Maintaining the
QueerNet Faerie Email List

(... or, Faerie List Grunge 101)

 

Introduction

Hi there! This document is offered to you by Damien, a faerie who's spent five to six years or so doing the technical work needed to keep the QueerNet Faerie Email List running and populated, wth help from RogerK and the folks at OPG/QueerNet, who host us free of charge (donations always welcome, please see http://www.onlinepolicy.org/joindonate.shtml).

If you're reading this, you may be wondering how it's all done, and whether you want to help out yourself. This document is meant to provide a very basic outline of how I've gone about maintaining the list for the past several years. It is not the only way, and I do not claim it to be the best way. But, it's worked for me. Also, I only cover the main points. There are help files at QueerNet covering the more obscure settings and tweaks. I'm also always happy to help (by phone, if needed).

Following a time honored tradition, I'm going to write this more or less as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet. Of course, you're certainly welcome to contact the faerie list stewards with follow up questions as well, at the address provided down below.

An important note about this page. To avoid having any "real, live" email addresses I type below from being page-scraped and added to spam databases (it happens folks, believe me), I type them like this:

emailaddress(at)groups.queernet.org

Just replace the (at) with @ and you're good to go ...

1. What does a Faerie List Maintainer do?

A faerie list maintainer (FLM for short) is responsible for the day to day grunge work which keeps this email list populated and flowing. Specifically, an FLM:

a. Responds

A FLM responds to requests to subscribe to the list, generally by asking for some information to ensure the requester know who the radical faeries are (and, as a side effect, verifying it's a human, and not email address harvesting software, on the other end of the request). A FLM also reads and responds to any offlist or moderated messages which may be intercepted and forwarded to the FLM for approval before going to the whole list (eg., offlist announcements sent to the faeries, or possibly spam)

b. Reads

A FLM reads what the requester writes back, asking more questions if needed (which is almost never);

c. Subscribes

A FLM subscribes people to the list, either through a coded email or through a web form at:

http://groups.queernet.org/admin

d. Monitors

A FLM monitors the 'inform' and 'consult' emails sent to the FLM by Majordomo2 (Mj2), responding to them if necessary (which it often isn't ... Mj2 is just chatty and informative, if you want her to be);

e. Participates

A FLM participates in the OPG/QueerNet list-owners (aka, "list maintainers") email lists, to keep abreast of goings on at QueerNet, and forwarding info to the faerie list, as necessary;

2. What does a Faerie List Maintainer NOT do?

As of May 2003, the FLM is no longer responsible for making decisions about how the QueerNet Faerie Email List is run (eg., whether any member should be moderated or removed). All such decisions are now made by consensus of the faerie list stewards (there's more info on these folk below).

3. Would I make a good Faerie List Maintainer?

It's a personal decision, but here some things to ask yourself in making the decision:

a. do I check my email once or twice per day?

b. am I comfortable with things like passwords and online forms?

c. can I perform repetitive tasks for a few minutes every day, for weeks or months, and still feel I'm offering loving service to my community?

d. am I a curious person when it comes to technical things, who is willing to explore online helps files and try to answer my own questions, before I ask someone else for help?

e. do I feel I know enough about radical faerie communities, offline and online, to make a conscious choice to serve them through this work?

If you answered yes to all five questions above, then YES you'd likely make an excellent Faerie List Maintainer! If you're interested in offering service in this way, please read the rest of this FAQ, and then contact the faerie list stewards using the address given below.

4. How do the Faerie List Maintainers work together?

List maintenance is a job best done by a single person. If multiple folks try, they end up duplicating each others' work (it's been tried). At the same time, it's great to be able to pass duties off to another, if you need to go away for awhile. It's also good to rotate the work among various folk, so no one gets burned out.

So ... there is a vision in which the job of serving as FLM rotates in quarters, following the Wheel Cycle of the Year, with each FLM serving for a quarter then handing the work off to another (until your next shift comes around). And, of course, any FLM can ask another to step in, if ever needed. It's my hope that we'll have a skilled cadre of three to seven FLM's who can rotate work between each other, helping each other when needed.

