Beit Am email Policies and Practices
There are two primary types of email communications supported by Beit Am for members. There are official Beit Am communications sent from the Beit Am office to the Beit Am membership; and there is an email discussion forum available to all Beit Am members. There are a few other categories of Beit Am email activity that will not be described in depth in this document. For example, there are three email boxes maintained each for the Rabbi (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Office (email@example.com), and for the Beit Am Web Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org); as well as other email addresses for various Beit Am functions. Below is a brief description of the policies and practices for official office emails sent to members and of the Beit Am listserv, as well as an FAQ for the Beit Am listserv.
Beit Am office communications to members
The Beit Am office maintains a list of members that includes email addresses. Informational emails are sent out from the Beit Am office to the Beit Am email membership list. Members with email addresses are by default included in this email distribution list. Email messages from the Beit Am office appear in your email box as having been sent from the "Beit Am Administrator". The member email addresses are used in the blind CC field to send mail, so the entire distribution list is not visible to members. This email distribution list is used primarily to send out information to the membership. Receiving these emails is one of the benefits of Beit Am membership. If a member wants to not receive these announcements by email they can ask the Beit Am office to remove them from the Beit Am office email distributions list. Opting-out of this list is discouraged. If a member changes their email address, they should contact the Beit Am office and supply the updated email address.
Beit Am Listserv
The Beit Am listserv is an email discussion forum for Beit Am members. By default all Beit Am members are subscribed to the Beit Am Listserv.
Messages sent to the listserv are automatically forwarded to all listserv subscribers (essentially all Beit Am members). To send a message to all listserv members, you send email to email@example.com. Only listserv subscribers can send email that will be forwarded to the listserv.
To opt-out of being on the Beit Am listserv, send your request to The Beit Am webmaven.
The listserv is meant to serve the good of the Beit Am community. It is an open forum that is lightly moderated, so members need to be thoughtful about the content of email sent to the listserv. Email sent to the listserv goes to nearly all Beit Am members. Open communications on the listserv is encouraged as a way of building community and helping each other. If you are sending email that is only targeted for a few people then using the listserv is not the right email tactic.
When replying to messages on the listserv, please realize your default reply is going to all the Beit Am members! It is a common and embarrassing mistake to send a reply to a listserv note that is seen by hundreds of people, when it was really only intended as a reply to one person, or a few people.
Who is a subscriber?
All Beit Am members with email addresses are listserv subscribers. Any subscriber can choose to unsubscribe by sending a request to the Beit Am webmaven.
Who can send email out to listserv members?
Any listserv subscriber can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and that email will be forwarded to all listserv members. Messages must be sent from the same email address that is subscribed to the listserv. Email sent to the listserv from non-member email addresses is ignored and will not be forwarded. This prevents the listserv from being used by spammers.
How do I send an email out to the listserv?
Send email to email@example.com
How do I know if my message has been forwarded to everyone on the listserv?
When the listserv forwards your message to the entire listserv, a copy is sent to you. You should see your listserv message come into your email inbox. If you do not receive a copy of your message then it is likely that it was not forwarded. If you have any question about this, contact the listserv administrator, the Beit Am webmaven. The listserv administrator will be able to tell you whether the message was received and forwarded by the listserv, or whether it was ignored due to some technical problem (i.e. a message with a large attachment is not forwarded). The listserv administrator will also provide instructions that will enable the proper sending and forwarding of messages.
What is the purpose of the Beit Am listserv?
The listserv is intended to help build the Beit Am community through the facilitation of easy broadcast email communication among members.
What can be sent out on the listserv?
Subscribers can send email text messages to the listserv. Acceptable content for email on the listserv can be wide ranging. Anything of interest or helpful to the general Beit Am community is appropriate. The content of the message sent to the listserv needs to only be textual. The listserv does not support email attachments. Any email sent with attachments will not be forwarded.
Can I include pictures in a listserv posting?
Yes and no. Technically the guideline is that there is a size limit for all messages. The listserv will reject any message containing more than 40,000 characters. Most pictures and graphics and attachments will exceed this limit. If you know about downsampling images and understand image resolution, then you can probably construct a legal listserv message including nifty graphics. In general, stick to text only messages and it will work fine.
