NELA/Illinois listserv “Best Practices”
Here are some “best practices” for the courteous, helpful, and efficient use of the listserv. Please be mindful that these are “Best Practices” guidelines and not the official Listserv Acceptable Use Policy. Please refer to the Listerv Acceptable Use Policy for rules governing our listerv. Thank you.
Expressly state in your post what you want in reply to your inquiry, such as: “I’m looking for authority to support the proposition that...” or “Anybody have an example of a [type of document] that I can use…”, or “I need ideas for possible claims in this fact situation” or “I need intelligence on [judge, mediator, opposing counsel]”, etc.
Inquiries should contain the proper amount of facts needed to provide an intelligent and helpful answer. Too many facts can scare or frustrate the reader, while too few facts can lead to wrong answers or a great deal of back-and-forth on the listserv.
When posting a procedural or evidentiary inquiry, always include the procedural and/or evidentiary system you’re in (FRE, FRCP, ILCS, etc.), the court you’re in (local rules!), the judge you’re before, and the procedural posture of the case (in discovery, responding to a Motion for Summary Judgment, on trial, etc.).
Before posting a procedural or evidentiary inquiry, read the applicable rule and reference in your post that you did so. (“I checked FRCP 45, but didn't see whether…”).
Use a subject-heading for your post that succinctly, but fully and accurately, summarizes your inquiry. This will help both the immediate reader and anybody in the future who searches the listserv archives.
If your post is news, humor, a rant, a job posting, or something else that is not a “traditional” listserv inquiry, use the subject heading “Off Topic” followed by a short description. For example: “Off topic: Breaking news on healthcare vote!”
Do not post a new topic by hitting “reply” to a post on some other topic. Instead, for each new topic, draft a new post with a new heading.
Put unrelated topics into different posts. For example, rather than one post both asking a question of law and announcing some news, put those two very different subjects into two different posts under two different headings.
Remember that hitting “reply” replies to the entire listserv, not just to the person who posted. If you want to reply just to the person who posted, delete the listserv e-mail address from the “To:” field of your reply and cut-and-paste in the e-mail address of the person to whom you want to reply.
Before responding, carefully consider what the author is requesting. If, for example, the post requested authority to cite, responding with your opinion on the law or a general statement that such authority exists is not very helpful.
Before responding, quickly read any other responses to the post and make sure that nobody has already posted the response you were thinking of making.
Your name is not necessarily intuitively obvious from your e-mail address, so put your name at the bottom of the post.
Spell-check, proof-read, and edit!