Frequently asked questions on the policies, etiquette, and history of the NewtonTalk mailing list.
Document maintained by Grant Hutchinson
Updated: 08 February 2021
Table of Contents
- General Information
- Mailing List Etiquette
- Mailing List Content Guidelines
- Mailing List Settings
- NewtonTalk History
- Release Notes
What is NewtonTalk?
NewtonTalk is a mailing list supported by the Newton user community and dedicated to the discussion of Newton OS-based handheld devices and related topics.
Who runs NewtonTalk?
What makes NewtonTalk tick?
The website and mailing list are hosted by the kind folks at Media Temple. The website is built using plain old HTML and CSS, with a smattering of custom PHP just for kicks. Our development tool of choice is BBEdit. To manage the mailing list, we are using a slightly creaky version of Mailman that comes preinstalled with the Plesk web management suite. It’s not pretty, but it works.
Mailing List Etiquette
Parts of this FAQ have been lovingly adapted from the Mailing List Etiquette FAQ by Brian Edmonds.
How do I post a message to the list?
By sending a message to the following address:
How do I reply to a message on the list?
By using the reply feature of your email software. By default, the ‘To:’ field of the message will be automatically populated with the following address:
What is the proper way to post a message to the list?
Courteously, concisely, and with a descriptive subject line.
What is the proper way to reply to a message?
When replying to messages you receive from the list, you should acquaint yourself with the reply options of your mail reader. Most mail programs will have at least two reply modes: private and group. A private reply will go only to the person who sent the original message. A group reply by default should go to the original author, the list, and to any people who received private copies of the original message. You should be able to edit this list of addresses to reduce it to just the list address, plus any other people you think should receive private copies.
When quoting, be very careful to edit the quoted sections down to the bare minimum of text needed to maintain the context for your reply. There is very little on a mailing list that is more annoying than paging through a few pages of quoted text only to read a few lines at the end. Also be careful that you clearly indicate what text you’re quoting (as opposed to what you’re writing), and if possible, cite the author of the original text. If your mail program wants to attach the whole message you’re replying to on the end of your replies, please edit the message prior to sending the reply.
When creating a new topic, please start with a new message in your email client by using the “Compose”, “New Message”, or similar command. Do not simply “Reply” to an existing list message and replace the subject and body. When you use “Reply”, your email software ensures that your new message is included in the existing thread of the original topic. This causes confusion for people who rely on “threading” or “message grouping” in their email client and in the list archives.
For more information see:
What things can I post to the list?
- Requests for technical support
- Requests for hardware and software
- Questions and answers
- Tips and tricks
- Other discussion topics relating to the Newton
- Newton-related announcements (software releases, website updates, etc.)
- Off-topic messages (providing they are flagged as such in the subject line)
What things shouldn’t be posted to the list?
- List membership requests (subscribing, unsubscribing, switching to digest mode, setting vacation mode, etc.)
- Virus warnings, internet hoaxes, urban legends, memes, etc.
- Vulgar, insulting, defamatory, hostile, or abusive language
- Advertising (aside from Newton-related product announcements as mentioned above)
The primary rule to follow is that posts should contain content related to the primary subject of the list and not contain a significant amount of off-topic material.
Do not post inflammatory messages (also known as “flaming”) to the list. While it is perfectly acceptable to disagree with publicly, you must be sensitive while doing it. For example, if you feel someone is not being honest or perpetuating a false claim, you should point out the discrepancy without bluntly calling the source a liar. If necessary, contact that person via private email.
If someone posts something that you agree with, that’s great. However, do not post a simple “me too” message. It’s important to add value and depth to the discussion, otherwise you’re just adding unnecessary noise to the list. Again, it may be more appropriate to contact that person via private email.
Refer to the next section, Mailing List Content Guidelines, for additional posting guidelines.
Mailing List Content Guidelines
Can I post announcements for commercial products or services?
Yes, but with certain restrictions.
Commercial advertising from software, hardware, or service companies must be approved by the list administrators before being posted to the list. For approval, please contact:
Can I post personal items for sale or trade?
Personal messages advertising items wanted or for sale are permitted, providing you are selling Newton devices, accessories, software, or related services. Please refrain from advertising Macs, PCs, furniture, livestock, or other non-Newton items.
To provide a clear indication that a message has an advertising or transactional nature, please tag the subject line appropriately using the following prefixes:
- [FS] — For Sale (Items for private sale on the list, not an auction)
- [FA] — For Auction (Items being sold via an auction on eBay or similar site)
- [FT] — For Trade (Items available for exchange, trade, or barter)
- [WTB] — Want To Buy (Items wanted to purchase)
- [FREE] — Free or postage paid (Items to giveaway to a good home)
When replying to transactional or other advertising messages, do not reply to the list. Reply directly to the author of the original message.