Can I send an important message to all of Beit Am on the listserv?
Please consider that:
- Not all Beit Am members are on the listserv, as some may have opted-out
- Official notices from Beit Am should be sent out by the Beit Am office
This means the listserv should not be used to circumvent making officlal announcements through the Beit Am office.
What happens when inappropriate email is sent out on the Listserv?
Sometimes people make mistakes and send email on the listserv that is inappropriate. The listserv moderator will privately and respectfully let people know if they have sent out email inappropriately. Listserv members should not blast replies to the entire listserv publicly shaming the sender of inappropriate email. If a listserv member wants to take action related to an inappropriate email they should notify the listserv administrator. The listserv administrator will take the appropriate action. Gross email offenses can result in a person being removed from the listserv. It is expected that all communication on the listserv be respectful of the broad population of readers, regardless of religious, cultural, political, or sexual orientation.
What constitutes inappropriate email for the Listserv?
Email messages posted on the listserv should not violate the few basic etiquette rules. Etiquette rules for the listserv are:
- All communication on the listserv must be respectful of the broad population of readers, regardless of religious, cultural, political, or sexual orientation. It is not ok to denigrate other people, either individually or as a group.
- Commercial messages are frowned upon. Essentially any message that is intended to provide some financial gain for the poster is not a good practice. Of course, as with all rules, there are exceptions. An exception to this rule is that it would be fine for a Beit Am teenager to post a note providing a service like baby sitting or help with yard work.
- All messages on the listserv should have some relevence or interest to the Beit Am community.
- Private emails or emails intended for a small number of people are not appropriate on the listserv. They should be addressed by email only to the people to whom they are directed.
Can I send an electronic greeting card to everyone on the listserv?
Unfortunately we live in an age of "spam" (unwanted email). So there are technical rules adopted to prevent spammers from using the Beit Am listserv. One rule is that only Beit Am listserv members can send email messages using the listserv. Now consider what happens when you send an electronic greeting card. You pick out the card from some online company, like BlueMountain.com. Then BlueMountain sends the card on your behalf.
In this case the listserv sees a card from a third party card company (i.e. BlueMountain) and the listserv notes that BlueMountain is not a Beit Am listserv member, so the posting is disallowed. This is a feature to only allow only members to use the listserv, and to prevent unwanted spam. Legal posting must come directly from a listserv subscriber.
How do I reply to a listserv email?
Often it is appropriate to reply to a listserv email, by sending email simply to the one person who posted the message. If that is the case please inspect who your email is being sent to, as often hitting the "reply" button in your email program can result in email being sent to the listserv (firstname.lastname@example.org) which then goes to the entire membership list.
At times it is appropriate to send a reply to the entire listserv. For example, you may have an important point of information to add to a listserv email, in which case a reply to all is entirely appropriate.
How is the listserv hosted?
PEAK, an internet service provider in Corvallis, hosts the Beit Am web site (www.beitam.org), Beit Am office email, email for the Rabbi, and the Beit Am listserv. The listserv is actually executed by an internet server program called majordomo.
How did the listserv get started?
The Beit Am listserv was started by Rabbi Michael Tayvah, who wanted to create an open electronic forum for Beit Am members. He asked Donna Kuttner to administer the listserv. The listserv persisted under Donna's management as an "unofficial" Beit Am service for many years. Recently the Beit Am Board wanted to adopt the listserv as an Official Beit Am service. Management of the listserv was shifted to Ken Bronstein. Ken is the current listserv administrator. In February 2008, the listserv membership policy changed to include all Beit Am members, except those who opt-out of listserv membership.
Are there other options for how the Beit Am listserv can be managed or hosted?
Sure, in fact there are many many ways to do this type of thing. Some email lists are moderated, with content being pre-screened and then compiled into digests that are sent out daily or weekly. Pre-screened digests require more administration work, and slow down communication. Some email lists allow people to sign up themselves. The policies as described in this note are current for February 2008.