The eBook Community (TeBC): Guidelines, Requirements and Information for Subscribers

Last updated 13 January 2008

Table of Contents

1. Group Description

The current version of The eBook Community (TeBC) Group Description can be viewed at TeBC's home page. Alternatively, the Group Description can be viewed by itself.

2. Group Administrators

The current group administrators are:

Jon E. Noring (group founder and co-moderator)

Kent S. Larsen (co-moderator)

David Rothman (co-moderator)

Richard Crocker (co-moderator)

If you wish to contact the group administrators regarding official TeBC business, do so at ebook-community-owner@yahoogroups.com

3. Legal: Privacy, Copyright, Disclaimers, Etc. (the "fine print")

In the interest of advancing the goals of TeBC, all on-topic posts to TeBC will be maintained and archived at YahooGroups and, at a future time, may also be publicly-accessible at one or more outside archives.

Thus, for all intents and purposes, TeBC is a public forum, similar to a Usenet newsgroup or public message board. There is no restriction who may subscribe (except for those who have been banned from TeBC for egregiously violating group posting requirements, or who have, in the opinion of the moderators, a well-known history of disrupting similar forums.) And there is no way to control what subscribers may do with posted messages. If you plan to post a message that you don't want your mother or your boss to ever see, then it is best not to post it to TeBC.

Regarding data privacy, the group administrators, who have access to the complete email addresses of all subscribers, will not reveal the email addresses to anyone who requests them, except as required by law (a legal request is most likely to be handled by Yahoo.) Do note, however, that any future online public archive of TeBC will likely not remove or edit the email addresses which appear in the header lines and in the message bodies of all the posted messages. If you are very concerned with this, then either don't post to TeBC, or use a throw-away (or semi-anonymous) email account for posting messages such as are available from Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.

Yahoo, which hosts TeBC, also has its own privacy statement.

Copyright ownership of each posted message is retained by the writer of the message, and republication or redistribution of any TeBC message in excess of Fair Use is not permitted except with the permission of the writer. This is not only polite and shows respect for the writer, it is the law.

By subscribing to TeBC, each subscriber grants the current group administrators the specific and limited right to establish alternative TeBC online public archives without need of asking the authors of the archived messages permission to include the messages in the archive. If a subscriber does not want any of his or her messages to appear in any TeBC archive outside of YahooGroups, they must email the group administrators with their request for message removal. The group administrators, within a reasonable time and after the requester is verified to be the originator of the messages requested to be removed, will comply with their request. Note that because messages are often quoted in the reply messages of others, this removal request will not be honored for removing (or editing) any messages not posted by the requester. You've been forewarned.

YahooGroups undoubtedly has their own specific policy regarding the removal of messages from their central archive.

TeBC subscribers are reminded that it is a copyright infringement to reproduce in a message to TeBC another writer's copyrighted work in excess of Fair Use, unless permission is received from the copyright owner to do so, or an implied license is given to do so (for example, replying to a TeBC message and quoting a significant portion of the text being replied to may be such an implied license.) A legitimate way to avoid copyright infringement is to provide a link (URL) to the work if it is on the Internet, so long as the copyright owner has clearly authorized the work to reside at that URL and allows linking to it.

Responsibility for the content of a posted TeBC message resides solely with the author of the message. The moderators take no responsibility.

All trademarks and servicemarks mentioned in the TeBC messages, files, and other areas belong to their respective owners.

The TeBC group administrators are not responsible for any damage caused by viruses or other types of malicious code embedded within any file downloaded from the TeBC Files Area. Anyone who opens a file downloaded from the Files Area does so at their own risk.

4. Subscribers Are Expected to Understand This Document

The vast majority of subscribers to TeBC are responsible people who have good sense and judgment, who are conscientious and respectful in their communications with others, and who wish only to do what is right. There is no need to tell the typical subscriber how to behave on TeBC.

