SKEPTIC Frequently Asked Questions (Sort Of)

This is not a list of paranormal-related questions and skeptical answers; for that, consult Taner Edis's SKEPTIC Annotated Bibliography [archivist's note: possibly vanished; I'm checking -- RM], or the sci.skeptic FAQ. Here are answers to some common questions about using the SKEPTIC mailing list.

Questions:

For any other questions, bother your friendly list owner at skeptic-request@lists.johnshopkins.edu. That might provide an occasion to include another item in this FAQ.


Rough Ground Rules

SKEPTIC is an unmoderated list. The list owner will, however, butt in when it looks like the discussion is spinning out of control. Anyone can subscribe, but the list owner will throw off anyone who makes a major pest of him/herself, beyond the usual amount of flaming and irrelevancies.

Usually, courtesy and some common sense will prevent you from getting into hot water, either with others on the mailing list or with the list owner. After all, we are all mainly interested in a free, informative discussion of paranormal and fringe-science ideas, preferably without having to wade through tons of irrelevant and boring postings in the process.

These rough guidelines might help you:


Getting Help

First of all, bookmark this FAQ. When it doesn't help, send all questions related to the list to skeptic-request@lists.johnshopkins.edu. This includes requests for help and any and all complaints. Please do not post such material to SKEPTIC itself unless there is a good reason. Another address to avoid is owner-skeptic@lists.johnshopkins.edu; that is reserved for automatic error messages alone.


Digests

If you can't deal with the volume this list generates every day, but would like to look at what's going on periodically, you might consider subscribing in digest mode. This means you will get everything bundled together and sent as one piece of mail about once every 24 hours, instead of being mailed every posting individually. Send
SET skeptic DIGEST
to sympa@lists.johnshopkins.edu.

Digests can be convenient to delete all the day's message traffic at once, if you feel disinclined to read it, or if the number of messages received in a day is a problem for you.

Sending "SET skeptic MAIL" reverts to the usual operation; individual mail received as posted.


Suspending List Mail

If you're going to be away for a while, and would like to stop receiving SKEPTIC mail during that time, send:
SET skeptic NOMAIL
to sympa@lists.johnshopkins.edu. This'll suspend your mail, while keeping you on the list. This is safer than signing off and rejoining later. When you want to start receiving mail again, use:
SET skeptic MAIL
(or "SET skeptic DIGEST".) Note that you shouldn't include names or anything in the commands, they're perfectly fine exactly as written.


Unsubscribing

If you want to leave SKEPTIC, send:
unsubscribe skeptic
to sympa@lists.johnshopkins.edu.


Mail Problems

Since SKEPTIC is a fairly active list, it will be unusual to have one day where you receive nothing, let alone a few in a row. In this case, chances are that the list has had trouble sending mail to you. You have either been auto-deleted from the list, or Sympa has suspended your mail.

The way to check if something like this is going on is to send

WHICH
to sympa@lists.johnshopkins.edu. If you find you're not subscribed, you have to rejoin the list. If you suspect your mail might be set to "postpone," sending
SET skeptic MAIL
(or "SET skeptic DIGEST") will restart your list mail.

If you get no reply at all, this probably means the list server is down. In that case, all you can do is wait. The list owner will be aware of the problem, and is probably working to get things going again.


List Archives

SKEPTIC is archived by Sympa, with each month in a separate file. The usual way to request Sympa archives is by e-mail, sending a line
get skeptic YYYY-MM
to sympa@lists.johnshopkins.edu, the YYYY-MM being a year and month, like "2009-07" for July 2009.

At this writing, Sympa has archived all postings going back to July 2009. Be forewarned that any archive file you retrive will be large. To determine what exact monthly archives Sympa has, send the line

INDex skeptic
to sympa@lists.johnshopkins.edu, and you'll receive a catalogue.

The "Reply-To" Header

The "Reply-To:" mail header on SKEPTIC mail is munged in an attempt to force most replies back to the mailing list, itself. The result with most mail clients is that 'r' (or similar) reply-to-sender command is persuaded to send mail back to the mailing list only. If you desire to send offlist mail to a fellow participant, be warned that you may need to manually overcome this forced reply semantics (substituting the desired recipient's e-mail address before sending), else you may find that you have accidentally sent a private communication to the entire mailing list.

Conversely, it may be the case that you're replying to a poster and attempting to include in your post header "Reply-To:" for its standards-specified purpose of indicating an alternate address for replies. Be warned that Sympa will auto-discard your header in the act of forcing in its munged "Reply-To: skeptic@lists.johnshopkins.edu" header, so, unfortunately your use of the header will be foiled by the munging activity applied by Sympa.


History

The SKEPTIC list is managed by:
Leonard R. Cleavelin, SKEPTIC list owner
skeptic-request@lists.johnshopkins.edu
Len took over from founding list owner Taner Edis.

This page has been lightly modified by Rick Moen from Taner's original, which covered details of the prior mailing list manager software, ListProc, which ran on now-defunct host listproc.hcf.jhu.edu. That host in turn was a replacement for the list's primordial BITNET hosting, where the mailing list was known as SKEPTIC@YORKVM1.BITNET. Please correct obsolete references elsewhere on the Internet to the two former hosts and their software.