The Four Faerie List Maintainer Shifts of the Year

Lughnasadh through Samhain (August 1st through October 31st)

Samhain through Imbolc (November 1st through February 1st)

Imbolk through Beltane (February 2nd through May 1st)

Beltane through Lughnasadh (May 2nd through August 1st)

5. Who are the Faerie List Stewards?

A need arose to separate the two distinct roles needed to keep our online community healthy: folks to do the grunge work (Faerie List Maintainers), and folks to actively participate in our community, and serve as consensus decision makers when decisions need to be made (Faerie List Stewards).

The initial group of stewards, nine faeries total, were invited to this role based on their years of participation in the QueerNet Faerie Email List, as well as their active participation in offline faerie community. Any faerie is welcome to ask to join the stewards circle, and will be accepted if it's the consensus of the stewards to have them join.

The Faerie List Stewards talk amongst themselves, as needed, on a very quiet email list known as:

faerie-stew(at)groups.queernet.org

Any faerie list member is welcome to contact the stewards at that address, though only stewards can post to the list unmoderated, and participate in the consensus decision making process. If you have more questions about the stewards, please write them and ask!

6. Okay, so I think I want to serve as a Faerie List Maintainer, what is the work like?

Most of an FLM's work falls into two categories, subscribing new folks to the list, and approving offlist or moderated posts before they go to the list.

a. How do I subscribe someone to the QueerNet Faerie Email List?

People ask to join the faerie email list by either filling out an online form located at:

http://groups.queernet.org (click on 'explore' and then 'faerie')

or they can send a blank email to:

faerie-subscribe(at)groups.queernet.org

In either case, the FLM will be sent a 'consult' email. Whenever Mj2 wants the FLM to make a decision, she sends a 'consult' email. Consult emails will have a subject line that looks something like this:

2487-587C-D14A: CONSULT from faerie (subscribe)

The random number is called the "token" and can be safely ignored unless you want to go look this particular task up through the web interface. You rarely need to do this. Rather, you should just read the email (at least the first time or two you see one) to get a sense of what Mj2 wants, and what your options are. For example, a 'consult' email letting you know someone wants to join the list will look something like this:


The following request:

"subscribe faerie pinky@bubba.org"

was sent to QueerNet Groups

by pinky@bubba.org

The request requires your confirmation for the following reason(s):

The "subscribe_policy" setting requires confirmation from both the moderators and the person affected by the command.

To accept or reject this request, please do one of the following:

1. If you have web browsing capability, visit
<URL:http://groups.queernet.org/cgi-bin/mj_confirm?t=28BD-208D-3FF3>
and follow the instructions there.

2. Reply to majordomo@groups.queernet.org
with one of the following two commands in the body of the message:
accept
reject
(The number 28BD-208D-3FF3 must be in the Subject header)

3. Reply to majordomo@groups.queernet.org
with one of the following two commands in the body of the message:
accept 28BD-208D-3FF3
reject 28BD-208D-3FF3

4. If you know the administrative password for the faerie list,
all pending requests can be managed by visiting
<URL:http://groups.queernet.org/cgi-bin/mj_wwwadm/faerie?func=showtokens>

If you do not respond within 7 days, this token will expire,
and the request will not be completed.


So, as you see, you have a choice of how to respond. Pick your favorite ...

HOWEVER there is a VERY important extra step to be taken before you subscribe someone to the list. OPG/QueerNet, our online host, requires that every request to join the list be confirmed by the person making the request, before they're subscribed. There are two ways this can happen.

The easy (for you), but somewhat confusing and unfriendly way is to set Mj2 to automatically send a confirmation email to the requester after you've 'accepted' their request to join the list. They have to reply to that email, and 'accept' that they really do want to join the list. This step is in place, because it's possible for Person A to send a request that Person B (to be technical, Address B) be subscribed to the list. This step avoids problems that might result, but the email Mj2 sends (which is a 'consult' email like the one above) tends to confuse non-technical folk.

So, I've taken a less automated and more personal approach.

Personal Email One

When I receive a 'consult (subscribe)' email, I note the address of the requester and send them a personal email which reads as follows:


Hi :)

I just got your request to join the faerie email list at queernet dot org. How do you know the radical faeries?!

Please write back when you have a moment. I'll hold onto your request until I hear back from you.