Unfortunately, there will always be a small minority of subscribers who are not like this, who really don't care to follow norms, and who will, if left unrestrained, cause major disruption of TeBC far in excess of their number. Several of the requirements discussed in this document are aimed specifically at this small minority, to let them know what will not be tolerated, and that the group administrators are closely watching the discussion, and them.

In addition, many subscribers are generally unfamiliar with the various well-accepted norms, conventions and procedures in participating on online forums, such as TeBC, and would like to know what they are so they can be a responsible discussion participant.

Thus, this document was created to outline the various guidelines, expectations, recommendations, conventions, procedures, and, yes, even requirements for those participating in TeBC discussion. And this document makes it clear more than once that the group administrators will take action as needed in response to any gross disruption of discussion by that small minority. Consider this document to be akin to a "Robert's Rules of Order" for TeBC.

As such, every subscriber who participates in discussion on TeBC is expected to understand and follow the various requirements specified in this document. Chronic or egregious failure, or a blatant disregard, to follow the requirements is likely to lead to the subscriber being removed and banned.

5. Enforcement of the Requirements

The primary purpose of this document and its various requirements is to assure the integrity of group discussion: that it is informative, useful, cordial, and beneficial to its stated purpose. The TeBC administrators reserve the right to take any action deemed necessary to maintain the integrity of group discussion, up to and including removing and banning any subscriber who blatantly, egregiously or chronically violates any of the requirements, or who, at the determination of the administrators, is, or likely will be, disruptive to orderly discussion. In addition, the administrators, at their discretion, may also remove posts from the TeBC archive at YahooGroups (and wherever else TeBC archives are maintained) which are deemed "off-topic" or not to meet the general purpose of this group.

6. Message Composition Requirements and Recommendations

TeBC will only be successful, and beneficial for everybody, if each subscriber participating in discussion faithfully does their best to follow these requirements and recommendations for composing messages:

6.1. Be On-Topic

Do not post anything which is not clearly related to ebooks and digital publications in some manner. If you are unsure your intended post is on-topic, you are encouraged to first read the Group Description, which goes into more detail (with example general topics) as to what is "on-topic". If you are still uncertain, ask the group administrators for guidance.

(Note that the group administrators are the final arbiters of what is considered "on-topic" and "off-topic", without regard for past decisions.)

The following four categories of messages are automatically considered off-topic and must not be posted to TeBC except by permission of the group administrators:

OFF-TOPIC: Group Administrative/Procedural messages

Examples of messages in this off-topic category include: "How do I unsubscribe from this group?", "Joe's post was off-topic!", "Mary was disrespectful to Sally.", "Why doesn't TeBC do a survey on … ?", "Here's my personal advice on how to properly post to TeBC", etc. Only the group administrators may post messages of an administrative or procedural nature, unless permission is otherwise specifically granted for a temporary time. Refer all such administrative and procedural matters in private email to the group administrators.

OFF-TOPIC: Empty "One-Liner" messages

Trite, stand-alone replies (without substantive elaboration) such as "Thank You", "Me, Too", "I agree/disagree", "Great message!", "I'll be gone for a few days", "I've returned", "Too bad", etc., etc., are not allowed. It is important to contribute a substantive thought, opinion or idea in your post along with some analysis or support, and this rarely can be done in a stand-alone "one-liner". TeBC is intended to be a forum for serious discussions and quality information exchange, not empty chit-chat. (Certainly, saying "Thank You" is good to do, but doing so can be done in private email, or done in public along with some substantive commentary.)

OFF-TOPIC: Replies intended to be personal replies

Replies which are, or even look like, personal replies to someone else in the group should be sent in private email. Note that, by default, all replies to this group are sent to the group, so be careful when you intend to personally reply to someone's post that your message will not be inadvertently posted to TeBC.

