Project Wombat: Rules and Posting Guidelines

The Universal Rule

There is one rule which we apply to all lists — including the Open list, which otherwise has none. That rule is: no commercial messages. Any message advertising a product or service will be considered a flagrant violation, and we will do our best to track you down, notify your ISP that you are spamming, and/or report you to whatever authorities are most likely to cause trouble for you. And yes, this means you.

We will make a partial exception in one case: subscribers who are authors of works of non-fiction and whose research is assisted by the list may announce to the list when said works are published, provided the announcement is just an announcement (and a thank-you), and not a sales pitch. Of course, it would be nicer for said authors to get permission off-list and credit the helpful subscribers by name in the books in question, but we can’t enforce that.

How the Guidelines Are Applied

If a subscriber to Project Wombat sends messages to the standard list address ( which violate these guidelines, then in the future their posts will be held for moderator approval on the “Classic” list, rather than being immediately distributed. Since the moderators do not edit messages, this means that future messages may be discarded, rather than distributed, and will always take extra time to make it through to the Classic list than would otherwise be the case. (Subscribers who are found to be in violation of the guidelines will be notified by private e-mail.)

Since all messages to Project Wombat are submitted to (though not necessarily distribted from) all three lists, a message sent by a subscriber to the Open list may still violate guidelines and result in a notification. To avoid this, subscribers can send messages to the special address Messages sent to this address will always be held for moderation on the Classic list, and will never be considered to be violations of the guidelines, regardless of content. (Of course, if they fail to meet the posting guidelines, they may not be distributed on the Classic list.)

Please keep in mind that the guidelines apply only to messages posted to Project Wombat. Messages sent off-list by definition cannot violate the list guidelines.

The Guidelines

Answers without Attribution
If at all possible, please give an attribution to any answer which has one. For sources on the web, a URL is sufficient.
Answers which are obviously copied directly from a source on the web and pasted into a post without attribution will not be accepted by the moderators for the FM list, and will be considered a violation of the guidelines.
Creeping “Me-Too”-ism
Please don’t send messages to the list which can be condensed to “me too”. They serve no useful purpose for most of the people on the list. (And we have too much list traffic for some subscribers as it is!)
The subscribers to this list volunteer their time to read the list. Do not make demands of them.
Internet Detritus
Humorous discussion and references are, as you may expect, allowed on Project Wombat. The posting of lists of jokes, urban legends, virus alerts, or other Internet Detritus is not. (We don’t want to get our computer virus information from each other because there are lots of good free comprehensive sources online which won’t be taken in by hoaxes.)
(You can certainly post a question about some particular piece of Internet detritus, should you have one. Just don’t distribute the stuff itself via the list.)
Dead Threads
If a discussion appears to be getting out of hand, the Project Wombat advisory board or the moderators may declare the relevant thread(s) dead. Replies to a thread which has been declared dead will be filtered from the Classic list by subject line, so they are not a problem. (This is necessary to allow free conversation on the Open list.) Attempts to bypass the filter using altered subject lines, however, will be considered against the guidelines.
Flaming, Rudeness, and Other Social Crimes
It is very hard to decide what constitutes an insult over e-mail. It is a medium without vocal tone or facial expression. (Beyond smileys, of course.) Please avoid, when possible, sending messages to the list which could be construed as rude. The advisory board will use its best judgement when considering this issue, so it can’t hurt to be as polite as possible most of the time to give us a standard by which to judge.
Politics and Morality
Posts taking a particular stance on politics or morality are frowned upon. (They are a major part of the reason for the Open list.) Do not polemicize if you wish your posts to reach the Classic list.
Violations of Confidentiality
Sending an e-mail to the list which quotes directly and without permission from a message sent to you privately is usually objectionable. Please don’t do it.
Job Offers
Do not send job offers to this list. If the offer is geographically specific, then it will not apply to most of the people on the list and therefore constitutes an annoyance. If it is not, then it probably falls under the heading of spam, for which see the rule at the top of this page.
Complaints About Posts
If you feel that someone else is violating the guidelines on this page, please don’t send messages about it to the list. Send them to instead.
“Letter of the Law” Nitpicking
If you are asked to stop doing something, please do not attempt to “prove” you were not doing it by invoking the denotation of individual words in the Guidelines, ignoring context and connotation. (We were going to name this rule “don’t act like a twelve-year-old”, but felt that the name lacked panache.)