Discussion list guidelines

The purpose of the National Institute for Literacy's Discussion Lists is to bring together literacy stakeholders - researchers, policymakers, administrators, practitioners, and students - to discuss critical issues in the latest research, promising policies and practices as well as to share resources and experience. The discussion lists provide a forum to ask questions of subject experts and keep up-to-date on literacy. The National Institute for Literacy partners with literacy organizations that provide specialized and knowledgeable staff to facilitate and moderate the discussion lists. Under a policy governing these lists, the list moderator will follow a review process before messages are distributed to list subscribers. Each list has a specific purpose established around subject matter, content and professional development topics.

Discussion list participants are encouraged to focus their contributions to the list on the specific subject areas and goals posted on each of the listÂ’s descriptions. Comments, suggestions, references, and ideas posted to the discussion lists should serve as resources for enhancing the field's capacity and knowledge base.

The Institute encourages open discourse and an exchange of information, ideas, and practices among all list subscribers. Differences in perspectives and ideas are strongly encouraged, especially when conducted in the spirit of inquiry, curiosity, and mutual respect.

Anti-lobbying laws prohibit the use of appropriated funds for lobbying. The National Institute for Literacy's discussion lists are maintained with appropriated funds; therefore, lobbying messages, i.e., those that are intended to influence or cause others to influence a member of Congress to favor or oppose legislation or an appropriation by Congress, will not be posted to the discussions lists nor will messages that contain direct links to other websites or web pages whose purpose is to influence or cause others to influence a member of Congress to favor or oppose legislation or an appropriation be posted.

All messages posted to the list are archived. When sending posts to the lists, subscribers agree to have messages archived on the Institute's web pages. This means that not only are all messages stored and searchable in the Discussion List archives, but they are also available for search on the World Wide Web. Because of this, subscribers should be alert to including their personal information within the text of messages or with their signatures. Lastly, avoid subscribing and sending posts from email addresses which you wish to remain private.

The Institute funds the discussion lists through LINCS, using funds appropriated to the National Institute for Literacy by U.S. Congress. Messages posted to the discussion lists and the archives do not represent the views or opinions of the National Institute for Literacy, the discussion list moderator or the sponsor organization. In addition, the National Institute for Literacy does not endorse or promote resources or products discussed or mentioned in postings to the lists. The Institute's lists cannot be used as a promotion tool for commercial products or resources. It is permissible for a list subscriber to post a message that refers to a resource or product only in the context of a discussion that relates to the topics of the list, and only if the list subscriber does not stand to gain financially from the posting of the message. However, any message that mentions or discusses a resource or product and whose primary purpose is to generate financial benefit for the subscriber posting the message is not permitted and will not be posted to a list. Discussion list moderators and Institute staff will make decisions about the appropriateness of a post.

Please note that signature lines, and any accompanying quotes or sayings are also subject to the anti-lobbying restrictions above as well as the Netiquette rules below.

Questions about the National Institute for Literacy's discussion lists and the policies governing those lists may be directed to the Institute at info@nifl.gov@nifl.gov. For questions about discussion list technical issues, please contact listhelp@nifl.gov

Review Process

Moderators will review messages sent to the list and either approve or disapprove for posting per the guidelines. The moderator will not edit email messages. Once a message is approved, it will be posted to the list. If the message is not approved, it is sent back to the sender with a brief explanation. Moderators will provide an explanation to the posters of excluded or rejected messages.

Please note that moderators will review messages posted to the lists on business days and will post approved messages during working hours.

Checklist for Making an Effective Post

Effective messages posted to a discussion list should be clear and succinctly stated. Below are a few tips that will help you make the most effective posting possible. Before posting your message, please ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does this message specifically address the topic of the list or should I post it to a different Institute discussion list?
  2. Does the message include a question, comment, suggestion, reference of materials/article/research, and ideas that will enhance the knowledge base and expand the field?
  3. Does the subject line reflect the actual topic included in the message? If not, the subject line should be changed to something that is topic-specific and that can be searched in the archives.
  4. Am I remembering to 'speak' to everyone on the List, not to just to one specific individual?
  5. If I am replying to an existing post, have I deleted all trailing text found within the body of my email that is left over from previous messages and not relevant to the point I am making?


The Institute has found that learning is promoted by dialogue in a spirit of inquiry, curiosity, and mutual respect. Please conduct your discussions in that spirit on the lists.

List subscribers are expected to follow the more common rules associated with Netiquette posted below:

  • You may wish to introduce yourself to other list members when posting to the list for the first time.
  • The header information is not displayed on all mail systems; therefore, including your name will better allow others to respond to your message.
  • Be concise. Messages more than two screens in length are difficult for some participants to read. Shorter, to the point messages move the discussion along at a lively pace.
  • Before you send a reply, consider whether it should go to everyone on the list or just to the person posting the message. If you think your reply will be of general interest, then send it to the list; if not, be careful to reply only to the message originator. When replying to an individual, make sure that person's email address is the only one appearing in the "To" box."
  • When you are replying to a posted message, it helps readers if you quote the part of the message (usually not the whole message) that you are replying to. All list readers will then respond to your message in the proper context. If the message thread gets too long, remove the older postings at the beginning of the thread.
  • If you are responding to a posting but want to change the topic of a discussion thread, remember to change the subject line in the email to give members information about the new direction in the conversation.
  • Email messages typed in all capitals are considered shouting and in discussion forums are considered rude, so please be considerate and for emphasis use *emphasis* or _emphasis_ instead of all capitals.
  • Comments made in jest on a mailing list may not always appear that way to other readers. Sarcasm rarely works on the internet and is often misunderstood. Please be careful using humor on the lists.