OFF-TOPIC: Commercial announcements not meeting strict posting requirements

TeBC does not disallow all commercial announcements (such as advertising), but has very strict requirements. TeBC will allow the posting of a commercially-oriented message if and only if it is:

Any posted commercial message which does not strictly meet all five of the above requirements will be considered off-topic and, if deemed blatant, may lead to the poster being removed and banned. In addition, even if these five guidelines are objectively met, there may be other reasons (e.g., to avoid group disruption or to maintain discussion integrity) why the group administrators will disapprove of a particular commercial announcement. Thus, it is highly recommended that all commercially-oriented messages first be sent to the group administrators for screening and approval before being posted to TeBC.

6.2. Be Objective

Your message should be rational, objective and substantive. Spend quality time writing and editing it so it is cogent and effectively presents your facts, ideas and opinions. It is better to post one longer and logically consistent post than to post the same information in a disjoint series of posts. Take the time to do it right.

6.3. Be Respectful

"Be Respectful of One Another". This is the "Prime Directive" of TeBC. Whatever you say in disagreement (and just as importantly how you say it), you should accord the highest respect towards all. This respect is to extend even to those who themselves have not been respectful of others or towards you. If you have a personal issue with what or how somebody posted, and your issue cannot be resolved in private with them, do not bring it up in public on TeBC (this is considered an administrative matter as described in Section 6.1), but instead privately email the group administrators.

Note that the group administrators are the sole and final arbiters of what constitutes respectful behavior on TeBC. The group administrators consider disrespect and discourteousness in posted messages to be disruptive and poisonous to the group, and will take whatever action is deemed necessary to curb it (see Section 5.)

6.4. Properly Format Your Message

Your mother always said to look your best, and to clean up after yourself. This is good advice. The same can be said of any message you post to TeBC. Your message should be properly formatted per accepted conventions and present a clean, finished, polished and professional look.

Taking the few extra seconds of time to properly edit and format (including spell checking) each of your posted messages will give your messages greater impact, as well as help you gain the respect of your peers. After all, it is the messages you post to TeBC by which others "see" you, so it is best to "clothe" the content of your messages properly. Do you want others to see you as slovenly, or groomed and well-dressed?

Here are the important requirements, recommendations and guidelines to follow in composing and formatting your message:

Use English

The primary language of TeBC is English, and subscribers should (but are not required to) post their messages in English.

Use plain text, not HTML

Although YahooGroups allows messages in HTML, TeBC requires all posted messages be sent in plain text. The reason is that many subscribers choose plain text delivery and oftentimes in the conversion of HTML to plain text annoying character and other artifacts are introduced. Some subscribers are not even aware their mail client (such as Outlook Express) may set HTML as the default send format, so make sure your mail client is configured to reply/send in plain text and not HTML.

Your plain text encoding may either be ASCII or ISO-8859-1, also known as "Latin 1".

Insert carriage returns to break up long lines

When posting a plain text message to TeBC, make sure carriage returns are inserted to break up long lines, allowing no more than 60-65 characters per line (except for lines which should not be broken, such as URLs). Most contemporary mail clients can be configured to conveniently and automatically insert carriage returns when sending a composed message.

Avoid using tabs

Using tabs in plain text messages is not recommended, since how they are rendered varies among mail readers and text editors. If tabs are being used for aligning plain text, it is better to use ordinary spaces for this purpose.

Remove all unneeded text in the message

Take the extra time to remove all unneeded text, particularly quoted text of a poster to whom you are replying. Of course, do not remove too much text otherwise the context of your reply in the discussion thread will be lost, and this is just as serious.

Do not exceed maximum allowable length

Message bodies exceeding 20K characters in length are not permitted, a generous limit which experience has shown is more than adequate for the vast majority of messages posted to YahooGroups. If you want to share a text message exceeding 20K in length with the TeBC community of subscribers, you may do so by placing it into the TeBC Files Area (see Section 7) and sending out a brief announcement message, preferably with a detailed explanation of the file contents and its relevance to TeBC.