Do not post virus warnings to the list. This is simply not appropriate mailing list behaviour. Historically, most virus warnings are hoaxes. The best resource for information regarding internet hoaxes, urban legends, and the like is Snopes.
Finally, even if it’s a real virus warning, do not post it the list.
Antispam Software & Services
If you use challenge and response antispam software, you must have the ability to whitelist either:
All mail from our server:
Or all mail with the following in the ‘To:’ field:
If your antispam software sends messages directly to people who post to the list, you will be removed from the list until you remedy the problem.
If you receive an automated reply from a mail interception service in response to a message that you posted to the list, do not complain on the list. Forward the entire message to:
The list administrators will attempt remedy the situation.
Off-topic posts and threads are generally tolerated if they were spawned from an on-topic thread. This is a different policy from many other mailing lists which have established separate lists for off-topic subjects, but here at NewtonTalk we maintain a more casual atmosphere.
However, threads which stray into heated topics such as politics, religion, personal beliefs, morality, computer operating systems, and the like should not take place on the list. Please take these topics to a more appropriate forum (like Usenet or your local tavern).
Please tag any off-topic posts with an [OT] prefix in the subject line. This makes it easier for other list members who may not want to read these post to filter them out.
Polls & Surveys
Do not post polls or survey questions to the list. If you have an idea for an interesting topic involving a poll or survey, please contact:
The list software enforces rules for the maximum number of lines in any list message that it quoted from another message. If a message is over 50 lines total length, then the message must not be more than 70% quoted lines. If a message breaks this rule it will not be posted to the list; instead, the sender will receive a notification and be asked to revise and re-send their message.
The list software automatically strips away HTML and rich text formatting from messages. All messages are delivered as plain text to maintain compatibility with even the most basic email clients.
The mailing list software automatically strips attached files from messages. All messages are delivered as plain text to maintain compatibility with even the most basic email clients.
Messages posted to NewtonTalk are automatically included in two list archives:
The RSS feed is currently offline.
The subject and first 100 lines of the latest 10 posts to the list are also available via an RSS 2.0 feed (currently broken). Each entry in the RSS feed contains a link to the full message in the archive.
Email addresses which generate delivery errors for more than 30 days (Need to check this against the current list settings) will be removed from the list. Undeliverable messages may be due to problems such as mail server issues, network downtime, or a full mailbox.
Mailing List Settings
Settings for your mailing list subscription may be updated through a web interface or via requests sent to the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
Use mailing list information page to access your subscription information. This includes viewing and updating your list subscription settings, resending your subscription password, or changing your email address.
How do I subscribe to the list?
How do I unsubscribe from the list?
How do I receive the digest instead of individual messages?
How do I receive individual messages instead of the digest?
How often is the digest sent?
The digest is sent whenever the cumulative size of the messages reaches 50kb or every 24 hours, whichever comes first.
How do I find out what my current status is?
How do I set vacation mode?
How do I get out of vacation mode?
Why didn’t the attachment, image, screenshot, or file I posted to the list show up?
The list software automatically strips attachments and HTML formatting from messages. All messages posted to the list are formatting as plain text for compatibility with all email clients and platforms.
How do I remove a message from the list archive?
How do I remove all of my messages from the list archive?
Again, you can’t.
NewtonTalk is an open, public venue for communication and discussion. All posts to the list are publicly archived in two places:
On the NewtonTalk website:
On the searchable MARC archive:
Yes, we understand that every once in a while something nasty gets posted. It’s an unfortunate occurrence, but it does happen. However, once a message is posted to the list, it cannot be removed from the archives. This would be altering the public record of what happened on the list. We wish to preserve this record for as long as we can. MARC will only remove messages under very specific circumstances or if ordered to do so by an appropriate court order.
When did NewtonTalk start?
Prior to June 1999, the list was run Sean O’Shaughnessy. Details from this period are a bit sketchy, but from what we’ve been able to determine, Sean started the list in August 1997.
How do we know this?
Well, there’s a couple of clues. First of all, a “list sponsor” was mentioned on the earliest archived version of the NewtonTalk site dated October 1997. Secondly, another archived page of “Frequent Topics” contains the following statements from Sean … “I have been storing all of the NewtonTalk messages in a FileMaker database since the list originated.” and “The searches were performed on digests 1-1299 which approximately covers Aug 1, 1997 to May 7, 1998.”
