Web4Lib Electronic Discussion
An electronic discussion for library-based World-Wide Web managers.
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The Web4Lib electronic discussion is for the discussion of issues relating to the creation, management, and support of library-based World-Wide Web servers, services, and applications. Any questions regarding the pertinence of any particular topic should be sent to one or more of the listowners.
Web4Lib is specifically aimed toward librarians and library staff involved in World-Wide Web management, but anyone is welcome to join the discussion. Those not interested in a library-oriented Web discussion may wish to join one of the general Web discussions hosted by the W3 Organization. There are presently around 4,700 subscribers world wide and an average of 5-10 messages a day.
The list was formerly run by Roy Tennant and has had several hosts:
- The University of California at Berkeley
- The University of Notre Dame
- The University of Cincinnati
It is an un-moderated list, but only subscribers may post messages. The software program LISTSERV is used to provide an automated method for persons to subscribe, unsubscribe, etc. If you have any difficulties, please contact one of the list admins.
The following policy governs all postings to the Web4Lib list. These policies will be enforced by the Web4Lib Advisory Board. Please note that repeated violations of these policies may result in the removal of offenders from the list.
- All messages must relate, however slightly, to the general topic of World Wide Web systems and libraries or library staff. The list owner and Advisory Board interprets this rather broadly, but messages that are clearly off-topic will not be tolerated.
- Advertisements are not appropriate. This includes, but is not limited to, announcements of new products and free trials by those who stand to gain from such announcements. However, a simple statement that offers a way to follow-up for more information on a service or product is tolerated if it accompanies a substantive message discussing a subject appropriate to the list. Announcements of conferences, workshops, new publications, and position openings appropriate to the topic of the list are allowed.
- Virus warnings (not bug reports), are strongly discouraged. In addition, before forwarding information about a virus or some other purported disaster you may wish to check Snopes.com and Virus Hoaxes for hoax information, urban legends, and other rumors.
- Personal attacks such as name calling and personal insults will not be tolerated. Comments that are intended only to enrage the recipient rather than contribute to thoughtful discussion are prohibited.
- All postings must be free of copyright restrictions that limit distribution. For example, posting a significant amount of a copyrighted work verbatim requires the permission of the copyright holder. To verify that such permission was obtained, all postings of this nature must include a statement that this is the case.
- The preferred format for list messages is plain text. Subscribers whose mail clients default to other formats such as HTML should configure them to send plain text when posting to the list. Sending MIME file attachments of any kind is prohibited; to prevent the spread of viruses, etc., any attachments are automatically stripped from your message before posting.
- All posts to Web4Lib are permanently stored in the publicly accessible archive.
Guidelines for Appropriate List Behavior
The following guidelines are offered as advice for how to best participate in this discussion in a manner that will both contribute to the experience of all readers and also reflect well on you.
- Say something substantial. Simply saying "I agree" (in so many words) or "I disagree" (in so many words) does not meet this guideline. Specific technical questions are, however, quite appropriate, as are brief answers to such questions.
- Say something new. Mere redundancy will not convince an opponent of their error. Explaining the same argument differently in an attempt to make them see the light has not been proven to be an effective strategy.
- "Getting the last word" is for children. We're all beyond the age when we should be concerned with being the one to end the argument. Just because you are the last to speak doesn't mean you won the argument.
- Agree to disagree. The likelihood of convincing someone to change a strongly held opinion is nil. State your case, but give up on the idea of converting the heathen.
- Take "conversations" off the list. When list interaction becomes two-sided (two individuals trading comments or arguments) it is a sign that you should take the discussion off the list and correspond with that person directly. If the discussion was of interest to the general membership you will see others posting on the topic as well.
- Remember that you are being judged by the quality of your contributions. No matter whether you are employed or not, or a certain age, or have a certain education, you can create a good professional reputation by how you contribute to a large electronic discussion like Web4Lib. On the other hand, you can ruin your reputation even faster and easier.
- NEVER send email in anger. Go ahead and compose a message in anger, since that may help you work through what you're angry about, but don't send it. Sleep on it. You will nearly always decide to not send it or to recompose it. There's a reason for that.
- Be civil. Treat others how you wish to be treated. No matter how insulting someone is to you, you will always look better to the bystanders (of which there are many, I hasten to remind you) by responding politely.
- Respect the rights of others. An electronic discussion is a commons. Your right to post ends at the right of others to not be insulted, badgered, or to have their time needlessly wasted.
Web4Lib began on May 12, 1994. The article "Web4Lib: The Library Web Manager's Electronic Discussion List" in Ariadne describes the early history of the list.
Our German cousin InetBib coincidentally also began in May 1994. They have enjoyed even more success, since they have more subscribers and have had a conference for a number of years.