RFC1855

Tim Chase pointed me to this. 1995! Netiquette! I’m going to copy out the bit about email (“mail”) so I have a copy here.

Some of this feels a smidge outdated, but most of it feels pretty right on 35 years later.


    - Unless you have your own Internet access through an Internet
      provider, be sure to check with your employer about ownership
      of electronic mail. Laws about the ownership of electronic mail
      vary from place to place.

    - Unless you are using an encryption device (hardware or software),
      you should assume that mail on the Internet is not secure.  Never
      put in a mail message anything you would not put on a postcard.

    - Respect the copyright on material that you reproduce.  Almost
      every country has copyright laws.

    - If you are forwarding or re-posting a message you've received, do
      not change the wording.  If the message was a personal message to
      you and you are re-posting to a group, you should ask permission
      first.  You may shorten the message and quote only relevant parts,
      but be sure you give proper attribution.

    - Never send chain letters via electronic mail.  Chain letters
      are forbidden on the Internet.  Your network privileges
      will be revoked.  Notify your local system administrator



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RFC 1855                 Netiquette Guidelines              October 1995


      if your ever receive one.

    - A good rule of thumb:  Be conservative in what you send and
      liberal in what you receive.  You should not send heated messages
      (we call these "flames") even if you are provoked.  On the other
      hand, you shouldn't be surprised if you get flamed and it's
      prudent not to respond to flames.

    - In general, it's a good idea to at least check all your mail
      subjects before responding to a message.  Sometimes a person who
      asks you for help (or clarification) will send another message
      which effectively says "Never Mind".  Also make sure that any
      message you respond to was directed to you.  You might be cc:ed
      rather than the primary recipient.

    - Make things easy for the recipient.  Many mailers strip header
      information which includes your return address.  In order to
      ensure that people know who you are, be sure to include a line
      or two at the end of your message with contact information.  You
      can create this file ahead of time and add it to the end of your
      messages.  (Some mailers do this automatically.)  In Internet
      parlance, this is known as a ".sig" or "signature" file.  Your
      .sig file takes the place of your business card.  (And you can
      have more than one to apply in different circumstances.)

    - Be careful when addressing mail.  There are addresses which
      may go to a group but the address looks like it is just one
      person.  Know to whom you are sending.

    - Watch cc's when replying.  Don't continue to include
      people if the messages have become a 2-way conversation.

    - In general, most people who use the Internet don't have time
      to answer general questions about the Internet and its workings.
      Don't send unsolicited mail asking for information to people
      whose names you might have seen in RFCs or on mailing lists.

    - Remember that people with whom you communicate are located across
      the globe.  If you send a message to which you want an immediate
      response, the person receiving it might be at home asleep when it
      arrives.  Give them a chance to wake up, come to work, and login
      before assuming the mail didn't arrive or that they don't care.

    - Verify all addresses before initiating long or personal discourse.
      It's also a good practice to include the word "Long" in the
      subject header so the recipient knows the message will take time
      to read and respond to. Over 100 lines is considered "long".




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RFC 1855                 Netiquette Guidelines              October 1995


    - Know whom to contact for help.  Usually you will have resources
      close at hand.  Check locally for people who can help you with
      software and system problems.  Also, know whom to go to if you
      receive anything questionable or illegal.  Most sites also
      have "Postmaster" aliased to a knowledgeable user, so you
      can send mail to this address to get help with mail.

    - Remember that the recipient is a human being whose culture,
      language, and humor have different points of reference from your
      own.  Remember that date formats, measurements, and idioms may
      not travel well.   Be especially careful with sarcasm.

    - Use mixed case.  UPPER CASE LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING.

    - Use symbols for emphasis.  That *is* what I meant.  Use
      underscores for underlining. _War and Peace_ is my favorite
      book.

    - Use smileys to indicate tone of voice, but use them sparingly.
      :-) is an example of a smiley (Look sideways).  Don't assume
      that the inclusion of a smiley will make the recipient happy
      with what you say or wipe out an otherwise insulting comment.

    - Wait overnight to send emotional responses to messages.  If you
      have really strong feelings about a subject, indicate it via
      FLAME ON/OFF enclosures.  For example:
      FLAME ON:  This type of argument is not worth the bandwidth
                 it takes to send it.  It's illogical and poorly
                 reasoned.  The rest of the world agrees with me.
      FLAME OFF

    - Do not include control characters or non-ASCII attachments in
      messages unless they are MIME attachments or unless your mailer
      encodes these.  If you send encoded messages make sure the
      recipient can decode them.

    - Be brief without being overly terse.  When replying to a message,
      include enough original material to be understood but no more. It
      is extremely bad form to simply reply to a message by including
      all the previous message: edit out all the irrelevant material.

    - Limit line length to fewer than 65 characters and end a line
      with a carriage return.

    - Mail should have a subject heading which reflects
      the content of the message.





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RFC 1855                 Netiquette Guidelines              October 1995


    - If you include a signature keep it short.  Rule of thumb
      is no longer than 4 lines.  Remember that many people pay for
      connectivity by the minute, and the longer your message is,
      the more they pay.

    - Just as mail (today) may not be private, mail (and news) are
      (today) subject to forgery and spoofing of various degrees of
      detectability. Apply common sense "reality checks" before
      assuming a message is valid.

    - If you think the importance of a message justifies it, immediately
      reply briefly to an e-mail message to let the sender know you got
      it, even if you will send a longer reply later.

    - "Reasonable" expectations for conduct via e-mail depend on your
      relationship to a person and the context of the communication.
      Norms learned in a particular e-mail environment may not apply in
      general to your e-mail communication with people across the
      Internet.  Be careful with slang or local acronyms.

    - The cost of delivering an e-mail message is, on the average, paid
      about equally by the sender and the recipient (or their
      organizations). This is unlike other media such as physical mail,
      telephone, TV, or radio.  Sending someone mail may also cost them
      in other specific ways like network bandwidth, disk space or CPU
      usage.  This is a fundamental economic reason why unsolicited
      e-mail advertising is unwelcome (and is forbidden in many contexts).

    - Know how large a message you are sending.  Including large files
      such as Postscript files or programs may make your message so
      large that it cannot be delivered or at least consumes excessive
      resources.  A good rule of thumb would be not to send a file
      larger than 50 Kilobytes.  Consider file transfer as an
      alternative, or cutting the file into smaller chunks and sending
      each as a separate message.

    - Don't send large amounts of unsolicited information to people.

    - If your mail system allows you to forward mail, beware the dreaded
      forwarding loop.  Be sure you haven't set up forwarding on several
      hosts so that a message sent to you gets into an endless loop from
      one computer to the next to the next.

Author: Chris Coyier

Hucklebucker.

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