Follow the recommended convention for formatting quoted text

If you plan to quote previously posted text in your TeBC message, you have the choice of several accepted format conventions. By far, the most commonly used convention for discussion groups (such as Usenet), and which is the recommended convention for TeBC messages, is to place the quoted text at the top of your message, using the symbol ">" one or more times to represent quote level (in cascade fashion), and to either insert your comments within the cascade (but following immediately after the most recent quote), or to fully reply after the quote cascade. Since many news handlers and mail clients already do this by default (or can be configured to do so), the quoted text may already be mostly pre-formatted this way whenever you reply to a news or email message. (This is a refined form of what is called "bottom-posting".)

Following is an example message body illustrating the recommended formatting convention for quoting previous posts (it also follows all the other applicable recommendations and requirements set forth in this document.) It is posted by the fictitious TeBC subscriber "William Pendleton", and includes three levels of quoted text of an ongoing discussion thread. Mr. Pendleton judiciously adds spaces and blank lines to increase legibility. He also makes it unambiguously clear who said what in the discussion thread — note how the quotes are properly attributed at the beginning of the message in reverse cascade fashion (by this convention we know who said what, even if the text itself does not.)


John Smith wrote:
> Jane Doe wrote:
>> Mary Thomas wrote:

>>> Hi, my name is Mary Thomas of Better Publishing Company. I'd
>>> like to get the collective wisdom of the TeBC community
>>> regarding the various OEBPS Reading Systems on the market...
>>>
>>> So, how does the HappyBook ebook reader compare with the Acme
>>> ebook reader?

>> Well, Mary, in my comparison of the two reading systems in
>> terms of typographical presentation quality, HappyBook is
>> *definitely* better. It is especially good with leading and
>> kerning.

> Jane, I'm not so sure of this. My experience is that the Acme
> reading system is slightly better with the overall presentation
> of the OEBPS content...

John, I really have to agree with Jane. I find that the overall
presentation of OEBPS Publications by HappyBook is superior to
that of Acme on all the various platforms I've tested. Not only
in typographic quality, but for several other important features,
such as text-to-speech, handling out-of-spine content, and full
conformance with OEBPS 1.2 standards.

HappyBook Rules!

William Pendleton

Top-posting, that is, placing your reply before the quoted text, is considered bad form and very impolite to the reader of your message who will find it more difficult to understand your reply in the context of the ongoing discussion thread. It is strongly recommended that you do not top-post!

Properly attribute quoted material

Whenever you quote others in a posted message (to any public forum and not only to TeBC), it is important, and shows respect to those you quote, that you properly attribute the quotations. In the example message body above (by "William Pendleton"), the various people quoted in the message were properly attributed at the beginning (using the recommended convention for formatting the quotes and attributions as previously described.)

Special note to digest subscribers: Use correct subject title

Subscribers receiving TeBC in digest mode are reminded that whenever they reply to a message within a digest they must use the actual subject title of that message for their reply and not the subject title for the digest itself. They also need to make sure "Re: " is prepended once to the subject title (and if not, to add it.) Of course, if the message in the digest is to be quoted, they must remove all the other extraneous messages and follow the quote editing and formatting conventions previously described.

No file attachments

TeBC is configured to automatically strip out all email file attachments, and for several good reasons. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended you not attach files to your message to TeBC.

In lieu of sending files to the group, they may be added to the TeBC Files Area (see Section 7 for requirements and restrictions).

6.5. Signature Allowance

A poster may append a "signature field" at the end of their posted message and within it say pretty much what they want (within acceptable taste and manners), including a commercial announcement, so long as the signature is not more than 750 characters in length, and the content of the signature does not cause any significant disruption to the group. On TeBC, signatures are considered a privilege, not a right.

One important requirement to note is that every message posted to TeBC must be substantive and "on-topic" (as elaborated in Section 6.1) and not simply be an empty vehicle by which to convey the signature.

