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Email Usage at Charter

The purpose of the main Charter list is to distribute information regarding the school and the community to parents and learners.  That is why the off-topic emails regarding for sale items, etc,. are allowed, as well as requests for recommendations to dentists, notices about town hall meetings, school board meetings, playground resurfacing, concerts, plays and a wide range of other topics.  However, the main list was not intended to be a discussion forum.  The main list was intended to start the discussion, which could then be taken off-line, or otherwise pursued by just the interested parties.
The tech team advises the community on options, as in managing email lists, and then we try to implement the community’s wishes.  Our main email goals are to keep things working and protect the community from spam, and to manage lists according to the community’s needs for communication.  The community highly values free and open communication, so the tech team has tried to make that a high priority.  If we err, it’s on the side of letting the discussion occur, even if it means some extra emails.
The issues are perennial: a high number of off-topic emails to the main Charter list, and a high number of reply-alls.  Here are some things we have tried as ways to mitigate the deluge of Charter email:
1. Asked that anyone who posts to the list with any non-school info (e.g for sale, free tickets, lost jacket) should preface their subject with CLC: OT indicating an Off Topic posting (not school business).  This allows sorting and even filtering of email on your side, to reduce the number of emails you need to scan/skim.
2. Tried creating a “Charter-Info” list, so that critical school business could be sent to that address, and allow parents to receive just the essential email rather than all the discussion, for sale, etc.  This failed.  There was continual confusion about which list to subscribe to (charter or charter-info), and which to send to (with many sending to both, resulting in yet more email), and so the separate list was abandoned.  Please don’t ask us to try this again.
3. Tried creating discussion forums on the web site as a way to reduce “Reply All” chatter, but there seems scant interest in this.  This is why you see so many “Reply All” messages.  This is an area where we may be able to modify our behavior by reminding ourselves to avoid reply-all unless necessary, avoid flaming others when we disagree (netiquette), and by trying to use other lists or discussion forums (or is that Latin plural fora?) as a way to take discussions off-line from the main list.  We can create new lists as needed to take discussions off the main list (e.g. the drama list was added this year to facilitate discussion of the Aladdin play, and take it off the main list).
I hope that understanding some of this background will help you tolerate all the emails.  You might try some tricks to speed the process of scanning your inbox (sort on subject and bulk delete all email with subject starting “CLC: OT”; sort on subject and just read first email on that topic – if no interest, bulk delete the rest to get rid of the reply-alls; set your junk filter to eliminate anything with subject starting “CLC: OT”).

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