Netiquette Guidelines

Over time, every mailing list or discussion group on the Internet develops its own personality and its own standards and expectations for how members interact. Here on GIST SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL, you will find that we’re a pretty tolerant group. Unlike some lists, ours is an unmoderated list, meaning that the Operating Committee has chosen not to pass judgment on the content of the messages before they are posted. Rather, we are all expected to act courteously and responsibly toward one another without a rigid set of rules.

There are, however, some suggested principles of “Netiquette” that have developed over the years which tend to make things run more smoothly and help prevent–or at least minimize–conflicts. These are common on many web sites, and can be a great help to both experienced computer users, and especially to those new to the web world. We hope you will take some time to read through these and that they are helpful to you.

We are so sorry that you have a reason for joining us. Nevertheless we think you’re going to find that we can offer you loads of information on the various aspects of GIST, plus hundreds of sympathetic listeners ready to offer support and encouragement.

Below we’ve put together a few brief suggestions on how you will get the best response when you post to the GSI list. This is a combination of Internet good manners, GSI traditions, and plain old common sense.


It is OK (and actually recommended) to use one message to reply/respond to messages sent by several others, since this also helps to reduce mail volume. It’s also a good idea to quote *just a little* of the post to which you are responding so we know what you are replying to (but please *don’t* quote the whole post over again.)


And remember, though courtesy and consideration are the norm for posts on this list, occasionally a member may post something you consider too harsh. Please try to keep in mind that some of our members are under a great deal of stress and/or in physical pain and may use this as a safe place to momentarily “lose it”. It’s often best not to respond publicly to people who have lashed out, as this just tends to “fan the flames”. You may be in need of this same understanding at some point in the future!

Discussions may sometimes result in disagreements. Replies to another GSI Subscriber’s opinions or beliefs should not be done in haste. For the most part, we are cancer patients, and that means we will all occasionally have some bad days. Just as others will understand what you are going through, we ask that you also try to be understanding when someone posts something that may be disturbing to you.


Though English is generally accepted as the language of GSI, the Internet is international, and subscribers must accept the fact that for many English is a second language. Please be polite and understanding of others on the list who may not communicate and/or write well in English. Think in terms of meeting someone from a foreign country for the first time and manage the situation the same way you might in person.

Additionally, please be aware that use of acronyms, idioms and slang can be misinterpreted. Words and/or everyday phrases used by Americans may be insulting to non English-speaking countries, and may not even be understood by non-native English speaking people. This isn’t always easy to do, but we can all try!

Obviously, please refrain from use of foul language or cultural slurs, or anything else that we all know could be offensive to others. Politics can also sometimes cause disagreements and in general should be avoided on a cancer support group.


Please be aware that many articles on the Internet are copyright protected. When you find something potentially useful to the group and wish to post it, it is best to post the URL (website address) where you found it. It is usually ok to post about 10% of the text and/or the abstract in order to let others get an idea of what the article is about. In many cases, GSI has asked for permission to post entire texts, and any member is certainly welcome to ask for permission from the original authors/copyright holders for their OK on posting something to GSI. Please cite the permission provider if you choose to post something that is copyright protected. In certain cases we may wish to post copyrighted materrial on our website, and then we will seek permission to permanently post the information.


GSI is a public forum and everyone involved must accept the fact that anyone, anywhere can access GSI and the subscriber and information exchanged on the site via our listmail service. Please read our disclaimers and acknowledge that everything that you post is available to anyone on the web if someone wants to find it. Please try to respect the privacy of your fellow patients and caregivers, as they will try to respect yours. Please note that it is prohibited to copy, forward, quote, or otherwise send mail addressed to the list to other parties, since that was not the intention of the original writer. You must obtain permission from the writer to forward or copy the contents of posts to any other recipient or website location.  If someone sends you a private post (you can tell by looking at the header as you won’t see a reference to “gistsupport”), please respond privately as well. It is considered a violation of privacy to post a private message to the list without obtaining the writer’s permission


Sometimes it is appropriate to reply directly to the person who sent the letter and other times it is appropriate to reply to the entire list. Please send an email directly to the individual – – if it is strictly personal (like a birthday greeting, best wishes, congratulations, etc).

Send a message to the whole list, whenever it’s a question to which you want lots of answers, or if more than just one person would benefit from reading it, or if it’s an addition to an ongoing discussion among the group.


Please note that this is a mail list that is dealing with very serious issues and that it is inappropriate for anyone to use this forum for advertising or chain letters. Please note that many are illegal and clearly inappropriate for this forum. Also, keep in mind that every email you send goes out to hundreds of other people. Some of these people have limited “mailbox capacity” and/or limited computer time. Although the adorable “things 5 year olds say” that Aunt Tillie sent you may have made you laugh, it is not appropriate to send this on to an entire group of cancer patients. Also many people do not like forwards as they can carry viruses. Please save those forwards for private emails to friends.

The use of private e-mail addresses of subscribers to GSI for purposes of solicitation or promotion of issues not pertaining to GSI is not permitted.


GSI requests that all list participants set a good example of positive interaction and follow good netiquette practices. Good manners are good manners, in person and/or on the Internet and we respectfully ask that everyone act in a polite, considerate manner regarding other patients, caregivers, researchers and medical practitioners. Opinions about treatments, results, side effects and myriad other issues are going to differ so please accept the differences and act politely in all GSI interactions. Opinions differ as we all have different experiences and different stresses in our lives. A little understanding and compassion go a LONG way in avoiding hurt feelings on the web.


Faith is an important part of many of our lives, perhaps even more so after a diagnosis of cancer. We ask tolerance for all members’ beliefs, as we certainly do not wish to dicourage these discussions on GSI. Sometimes people need or want to talk about their faith, and even if it is different from your own…we ask for tolerance and understanding. We are all adults here, dealing with very serious life and death issues, and for many faith is certainly a part of that. Obviously no one should “push” their beliefs on anyone else, but we hope you will understand if there are occasional discussions that include beliefs which differ from your own. Again, just as others show tolerance for your beliefs, we ask that you show tolerance for theirs.


Sometimes the strong opinions expressed on any support group cross the line into telling others what to do or what is best for them, and some list members may take offense. You’re always safest to express your opinions from a personal point of view rather than trying to “sell” your ideas. And finally, everyone’s opinion is welcome. You will see that some opinions are *very* strongly expressed! <g> (By the way, <g> is an e-mail symbol for “grin.”)

Here are a few other basic “web-speak” standards for you:


LOL = Laughing out Loud

Sometimes people use a colon and parenthesis to simulate a smile, like this 🙂


GIST SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL is an interactive, member driven support group. If you have any suggestions of how we can all make this group better we want your input! There is a “contact us” button on the home page, and there is also a special section for essays from our members. In addition you will find many answers to your questions in the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and “Ask the Professional” sections on the homepage. We wish to sincerely welcome you, your family, and your loved ones along with your ideas to the group!