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This one is about: Cleft-Talk Netiquette

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Cleft-Talk Netiquette (Or how to be a good Cleft-talker online)

These netiquette rules have been borrowed from the "Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette", by Arlene Rinaldi, and customized for use on Cleft-Talk.

Joining an online discussion list like Cleft-Talk is, in many ways, just like joining any other social group. And, in any social group there is a certain level of expected behavior, known as "manners". "protocol" or "etiquette". It's simple, really. Good manners equals common sense plus the Golden rule. The same is true of the net. Good netiquette is basically an application of common sense, and a sensitivity to the way you would like to be treated yourself.

In addition to that are some commonly accepted basic rules of behavior. Some things, over time, have simply become the accepted convention. Knowing and practicing that convention helps you to look and feel more comfortable using the net for this sort of communication.

The following are rules of internet netiquette that we would like to exercise on Cleft-Talk. Because of the nature of this list we are somewhat lax in some rules that would be quite important on other lists. The rules here are not presented to "legalize" the list, but rather, to encourage good internet manners.


1. When you join any list, try to monitor the messages for a few days to get a feel for the general flavor of the list. What topics do we discuss, what topics may be deemed off-topic or off-limits? This is commonly referred to as lurking.  When you feel comfortable, you are encouraged to start posting, either in response to the posts you are reading, or by way of an introduction of yourself, your family, and your interest in this list.

2. Read your FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Wide Smiles has two FAQ's. One is for new parents. It is a true FAQ (ie, it really does answer the questions most frequently asked by new parents). The New Parent FAQ is not especially related to Cleft-Talk. The second FAQ is our Cleft-Talk FAQ. A mailing list FAQ not only includes questions that are frequently asked, but it also includes a list of our rules and member information. Read it, and then save it for future reference.

Related to this, Cleft-Talk has a number of cleft links that in fact also answer a number of questions that commonly come up.  Before posting a new question, please check the cleft links to see if we have answered that question already.

Note: Just because the topic is covered in cleft links does not mean that you cannot bring it up as a topic on the list. There are always new stories and new threads. Go ahead and post a question/ask for new comments. Reading the cleft links first will, however, avoid a lot of unnecessary repetition.

3. Follow the guidelines and rules that the listowner has posted. It is the responsibility of the listowner to establish the local netiquette standards and the rules for the list. The listowner of Cleft-Talk is Joanne Green, email address:

Nobody but the listowner sets or enforces the rules. Nobody except the listowner should be contacting other members by private email to tell them that they are in violation of the rules or that they have been inappropriate. Nor should such messages as that be posted publicly by anyone but the listowner. If you feel someone has overstepped the rules of this list, then you should share that observation with the listowner via private email.

4. Keep in mind that our list includes members from different cultures and different countries. Not everyone will understand references made to specific programs, people, geographic locations, etc. For some people English is their second language. Be patient and be aware of the diversity of this group.

5. Do not join this or any other list for the sake of posting inflammatory messages. This is known as "mail bombing" and will not be tolerated. It could result not only in your being barred from this list, but in your losing access to the net.

6. Keep your questions and comments relevant to the focus of the discussion group (ie, cleft lip and palate and other craniofacial - related issues). There is a partial list of relevant topics in our Cleft-Talk FAQ. If you are not sure of the relevance of your topic, please send private email to the listowner.

7. When there is an off-subject comment or question posted, do not reply to it on the list. That would only keep the off-subject topic going publicly and waste everyone's time. The listowner will either publicly or privately identify the topic as off-topic. If such a note is posted, do not criticize the decision of the listowner by submitting a gratuitous post, such as, "Well, I liked it and lots of people probably did as well and you guys ought to lighten up and not tell us to stick to the subject." Remember, it's the listowner who sets the rules.

8. When going away for more than a week, unsubscribe. For instructions on how to unsubscribe, go here. Please join us again when you return home!

9. Respond to private questions via private email. If your response has a general purpose (and expressing support is considered by this listowner as a general purpose) then by all means, post it publicly. Also, reserve the naming of doctors, clinics, and hospitals and any locally-specific information for private email.

10. Do not use all caps when you post. IT MAKES IT APPEAR THAT YOU ARE SHOUTING AT US! An occasional word in all caps may give emphasis to that word, but the entire text is distracting. (You can also emphasize a word by putting it between two *asterisks* or by surrounding it with _underscore_.)

Do not use profanity. Keep the words you use and the content of your posts family-oriented. Profanity only tends to degrade the entire list and does not make the point you intended.

11. Try to keep your quotes as short as possible. Edit out whatever is not directly applicable to your reply. When responding to a long story, edit out a large portion of it by deleting text and inserting the message, [snip] where the text was deleted. DO NOT let your own software quote entire postings to which you are responding. Nobody likes to read a long message in quotes for the third or fourth time, only to be followed by a one-line response, "Yeah, me too."

12. Use discretion when forwarding a long email message to the group. If it is resource that can be obtained online, it is preferable to reference the source or document and provide instructions on how to obtain a copy. If you do post a long message, warn the readers with a statement in the subject line or at the top of your post, such as "Warning, Long Message."

13. If you cross post messages to multiple groups, include the name of the groups at the top of the mail message with an apology for any duplication.

14. "Flames" will not be tolerated on this list. We cannot offer support to one another in an adversarial environment. Remember that this is a public list, for public discussion and is meant for constructive exchange and support. Treat others on this list with respect, just as you yourself would want to be treated.

15. Always check your address when replying privately to a public post. It is embarrassing to find your private message posted to an entire group. Also, private messages often contain information that is not appropriate for public airing.

16. When leaving the list, please do so in as amiable a way as possible. If you choose to leave under less than optimal conditions (ie, you are mad at somebody), do not mail bomb as your go. It is appropriate to say something like, "I enjoyed the group but must unsubscribe now. I wanted to say good bye and wish you all well." But it is NOT appropriate to say something like, "Well, if nobody here appreciates the TRUTH, I see this is not the list I wanted to be on in the first place!" You made your point, but you also made everyone mad and most often, nobody even listens to a tirade.

17. You do not unsubscribe from a list by posting an unsub message to the list. Do not go on the list and say, "Please take me off the list."  There is a proper way to unsubscribe, and that information can be found here.

You must unsubscribe from the same account you have been using. If for some reason you are not able to do that (ie, your system crashed or you no longer have access to that computer) then send a message from any system to the listowner ( explaining your situation.

The goal is that everyone have a satisfying experience as a cleft-talker. It is ok to lurk, and it is encouraged that you post. Do not be afraid of making a mistake. If a mistake is pointed out to you, please accept it as a learning experience and an opportunity for growth and better understanding. We have fostered a warm and supportive environment in which people can feel trusting and accepted. If we just respect one another and be as forgiving and tolerant as we can, that atmosphere of support will continue to be the hallmark of Cleft-Talk.

If you are ever in any doubt as to what is proper and what is not proper on this list, email you question to Joanne Green, listowner, at

Thank You.

Cleft Talk

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