Hugz,

Damien
- faerie list maintainer


After I send this, I just hold onto their 'consult (subscribe)' email, and wait to hear back from them. If I don't, I never subscribe them. More often, though, I get anything from a short "hey you, didn't we meet at Beltane?" note, to sometimes long and beautiful stories of people reaching out to connect with similar spirits. If anything seems odd though, I'll engage in dialogue with them to be sure they know who we are (and that, no, we're not a place to meet Peter Pan, though a precocious young girl on her Mom's email once seemed to think so ...).

But, if they present as adults with some clue of who we are, I send them ...

Personal Email Two

I reply to them with the email below, subscribe them (as described below), and leave it up to them to decide whether they're a faerie and whether they like us.


Hey again :)

Thanks for taking the time to write back. I write to folks mainly to be sure there's a live human on the other end. I'll get you subscribed right away! Please feel free to introduce yourself to the list, if you like.

Hugz,

Damien
- faerie list maintainer


One big note, if my "personal emails" above sound a bit canned, I'll confess they are. I use the signature-line feature of my email software (works like a word processor macro) so I can write these emails with just a few keystrokes. After the first dozen or so times I typed it all out, I decided to make life easier on myself. The words still say exactly what I mean, though, and I'll still customize the answers to respond to particular questions a new subscriber may send me. There's nothing to keep us from being as personal as we feel we can be. But, you'll also be going through this process many, many times.

Once we've had our dialogue, and I've sent this last email to them, I do one of two things to actually subscribe them.

How to subscribe someone - method number one

If it still have the original 'consult (subscribe)' email, and it's been less than seven days (the "token" times out after that), I just open that email, hit reply, type "accept" at the top, and send.

How to subscribe someone - method number two

If I didn't keep the email, after replying to them personally, I send an "email command" to Mj2, which goes something like this


To: majordomo(at)groups.queernet.org

approve [password] subscribe faerie pinky@bubba.org

(or, if they want digest format, it looks like this):

approve [password] subscribe-set faerie pinky@bubba.org


What you see above is called an "email command". You send email to Mj2 (at her official address above), provide your FLM password, and tell her what you'd like done with the list. The [password] is something you'll set when you take on your shift as an FLM.

b. Cool, got it (sort of) ... so what if someone offlist sends an email to the list?

If any email address which is not subscribed to the list sends an email to the list, it's intercepted by Mj2, which then sends a 'consult (post)' email for your approval. The intercepted email will be attached to this 'consult (post)' email. Read it, and decided whether it should go to everyone on the list. If it's topical to radical faeries, send it on through. If it's spam, don't. The 'consult (post)' email works just like the 'consult (subscribe)' email (re-read above, as needed). You have four ways to either 'accept' the offlist post, sending it through to the list, or to 'reject' it.

It's your call, Oh Most Wise FLM!

7. Um, so what are these "email command" thingies, and what else can I do with Majordomo2 (or, where do I find Faerie Grunge 201)?

Majordomo2 is a very powerful, and rather complex, beastie. And, there are two primary ways to interact with it. You can either send commands to it via email (including responding to 'consult' emails it sends to you, as discussed above), or you can control it through the web interface. There are extensive online help files to guide you through the many and various settings you can tweak (eg., should Mj2 let attachments through, or strip them? should HTML formatted email go through, or should HTML be stripped off because it presents a virus-spreading risk? what should the footer attached to every faerie list email look like?)

Because there are already help files for all this, and because the vast majority of what you'll do is covered by knowing how to subscribe folks and how to approve offlist posts, I'm going to let you explore further on your own. You can start browsing Majordomo2's details through this link:

http://groups.queernet.org (click 'help')

And, once you're on board as an FLM, and have an admin login, you can go to:

http://groups.queernet.org/admin (click 'help')

The admin help pages go on at considerable and sometimes obtuse length. But, the answers are all in there. If things get too baffly, you can always email the faerie list stewards and ask for help (or ask another FLM).

8. Okay, I've read up to this point and have a sense of what's involved. And YES, I still want to be an FLM! What do I do?!

Send an email to:

faerie-stew(at)groups.queernet.org

and say "hey, I wanna be a list maintainer!". You'll hear from one us, and we all appreciate your help keeping our online community alive and well.

BigHugz,

Damien
- a faerie list maintainer