Last Update 3/1/99

Listservs are e-mail discussion groups open to all interested parties. One should be cautious about what one reads. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, and may not reflect any official position by a group or organization. Be aware also, that you will occasionally run across a troll whose main target is to start arguments. It is best to ignore these people so they slink back into the holes they crawled out of.

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Some Things you Should Know

Virus Alerts
Virus alerts warn that opening an email message with a certain subject line (PKZ300, Good Times, AOL4FREE, Doomsday, Penpal Greetings) will destroy your computer. Untrue. Opening an email message cannot pass a virus on to your hard drive any more than answering your phone can cause your answering machine to melt. If you receive a message warning of a "virus" not named above, you can check if it is a hoax virus at This is the address for the National Computer Security Association. Don't pass virus alerts along unless you have verified them at the NCSA homepage.

Urban Legend Hoaxes
Urban legends are stories that ARE NOT TRUE, but sound as if they should or could be. Common urban legend hoaxes on the net are Craig Shergold, The Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe, Feds Charging for Email, Beware of Kidney Thieves! They are not true. Beware of any message from someone you don't know which includes the phrases, "This happened to a friend of my cousin/a friend of a guy on my softball team." and concludes, "Please pass this message on to as many people as you can." Urban legends can be reviewed at any of several Urban Legends pages or by reading any of the books of Jan Harold Brunvand (The Vanishing Hitchhiker, The Mexican Pet, The Choking Doberman).

Terms you should know:
Spam: Electronic junk mail. Budding capitalists have realized that they can send junk mail over the Internet to a large number of people. They scan listserv membership lists to obtain addresses.
Flaming: Messages sent to a particular user with the intent of demeaning him or her. You'll know it when you see it.
Lurker: One who reads messages and rarely posts. Not as bad as it sounds.
Troll: Someone who joins a group and then asks questions or voices opinions for the purpose of starting stupid, pointless arguments. Typically, this person will initiate a flame war and then, when members finally agree to ignore him or her, leaves the list. NEVER post a reply to a Troll's message.

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