HTML Writers Guild Guides SOP 2

Standard Operating Procedure: Dealing with Flame-ridden Threads


This situation covers threads that have gone past an occasionial flame and have degenerated into disruptive flamewars. It is important to act quickly in such cases to prevent the problem escalating further.


An INFO post should be sent to the list. This should point out that flaming is not constructive to list discussion and that we should resume the list charter. You may wish to point out that due to the lack of vocal and nonverbal clues in email it is easy to read into a message more than what was intended.

Should the posts from any individual become extremely abusive, you can recommend their removal from the list - see SOP: Requesting removal of a list member.

A sample INFO post is included below:

Subject: INFO: Be More Descriptive!

Dear List Members:

My name is Jen, and I am one of the HWG-Basics List Guides. The thread <SUBJ: Be More Descriptive!> is off-topic, and as of late, has been degenerating into flames on the list between members.

The HWG-Basics mailing list is meant to discuss (in general) all topics related to HTML authoring. According to the charter of the list (and all of the HWG mailing lists for that matter), members are asked to review basic netiquette guidelines and the HWG Actionable Rules before contributing to the list. Copies of both of these guidelines can be found at and respectively.

I would like to suggest at this point that it might be best to move on from this topic, and discontinue this thread. If anyone wishes to continue flaming the dickens out of another member, private email is always an option.

Thanks, in advance, for your cooperation in this matter! Have a good day!

List Guide, HWG-Basics

Follow-up Activity

The INFO post is not a "thread closure", but a suggestion to members that they stop flaming each other and resume the list charter. After a suitable delay to allow for email lag further discussion of that thread will fall into either of two categories. The first is useful posts that are within the List Charter. These are not a problem and no further action is required.

The second type are continued flames that can be regarded as deliberate abuse of the list and a violation of the Guild's Actionable Rules since they have already received a warning to desist. An INFO post should be sent the individuals in these cases.

A sample INFO post is included below:

Subject: INFO: <> Re: what's the thing against black backgrounds?

* Please do not respond to this message on the list. *
* It is being sent to you privately. *

Hello Attila,

My name is Seth Wilschutz and I'm one of the List Guides for HWG-Critique. I am writing to you concerning your recent post to the list.

While I can certainly understand your frustration with some of the recent messages, I would like to recommend that you try and avoid posting messages like this in the future. These messages only further and complicate the situation. I understand your position completely. However, it would be appreciated if you send messages like this privately in the future or contact the List Guides at: It would also be appreciated if you could avoid using foul language in public messages. I understand and may agree with you at times, but the public mailing list is not a place for it.

Thank you for your cooperation! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to email us at:

Seth Wilschutz
List Guide, HWG-Critique

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