S-news introduction

CONTENTS OF THE S-NEWS INTRODUCTION

S-NEWS OBJECTIVES AND APPROPRIATE USE

S-news is the discussion group on the S and S-plus systems for statistics, graphics, and programming. Appropriate topics must be related to S/S-plus, including programming and usage questions and suggestions, problem reports, and announcements of new software (contributed and commercial), books and articles, and conferences and educational events. Short job announcements are also acceptable. Long advertisements and commercial messages that are not specifically relevant to S/S-plus are not acceptable.

S-NEWS ADDRESSES AND SUBSCRIPTIONS

The new S-News mailing list manager, Sympa (currently 6.1.7), can do most of its functions through a web interface which is at:

Mail for posting to the S-news list should be sent to:

All subscription and unsubscription requests and other list management commands (see more detailed information below) should be sent to:

Messages that require human intervention should be sent to:

but you should make use of the automatic list processor commands whenever they cover the situation.

TO UNSUBSCRIBE

Use one of the following forms, sent in the BODY of a message to
s-news-request@lists.biostat.wustl.edu
referring to the list, and including the address you are subscribed under only if it is different from your current mailing address.
unsubscribe s-news
unsubscribe s-news myname@my.address

REPLYING TO MESSAGES ON S-NEWS

Only messages of general interest to the entire list should be mailed to s-news. If your reply is of general interest and is intended for distribution, make sure you send it to the s-news address. Otherwise, make sure you are sending it to the appropriate individual and not the list address.

A common practice is to send replies to the original poster of the question. It is then up to the poster to write a summary of the replies, including both an acknowledgement of the respondents and a summary of the substance of the replies (including credited quotations from messages that contained useful information, but not repeating the same points many times). This makes the efforts of the contributors useful to the entire list. Posters of questions can encourage this by offering to summarize in their original message.

GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR POSTING TO S-NEWS

In general, writing a good email message requires special care. Remember that it is a written medium, and that the additional cues of voice or face-to-face communication are not available in email; therefore courtesy and clarity are particularly important.

Please specify both the version of Splus and the system (Unix versus Windows, and the OS version), as both problems and solutions are often system-dependent.

Be brief and to the point. Rather than including a long previous message in a reply, include only the relevant excerpts. Make your message easy for others to read. Format it neatly and with line breaks. Do not make the lines too long (over 75 characters). Stick to plain text messages (avoid word-processor formats, attachments, and 8-bit character encodings) and use a spell checker. Make use of the subject line to state your topic.

Extend the courtesies customary in scholarly writing. When you use or refer to the work of someone else, give due credit. Quotations should be accurate with due attribution.

If you have a problem using an add-on library or add-on functions (e.g. something you have downloaded from Statlib), first contact the author of these functions for help, before posting to the list or contacting MathSoft.

Finally, remember that you are addressing an international audience. with subscribers on at least five different continents. Make your message appropriate for all of your readers, for example when you refer to government agencies, geographical identifiers, a telephone number for which international dialing is not obvious (such as a North American 800 number), or "next summer". One benefit is that the sun never sets on S-news, so you are likely to get a quick answer at any time of the day or night!

Messages about list management issues should not be sent to the S-news list. If your issue concerns an individual posting that you think is inappropriate, write to the individual poster, do not compound the problem by making the whole list see your complaint. If your issue concerns your own subscription or delivery, send list management commands to s-news-request@lists.biostat.wustl.edu or send messages requiring human intervention to s-news-owner@lists.biostat.wustl.edu. General issues about list management and policies should be raised on the s-news-advisory list; see below for more information.

S-NEWS ARCHIVES

To find out about archived messages send the command
index s-news
to s-news-request@lists.biostat.wustl.edu or point your Web browser at
http://www.biostat.wustl.edu/s-news/
S-news is also archived on Statlib: http://lib.stat.cmu.edu/s-news/

MAIL EXPLODERS

At some sites S-news messages are received by a single surrogate address or alias and automatically redirected to several users within the organisation by a "mail exploder". This sometimes can usefully save on e-mail bandwidth and in some cases may be necessary to adhere to the policies of the organization. In general, though, indiscriminate use of mail exploders is discouraged because of the administrative load it can impose on the list maintainer when things go wrong. Recipients from an alias may be unaware that they are not directly subscribed to S-news. When these recipients mistakenly send unsubscribe messages to the main list, the list maintainer has no entry for reader's address. Then extensive human intervention may be required to determine the actual subscription path. For example, this often happens when classes of students have S-news automatically relayed to them locally.

Where such exploders are needed, local managers are requested either to configure the software so that a brief explanation is automatically added to each forwarded message, or to send a reminder to their constituents at regular intervals detailing how to unsubscribe from the local redistribution.

WHO MAINTAINS THE S-NEWS LIST?

The sponsor of the list is J. Philip Miller (phil@wubios.wustl.edu), Professor of Biostatistics at Washington University, St. Louis. The technical administrator is Erich Schraer (erich@wubios.wustl.edu), systems administrator at the same department. Messages requiring human intervention, such as improperly formatted list management requests or queries and comments that cannot be handled automatically should be sent to s-news-owner@lists.biostat.wustl.edu.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ABOUT LIST POLICIES OR MANAGEMENT?

List policy and management issue of general interest (excluding individual subscription and delivery issues) are discussed on the s-news-advisory list (also available in digest form as s-news-advisory-digest). To find out about policies for this list and how to subscribe, send a message to s-news-request@lists.biostat.wustl.edu containing in the body the line
intro s-news-advisory

FEATURES OF THE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LIST SERVER

The list server at Washington University uses Majordomo software, which offers several advantages and useful features:

IMPORTANT LIST MANAGEMENT COMMANDS

All Majordomo list management commands should be sent to s-news-request@lists.biostat.wustl.edu.

The command (or multiple commands) should be in the body of the message, not in the subject line. If your mailer puts a signature at the end of the message, put the command

end
after your list commands so the signature is not interpreted as commands. NEVER send commands to s-news! (NEVER!) A full list of commands can be obtained by sending the command
help
To subscribe to the list, send the command
subscribe s-news
You will be sent a confirmation message to which you must reply to make sure that you actually desired to subscribe. This is intended to prevent forged subscriptions. If you want to subscribe using a different address than the one you are sending from, use the command
subscribe s-news myname@my.address
To unsubscribe, send one of the following commands as appropriate:
unsubscribe s-news
unsubscribe s-news myname@my.address