7. The Files Area

In addition to message posting, YahooGroups provides a Files Area (and an associated Photos Area) by which TeBC subscribers may exchange various types of files. The TeBC Files Area is currently configured so it is accessible only by other subscribers.

Following are the requirements and recommendations for TeBC members uploading files into the TeBC Files Area:

Uploading files to the Files Area is a privilege

The TeBC group administrators reserve the right to delete any file at any time in the Files Area, for any reason whatsoever. The group administrators may also move files within the Files Area, without any prior warning, for organizational and other purposes.

The Files Area is only for files of interest to TeBC subscribers

Do not upload any file which does not pertain to the purpose of TeBC. The criteria for an allowed file is essentially the same as that for an "on-topic" message (see the introduction to Section 6.1). The Files Area is not a place to personally backup files — it is a place to share files with the rest of the TeBC community of subscribers. Commercially-oriented files will be especially scrutinized by the group administrators.

Upload your file into a descriptive directory

Upload your file (or set of related files) into a descriptively-named directory. Do not upload your file into the root-level of the Files Area.

Executable and encrypted files are not allowed except by prior permission

Because of the reality of viruses and other types of malicious code, executable files may not be uploaded into the Files Area, except with the prior permission of the group administrators. This includes executables within compressed archives (such as zip). Any executable found in the Files Area that was not previously approved by the group administrators will very likely be deleted.

Likewise, encrypted files (other than well-known encrypted document formats) may not be uploaded into the Files Area, except with the prior permission of the group administrators. An additional requirement is that the group administrators must be provided a key or other means to examine and/or verify the contents of each submitted encrypted file to ascertain it does not pose any danger and meets the "on-topic" and other Group requirements.

Do not upload files larger than 2.0 megs in size except by prior permission

Because of limited space in the Files Area, no file larger than 2.0 megs in size may be uploaded, except with the prior permission of the group administrators. Larger files will be scrutinized more closely by the group administrators.

File upload announcement

When a file is uploaded, a choice will be given whether or not to send a message announcement to TeBC (electing this choice is found in the "Notification" field). It is recommended an announcement be sent. In the announcement text include a detailed description of the file and its relevance to TeBC.

Warning and Disclaimer

Despite the efforts of the group administrators, and of YahooGroups, to regulate and screen the files placed into the Files Area, it is still possible for viruses, trojans, and other types of malicious code to be embedded unnoticed into various types of files, including, but not limited to, document files. It is the responsibility of each individual downloading a file from the Files Area to check for viruses and such before opening the file, and that they open the file at their own risk.

The TeBC group administrators will not be responsible for any damage caused by a virus or other type of malicious code embedded within any file in the TeBC Files Area.

8. Advantages of Being a Member of TeBC

There are two formal levels of membership with the TeBC group: 1) basic subscriber, and 2) member. There are several advantages to becoming a member, but being a member is not required to receive message traffic and to post to the group. (Note that the word "subscriber" used throughout this document refers to both basic subscriber and member.)

Advantages of being a member include, among others:

Some explanation is needed on the two levels, and how a person joins as one or the other. Those who joined TeBC by sending a simple subscribe email from an email address not associated with any YahooID became "basic subscribers." Those who obtained a YahooID and then directly joined at the TeBC web site using that YahooID, or subscribed by email from the email address associated with that YahooID, became "members".

It is possible for a basic subscriber to later become a member of any particular group such as TeBC. The basic subscriber must first obtain a YahooID and then assign the email address they use for the group to that YahooID. It is strongly recommended, but it is not required, that all basic subscribers become members for the several benefits membership gives.

9. Future Revisions of This Document

The group administrators may edit, change, omit, or add to this document and to the Group Description as deemed necessary to maintain the general purpose and integrity of TeBC. Any major and substantive change will be announced on TeBC (but minor changes might not be announced.) It is expected each TeBC subscriber will periodically familiarize themselves with the current version of this document and the Group Description.

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