Angry Listservers with Pitchforks DO NOT WANT
September 18, 2008 10:08 AM   Subscribe

EtiquetteFilter: Scale of 1 - 10, how gauche is it to link to specific messages from a listserv's archives (which includes visible email addresses) in a might-be-widely-read blog post?

I know that, technically, the info is already out there, but I also would rather not bum people out by bringing attention to their more-personal info. It's been a long time since I was even part of a listserv, so I don't really know what the general feeling about it is.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The address has already been crawled by any and all spambots. The question is, if you were the sender, would you want it linked to?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:14 AM on September 18, 2008

Is there a specific reason why you couldn't just copy and paste the related information into the blog? This is assuming that the information is mostly public and is not a sensitive document.

I would be not happy if my email address was posted on some stranger's blog.
posted by amicamentis at 10:14 AM on September 18, 2008

15, extremely gauche. I would be fairly irritated to have my email address published on a blog where any spam-bot could find it. Why can't you just delete the email addresses and avoid the issue altogether?
posted by LunaticFringe at 10:16 AM on September 18, 2008

Surely only a 1 or 2, if the archives are generally public. If your post is likely to bring like-minded people to subscribe to the list, I'm sure they would even appreciate it.

On the other hand, if your post is likely to cause a bunch of people to send ranting polemics or random questions to the list's users, the gauche rating will go way up. Something like linking to a technical medical list from a popular blog could land the poster with a bunch of irrelevant or inappropriate questions.

As far as spam - yeah, everyone that's going to find those addresses has found them. Linking won't increase their exposure. (On preview, though, clearly not everyone agrees with that view.)
posted by pocams at 10:20 AM on September 18, 2008

If the archives are public, then you're fine. I will say that I'd prefer to have my email address converted to something like REDACTED@REDACTED.COM for propriety's sake. A simple search and replace could take care of that.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:21 AM on September 18, 2008

Not gauche at all, please link them. It is always OK to link to any URL that's in a search engine.
posted by Nelson at 10:24 AM on September 18, 2008

Amicamentis, normally I would just cut/paste and mention where it's from, but I wanted to craft a mammoth link-dump about a certain subject, concentrating on comments rather than just other posts/websites. I want to shy away from cut/pasting because that would make the post comically long and pretty much isn't an option. The email addresses wouldn't be posted in the post, but the links would follow to what are basically transcripts of a listserv, which is where the email addresses appear.

LunaticFringe, sorry, I think I was a little unclear in the OP. The email addresses would not be included in the blog post; rather, the links would lead to these listserv transcripts, which is where the email addresses would be.

Basically, imagine a MetaFilter FPP about duck-hunting, and one of the centerpiece paragraphs would be maybe 20 links to especially good hunting-wear tips from a duck-hunting listserv. So, no email addresses or anything included in the FPP, but once the reader clicks on the hunting-wear links, he'd see 20 great tips about camouflage ... but also the email addresses from the original email.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 10:29 AM on September 18, 2008

And yes pocams, my post is highlighting the best of this listserv's particular topic, to an audience that would react positively.

I guess I'm just not sure if there is some expectation of privacy from people on most listservs, in the same way that MeFi profiles operate (which, from what I understand, are basically private unless a person takes the time to view the profile. I could be totally wrong about this, although it's beside the point.).
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 10:37 AM on September 18, 2008

I would think that as long as the people are okay with the listserv achives being publicly available on the Internet, they should be okay with you linking to them.

I'm somewhat annoyed that some of my really old Usenet posts are now easily searchable via Google (which did not exist back when I posted them), but I wouldn't mind anyone linking to something that I've knowingly posted on a public website.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:52 AM on September 18, 2008

Why don't you do a screenshot and post it on photobucket with the address blacked out?
posted by electroboy at 10:55 AM on September 18, 2008

Why don't you screencap the messages, redact the emails, and link your post to images of the messages instead?
posted by carsonb at 10:57 AM on September 18, 2008

That's not such a bad idea electroboy (er, and carsonb!). My instinct tells me that, for whatever bad reasons, the style guide might not look kindly on a ton of photobucket links, although that really would be the best way to do it (aside from just cut/pasting, which is what I really want to do but would rile up quite a few people). The only real negative I can see with that method is that no one can cut/paste the text from it. But yeah, this still might be the best alternative if, in fact, linking to listserv archives is iffy at best.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 11:07 AM on September 18, 2008

0. The web is for linking.
posted by Jairus at 11:11 AM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I wrote about this issue in my dissertation. I had concerns that people who posted to listservs long before the concept of archiving and the long memory of the WWW were widely understood might wind up associated forever with messages they never intended to be permanent. Back in the early 90s, who expected we'd be able to Google all the overexcited posts we made to

As a solution, carsonb's suggestion is a great one. You could also cut-and-paste, removing any identifying information along the way, which is what some academic writers do. In either case, anyone eager enough would still be able to search for exact phrases and find the original post, but I believe putting even that small barrier to discovery in place helps protect the original posters. And in the end, they may not want or need protection--some people really did anticipate long-term archiving and posted accordingly.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:32 AM on September 18, 2008

Don't worry about it, the address is already out there. For extra fun, Google only the email address and find out how many times it's already out there.

If anything, I would email the list admin(s) and see if they might run the archive through an address obfuscator before your article/post is published. Then, while the email address may remain behind Google's "Cached version" link for some time, the change should eventually be picked up and everyone can frolic into the future with a lightened conscience. To reiterate: this is a mistake of the list archive, not of linking. The archive has already been spidered.
posted by rhizome at 11:49 AM on September 18, 2008

The onus of email address obfuscation is on the person who administers the site that provides the web interface to the mailing list archives, not you. If they choose to do no obfuscation then any complaints should be sent to them, not to someone linking to their site. It's not gauche at all to link to mailing list archives -- that is the very purpose of having them online in the first place, and one of the main reason why mailing lists are so useful.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:55 AM on September 18, 2008

Yellowcandy, what if the listserv messages I'd link to were written within the last few weeks (which happens to be the case)? FWIW, I just tested the Googlability of the archived messages, and nothing comes up (can't tell if it's just de-indexed or just hasn't been combed over yet). The archive is easy to find, but the individual messages don't show up.

Either way, I'm beginning to feel like either screenshots or cut/paste jobbies will do everyone (but me!) best in this case. It sounds like the area is gray enough etiquette-wise that I should just try to keep the people relatively anonymous, especially since the messages are of a very heartfelt variety.

Thanks for the help AskMeFiers!
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 12:01 PM on September 18, 2008

Write a script that changes all strings in the page of the form "address@domain.tld" to "sserdda@niamod.tld".

Any human that needs the address can get it, but I'm pretty sure most spam bots couldn't harvest those.
posted by Precision at 5:39 PM on September 18, 2008

For the sake of closure, I just ended up linking to the month archive for the listserv, which is basically what I was able to find on Google, so if people want to dig deeper and see those email addresses they could, but w/o actually linking directly to the archived messages w/ the email addresses.

Thank youse!
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 10:00 AM on September 23, 2008

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