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July 18, 2007

New Guidelines for Association Listserves

The Bar Association has released a new set of guidelines for its member listserves.

List serves or electronic mailing lists are one of the most useful means of communication, since they enable their members to instantly transmit or receive information and opinions on matters of common interest. When a message is sent to an electronic mailing list the list server immediately distributes it to all subscribers. Conversely, when replies to that message are "mailed," they too, are broadcast to the entire list of subscribers in a matter of minutes or seconds, making this a highly interactive form of communication.

The following suggested guidelines are intended to make the electronic mailing lists valuable and productive for all subscribers.

  • Be germane. Tailor your message to the issue being addressed or up for discussion, since that will tend to produce the most focused and valuable responses from your colleagues. To ensure a positive experience for all subscribers, please avoid religious or political issues. Do not publish, post, distribute, or disseminate views or materials that espouse political views or solicit for political candidates.

  • Referrals. The list is not to be used as a means to obtain referrals to other attorneys in the five county region. The Association maintains a Lawyer Referral and Information Service for this purpose, and is available to any attorney looking for a referral.

  • Know your audience. It is important to recognize that your audience may have varying degrees of knowledge and experience with technology. Keeping this in mind will help to ensure that your ideas reach everyone's eyes.

  • Brevity is important. Please keep your messages as short and to the point as is consistent with conveying the substance of your thoughts.

  • Identify yourself. You are required to provide your full name, contact information and Philadelphia Bar Association affiliation. Among other things, this gives your colleagues the opportunity to consult directly with you on questions or issues that may have come up in the discussion.

  • Provide a subject line. Posting a subject line that reflects your message's contents enables your colleagues to prioritize their reading. This is an important courtesy, particularly when the list of subscribers is large and there is a high volume of transmissions.

  • If possible avoid attachments. Attachments can be very useful, but frequently they are incompatible with your audience's software. Therefore, when possible, avoid using them.

  • Be careful with replies. It is important to remember that all messages and replies posted to the list are sent to the entire list. Consequently, if you wish to transmit something of a more personal or private nature, please send it directly to the recipient rather than through the electronic mailing list. When possible, avoid replies that include prior correspondence since long messages tend to slow the process.

  • Please do not use auto-reply. Electronic mailing lists often include a large number of individuals, which makes auto-replies undesirable.

  • Keeping it simple is your best bet. A short message using simple formatting is your best bet to ensure that all the intended recipients can view your transmission without difficulty.

  • Misuse. Postings to the list should never make disparaging remarks about any individuals or organizations. The Philadelphia Bar Association in its sole discretion, may, at any time and from time to time and without notice, remove postings that are deemed objectionable and ban subscribers who have violated these guidelines.
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