web site
                somewhere, and post with a URL instead. The main ARM Linux FTP site
                does have an incoming directory where files can be uploaded,
                located at
                Please ensure that if you are going to use this directory, that you
                use this one, and not /pub/incoming nor /incoming.

             7. Commercial email (job offers, product advertisments, etc).
                The list server is provided for members of the Linux Community free
                of charge, and the generous space and bandwidth are provided under
                an agreement with the hosting company.

                As such, do not send any mail which furthers your commercial
                interests (job advertisements, advertisements for selling hardware
                or services, etc) to these lists. Such postings are off topic for
                mailing lists devoted to technical development issues.

                Providing links to where patches for particular hardware platforms
                can be downloaded is acceptable though, although you are encouraged
                to seek the necessary permissions to post announcements for such to
                the linux-arm-announce list. In either case, your mail may contain
                your standard company signature/disclaimer, but must in no way
                appear to advertise your products or services.

                Failure to comply with this requirement will result in immediate
                and permanent expulsion from the mailing lists of the email address
                and/or IP address, without warning. Further infringements of this
                requirement will result in the offenders companies the entire IP
                netblock being prevented from posting messages to the list.

                This is important and must be complied with without any exception
                what so ever.

                (the other solution is that the mailing lists are permanently
                closed down, which none of us want.)

             8. Searching the archives. [[38]rmk]
                Please search the mailing list archives before posting a technical
                question or a problem to the mailing lists. It is highly possible
                that your question has already been asked before, or someone else
                has encountered your problem and a solution has already been aired
                on the lists.

             9. Support for commercial products. [[39]rmk]
                These mailing lists are not a support forum for commercial products
                such as debuggers and closed-source binary kernel modules. Do not
                post queries about these here, but direct your questions to the
                suppliers of these products.

             10. Cross-posting between linux-arm* lists and other lists. [[40]rmk]
                Please do not do this. Subscribers on other lists may not be
                subscribed to the linux-arm lists, so when they try to reply to
                such a message, they will receive a bounce. This is deemed by
                others to be rude behaviour on the part of the person who
                originally cross-posted.

             11. Automatic replies. [[41]erikm, [42]rmk, [43]dwmw2]
                We don't need to know that you're out of office. If you enable an
                autoresponder, do it in such a way that it doesn't respond to
                mailing list messages. Failure to do so will get you unsubscribed
                from the list.

                Autoresponses should never be seen on the mailing list for many

                Firstly, an automatic response should only ever be sent to the
                'reverse-path' of the message which triggered the reply; the
                address to which bounces are expected. It should never be sent to
                the address taken from the From:, Reply-To: or other headers. In
                the case of mailing list traffic, the reverse-path is a different
                address which feeds directly to the list software; messages sent
                there will not reach the list.

                Secondly, an automatic response should always be sent with an empty
                reverse-path of its own, just like a bounce. This is essential to
                avoid the potential for mail loops as autoresponders talk to each
                other. Failure to obey this simple rule is dangerous and could be
                reported as abuse to your ISP because it's a denial of service
                attack waiting to happen. The mailing list submission address is
                never used in a reverse-path of outgoing mail, and hence the list
                submission address is configured not to accept bounces.

                Finally, the autoresponder should never send a report in reply to
                list traffic because the list messages themselves indicate that
                they are bulk mail. The autoresponder should check whether the
                message contains a Precedence: bulk or Precedence: list header and
                refrain from replying if such is found.

                Note that the good old Berkeley "vacation" program does the right
                thing w.r.t. detecting mailing list messages, while certain other
                programs (most notably made by a company from Redmond, WA) fail to
                recognise mailing list messages.

                You can get some [44]guidance on setting up MS Outlook correctly.

             12. Virus scanners and email sanitisers. [[45]erikm, [46]dwmw2]
                There are a couple of low quality virus scanners and email
                sanitisers that trigger on valid messages. In the past, we've seen
                scanners wrongly triggering on gzip'ed patches and sanitisers
                wrongly triggering on the use of "xxx" in the Adaptec "aic7xxx"
                SCSI drivers. Those were of course obviously correct messages and
                the list owners got flooded by the amount of virus warnings. If you
                want to use a virus scanner, make sure it is a good one. If you
                fail to do so, you risk being unsubscribed from the mailing list.

                See also the comment on automatic responses above. In the case of
                virus checking, no message should be sent to the apparent sender of
                the virus. It is almost unheard of nowadays for the sender address
                of a virus to actually bear any relation to the real sender, so by
                sending a virus 'warning' you are knowingly spamming a third party.
                Again, any instance of this reaching the mailing list may be
                reported as serious network abuse to your ISP.

             Any queries or questions about the etiquette should be sent to

             People listed above:

               * dwmw2 - David Woodhouse
               * erikm - Erik Mouw
               * rfs - Ralph Siemsen
               * rmk - Russell King

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