Good practices to follow in discussion forums


  • Consult the archives or FAQs of the discussion forum before posting a question. This is also a good way to become familiar with the forum’s acceptable topics and themes.
  • Lurk, listen and learn what is acceptable before posting to the forum.


  • Always sign your messages with your full name, title/designation, organization and location.
  • Keep to the topic of discussion.
  • Commercial announcements and organisational/personal promotional messages are not allowed.
  • Please be polite and keep discussion civil and constructive. Heated discussions and non-constructive comments will be taken off the forum. Members posting offensive comments may be removed from the forum.
  • Send messages intended for one person directly to that person and not to the whole forum.
  • Avoid bilateral dialogues/chats or one-line messages or queries.


  • Try to restrict yourself to one subject per message. Send multiple messages if you have multiple subjects. This helps recipients to use the 'subject' field to judge the importance of the messages they have received.
  • Make sure that the 'subject' field of your email message is meaningful. It can be very frustrating to others not to be able to judge the content of a message from its subject. When you use the 'reply' option, ensure that the subject still accurately reflects the content of your message (like the title of a book). If it doesn't, change it.
  • Sometimes groups develop code words to make it even easier to identify the purpose or content of messages. Pre-pending the words [News], [FYI], [URGENT], [Update] etc. to your subject line can help people judge the importance/relevance of your message.


  • Posting attachments to the forum is not allowed. Consider including a link instead or posting the material to the Resources section of the forum's site on Dgroups.
  • Do not send HTML, rich text, or stylised email, or messages in "quoted-printable" format. Not all email programs of forum members will recognise such formats. Send messages in plain text.
  • Try to keep your messages brief. One or two screens is a good upper limit to use. It is better to give people the option of reading more with a link or inside a document posted to the Resources section.
  • Don’t overquote while responding to a message. Remove the parts of the original message that are not relevant. If responding to many parts of a single message, alternate between original quotes and your responses.
  • DON'T SHOUT! When you type in CAPITAL LETTERS, it seems like you’re yelling online. When you want someone's attention, the correct words in small letters are more effective than words in capital letters.


  • If you are forwarding an email from someone to a mailing list, always ask first for permission to make their thoughts public.
  • If you do use information not your own, give proper credit.
These guidelines were prepared on the basis of information compiled from different sources, including Dgroups, and the International Development Research Centre.
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