Playing the Netiquette Game as a Yahoo Group Owner and/or Moderator
By Beverley Paine
I joined my first Yahoo group in 2001 and I remember it took some time to get the hang of being the member of an internet based social group. People forget that the normal rules of conversation don't apply because most communicate between people is non-verbal. That, though, doesn't come through on email, even with a liberal dose of emoticons (those little smiley or not so smiley faces) or acronyms that spell out a reaction, like LOL (laugh out loud).
Communicating by email is a cross between writing and speaking. If we write the thoughts as we think them, our messages often come across confused, because our brains usually think in fragments, sometimes in pictures or 'feelings' rather than words - and seldom in whole, perfectly grammatically constructed sentences and paragraphs! Few of us have the time or inclination to write emails the way we would write a letter or an article. Some of us don't bother with punctuation or grammar. Some of us are two finger typists - email is not a medium we're comfortable with because it takes forever to type. All of these reasons, and more, account for why emails we send are sometimes not received the way we want them to be!
Email communication is a difficult medium to get right. I'm not a fan of the saying 'practice makes perfect' but, in the case of emailing, frequent emailing is probably the easiest way to get the hang of how to use the medium effectively. But it can be fraught with problems, some of which can quickly escalate into conflict and, most worrisome of all, 'flame wars'.
Becoming a group owner takes a few minutes and usually seems like a good idea at the time. It does involve taking on responsibility for the way members of the group behave. It's like inviting a whole group of strangers into your home, or your friend's house. There are some basic standards and ground rules you want everyone to comply with so that you can all achieve the group's goals or purpose.
Plus, if you have started a Yahoo Group, as owner or moderator you need some measure of control to abide by the guidelines and conditions set by Yahoo. I don't think Yahoo checks groups, but it will follow up on complaints. You can find the guidelines on this page: http://groups.yahoo.com/local/guidelines.html . In addition, Yahoo Group Help Topics has information for group owners and moderators. Have a read of the topics under 'Inviting, Promoting and Managing' on this page: http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/groups/original/ownmod/inviting/
I started my own group shortly after being a member of a Yahoo group. It is important to me to work at keeping my groups on-topic and pleasant places so that members get what they need from interacting with others in the group. These are some of the things I do:
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