Nigel Metheringham edited this page Nov 27, 2012 · 2 revisions
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Mailing List Etiquette

The EximMailingLists are normally reasonably friendly places, but have a few rules to try and keep them on an even keel. Most of these fall under the category of basic Netiquette. You may also wish to look at the MailingListPolicies.

It is worth looking at documents such as How to keep out of trouble with your e-mail and How to report bugs effectively since these are very relevant to the lists in general. The following sections touch on points that are particular bugbears on the lists.

Check Before You Post

All of the EximMailingLists have searchable archives. Exim has excellent manuals. There's an excellent book. And, there's this wiki. Please try and find information before posting questions to the list. If you find things that are similar, but don't fix your specific problem then mention that in your posting so you don't just get pointed back to the old information.

Check Again Before You Post

Yes, you read that correctly - read that last paragraph again before moving on |:)|

Be Polite When Asking Questions

When asking questions, be polite. Nobody is paid to answer questions, so do your homework before asking. Be prepared to supply additional information if required. Be prepared to listen if people tell you that what you want to do is undesirable. Be patient, you won't get an immediate response.

Be Polite When Answering Questions

Similarly, people don't ask questions for fun, they do it because they don't know the answers. If you aren't answering the question, then your response may be unwelcome. Here are some unwelcome responses to the question 'how do I X?'

  • RTFM is swearing in a public arena. It doesn't directly answer the question and is felt by some to carry an arrogant tone. It says "don't waste my time", but it's a waste of everybody's time to say it. Better to point someone to the "How to X" section of the manual, with a URL, and an explanation of why the section is relevant to the question (where necessary). Similar comments apply to the wiki and the list archives.

If you feel you have to say something akin to RTFM, then please use the following:

I feel that your question is answered in the FAQ and/or the documentation. Therefore, I would suggest that you follow the next five steps:

1. Check Exim's log on your system. : 2. Run Exim in debug mode. 3. Check the FAQ. 4. Check the documentation. 5. Check the wiki.

IF none of those steps helped matters, then please send your question to the list along with Exim debug output and relevant sections of non-obfuscated log files.

Not following those steps will just lead you to getting more copies of this email and may waste the time of regular list members.

Thank you for your attention.

  • "X" is evil

The question wasn't about what's evil, and you should assume that the questioner isn't trying to achieve evil ends. Still, it may be helpful to explain why doing "X" is a bad idea. Remember, though, that there may be contexts where "X" is acceptable, or the lesser of two evils. Ultimately, you have to let some people learn through experience, or accept that others have different needs. When trying to persuade someone to take a different course of action, it's even more important to be polite. Oh, and remember to separate the person from the idea. A daft idea doesn't make a person daft.

Quote Intelligently When Replying

You only need to quote the relevant parts of posts you are replying to. It is far preferable to quote fragments with your contributions added underneath the quotes. Using the standard Outlook form of Top Posting can be particularly irritating if a long post asking a batch of questions is responded to with a single answer to one question set above the whole original article. If you use Outlook or Outlook Express, you might find Outlook Quotefix or OE Quotefix helps with quoting.

Give Sufficient Information In Questions

Exim is a complex beast, and how it works depends on lots of details about the configuration, the machine its running on, and the version and compilation options of the software itself. If you ask a question about exim without giving context then its very difficult to give a good answer, and so you may not get any answers, or you start a negotiation stage where people try and get sufficient information to answer the original question - a process which takes up considerable time on the parts of many people.

In general you need to say:-

  • What version of exim you are using
  • What OS you are running on
  • Relevant information about your build of exim
  • Quote fragments of logs or error messages relating to the problem.

It's also useful to indicate what steps you've already taken to identify the problem, and what (if any) information you gained - this will short-circuit several rounds of preliminary Q&A.

And please don't say 'I tried xxx and it didn't work'. What didn't work? What unexpected behaviour is it you're seeing? What are the error messages? What do the logs say? etc. This also helps get to the nitty gritty of your problem more quickly.

Don't obfuscate detail unless absolutely necessary

Try not to mask out detail from your log extracts and error messages. There are often important clues to be found there, and what's irrelevant detail to you could be the key to the problem (this makes sense because if you knew what was important already, you probably could have solved the problem yourself).

For more information about obfuscation on the Exim mailing lists, see DontObfuscate.

Feature Requests and other Suggestions

Be respectful of other people when they make feature requests and suggestions. Just because you don't need the feature doesn't mean that everyone else is like you. If the feature is already there you can politely point that out. Even though 90% feature requests are not worth doing, the other 10% really help advance Exim for all of us.


The lists are managed in the spare time of people who are in general very busy. Please bear in mind that the voluntary nature of the list's subscribers means they may not be available to respond immediately.

Don't Restage Old Flame Wars

Some on the mailing lists think that SenderPPolicyFFramework is a really good thing, others are considerably less impressed. Rehashing these discussions is generally unhelpful. Discussions of the Reply-To: setting of the list are also only going to be fruitful if you find the list manager's price and offer him a sufficient inducement to change the setting.

Keep List Relevant Stuff On List and Other Stuff Off

In general discussion should take place on the list itself, and replies should be sent to the list rather than the originator. Some people prefer to send responses to both list and originator. If you prefer not to get CCs to your personal address, set a Reply-to header containing the mailing list address.


See the information about EximAutoReply. If you are receiving list mail, please ensure that any autoreply system you may have does not respond to list traffic (which is clearly marked, and will not mention your email address in the main To/Cc headers). Sending autoreplies back to the list sender addresses will cause the list management software to unsubscribe you after a short time. If you send autoreplies back to individual list contributors or to the list itself, then your autoreply is very badly broken -- complaints to the list manager about this normally earn the person causing this an unsubscription from the list.

Thread Stealing

Don't start a new topic by replying to posts. This will break threading in MUAs because they rely on header information. If you reply to a message from the list, yours will appear as it belongs to some different topic, even though it has not the same Subject. This confuses readers, may annoy list regulars and your message may be ignored by people because they ignore the thread you stole. So try to keep people happy and just create a new message to the exim-users list address.