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orion internet notes: SPAM, monopolization

I have been asked to make some clarifications about internet usage.
Most of you Orion subscribers know that a former member of this list is
using the subscriber list to send out his own e-mails. This is a common
tactic to establish rival or splinter lists, by the way, but it usually
begins with the consent of the members. I hope that the following info
is of some use.

1. What is SPAM? 
	Spam is, strictly speaking, a posting which is sent out in identical
form an unacceptably high number of times. It is the e-mail equivalent
of junk mail, usually involving advertising and often sent to news
groups (these don't apply in this case). At best, it's mildly annoying;
at worst, it can clog your mailbox and freeze your account. For more
information, see http://www.vix.com/spam/

2. Is it illegal?
	Probably not, in this case. But it is harassment, which is against most
ISP's (internet service provider) Terms of Agreement with the client.

3. What can I do about it?
	Don't mailbomb (send junk mail in retaliation) or threaten. Ask
politely first to be taken off an unwanted mailing list. If that doesn't
work, forward a copy to the sender's ISP, to postmaster@mclink.it or
whichever is relevant, with a short note stating that you are receiving
junk mail from this individual. They should take it from there,
depending on how responsive they are to complaints.

4. Unrelated topic: tone of Orion postings.
	A number of complaints have been received recently about sarcastic,
smart-alecky postings. I strongly urge writers, if you are trying to
interject humour, to adopt the convention of using smiley's, :), 8-) and
the like, to indicate your intent. Also the abbreviation <vbg> (= very
big grin) is useful in moderation. A little bit goes a long way in
softening the tone of a posting.

5. Monopolization of the discussion
	We welcome the diversity on Orion and would be very reluctant to adopt
a "closed" or "admission by application only" policy. In our welcome
letter we state that students and interested laypeople are welcome to
raise questions. At the same time, I remind you that Orion was
originally set up for specialists in the academic discipline, to foster
scholarly interchange. When the discussion is taken over by
non-specialists, we see the same questions being raised over and over
and beaten to death.
	At the moment it is not feasible to establish a weekly limit to the
number of postings (although we do recommend that you try not to post
too frequently) from an individual. When a discussion moves into the
realm of private conversation between two individuals and is clearly not
drawing any response from the list at large, it is time to move it to
private e-mail. I may send private messages when I see that a topic is
engaging only 2 subscribers for a disproportionately long period of

Avital Pinnick
list moderator