Writing Good Posts

With list volume as high as it is, a clearly written message with a good subject line will greatly increase the chances your posting will be noticed, and will generate the kind of responses you are looking for.

Make Sure Your E-Mail's Subject Line is Accurate and Specific!

When you start a new subject, it's best to be as specific as you possibly can. Overly broad subject lines like, "Help needed", or "Info wanted" require people to read your message to know what it's really about, and many, if not most people (often including some of your listowners) do not have the time to read every message. Instead, be as specific as you possibly can. Instead of "Help Needed" you might say, "Looking for info on side effects of drug XYZ", or "Are High Fevers Normal with IL-2?", or "Feeling really blue, could use some support."

If you are replying to a message, don't be afraid to change the subject line! Often the conversation drifts so much that it no longer has anything whatever to do with the original subject and the subject line is now completely misleading. Also people may have started the thread with a poor subject line. If so don't be afraid to make it better. One of your listowners likes to modify the subject by adding a "/" and then some clarification. For example, if the original subject was: "Info Needed", the response might have the subject line: "Re: Info Needed / Treatment for Bone Mets." Including the original subject can make it easier for the people who have been following the discussion to recognize that this new message is part of the same thread. If necessary shorten the original subject.

If you get the list in digest mode and are replying, your e-mail client will typically generate a subject line that will be something like: "Re Kidney-Onc Digest August First 2000...". Obviously this conveys no useful information whatsoever. If you are in digest mode and this happens, you need to type in a new subject every time! If necessary you can copy the subject line from the individual message you are replying to within the digest.

If you need help with how to change the subject line please see our page on editing e-mail messages

Provide as Much Information About Your Situation As Possible

If you are looking for information people will be able to help you most effectively if you explain your situation as specifically as you can. Include, the type of cancer (usually renal cell cancer), the stage, and what treatments you have had or are getting now.

If You Are Asking Questions Be as Specific As Possible

Think a bit about what you're looking for, and then try to be just as specific as you can in your message. It is almost impossible to answer very broad inquires like, "looking for all info on kidney cancer," and much easier to answer questions like, "has anyone on the list tried drug XYZ", or "Where can I get treatment XYZ".

A STYLE POINTER: DON'T USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!

USING ALL CAPS COMES ACROSS LIKE SHOUTING AND ITS MUCH HARDER TO READ! It's much easier to read if you write your message normally, just the way you would write a letter to a friend. (Note: If you are getting upper case letters even though you aren't pressing the shift key, fix it by pressing the "Caps Lock" key.)


Please - Help Us Reduce List Volume!

With over 1400 members Kidney-Onc generates so much mail that it can be just overwhelming. And our list is doubling in size every year, so this is more and more of a concern. Yet there are some simple, easy, common sense measures you can take to help keep the volume level reasonable. Please take the time to read and act on our Tips on Reducing List Volume


This Kidney-Onc FAQ Page By Steve Dunn. Copyright 2001 Steve Dunn
Last Updated February 22, 2001