Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(August 2003)

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Subject: Re: list policies about vacation programs
From: Tom Neff <tneff @ grassyhill . net>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 13:36:28 -0400
To: listmanagers <list-managers @ greatcircle . com>

This thread seems to have drifted. I think the original complaint was that list postings were generating out-of-list vacation responses directly to posters, and not to the list or any list admin address.

I don't really care about manifestos on what other people's email software ought to do. We will never be able to control that. This is a list managers list and the focus ought to be on what can do as list managers to avoid the problem or cope when it arises.

One drastic option is to cloak the email address of the author of each posting so that vacationing members' mail software, however rudely configured, will only be able to respond to the list addresses. This can be done so that human beings wanting to send a private response to a list poster can 'figure out' where to send it, while autoresponders are out of luck.

Another technique, as I said before, is to make sure you post fairly frequently (definitely once per week, preferably Mondays or Fridays) to lists you administer, so that you see any autoresponses that other posters are seeing.

Also, you can impress upon your members (in whatever periodic FAQ-type posting you have) that they should suspend their delivery when they're out of the office rather than using 'vacation', AND that they should immediately forward any vacation autoresponses they receive straight to you as list manager, so that you can deal with it.

My personal policy is this:

* Direct-to-poster vacation autoresponses result in an instant nomail for the offender, because I can't have that inflicted on my members.

* To-list (posting or admin address) vacation responses are caught and held for inspection.

* If someone is (a) a Digest recipient and (b) on a SHORT vacation (a couple of days, like a business trip) then I do nothing. I don't mind eating a couple of messages in exchange for not getting into a big thing over it.

* But if someone is (a) getting individual messages or (b) away for more than a few days, I nomail them. When they get back, they either silently reactivate themselves or send me an inquiry; in the latter case I tell them what happened and why, and suggest they do it themselves next time.

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