What happened to Planet Newton running the list?
They screwed up. We executed a coup.
What the heck does that mean?
Okay, here’s what went down.
In the summer of 1999, Sean could no longer host the list on his own and he asked list members if someone would be willing to take over the administration duties. The folks running the Planet Newton website stepped in and agreed to take over the list from Sean.
Hosting was through Ideacast at one point. (As of January 2001)
Things were all tickety-boo for a while, but in 2000 the list stared having problems. There were duplicate messages being sent out, list members unsubscribed at random or dropped from receiving the digest, complete list outages, and so on. The issues were often corrected within a couple of days, but not always. List members became increasingly frustrated at Planet Newton’s attitude towards management of the list. It was as if they just didn’t care.
During this period of unrest and dissatisfaction, two “emergency” lists were created. Just in case Planet Newton went down permanently.
The NewtonTalk2 list was created by Rich “This Old Newt” Lindsay on May 13th, 2000.
(This section requires clarification of mailing list names, locations, and activation dates.)
During this time, many people asked Planet Newton if they would consider giving up the list, since they were obviously having problems managing it. All requests (as far as the author knows) were met with denials.
In May 2001, Planet Newton experienced a complete server failure. Both the website and mailing list suddenly disappeared. Fortunately, there had already been an effort in the works to replace the increasingly unreliable Planet Newton mailing list with a community run server.
On June 12th, 2001, the NewtonTalk.net website and mailing list was launched.
The current list administrator, Grant Hutchinson, secured the old newtontalk.com domain name in 2002 and the newtontalk.org domain name in 2007.
He even managed to regain control of the planetnewton.com domain in 2014.
Who is responsible for this?
Grant Hutchinson has been administering the mailing list and website since March 2007.
In May 2008, Grant started the @newtontalk Twitter account and has maintained its editorial (and occasionally snarky) voice ever since.
The indubitable Morgan Aldridge steps in as back up admin when needed.
Victor Rehorst and Paul Guyot were co-administrators of the list after the transition from Planet Newton in 2001. Paul also programmed the original mailing list web interface. Both provided invaluable help and support after handing over the digital reins. Victor is still considered the list dad emeritus.
From 2001 and 2007, the online hosting was graciously provided by Bill Shamam.
08 February 2021
- Additional editing and clarification of ‘Mailing List Settings’
06 February 2021
- Updated links to list subscription information
05 February 2021
- Updated link to ‘Starting a new thread?’ post
- Fixed non-Markdown formatted links
- Emboldened all the ‘nots’
- Minor edits for clarity
04 February 2021
- Rewrote portions of the ‘What things shouldn’t be posted to the list?’ section for clarity
- Tidied up the ‘When did NewtonTalk start?’ section
- Integrated a few loose links
- Minor edits
05 January 2021
- Rewrote portions of the ‘Who is responsible for this?’ section
- Added Ideacast to the Planet Newton background
- Linked a bunch of names to relevant sites
- Minor edits
08 February 2018
- Rewrote subsection headers as actual questions, because FAQ
- Expanded and clarified transactional subject line prefixes
- Clarified lists of acceptable and unacceptable posts
- Simplified ‘What is NewtonTalk?’
- Clarified some of the ‘Technical Details’
- Added the NewtonTalk2 list to ‘NewtonTalk History’
- Added details about Sean O’Shaughnessy to ‘NewtonTalk History’
- Updated dead links to the MARC site
- Numerous other edits, tweaks, and historical clarifications
19 January 2016
- Additional editing and clarification of ‘Mailing List Etiquette’
- Additional editing and clarification of ‘NewtonTalk History’
- Minor formatting and text tweaks
08 December 2015
- Migrated document to GitHub
- Converted document formatting to Markdown
- Consolidated legacy versions prior to further updates
- Minor formatting and text tweaks
13 February 2011
- Added introductory statement
- Updated mail server name in ‘Anti-spam Software’
- Added third party poll services to ‘Polls & Surveys’
- Minor formatting changes and other edits
06 August 2008
- Rewrote ‘New Thread’ section of ‘Mailing List Etiquette’
31 October 2007
- Began converting document formatting to Textile
- Split out individual questions for subsections of ‘Mailing List Operations’
30 October 2007
- Added ‘Release Notes’ section
- Updated and clarified section headers
- Reordered ‘List Operations’ and ‘General Information & History’ sections
- Updated the ‘Who’s in charge around here?’ section
- Standardized the formatting of all URLs and email addresses
- Tweaked some text here and there, correcting a few typos along the way
05 June 2006
- Document passed from Victor Rehorst to Grant Hutchinson